Google Product Manager

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The role of a Google Product Manager

Product Management is a fast-growing role, and it’s an incredibly important one in top tech companies. Since it’s emerged relatively recently, most companies have their own, slightly different definitions of what the role means. This often results in slightly different interview processes.

This guide talks about how Google filters for good Product Managers in their interviews. We’ll explain the interview process, cover what interviewers look for in each stage, and provide several tips on how to best prepare as well as some interview questions to practice against.

Product Manager average salary at Google:

  • Entry-level salary: USD132,000 
  • Senior positions:   USD280,000. 
  • Median salary:   USD185,000 with base component being USD100,000, stock component being USD50,000 and bonus being USD35,000.

Interview overview

In a nutshell, there are 4 steps in Google’s PM hiring process. The first is a phone interview with a Recruiter. The next is a Phone interview with a PM - usually, there’s just one interview, but if they’re uncertain they might schedule a follow-up. Next up, there’s the Onsite round, which consists of 4-5 interviews testing a wide range of Product Management skills. Finally, there is a team matching interview that occurs after you’ve received an offer.

Recruiter Screen

Overview

The first stage in the process is usually a telephonic interview with a recruiter. The interviewer will ask you questions based on your résumé and cover letter in a more casual setting. You should anticipate being questioned about your previous experiences and the decisions you took in these roles. Communication is the key to success in this situation. This typically takes about 20-25 minutes.

What the interviewer will assess

In this round, the recruiter is primarily trying to assess your high-level experiential and cultural fit at Google, as well as your contribution in your previous roles.

Tips

  • Be super familiar with your past work. Make sure to have a project you can talk about from each of your previous roles. Organize your thoughts in advance around topics like what your contribution was, how things went and what you could have done better.
  • Keep answers short and crisp.
  • Have a clear reason for why you think you can succeed at Google.
  • This round often starts with the old favorite - “Tell me about yourself”, so it’s useful to have a nice short intro ready to roll with.

Interview Questions

Most asked questions in the Recruiter Screen:

  • How do you think your past experience in X company made you better as a Product Manager?
  • What do you think one needs to be the best version of themselves?
  • Tell me any 2 of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • What skills are you the proudest of?
  • When was the last time you delayed something and how did you deal with it?

Review your resume with a Google recruiter!

Resume Review

Product Manager Phone Screen

Overview

This is a phone interview with a Google Product Manager. This is usually just the one round - but if they’re on the fence about you - it’s possible you could be invited for a follow-up. The interview usually lasts about 45 minutes, including a couple of minutes where you can also ask your interviewer questions. 

What the interviewer will assess

  1. Your past experience, and your contribution to your team’s success as a PM.
  2. Your ability to think of product improvements on the fly. 
  3. Your ability to break ideas down into easily implementable steps.

Tips

  • The interviewer will often ask for a product you’ve used recently, and then dig into what you like, and what you’d improve. Think of a few products beforehand so you don’t get caught off-guard.
  • Google likes moonshot ideas. It’s cliched, but try to have at least one suggestion that is big and innovative for whatever product you are discussing. To balance this out, also think of quick wins and rapid product iterations you could execute for the same product.
  • Be extremely familiar with your previous company, and their entire product line - including those you might not have worked on yourself. You’ll be expected to have a Product Manager’s opinion on the whole range of products.

Interview Questions

  1. Tell me a digital product you use nearly every day. How would you go about building a competitor to it?
  2. Tell me about the last product you were involved in managing. What would you do differently if you had infinite resources? What process would you follow if you suddenly saw a drop in this product’s usage?
  3. How many people will be using the internet by 2050?
  4. Name one product that you adore and one that you dislike, and explain why in both circumstances. Furthermore, if given the chance, how would you improve each of them?
  5. How much internet bandwidth does the average person in the United States consume?
  6. Make a suggestion or make a recommendation to improve Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Search, Google Maps, or Android.
  7. How would you build a Maps function for individuals who are blind?
  8. How much space does Google need to house all of its servers?

Onsite Round

Overview

On-site interviews are the final and most important stage and you only get invited to this if you pass the telephonic rounds. These interviews will serve as the ultimate measuring stick. At Google, you'll typically spend an entire day interviewing. There are 4-5 rounds, each about 45 min long.

You will be asked a variety of product management, behavioral, and technical questions.

Aside from these interviews, you will usually have lunch with a colleague product manager while on-site. The lunch chat is intended to provide you with an opportunity to ask questions about working at Google. The company may not be interviewing you at this time, but you should respond as if they are.

What the interviewer will assess

The goal of these interviews is to assess you across an array of Product skills. Your interviewers will wear different hats to test you across different themes.

The 3rd and hardest step is the set of on-site interviews. There are 4-5 rounds, each about 45 min long, and you only get invited to this if you pass the phone round.

The goal of these interviews is to assess you across an array of Product skills. Your interviewers will wear different hats to test you across different themes.

  1. There will be at least one, usually two interviewers wearing the Product Design or Product Strategy hats. They are testing your core Product skills - strategy, ideation, prioritization, delivery focus, product design, breaking ideas down into MVP steps, establishing metrics for success and how you iterate.
  2. Some interviewers will wear the “Analytical hat”: They’ll ask estimation questions and market sizing questions, and see how well you can make assessments with ambiguous or inaccurate data.
  3. There will be at least one interviewer who wears the “Creative hat”. They’ll ask you questions which really stretch your imagination, and occasionally invite you to think about futuristic or non-existent technologies.
  4. Finally - and this is an important but unique quirk to Google, there will always be one interviewer wearing the “Technical hat”: They’ll usually ask “System design” questions. The purpose is to test your technical fundamentals, and make sure you can hold a sensible discussion with engineers. 

Tips

  • These interviews are supposed to be conversations. It’s important to use the first few minutes to clarify topics and scope the question
  • Approach Product questions in a structured manner. Work your way from the customer problem, to possible solutions, to prioritization before execution - so you can demonstrate your competence across the whole gamut of product skills.
  • Form an opinion in advance, about major Google products. Think about what works well, where you see room for improvement, the business model under which they operate, and who the major players are in that space.
  • Do the same for emerging technologies - for instance about AR/VR, Artificial intelligence, and blockchain tech. Think about using cases for them which can tie them to Google, and how you feel these technologies will evolve over the next 5-10 years.
  • For the technical interview, brush up on basic tech concepts, and make sure you’re ready for the “how would you scale this to a billion users” follow-up from your interviewer. 
  • Moonshot ideas will be super important in most of these rounds. Think big, think world-changing.

Interview Questions

  • You have 100 engineers, an unlimited budget, and 1 year. What are you gonna build? How are you going to get started, and how far do you think you’ll get in a year?
  • What is the average amount of money spent on Google Ads by SMEs?
  • You have to create a photo upload service, how would you design the technical architecture?
  • How would you improve Google Maps for advertisers?
  • How would you know whether your website's user experience is well-liked?
  • How would you put together a 10-year strategy for Netflix?
  • Estimate the overall cost of running Google for one day and compare it to the daily revenue it earns.
  • What is your proudest professional moment in which you displayed sheer skill, thinking, sound logic, and leadership?
  • Can you think of a method to improve non-Google services like Facebook, Amazon Prime, Spotify, or any other?
  • What would you do to reduce food wastage in San Francisco?
  • You're the Head of YouTube; what changes would you make right away, what products would you add, and what's your logic behind each decision?
  • What is the reason behind having two or more of the same store in the same location?
  • How would you explain the significance of managing page load speeds to a college freshman?
  • Take any well-known company decision made in the recent year and explain their reasoning, your opinion, and how it could have been different.
  • What does the ordinary internet user understand by a privacy trade-off?
  • Why should you become a Google product manager? What do you believe Google provides that other companies do not?
  • Google has created a revolutionary smartphone that can easily outperform any competitor. What steps would you take to move it forward?
  • What exactly is a protocol, and why is it necessary? Explain this to a 65-year-old retiree interested in working online. Use an analogy to assist them in understanding.
  • How will you differentiate between a good product manager and a bad one?
  • The recent Google Pixel unveiling event was a success. What metric would you use to assess its global success?

Prepare for the onsite round with a Google Product Manager!

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Team Matching and Hiring

Overview

These are onsite discussions or calls with hiring teams to match you with one where you’d be a good fit. This only happens for candidates who have already received a hiring package. 

Only done with candidates who are getting a hiring package, so while these rounds can seem long drawn out, it’s rare to fail to find one.

Make sure you ask lots of questions, so you set yourself up for success in a team that actually works for you.

Once your team has been selected and your preferred package has been decided, you will receive the offer letter within two working days.

So, this was a brief overview of the Google Product manager interview process and prep strategy. Hope you found it useful.

Thank you!

All the best!