Google Program Manager

DifficultyhardRounds2-3

The role of a Google Program Manager

Program managers typically oversee a group of projects (and in some cases, a team of project managers), each of which is linked by a common aspect, such as a single company target. They are also in charge of strategy, ensuring that everything is moving in the right direction and on the right timelines. 

An efficient program manager will help create a more cohesive and successful team. Therefore when organizations are looking for applicants to lead various projects and teams, they go through a rigorous screening process to ensure the candidate has a positive effect on others as well as the company.

This guide will walk you through the Google Program Manager interview process, including useful tips and tricks to help you ace the interview.

Interview Guide

Google's program manager interview process is lengthy and time-consuming. Itusually takes 3-8 weeks, although it is not unusual for it to take much longer. Here's a rundown of the interview stages you'll encounter:

  • Application
  • Phone screen with a recruiter
  • Phone screen with a hiring manager and program managers
  • On-site interviews

We've got the same guide also available to watch as a short video if you prefer consuming content that way.

Application

The first step is to get a Google interview in the first place. You'll need a strong resume and cover letter that are suited to program manager roles and, more specifically, Google.

You can submit your application once you have all of your documentation in order. It can also be helpful to get an employee or contact at Google to refer you to the internal recruitment team.

If you are selected, you will be contacted by a recruiter within 2-3 business days.

Round 1

Overview

After your application is accepted, you will begin your interview with Google by speaking with a recruiter over the phone. They want to know how good a fit you are for the role and for Google, so be prepared to discuss your background and why you're a great candidate. Typical behavioral and resume questions can be expected. The interview will be about 30-40 mins long. 

What the interviewer will assess

  • Your experience with program management.
  • Your flexibility to fit in the profile.
  • Your role-related knowledge and experience.
  • Cultural fit.

Tips

  • Google is looking for intelligent program managers that can learn and adapt to new circumstances. In this section, your interviewer will try to understand how you solve challenging problems and learn.
  • Google is looking for a form of leadership known as "emergent leadership." At Google, you'll usually work in cross-functional teams, and different team members are expected to step up and lead at different points in a project's lifecycle when their skills are needed. So make sure to show the interviewer that you have a good leadership game.

Interview Questions

  • Tell me your 5 biggest strengths.
  • Why do you feel the need to leave your current job?
  • Tell me about a time you had an excellent idea and put it to work?
  • What do you think are the main skills to be a program manager?
  • How will you define an ideal work environment?

Round 2

Overview

Following the recruiter screen, you will be interviewed by a hiring manager along with one or two program managers. The hiring manager for the position would typically be your first interviewer, and you will also have a second interview before moving on to the onsite interviews.

The types of questions you'll be asked in this round are similar to the ones you'll be asked in your onsite interviews. You should be particularly prepared for behavioral, technical and program management questions. Each interview lasts for about 40 mins.

What the interviewer will assess

  • Your technical and core knowledge.
  • Your knowledge and research about google.
  • Your potential to come up with ideas in a short period of time.
  • Your efficiency in putting forward innovative ideas and questions.

Tips

  • Don't forget to provide data when you begin to consider what you want to highlight in your interview. This lets your interviewer understand not only your overall accomplishments, but also the extent of your influence.
  • You should also look over your job history. Most of us have accomplished more than we realize, and it is easy to overlook some of our accomplishments (and lessons from mistakes). You should be confident and assured.
  • Bring your questions to the interview. This not only demonstrates your interest in Google and the role you're applying for, but also your diligence in researching the firm. Furthermore, this is your chance to interview them as well.

Interview Questions

  • How do you begin a new project?
  • What is the critical path, and what happens if it is altered?
  • You have 12 months to launch a new product. Explain how you would handle the process in detail.
  • Tell me about the difficulties you encountered when carrying out a project.
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss and had to persuade them.
  • How would you consider deriving metrics?
  • How would you handle reporting for several projects while some are running late?
  • What five slides will you be using to present to a CEO?
  • Tell me about a time when someone changed your mind about something. What were your views on it?
  • Tell me some challenges facing cloud technology.
  • Suggest a new product that google should develop.

Round 3

Overview

The last and the final stage is the on-site interviews. These interviews will be the true test. You'll usually spend an entire day interviewing at Google, and the interview questions you'll face will fall into one of three broad categories:

  • Program management questions: here you will be questioned on project management, collaborating with cross-functional teams, and implementing at different stages of the project lifecycle.
  • Behavioral questions: here you will be tested on your previous work experience, motivation for applying, ability to resolve conflict, and other similar subjective factors.
  • Technical questions: here you'll be evaluated on skills and experience relevant to the job or functional field you're applying for, including questions based on technical knowledge.

In addition to these interviews, you will normally have lunch with a fellow program manager while on-site. The lunch conversation is intended to be an opportunity for you to ask questions about working at Google. During this time, the organization may not be interviewing you, but you should respond as if they are.

What the interviewer will assess

  • Your core PM competencies (product ideation, brainstorming, prioritization, MVP thinking, execution, metrics and iteration skills), as well as your experience in the field.
  • If you can express your ideas and opinions well.
  • How innovative are your ideas.

Tips

  • When the interviewers are talking to you about your job and the role in question, share your thoughts, ask questions, and don't be afraid to work through the issue with them.
  • If necessary, pause for a minute before presenting your answer. Before you present your concept to the interviewers, make sure it is straightforward and well-thought-out. 
  • Furthermore, you can ensure that you are familiar with basic Agile project management principles. Make sure to brush up on your skills the day before so that you are well equipped.

Interview Questions

  • What has been your most satisfying job? Why is this so?
  • Have you achieved more as a result of solo effort or teamwork?
  • Tell me about the most challenging task you've encountered when leading a team of project managers.
  • Have you ever had a communication problem while running a program? Who did you discuss it with, and how did you fix it?
  • Have you witnessed any challenging circumstances when working on projects or with stakeholders? and how did you get over them?
  • Which map features do you value the most? For example, how do you prioritize roads over points of interest (POIs) or indoor navigation features?
  • How will you describe the logic for writing a doubly linked list?
  •  Can you suggest five ways to improve Google Maps and Gmail.
  • Can you explain how TCP works.
  • Tell me about a time when you made something out of nothing.
  • When was your most recent failure, and what happened as a result?
  • How do you feel when you request assistance from a coworker?
  • In a project, how will you handle tension and ambiguity?
  • What skills have you used less of and what have you used most of over the past few years?
  • What is the total number of website domains in the world?
  • Calculate the cost of constructing a subway system.
  • What do you think others would say about you?

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The Hiring and Decision Process

Your interviewers will all submit their reviews within two to three days of your onsite. This input, along with your resume, internal referrals, and any previous work you have submitted, will be checked by a hiring committee. At this point, the hiring committee will make a recommendation to Google about whether or not to recruit you.

If the selection committee recommends that you be hired, you will begin the process of team matching. In other terms, you'll meet with hiring managers, and one or more of them must be willing to take you on as a member of their team for you to receive a job offer from the organization.

After you accept the offer, the Google onboarding team will guide you through the compensation, incentives, badging, insurance, and other information. Best of luck!