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Google's Googleyness Interview

Interview Guide Oct 01

Googleyness is a derivative of the well-known practice found in Silicon Valley industries known as "culture fit." It refers to the idea that to be valuable to the company, you should share the same characteristics as those who are already working there.

Decoding Googleyness: The Traits That Matter

At its core "Googleyness" is not an easily definable term; it comprises a collection of "traits" or "attributes" that signal to Google that you align perfectly with their distinctive company culture—paired, of course, with the requisite technical or hard skills.

So, what exactly are these sought-after "traits" that Google seeks? Let's distill them into five key points:

  1. Intellectual Humility: This involves your response to failures or setbacks. Can you acknowledge when you're mistaken? Do you carry a generally optimistic demeanor? Do you possess a mindset focused on learning and growth? You can expect the following types of questions here:
  • Describe a time when you realized you were wrong about something and how you handled it.
  • How do you seek out and learn from others' perspectives and ideas, even if they differ from your own?

    2. Playfulness and Energy: Google values hard work, but its employees also exude energetic and upbeat personalities. They engage in enjoyable activities, socialize, and maintain an overall playful spirit—traits that are key to Google's mission. At this point, interviewers ask questions like:
  • Could you share about your extracurricular interests?
  • Talk about your strongest passion beyond your professional commitments.

    Don't take this as a cue to talk about how you spend time learning new skills or bolstering your knowledge, instead talk about the fun activities you like to spend your time doing, for instance, gymming, skydiving, clubbing, etc. 

    3. Conscientious Commitment: Google looks for a robust dose of conscientiousness. Are you dedicated to learning and enhancing your abilities? Do you take ownership of your decisions without making excuses? Do you hold high personal standards? Here are some questions you can expect:
  • How do you ensure your work is consistently accurate and error-free?
  • Can you provide an example of a project where you meticulously planned and executed every step?

    4. Navigating Ambiguity: This relates to your soft skills, ability to listen, collaborative attitude, and empathy—qualities necessary to navigate the ever-evolving landscape at Google. You need to demonstrate here that you are capable of operating in unusual environments, that you can get along with individuals from diverse backgrounds, etc. Here are some questions you can expect:
  • Share an experience where you had to work with incomplete information and how you navigated the uncertainty.
  • How do you handle situations where there is no clear solution or path forward?
  • How do you contribute to creating a positive and inclusive team environment?

    5. The "Interesting" Element: Lastly, Google appreciates signs that you've pursued daring or non-traditional routes in your life. This could involve leaving a lucrative job for a challenging career or collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds. Essentially, anything unconventional that adds a unique and "interesting" dimension to your profile and how you intend to thrive at Google. Here are some questions you can expect:
  • Provide an example of a time when you successfully collaborated with a diverse team to achieve a common goal.
  • Describe a situation where you took a calculated risk that led to positive outcomes.

    Googleyness" vaguely encompasses all of the above elements—and your objective is to seamlessly incorporate these aspects into your responses—highlighting your distinctive "non-traditional" path, sharing anecdotes or examples of enjoying yourself, managing challenging situations, energizing both yourself and others, and investing in continuous learning and growth.

    So do you project these traits or "googleyness" in your answers? Here's finding out. 


How to effectively convey "Googleyness" in your responses?

Here are 7 tips to effectively convey "Googleyness" in your responses and enhance your interview performance.

  1. Display honesty and transparency

Google values individuals who reflect on their experiences with honesty and take responsibility for their actions. Which is why it's important to avoid appearing dishonest or worse, getting caught in a lie. It's better to admit your mistakes or screw ups rather than making excuses. Be yourself, acknowledge your past experiences, and share how you've grown from them. Such a candid and genuine approach will leave a positive impression on your interviewers.

  1. Prepare commonly asked questions

Be prepared for standard interview questions like "Tell me about a time…" or hypothetical prompts. 

Candidates often tend to go off-topic and share unrelated information, possibly because they didn't understand the question or weren't prepared for it in the first place. 

Whether it's navigating challenging situations, or resolving conflicts—prepare 4-5 relevant examples from your past experiences and practice them until your responses feel natural. If you have friends at Google, consider practicing with them, or connect with one of Prepfully's interview coaches who understands Google's culture and can help you incorporate Googleyness into your preparation. This way you won't end up talking about that X framework you learnt when asked about a time you went above and beyond your responsibilities.

  1. Incorporate light-hearted humor

Google highly values open-mindedness and adaptability, qualities that humor can reflect. Injecting humor into your responses can demonstrate your ability to think creatively and adapt to different situations. Ensure your jokes are light-hearted and appropriate for the company culture and interview setting, aiming to establish a positive and engaging connection with your interviewers.

  1. Show you are willing to embrace challenges

Show them that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone. Share specific instances where you've taken on challenges beyond your core responsibilities. Highlight projects you've led, mentoring experiences, or difficult conversations you've managed—and provide concrete examples to illustrate your point. 

Whether you pursued additional training or delved into leadership literature, be ready to articulate these anecdotes during the interview.

  1. Adapt a goal-oriented approach

Convey a goal-oriented mindset by emphasizing measurable outcomes. For example, if you're discussing a technical challenge in a TPM role interview, outline how you set a clear goal to address it within a specific timeframe and achieve measurable improvements. This demonstrates your ability to drive product success and manage a vision.

  1. Practice effective communication

Pay attention to how you communicate. Google often asks similar questions in different ways to gauge your emotional intelligence, decision-making skills, and problem-solving abilities. Focus on effectively and articulately explaining details, actively listening before responding, displaying empathy, and maintaining a friendly and positive demeanor. Practice these soft skills to ensure consistency.

  1. Keep your language neutral

Be mindful of your language and try to avoid controversial topics. Google's diverse workforce includes individuals of all genders and backgrounds. It is important that you use neutral language to remain inclusive and avoid gender biases. For instance, opt for gender-neutral pronouns like "they" rather than defaulting to "he" when referring to roles like software engineers or CEOs. 

Conclusion

Interviewing for Googleyness can be really fun, especially if you practice enough beforehand. It's a bit different from regular interviews because the questions flow together, and you need to be ready for twists and turns. To do your best, try simulating a practice interview, ideally with a current or former Google employee. Prepfully has lots of PMs, software engineers, and engineering managers who can give you personalized tips on how to answer, what stories to share, and how to avoid mistakes. You can schedule time with them directly here.

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