The product manager interview is extremely challenging, especially when it comes to large organizations, such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, or LinkedIn. The hardest among them is considered to be Google, and to prepare for it; you need to practice with various Google product manager interview questions.
In this article, we will cover the following to help you prepare for your Google product manager interview.
- The interview timeline and process.
- Typical Google product manager interview questions.
- Tips for interview preparation at the end.
Let’s dive in.
The Complete Google PM Interview Timeline and Process
The entire Google interview process and timeline can be summarized into eight steps that can take anywhere between 4-8 weeks.
Google interviewers follow the same process and timeline for all sorts of jobs at Google, including jobs for software engineers, program managers, engineering teams, and more. The same process is used by hiring managers to find the right Google APM (Associate Product Manager) and Google Product Manager.
The process is also the same regardless of whether you’re applying at the Google HQ in Mountain View or any other city, like New York, Seattle, or San Francisco.
The following eight steps are how the average Google PM interview process goes:
- Step One – The candidate will submit their complete resume, cover letter, and relevant referrals.
- Step Two – There will be a phone screening with the recruiter as an introductory interview. Some PM candidates may have to do two phone interviews.
- Step Three – Onsite interviews with various recruiters and managers will continue. There may be four to six interviews; at this point, two to four weeks would have passed.
- Step Four – The hiring committee will present a recommendation.
- Step Five – The senior leader of the department will review the interview application and recommendations.
- Step Six – The compensation committee will give a recommendation on the value of the candidate and develop a compensation package.
- Step Seven – The senior executive will review the candidate, recommendations, and the compensation package recommended.
- Step Eight – The candidate will receive an offer.
On average, Google hires approximately 500 to 800 product managers per year. You can always apply to various Google product manager jobs simultaneously. Make sure you use a proper product manager resume guide to develop your resume and appropriate product manager cover letter templates.
Google Product Manager Interview Questions
Product management is an extremely complicated field when it comes to massive companies that have global products. There is no favorite product you can work on, and you may be required to work on various new products simultaneously.
There are various sites like Glassdoor that let you browse through Google product manager interview questions put forth by former candidates. The following is an exhaustive list of Google product management interview questions, including phone and site interview questions. It can be hard to achieve your dream job at Google, but you can prepare for it to improve your chances.
It’s best to go through these for your interview prep and think of appropriate responses in each case.
Product Design Questions
Each product manager’s job includes designing new product features while improving current ones. Therefore, a large part of the Google product manager interview consists of various product design questions. In some cases, almost a third of the interview questions are related to product design.
The point of these questions is to better understand how much you can relate to the customer. Furthermore, it also assesses your overall creativity and ability to develop and design products with a clear and straightforward approach.
Each PM candidate may get different product design questions. However, the following sample questions can be expected in each interview in some way.
- Name one product you absolutely love and one product you hate and explain why in both cases. Furthermore, if you were given the opportunity, how would you improve each of them?
- Suggest one thing or provide a recommendation for improving Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Search, Google Map, or Android.
- Can you think of one way you can improve non-Google products, such as Facebook, Amazon Prime, Spotify, or any other?
- Provide a brief explanation and process for designing an A product for B people? For example, how would you design a Maps feature for blind people? (This is where the Circles Method is tested)
You can take the questions mentioned above and answer them in mock interviews. Compare your answers with the answers of other people on the internet, especially ones who have already gone through with a Google product manager interview.
It doesn’t matter how much past experience you’ve had with a product or industry; you can’t accurately predict everything. Product-related decisions always require some level of estimation when it comes to things like revenue estimates, the number of potential customers, market sizes, overall response, and more.
Therefore, Google product managers need to be good with numbers and know how to develop proper estimates. It’s not necessarily about getting your estimates right; it’s about the process you use to reach that number.
To understand this better, check your reasoning behind estimates. How many assumptions are you making? Are you using confirmed sources for your base data? Are you using simple calculations or making use of complex statistical models, such as standard deviation?
In any case, you can expect the following Google product manager interview questions when it comes to estimation questions. The subject matter may change in the questions, but the general gist would always be to provide reasoning for your estimates.
- How many internet users will there be by 2050?
- What is the average amount of money spent by SME’s on Google Ads?
- How much space does Google require to store all the servers?
- Estimate the total cost of running Google as a whole for one day and compare it with the daily revenue it generates.
- How much internet bandwidth does the average US citizen use?
The interviewer usually lets you brainstorm for a bit to come up with a number. In any case, it’s important to develop a process for your reasoning rather than focusing on getting the right number.
Product managers also develop the overall product vision and product roadmap. They have to come up with the product strategy, from the product inception to the launch.
Product strategy is an essential part of product management, whether there is a new product launch or existing products. In any case, your Google product manager interview questions would include various strategy questions focused on your thought process.
The interviewer checks what aspects you take into account when thinking of product strategy. Some aspects include marketing, pricing, packaging, competition, and target audiences, among other things.
- How would you reduce food wastage in San Francisco?
- What’s the strategy behind having two or more of the same store in any given area?
- Google has developed a revolutionary smartphone that can beat any competitor with ease. How would you take it forward?
- You’re the head of YouTube; what would you change immediately, what products would you introduce, and what’s your reasoning for each move?
- Take any well-known decision taken by a company in the last year and explain their reasoning, your opinion, and how it could have been different.
Keep in mind that answers to strategy questions need to touch on specific pain points.
Most Google employees go through a technical interview to check their technical concepts. It doesn’t have to be a position for software engineering, include coding questions or anything computer science-related, for that matter. Google prefers that their employees are familiar with the technical stuff.
Therefore, Google product managers tend to be more technical than others. That means some of the Google product manager interview questions would be technical in nature. You don’t need to have a technical degree or be a software engineer (SWE) to answer these questions; you need a basic understanding of the concepts.
The following questions won’t be directly related to coding but will be centered on a concept you’re expected to understand.
- Explain the importance of managing page load speeds to a freshman at a college.
- What is a protocol, and why is it important? Explain this to a 65-year old retiree who wants to work online. Use an analogy to help them understand.
- You need to write an algorithm to do ABC; how would you do it?
- How would you work out if the user experience on your website is well-liked?
- What does a privacy trade-off mean to the average internet user?
Your answers to these questions don’t need to be completely original. You can use analogies, estimations, and assumptions to answer them.
Behavioral questions are a way to determine whether you’re ‘Googley’ enough to work at Google. Interviewers assess your past experiences and your ability to work around a diverse group of people. They also assess your motivation to work as a Google product manager and your understanding of the duties that come along with the job.
Most of the questions don’t require a whiteboard response; you have to answer with whatever comes to you naturally.
However, it’s still best to prepare yourself for these questions, helping you craft better-sounding answers. Some typical behavioral questions include the following.
- Why are you interested in product management?
- Why become a Google product manager? What do you think Google offers that other companies don’t?
- What’s the difference between a good product manager and a bad one?
- What’s the proudest moment of your work life where you demonstrated pure skill, reasoning, sound logic, and leadership?
- How does your decision-making process work, and what factors affect your decisions the most?
It’s best to understand what kind of culture and character Google appreciates and tailor your answers accordingly.
Data Analysis Questions
Product managers have to use tangible data and metrics to determine the success of each product. It helps decide whether to continue a product, customize it, and develop a new product altogether.
Therefore, it’s crucial to understand various metrics and data analysis techniques, and the recruiter will ask questions based on those topics. The questions can be based on what metrics to track or how you would analyze each change and base a decision on it.
In any case, you can expect the following questions during your Google product manager interview:
- What’s the best way to track total YouTube traffic in real-time, and how would you explain a change in the average traffic?
- The recent Google Pixel reveal event was well-received. How would you measure its global success?
- Google is launching a new streaming service. What should Google measure and analyze on a daily basis for a successful launch?
You should be as thorough as possible with your answers here.
You can read up on various Google product manager interview questions and answers to get an idea of what to expect. However, the result would still depend on your skills, abilities, and overall capability.
It’s best to develop hard and soft skills, work on getting certifications, and do mock interviews before applying. You should also go through typical product manager interview questions.
When you feel that you’re ready, develop interchangeable answers for common Google product manager interview questions, and do your best.
Have thoughts that you'd like to contribute around the product manager role? Chat with other product leaders around the world in our PMHQ Community!