How to Win the
Google Product Manager Interview

Updated: October 31, 2020
10 min read

We have determined the following findings based on the feedback of over 70 Google Product Managers and Product Manager candidates that have interviewed for a Product Manager role at Google as either a Hiring Manager or Product Manager candidate. For your benefit, we have broken our findings into ten sections.

  1. How to Get the Google Product Manager Interview
  2. How to Prepare for a Google Product Manager Interview
  3. Product Design
  4. Analytics and Data
  5. Strategy
  6. Cultural Fit
  7. Technical Questions
  8. Behavior
  9. What Not to Expect
  10. Additional Interview Questions

How To Get The Google Product Manager Interview

The first item you have to get done as soon as possible is to write your Product Manager resume. This is the most crucial step since an insufficient resume will not get you anywhere! Writing a Product Manager resume is challenging as you have to frame your professional experiences from the perspective of a Product Manager.

Thankfully, Product Gym has the right resources to guide you in this grueling task. Make sure you watch our video:

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Writing a Product Manager resume and sending your application to Google won’t get you far without networking! You should be reaching out to Google recruiters and adding them to your network as much as possible.

Your networking skills should go beyond asking for a Google interview to a stranger that you connected with online, and you should aim to build long-lasting relationships instead.

To master the art of networking, make sure you watch our recruiter guide video:

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Last but not least, you should get cultured and familiar with the practice of Product Management as much as possible. Make sure that tech blogs or news sites are on your daily reading list. While the internet is full of high-quality content, our favorite is Stratechery.

 

We love the daily feeds from Launch Ticker as well!

How To Prepare For a Google Product Manager Interview

You were invited to the Google Product Manager interview! Great! Now what?

Let’s take a closer look at what to expect in terms of interview structure and content.

According to IGotAnOffer and Glassdoor, you should expect the interview process to be similar to this:

  1. Application (either through the company website or referral)
  2. Phone screens (expect 1-2)
  3. Onsite Interview (expect 4-6)
  4. Recommendation from the Hiring Committee
  5. Review by the Senior Leadership
  6. Compensation Recommendation
  7. Senior Leadership Review and Approval
  8. Congratulations, you got an offer!

From what we gathered from different members, the process takes about 4 – 6 weeks, and sometimes up to three months!

Now that we know how the interview process is done, here’s a list of topics to expect.

There are six major components to the Google Product Manager (PM) interview:

  1. Product Design
  2. Analytical
  3. Strategy
  4. Culture Fit
  5. Technical
  6. Behavior

Product Design

Google Product Managers put users first. Product Managers are obsessed with providing the best user experiences. Think about all the Google Products you use and take for granted every day and imagine life without them.

At Google, this process begins with customer empathy and a passion for products, down to the most acute details. A wireframe can be sketched just to convey an idea to a designer. Many of our members who interviewed with Google, say that you will be expected to sketch out wireframes during your Product Manager interview.

Product Design Sample Questions:

  • How would you improve Google Maps?
  • How would you reduce Gmail storage size?
  • How would you improve the restaurant search?
  • What’s your favorite Google product? What do you like or dislike about it?
  • If you were to build the next killer feature for Google, what would it be?
  • You’re part of the Google Search webspam team. How would you detect duplicate websites?

How to Prepare for the Product Design Questions:

The best way to prepare for product design questions is by understanding how a sufficient answer is structured. Make sure you watch our video, solving a very popular FAANG case study question here:

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Here are other ways to prepare:

  • Practice and envision leading design discussions using a framework. (Need a framework? Try CIRCLES Method)
  • Begin with possible personas and detail use cases.
  • Prioritize use cases and brainstorm solutions. Many Product Manager candidates often make the mistake of suggesting solutions that are incremental or derivatives of a competitor’s feature set. You don’t want to end your Product Manager interview with Google this way. The Product Management Hiring Panel at Google is evaluating your creativity, and they place a big emphasis on big ideas (aka “moonshots”).
  • Impress and inspire them with unique, compelling ideas.
  • Drawing wireframes on a whiteboard will help illustrate your ideas.
  • To practice, download a wireframing tool like Balsamiq.
  • Study popular web and mobile design patterns for inspiration.

Analytics and Data

Google Product Managers are fluent in the language of numbers to define the right metrics. Google Product Managers make their point by communicating their analysis. They can decipher and make decisions from A/B test results, go so far as to write SQL queries, and even run scripts to extract data from logs.

In essence, they don’t mind getting their hands dirty and doing whatever is required to prove their point.

Analytics and Data Sample Questions:

  • How many queries per second does Gmail get?
  • How many iPhones are sold in the US each year?
  • As the Product Manager for Google Glass ‘Enterprise Edition,’ which metrics would you track? How do you know if the product is successful?

How to Prepare for the Analytical Questions:

  • Prepare for estimation questions such as, “How many queries per second does Gmail get?”
  • Get well-versed in product launch metrics and A/B testing, including interpretation of results.

Strategy

Google Product Managers are business leaders. As a result, they must be familiar with business issues. Google Product Managers don’t need to have business experience or formal business training. However, they do expect you to pick up business intuition and judgment quickly.

Strategy Sample Questions:

  • If you were Google’s CEO, would you be concerned about Microsoft?
  • Should Google offer a StubHub competitor? That is, sell sports, concerts, and theater tickets?

How to Prepare for the Strategy Questions:

  • Use a framework to structure your strategy discussions. If you’re not familiar with strategy or frameworks, Porter’s Five Forces is a good start.
  • Google Google (Pun Intended!) to learn more about its business model and products (HINT: It’s more than the search engine!). Make sure you read the next section to get access to more resources.

Cultural Fit

Google Product Managers lead and influence effectively, have a bias for action, and get things done. Many Google Product Managers go on to become CEOs of their own companies and other companies.

Being smart isn’t enough; YOU HAVE TO FIT IN WITH THIS CROWD. Google prides itself on its ability to get things done as an organization. This is one of the most challenging criteria to fulfill and one of the reasons why Google is so cool to work at. You will have to show that you are smart enough to hang with the best of the best, and fit in with the rest. It’s a balancing act, but absolutely necessary to weed out all the people that Google DOES NOT WANT.

Culture Fit Sample Questions:

  • Why Google?
  • Why Product Manager?

How to Prepare for the Culture Fit Questions:

  • Understand what it means to be “Googley” by reading Google’s corporate philosophy.
  • Review Google’s Android design principles.
  • Optional readings:
    • Google’s visual asset guidelines and Steven Levy’s 2007 (but still useful) article on the Google APM program
    • Another optional, but more in-depth (and recent) perspective, read Steven Levy’s “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives.”

In this section, you will likely get to explain more about your previous projects and experiences. While talking about your experiences might sound easy, Product Manager interviewers expect thorough and well-structured answers.

Watch this video to learn how to structure your answer to the “Tell Me About Yourself” question:

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Also, watch this video to learn how to use the critical Product Manager terms in your interview responses:

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Technical Questions

Google Product Managers lead product development teams. Leading effectively means Product Managers have influence and credibility with engineers. At the final round (aka onsite) interview, a senior member of the engineering team will evaluate your technical competence. Be prepared to whiteboard coding questions at the onsite interview.

Technical Sample Questions:

  • Write an algorithm that detects meeting conflicts.

How to Prepare the Technical Questions:

Coding questions are unlikely during the phone interviews, but if you are invited to an onsite interview, you must prepare for programming interviews. The technical interviewer does not expect your programming syntax to be perfect. You should have sufficient mastery of technical concepts so that you can participate in technical discussions and help make technical trade-offs. We would recommend going over computer science fundamentals and practicing a couple of coding questions.

One of our favorite resources is How to Ace the Software Engineering Interview. Also, be prepared to describe key technologies, including search engines, machine learning, and MapReduce.

Behavior

Be prepared for behavioral interview questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you had to influence engineering to build a particular feature.” Google Product Manager interviewers are relying more on behavioral interview questions in the recent months.

Google is a very professional company, and as a Product Manager, you are expected to explain how you work with engineers and other kinds of technical stakeholders.

Make sure you watch our guide to explaining your professional experiences with the engineering team as a Product Manager to understand what the interviewers are looking for:

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What Not to Expect

Brain teasers, such as logic puzzles, are rarely used in today’s Google Product Manager interviews. Google’s HR department found a low correlation between job performance and a candidate’s ability to solve brain teasers.

Examples of Brain Teasers Include:

  • I roll two dice. What is the probability that the 2nd number is higher than the 1st?
  • What’s 27 x 27 without using a calculator or paper?

However, hypothetical questions have not been banned at all. Hypothetical questions are imaginary situations that ARE related to the job. (This is in contrast with brain teasers, which ARE NOT related to the job.) An example of a hypothetical question could be, “How would you design an algorithm to source data from the USDA and display on Google nutrition?”

The following are questions that may contain more than 1 of the six criteria that Google looks for. Be prepared to answer them, if you aim to work there. We wish good fortune on your journey to becoming a Product Manager with Google. If it were easy, everybody would work there, which would defeat the purpose you want to work at Google in the first place.

Additional Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a Consumer Product you like
  • Apple Music has curatorially driven playlists, while Spotify is more algorithmically driven. What do you think about that?
  • If you are head of product for a third competitor, where would you go? How would you go?
  • What are the downsides of this particular future? Over-indexing, automation has the Facebook echo chamber?
  • Spotify hires you, you are a Product Manager, how would you improve Spotify?
  • Let’s switch gears. You have been hired by Google (Nest), and Nest wants to enter the Smart kitchen market. How would you enter this market? What would you build?
  • CEO says this is awesome, how would you bring this product into the market? You don’t have unlimited resources.
  • What other things are you thinking about? Barriers of entry? Competitors?
  • What would your target Alphabet ecosystem or broader audience user? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of targeting each of them?
  • Do you target online Google users? Or do you target other companies?
  • What’s your go-to-market strategy?
  • Different topics, I would like you to estimate for me the total amount of data that Google is required to restore all the imagery on GoogleEarth?
  • Can you calculate for me the total available parking spots there are in New York?
  • What is the total amount of storage space on Gmail? How would you calculate it?
  • Design for me a product that solves the problems for people with loss or impaired listening
  • Explain to me as you would to a 10-year-old how the internet works
  • If you were going to describe using a metaphor, what would that be?
  • Your company distributes specifically ATMs to airports. You are in charge of designing a new one. How would you go about it?
  • Explain how machine learning works
  • What are some things about engineers that you are aware of?
  • How would you take present an image on HTML?
  • Can you write me the code on the whiteboard?
  • Define a function that takes the array (ex [2, 3, 4] and spits out 235, takes the last number and add 1 & then combine the arrays(length) to form one number
  • If physics wasn’t an issue, can you design for me a smartwatch if Google was going to enter the market?
  • If you were a Product Manager at Google, how would you monetize Google’s self-driving cars?
  • In 10 years from now, do you think the smartwatch technology or self-driving would have a bigger impact on society and why?

The world’s first professional career coaching service committed to helping aspiring and veteran product managers transition into the product manager job of their dreams. Product Gym’s online curriculum helps you get the job and then crush it while on the job.

Participants attend class every Saturday for six weeks in a program designed to help them master a number of technical and soft skills, including product launch, data science, UX, interviewing, whiteboarding, and pitching.

Members have access to Product Gym’s career support services and resources, including a member network, workshops, offer and salary negotiation training, and interview feedback.

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