I became a Googler in July of 2020 and since then I get questions from friends, ex-colleagues, recruiters and acquaintances on how to get a job at Google. This page is not meant to share secret tips, just to normalize my response to those requests with publicly available helpful information.
Internships at Google are quite decentralized and competitive. Internship information is available here.
One of the MBA internship program for my org (gTech) is managed within my team. My org typically hosts around 20 MBA interns per year and hire most of them after they graduate. We typically do not host undergrad interns (but other orgs do).
For internships across Google, the calls for application typically appear in Google’s job site in November. So, the recommendation is to visit Google’s job portal starting in late October and watch for the call for applications or set up job posting alerts with “internship” so that you know when internships get posted.
Understanding Google jobs
Job titles at Google are not very consistent, and job descriptions are often cryptic and vague. That is because we avoid providing too much detail about projects and organizations and because Google focus on the person-company match before the specific role match.
Common seniority titles are: VP, Sr. Director (“Sr.” often omitted), Director, Sr. Manager (or “Head of…”), Manager, etc. Those titles roughly map to an internal system of seniority levels (Director is L8) that you see in crowdsourced comparison sites. In software development job ladders, it is possible to climb the org chart without becoming a people-manager.
Generally, Google titles map one level above titles in other similar tech companies and two levels above the ones in small companies. A Google base Director role will typically be filled by a C-level in a startup, a VP in an established company, a Sr. Director in a large Tech.
Common functional titles in product development and operations organizations are: Software Engineer, Web Solutions Engineer, Data Engineer, Data Analyst, Product Manager, Program Manager. Technical Product Manager, Solution Consultant, Technical Solution Consultant.
For any engineering or technical position (including Product Manager), there will be technical skills testing (i.e. coding, computer science concepts) during the interview process.
For certain roles, Google might do pool hiring (i.e. you are interviewing to be an approved generic candidate for a type of role that will later be matched to a specific role).
The Google structure is too complex to explain in a few paragraphs, but in general, the company is organized in “Product Areas”, responsible for a family of products. gTech (my organization) is the technical part of the Google Business Office (the “sales” organization), responsible for management of support, partnerships and operations for Google products.
Yes, there is an internal referral process and I will gladly refer you if I know you well and believe Google is a good match for you.
- We worked together in the same company for a significant amount of time, I have first-hand knowledge of your work and had a positive outlook
- We have known each other as business stakeholders for a long time, we have checked on each other frequently over the years and I have closely followed your professional trajectory
- We are close family or friends and I know you as a person very well. Does this include one-step-removed relationships? It depends.
If none of the above is true, I will decline to refer. I will also not refer someone I have already referred within the past couple of years. Google has a high bar of requirements for certain dimensions of knowledge, Google has a very specific bottoms-up culture. So, not everyone belongs in Google. Not even everyone good belongs in Google.
My understanding is that my referral will accelerate the process of getting your application to a recruiter, but won’t influence the interview process and the evaluation of the match between the role and the candidate. So, while I might have multiple positions open in my team at any time, I do not control or influence who can apply and who Google selects for those positions and what is the compensation package.
If I do refer you, here is how it works: my referral will generate a personal link, which will be sent to you by email and can be used for 30 days for you to submit to up to 3 open positions at Google.
Preparing for a Google Interview Process
Google hiring is by committee. The hiring manager has little influence on the selection process after the job description is defined. Google uses in-house recruiters who understand well how Google works and who Google looks for and that will be your main point of contact during the process. A hiring process typically takes a few weeks to a couple of months, with a few initial informal chats with recruiter, hiring manager, followed by a formal “on-site” interview panel (3-5 interviews of 45 min each).
Google interview panels are designed to make objective decisions. If you are going to be a Googler, you might as well embrace the concept. Trust the method, be yourself, and believe the process is good identifying whether Google and you are a good match. If you take that attitude, preparing for an interview becomes a lot easier and more natural. If you are not selected, while that might hurt your ego, it is probably a good thing in the long term.
So, while one can specifically prepare for a Google interview (and there is a market for coaches, books, classes selling that specificity), my recommendations below are for preparing for any interview process.
Google will be looking for cultural fit (a.k.a. “Googleyness”) and leadership. Are you honest, transparent, humble, curious, positive, challenger to status quo? Can you influence without power? are you inclusive and appreciative of different perspectives?
Google will be looking for problem understanding/solving (a.k.a. “cognitive ability”) and technical skills. Interviews for any technical position will test for computer science knowledge (including coding for most technical positions).
The best approach is to be open, vulnerable, transparent. You might not have the “right” answer to a question, but you can show how you are thinking by asking clarifying questions and verbalizing your thought process as you navigate the questions asked by the interviewer.
So, other than clearing your mind and refocusing on core values and skills, the only preparation measure I recommend is to have a small collection (4-5) of real anecdotes from your career you can leverage to answer “STAR” (situation-task-action-results) question. Those are questions like “Describe an occasion in your career where you were trying to accomplish <task> and faced a <situation>, how did you handle, which <action> did you take and what were the <results>?”.
Before my interviews in 2020, I also spend a few hours during the weekend watching videos from one of the many Youtube channels devoted to the subject of interviewing at Google. That was useful for me to feel more confident knowing what to expect.