Updated: Nov 30, 2022
And how I got the interview
Have you ever had an interview experience so positive that you want to work for that company even more? Or you get a glimpse of the professionalism and culture through the interactions with recruiters and interviewers?
Google was the company that gave me a positive experience.
How it started
There was a time when I was applying to 100+ roles in an attempt to desperately switch companies. I was connecting with dozens of professionals on LinkedIn every day. I was scheduling handful of coffee chats with product managers to get referrals. The roles I applied to ranged from start-ups to big tech companies, from consumer products to enterprise products, and I was open to relocation anywhere. I was already applying to many big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft so I thought to give Google a go.
Connecting with recruiters
I knew Google received an enormous number of applications so to stand out from the rest, I made a lot of effort in connecting with recruiters. To learn how I send connection requests, check here. I searched on LinkedIn for product management recruiters who worked at Google. I used a mix of personalized note and inMails to reach out to about 15 recruiters. Out of them, only one person connected with me. This is the message I used to connect with him.
Title: Mid Product Manager role at Google Hello! I am a 5 yr professional and currently a product manager. I am almost done with my master’s in CS at Georgia Tech with a specialization in Interactive Intelligence, which is the intersection of AI, ML, and HCI. I spoke with multiple Google PMs and really enjoyed what they had to say about the work, culture, and people. I want to apply for a product manager role at Google. Are you willing to help me navigate? Thanks!
He immediately replied back with this note.
Hi, happy to have a chat. Would you be available at 5pm CST tomorrow for a call?
Connecting with Googlers
In parallel, I connected with dozens of Googlers on LinkedIn to secure referrals, which I was able to do but I ended up not needing them because the recruiter got back to me. But here is the personalized note I sent to Googlers to connect.
Hello, looks like you went to Georgia Tech as well! I am a masters student in computer science and also work as a PM. It is very cool you got to work at multiple companies as a pm. I am preparing to transition into tech PM and would like to hear about your experience.
How I prepared
These are affiliate links and will help me support my blog!
Product manager interviews: Exponent.
If you are looking for a one-stop-shop for product manager interviews, Exponent is the best bet. I have subscribed to them and used them to watch 20+ hours of content, go over the interview question bank, and practice mocks.
Product interview fundamentals: Cracking the PM Interview.
This book is my go-to for reminding myself of interview frameworks. It details how I can answer strategy, analytical, and product design questions.
System design: System design interview
Initial phone call
My call with the recruiter happened the very next day. At this point, I sent him my resume. He called me on my phone and the call lasted about 15 minutes. We briefly introduced each other. I talked about my product experience and what I was looking for. He said he will be scheduling the first round phone interview with a Google product manager. The next day, I got an email from a Google recruiting coordinator to set up the call.
First round interview
The first round lasted a full 45 minute with a Google Nest’s product manager. The interviewer called me on my phone. We started off by brielfy introducing each other and then jumping straight into a product design + estimation question. The question was asking to design a physical product and then estimating the market size for the product. The interviewer made sure he was taking detailed notes by asking me to repeat my trade-offs, solutions, user needs, etc. During the interview, I was speaking confidently but after the interview, I had mixed feelings.
Waiting for the result
I did not have a big expectation but after a few days, my recruiter called me on my phone to say that I made it to the final round! He said that the recruiting coordinator will reach out to me to set up the final date and that he will also schedule a short meeting with him so that I am well prepared.
Coordinating the final interview
Since it was during a pandemic, the final onsite interview was replaced with a virtual interview. The recruiter coordinator reached out to me to schedule a day for the final interview. I gave 3–4 available dates and times and after almost 1 week, I was scheduled for the final round.
The recruiter also gave me details on the final round. He said there will be 5 interviews with 5 Googlers on topics laid out below. He also gave me helpful blogs/websites to help me prepare for these interviews.
Interview 1: Product Insight and Design/ Strategic Insights Interview 2: Strategic Insights/Analytical Interview 3: Technical Interview 4: Product Insight and Design/ Googlyness and Leadership Interview 5: Analytical
Final virtual onsite interview
I took a day off of work so that I could do the final interview. The interviewers came on time and was very courteous. All of them had prompts prepared and after a short introduction, they went straight to the questions. The interviews felt professional, efficient, and smooth.
We did not talk about my past product experience or anything on the resume. Majority of the time was spent in the questions themselves.
Interview 1: First interview was with a product manager in Maps. He asked me a strategy question related to Google Maps.
Interview 2: This was with another product manager who was working in Android systems. Her question was product design around an app for children.
Interview 3: technical interview was with a Google software engineer. He wasn’t assessing my product skills. He wanted to see if I was technical. He started off by asking simple CS concepts like sorting and filtering. Then he asked me a system design question for a search engine.
Interview 4: Another interview with a product manager. He asked me analytical question about revenue at a company significantly decreasing. I had a good structure and probing questions but I was not able to identify the correct root cause.
Interview 5: Last interview was with another product manager. She asked me what kind of metrics I would implement to track safety/security. This one was hard because I did not have much exposure to this.
All in all, I felt like the conversation went well but I wasn’t able to provide insightful or stellar responses.
After about 3–5 days, I got an email from the recruiter that I did not get a role and that he wanted to call me at my available time. He called me and gave me general feedback and really wanted me to apply again in 6 months. I appreciated him so much because not many recruiters make the time to call after rejecting a candidate. His feedback was to improve my technical knowledge and practice answering product questions.
Although I did not get the role, I felt really good about the whole experience. I knew exactly what the process looked like and I gain confidence in myself. I also knew what I needed to improve so that I can try again.