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Google PM (Product Manager) Interview Guide

Read our guide on what to expect in the Google interview and how to prepare.

Trying to get a job as a Google product manager? We've got you covered.

From Search to YouTube to Ads to Android, some of the most used technology globally is driven by product managers at Google. The Google product manager team bridges the technical and business worlds as they guide ideas from conception to launch.

Sneak Peak

Want to skip ahead and get straight into interview prep for a job at Google? These are some of the most frequently asked questions in Google product manager interviews. They test your analytical skills and overall product sense. Be sure to check out our full Product Manager Interview Prep Course as well.

What You'll Learn

In this guide, we examine some of the most frequently asked questions and dispel any preconceived notions candidates might have about the Google product manager interview. We'll also provide you an overview of the Google interview process.

Being a Google product manager can be an enriching career. The PM interview process at Google leans a little more on the technical side, so brush up on your data structures, algorithms, and system design knowledge as you prepare for interview questions.

What Does a Google Product Manager Do?

Everyone uses Google products; Google Drive, Maps, Gmail, and more. However, despite the ubiquity of these products, Google's PM interview

Interview Process

The Google product manager interview process consists of three phases: recruiter, phone, and onsite.

On average, candidates will hear back from phone interviews within a week or two.

Similarly, after the onsite interview, Google interviewers may take up to two weeks to return the results to you. Once you pass the onsite interview, expect the process of actually signing and negotiating the offer to be even longer as you get the paperwork all completed.

Recruiter

A recruiter will first call you to understand your motivations behind the role. For example, why do you want to work as a Google product manager? This will likely be one of the first interview questions you're asked.

Be prepared to talk about your past experiences. This call will be used to ensure you're good at communicating. The recruiter will also be looking for signs that you're a decent person to work with (and not a jerk).

Phone

Next, you will have a phone interview with a current Google PM. You will get roughly 45-50 minutes to complete either a product, estimation, or an analytical question, followed by a 5-10 minute Q&A opportunity. This can often feel like the first "real" part of the Google product manager interview.

It's important to note that all interviews, including the phone interview, are included in your final hiring packet. You will be evaluated on your performance in all interviews, not just on the last one before a hiring decision.

Homework Assignment (APM)

For the APM program, you will also encounter a homework assignment during your Google product manager interview. You are expected to complete the project in 2 hours, and the work is typically a product question.

Complete the assignment as you would with any other product question in an interview.

Clearly outline your approach. Acknowledge any assumptions you have made and send your solution back in a PDF.

This will preserve the formatting of your document so that your content will appear the same way regardless of computer or operating system.

Onsite

Following the phone interview is the final onsite interview. A typical onsite interview consists of 5 rounds: 4 product/analytical and 1 technical question.

Exponent members have mentioned they're often tested in **multiple dimensions **throughout the Google PM interview.

For example, an interviewer that starts with a product question could ask you to estimate the size of the market or provide you with analytics and ask how you would respond.

However, you may get a different mix based on your prior performance.

For instance, suppose Google deems you are strong at product questions but still questionable at analytical questions during the phone interviews. In that case, you **may encounter more analytical questions **in your onsite interview.

Each interview will take roughly 45-50 minutes, with 5-10 minutes in the end to answer any questions you may have.

You will be allotted time to use the restroom or get water if needed.

Sample Interview Questions

You will encounter 5 types of interview questions during a Google product manager interview:

Behavioral, Product, Analytical, Estimation, and Technical interview questions.

Most Google PM interviews for junior product manager roles will only ask generic PM interview questions. However, expect interviews for these higher-level jobs (L5 and above) to request more domain-specific questions.

Product Design

Product design interview questions test your ability to design a new product or improve an existing one. Be user-focused. The key is to ensure you're organized with your thoughts and have a clear goal to solve the user's problem(s).

Here is a list of product questions recently asked at Google.

One of the best frameworks is to go "broad then deep." First, "go broad" by listing all the ideas and solutions that come to mind. Then, pick one to "go deep" and explain why that is the solution you chose.

Another approach we see candidates have success with is The Triangle Method. This framework will help you articulate your thoughts and help nail your points into the interviewer's mind. To accomplish this, first list three points. Then, dive into each topic. Finally, summarize your three points at the end. Again, this will help you articulate your issues and subpoints when answering PM interview questions.

Analytical

As a product manager, you will be expected to make decisions that will impact the business. Analytical interview questions test your ability to understand the product strategy and the data. You will want to demonstrate competency in defining metrics and understanding what to do when metrics change. Be methodical and show that you make data-driven decisions.

Here is a list of analytical questions recently asked at Google.

The key to success in a Google PM interview is starting at a high level with the goals of the product and then drilling deeper into actions and metrics. We recommend employing the GAME framework for key metrics questions, as demonstrated in this PM lesson.

Estimation

With estimation questions, interviewers want to see the logic behind your estimations. These can also test your ability to size a potential market. While these questions may at first seem insane, the interviewer isn't really looking to see if your answer is correct. Instead, the interviewer wants to know how you are approaching the question. Ask clarifying questions. Break down the problem and make reasonable assumptions if needed.

Here is a list of analytical questions recently asked at Google.

Technical

Technical questions are most often asked by engineers at Google (so if an engineer shows up to your interview, expect a technical question). While you do not need to know how to do Leetcode medium/hard questions, you should at least be able to write pseudocode.

Here is a list of technical questions recently asked at Google

Also, be familiar with high-level system design and tradeoffs for the famous data structures and algorithms (including time and space complexity). Solutions should be scalable, reliable, and efficient. Always consider reality and the laws of physics.

How Technical is the Job?

It depends.

Junior product managers are more likely to be placed in a small, understaffed team. You will be working closely with engineering day-to-day. 

The higher the job level (L5 and above), the less technical the job.

This also varies depending on the team. But in general, most PMs do not have to write any code, except for SQL or python scripts. 

So, for example, a PM on the Search team may be running experiments by moving UI components around (fonts, colors, boxes) to see which will result in the most optimal metrics. But there certainly are more technical teams, if that is your preference.

Is a Computer Science Degree Required?

An engineering background is required for junior product manager roles (L4 and below). Most hired will have a computer science or electrical engineering background. Still, you will find some with other degrees like mechanical engineering. There do not exist non-technical junior PMs.

For experienced hires, Google cares more about your previous roles. For example, many senior product managers at Google were former Facebook PMs with non-technical backgrounds. Google continues to do technical interviews at higher levels, but the CS degree is not a strict requirement.

Behavioral

Google wants to know if you have "Googleyness", a value the company uses to describe those who fit in well with the culture. Though the term has various definitions, including being able to work despite ambiguity and being able to work well in a team, the general takeaway is to not come off as a jerk. You should also focus on communicating well: enunciate, speak slowly, and speak with meaning.

Here is a list of behavioral questions recently asked at Google

Hiring Decision

At Google, candidates are evaluated in 7 ways based on how they answer interview questions. The Google interview is focused on:

  • Product insight and design - Be user-focused and prioritize decisions that improve the user experience with the product.
  • Strategic insights - Understand market trends to make strategy and long term roadmap decisions
  • Analytical - Ensure your decisions are logical and metrics are sensible
  • Technical - Explore the technical details and justify your decisions.
  • Communication - Clearly communicate your ideas.
  • Creativity - Google loves moonshot ideas, but be able to defend your implementation.
  • Googleyness - Are you a good culture fit for Google or Alphabet? Your personality type goes a long way in impressing Google interviewers.

In the end, each interviewer will make one of 6 recommendations:

  • Strong no hire - this person is terrible, and we should not hire them. Massive red flag
  • No hire - I would not recommend we hire this person.
  • Leaning no hire - I would slightly prefer if we didn't hire this person.
  • Leaning hire - I would slightly prefer if we did hire this person.
  • Hire - We should hire this person.
  • Strong hire - If we don't hire this person, we're making a mistake. They're awesome!

Undoubtedly, you want to do your best and aim for "strong hire" marks in every interview. However, at this time, it is not clear which combination of recommendations will result in a hire. However, the seniority of the interviewer does play a factor. Google interviewers all vary in how they judge and perceive candidates.

Suppose, for instance, you perform well in your Google interviews with mid-level PMs. Still, the senior PM who interviewed you gave a "no hire" recommendation. In this case, their recommendation will be more strongly weighted in the final hire/no-hire decision.

Tips and Strategies

For Google product managers, technical thinking and logic are very much rewarded. Knowing the first and second steps needed to get to the moonshot if you have a moonshot idea. Be able to have a foot in technical conversations. This is different from other companies like Facebook, where product managers are generally more UX and business-focused than Google.

It's also beneficial to come up with and memorize a "cheat sheet" of common facts used in estimation problems. For example, know the population of the United States or the average number of megabytes in a photo taken by an iPhone camera. Being able to pull out these numbers in an interview, when appropriate, can really "wow" the interviewer.

In addition, one of the many pitfalls of failed Google PM candidates is their inability to go deep. You should act as if product management questions are like depth-first search. Go deep. Think of all the use cases. 

For instance, suppose you're presented with this question: What is the space Google needs to store any given user's photos per year? Don't make up numbers in your approach. Instead, spend time understanding how many people take pictures and how many of them upload their photos. Then, understand what a photo is: several pixels make up an image, with the number of pixels proportional to the amount of space needed. 

Bad product managers make flawed assumptions. On the job, this would result in wasting the time of engineering when they could be using the time to build the product. This is one of the main reasons these types of questions are asked in the product manager interview.

Finally, record yourself when you do mock interviews. Ensure that you present yourself in the best way possible. Take note of your own quirks and modify them if needed. For example, some people may look overly angry when they are in deep thought. I'm not encouraging you to be someone you are not, but you want to portray the best possible version of yourself. Sometimes, it's hard to catch your quirks (maybe you say "like" or "um" a lot) at the moment.

Interview Prep for Google PM Job

Tailor Your Resume to the Specific PM Job Listing as Much as Possible: 

Given how competitive it is getting your foot in the door at a company like Google, it's best to tailor your resume to the job posting as much as is feasible. 

Your resume should reflect aspects of the job listing in its language. But not only that, you should make as many conceptual connections to the job listing as you can. For example, ask yourself how your previous experience connects with the PM position at Google. What lines can be drawn between your previous work and the duties outlined in the job posting? 

Making these connections will help you answer the various interview questions that come your way. This is especially true for the more ambiguous ones or the ones you did not practice. 

Be Data-Focused and Data-Centric:

As one of the largest tech giants in the world, Google is an incredibly data-centric organization. While product managers at other companies may typically have less technical backgrounds, this is generally not the case at Google. 

Be sure to bring with you to your interview plenty of data and quantifiable results from your previous PM positions. You'll want to highlight the impact you had at earlier companies with objective metrics as much as possible.

Reflect on Your Previous Product Management Roles:

Your resume will likely contain the juiciest highlights of your PM career. However, it's easy to forget some or let others slip through the cracks. 

This is why we recommend that, before your Google PM interviews, you should really do some reflecting on your work history. First, think about the accomplishments or achievements you haven't thought about or forgot about. Then, contemplate whether there are any new lessons or insights you can draw from past mistakes or failures. 

This is important, even if you don't have a chance to detail each. You won't be stumbling through an off-the-cuff answer if you reflect beforehand. Instead, you will have something really worthwhile to say while being cool and calm in your delivery. This is especially true when it comes to behavioral questions.

Prepare Questions For Your Interviewer Beforehand:

With interviews for positions such as product management, it is generally always best practice to ask your interviewers questions. You may be the candidate, but contemporary tech interviews are not a one-way street. Instead, they are meant to be dialogues between candidates and hiring managers. Ideally, both should be evaluating whether they are a good fit for one another.

Nevertheless, substantive questions by the interviewee also serve another vital purpose. Asking questions (and asking good questions) demonstrates to the Google hiring managers that you are invested in and care about the PM position you're applying for. They don't want to fill their open positions with people who just treat it as another job. They want to fill it with Googlers

Our Favorite Google Product Manager Interview Prep Resources:

Peer-to-Peer Mock Interviews

At the end of the day, there's nothing quite like actual practice to help you get the leg up on your Google PM interview. Unfortunately, however, opportunities for interview practice may feel few and far between. 

That's why we developed our peer-to-peer mock interview platform. Now, you can access free daily mock interviews to help you prep. Use this tool to connect with other aspiring PMs experiencing the same interview processes as you. 

Here at Exponent, we found that, on average, successful candidates who received a job offer participated in at least 3 mock sessions.

These mocks will give you actual practice. You'll also have the opportunity to role-play as a hiring manager. As you can imagine, this kind of role reversal can provide candidates with some much-needed perspective and a greater understanding of the Google PM interview process. 

Product Management Interview Coaches

Another beneficial and powerful thing you can do is consult with a product management interview coach before the big day.

Interview coaches can provide candidates with expert-level feedback and constructive criticism. In addition, interview coaches are industry insiders who know exactly what the interview process is like and what you need to succeed. 

Here at Exponent, you can find several interview coaches that are or were Googlers themselves. Take a look here!

Salary

Google Product Manager Average Salary and Compensation

Thanks to our friends at Levels.fyi, we've assembled an overview of the average compensation for product managers at Google.

  • The average compensation for a Google L1 Associate Product Manager (APM) is about $168k. L1 Associate product managers tend to have minimal variation in their compensation packages.
  • The average compensation for a Google L1 Product Manager is $234k per year. The salary range for this position is between about $167k and $320k per year.
  • The average compensation for a Google L2 Product Manager is $325k per year. The salary range for this position is about $220k to $445k per year.
  • The average compensation for a Google L3 Product Manager is $452k per year. The salary range for this position is about $326k to $560k per year.
  • The average compensation for a Google L7 Senior Product Manager is $555k per year. The salary range for this position is about $400k to $750k per year.
  • The average compensation for a Google L7.5 Group Product Manager is $740k per year. The salary range for this position is about $520k to $900k per year.

Googlers are subject to a 4-year vesting schedule for their RSUs. 33% vests in year 1 (2.75% every month), 33% in year 2 (2.75% every month), 22% in the year 3 (1.83% every month), and 12% in the year 4 (1% every month). 

If you'd like to see more salary information for Google PMs by city and years of experience, check out our friend's Levels.fyi.

FAQ