From Search to YouTube to Ads to Android, some of the most used technology in the world is driven by product managers at Google. The technical program management team helps Google execute on their ambitious mission as they guide ideas from conception to launch.
We examine some of the most frequently asked questions and dispel any preconceived notions that candidates might have about interviewing for a Google TPM role: what educational and professional background is required? How exactly will the interviewer grade you?
Technical program management at Google can be an incredibly rewarding career. The TPM interview at Google leans a little more on the technical side, so brush up on your data structures, algorithms, and system design knowledge.
Typically, there are 3 rounds of interviews for Google PM roles: recruiter, phone, and onsite, followed by the team matching process.
On average, candidates will hear back from phone interviews within a week or two. Similarly after the on-site interview, Google may take up to two weeks to return the results to you.
A recruiter will first call you to understand your motivations behind the role. Why do you want to work at Google as a TPM? 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).
Next, you will have a 30-45 minute phone interview with a current technical program manager at Google. These phone interviews will be a mixture of program sense and behavioral.
It’s important to note that all interviews, including the phone interview, are included in your final hiring packet.
Following the phone interview is the final on-site. A typical on-site interview consists of 4-5 rounds: 2 technical and 3 program sense. Exponent members have mentioned they’re often tested in multiple dimensions through the interview. For example, an interviewer that starts with a behavioral question could ask you to then describe how you'd launch a similar program at Google.
Each interview will take roughly 30-45 minutes with 5-10 minutes at the end to answer any questions you may have. You will be allotted time to use the restroom or get water if needed, and you'll have a non-evaluative lunch with a Googler as well, so you can get to know the company better.
Though there's heavy overlap between different interview rounds, questions break down into the following categories:
Program sense questions assess your general TPM capabilities, such as your ability to manage risks, deadlines, changes, and requirements. These questions mirror your day-to-day experience as a techincal program manager, and you'll rely heavily on your previous work.
Here is a list of program sense questions recently asked at Google.
To prepare for these questions, review some of the questions in our TPM interview prep course's program sense section.
You'll meet with Google's engineering managers and technical leads to assess your technical skills throughout the entire interview loop. Can you work on highly technical projects? Can you handle making decisions about technical tradeoffs? How would you handle scenarios where you need to collect more information?
These questions often involve heavy knowledge of system design concepts, so be sure to review those before the interview.
Here is a list of common system design interview questions.
To prepare for the technical interviews, review our TPM interview course system design section and software engineering interview course at a high-level. Are there areas you're weaker in? Focus more prep to review technical concepts and prepare for the interview.
TPM is a highly cross-functional role and you'll work closely with engineers, product managers, data scientists, and designers. Behavioral questions assess your ability to work with all of these groups, and your culture-fit with Google (otherwise known as "Googleyness".)
We highly recommend creating your personal story bank so that you go into the interview with clear examples you can speak from.
A Google-specific tip is to answer in a "Googley" fashion. Google looks for some key characteristics, like being able to work despite ambiguity and being able to work well in a team, but 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 recently-asked behavioral questions at Google.
Google collects all information received in the application process: resume, interview feedback, referrals, to be reviewed by senior TPMs at Google. These TPMs will come to a consensus decision on your candidacy, which is then placed in the form of a recommendation to executives at Google who will sign off on the recommendation.