Earlier this year, Google Senior Vice President Laszlo Bock, who heads up personnel hiring at the search-engine giant, told The New York Times that securing a job with the company required a combination of cognitive agility, creativity, and intellectual ability; it simply wasn’t enough to code well.
Bock suggested that Google’s hiring processes are built to determine whether candidates’ reasoning is rigorous enough to succeed in an environment where cutting-edge thinking is considered the norm. “I’m not saying you have to be some terrific coder,” he said. “But to just understand how [these] things work you have to be able to think in a formal and logical and structured way.”
The questions themselves are often very easy. Don’t let that fool you. If you give the same answer that any intelligent person could give, then you won’t succeed in the interview. Show structured thought processes, think about a lot of different possible solutions, understand who your target users are, and be creative. Make sure you talk about how you’d approach solving the problem and validate that it was a good approach. If you’re not using a whiteboard, you’re doing it wrong.
According to Rapoport, Google has also largely abandoned the “brain teaser” interview questions that drew so much publicity a few years ago. “We do not ask questions like this anymore,” he wrote in response to another questioner. “What’s the point of asking a question that’s essentially a riddle that rewards someone simply for having heard it before?” Anyone headed into an interview with Google, and worried about whether they’ll have to answer a question about how many golf balls they could fit in a school bus (for example), can probably sigh in relief at that.
Product managers at Google must interact with people across the organization, from UX designers and engineers to marketing and community managers. Many product managers have CS degrees, although Google also places a lot of emphasis on the candidate understanding the complexities that underlie coding a massive piece of software. “The PM role is one of the most competitive at Google, so the process is designed to have no false positives (which means sometimes there are false negatives),” Rapoport added.
You can check out more of his responses at CareerDean.
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