In this guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know to prepare for product manager interviews at Google.
We’ve gathered insights from ex-Google PM interviewers on our platform, successful candidates we've worked with, hundreds of reports from Google candidates on Glassdoor, as well as information from official Google sources, in order to put together this guide.
Below you’ll find a detailed overview of the interview process, example questions, how to answer, and a preparation plan.
Here's an outline of what we'll cover:
- Role and Salary
- Interview Process and Timeline
- Example Questions
- Interviewing Tips
- Preparation Plan
Oh, and in case you're in need of some motivation for the challenge ahead, here's what one of our PM coaches says about their time at Google:
"Getting into Google is one of the best gifts that ever happened to me. Google taught me how important "why" was, how important it was to question how products contributed to society, and how important it was to be a thoughtful steward. Google engineers pushed me to come up with creative, customer-focused solutions. And also I love (and miss) the work-life balance I had at Google. It was by far the best company I ever worked for." Mark R, ex-Senior PM at Google.
Excited now? Good, let’s get started.
1. Role and Salary ↑
1.1 What Does a Google Product Manager Do?
The product manager position at Google stands out from PM roles at other FAANG companies in three key ways:
First, Google has a very strong engineering culture. Much more so than other companies like Meta which are more product-centric. As a result, Google PMs tend to have a strong technical background which helps them effectively sell their vision to the engineering team.
Second, Google has longer term, more qualitative goals than most companies. Rather than judging results on strict metric gains, it often gives PMs space to make more foundational changes that might not deliver immediate results.
Third, decision-making at Google diverges from the top-down model seen in other companies like Airbnb for instance. Google adopts a bottom-up strategy, empowering PMs to act as product CEOs. This makes it easier to make decisions and to implement innovative ideas quickly.
“As a product manager, you’re really the product owner. You are the CEO of your product. That encompasses quite a bit of weight and responsibility. You are coordinating all of the outbound activity. You are designing and setting the strategy and vision. As well as ensuring the execution of the product from the technical standpoint.” (Source: Life at Google)
- Aparna Sinha, ex-Product Manager for Google Cloud & ex-Senior Director for Google Cloud Developer Platform
If you want to see more firsthand insights into how Google product managers see their role, check out this video by Life at Google.
What skills are required to be a Google product manager?
Google Product Managers need to be generalists, with a combination of strategic thinking, analytical aptitude, technical understanding, strong leadership, and collaboration skills. Candidates will usually (though not always) need to have at least a few years of end-to-end product management experience under their belt before applying to Google.
1.2 Google Product Manager Salary and Compensation
Google PMs make 45% more than other PMs in the US on average according to Glassdoor.
Compensation mainly depends on two key factors: location and level.
Location: Salaries are adjusted for cost-of-living. For example, Google PMs in the US make 28% more than their counterparts in India.
Level: Both base salary and total compensation go up with each PM level. From levels 1-5, Google is the 2nd most lucrative tech company to work for in the world, with only Apple PMs getting higher TC packages. However, from L6 onwards Meta also offers slightly more (according to Levels.fyi at the time of publication).
*Total compensation includes stocks and bonuses on top of the base salary.
If you’re unsure what level you’re being considered for, ask your recruiter.
Ultimately, how you do in your interviews will determine what level you’re offered. That’s why hiring one of our Google PM interview coaches can provide such a significant return on investment.
And remember, compensation packages are always negotiable, even at Google. So if you do get an offer, don’t be afraid to ask for more.
2. Interview Process and Timeline ↑
What's the Google PM interview process and timeline? The process takes four to eight weeks on average and follows the steps below. Note that the process at Google Cloud Platform follows a similar process.
- Resume, cover letter, referrals
- Phone screens (one to two interviews)
- On-site interviews (four to six interviews)
- Hiring committee recommendation
- Senior leader review
- Compensation committee recommendation
- Senior executive review
- You get an offer!
Note that these steps are similar, but not identical, to the process for Google APM interviews.
If you are interviewing for a product leadership position (VP, Director, Group PM), learn more about the process and how to prepare here.
2.1 What Interviews to Expect?
First, it's important that you understand the different stages of your PM interview process with Google. In most cases, here are the steps you'll go through:
- Resume screening
- Phone screen with recruiter: one interview
- Phone screen with PMs: one to two interviews
- On-site: four to six interviews
First, recruiters will look at your resume and assess if your experience matches the open position. This is the most competitive step in the process—we’ve found that ~90% of candidates don’t make it past this stage.
You can use this free product manager resume guide to help tailor your resume to the position you’re targeting.
And if you’re looking for expert feedback, you can also get input from our team of ex-Google recruiters, who will cover what achievements to focus on (or ignore), how to fine-tune your bullet points, and more.
Next, the phone screens last about 30 minutes and are typically carried out first by a recruiter and then by one or two PMs. The aim of the call is to check that you meet the basic requirements for the position and stand a chance of getting hired. Recruiters tend to ask more behavioral and resume questions, while PMs tend to jump straight into product design, estimation, and strategy questions (more on that below).
If Google is really excited about your profile they might send you on-site straight away and skip this screening step.
On-site interviews are the real test. You'll typically spend a full day at a Google office and do two interviews in the morning, then have lunch with a fellow PM and do three interviews in the afternoon. Each interview will last 30 to 45 minutes.
Most of the interviewers you meet will be product managers, but occasionally you might also interview with an engineer who will assess your technical skills and ability to communicate with developers.
You may also complete the on-site interviews virtually, via Google Hangouts. In this case you would follow the same process, using online tools to present your thoughts, omitting the lunch meeting.
The interviews are very structured. Each of your interviewers will evaluate you on four main attributes (role-related knowledge, general cognitive ability, leadership, and Googleyness), take copious notes, and then file a detailed report. The lunch interview is meant to be your time to ask your questions. Google won't be evaluating you during this time, but we recommend that you behave as if they were.
For extra help, take a look at our list of 15 top PM interview tips.
2.2 What Happens Behind the Scenes
If things go well at your on-site interviews here is what the final steps of the process look like:
- Interviewers submit feedback
- Hiring committee recommendation
- Senior leader review
- Compensation committee recommendation
- Final executive review
- You get an offer
After your on-site, your interviewers will all submit their feedback and grade your answers to their questions. This feedback is then reviewed by a hiring committee, along with your resume, internal referrals, and any past work you have submitted.
At this stage, the hiring committee makes a recommendation on whether Google should hire you or not. That recommendation is reviewed and validated by a Senior manager before your candidate packet is sent to a compensation committee which will decide how much money you are offered. Finally, a Senior Google executive reviews a summary of your candidacy and compensation before the offer is sent to you.
As you've probably gathered by now, Google goes to great lengths to avoid hiring the wrong candidates. This hiring process with multiple levels of validations helps them scale their teams while maintaining a high caliber of employees. But it also means that the typical process lasts four to eight weeks and sometimes much more.
2.3 How many PMs does Google hire every year?
At this point you might be wondering what your chances are. It's true that since 2022, hiring at Google has slowed down considerably, as with most other FAANG companies.
The good news is that Google is such a large company that it's always hiring, even if only to replace the people who are leaving. We estimate that Google hires roughly 1,000 to 1,500 new PMs per year. Here are the steps we took to get to these estimates if you are interested in more details:
Number of employees: Google reports their number of employees every year in their annual report.
Number of engineers: At the time of writing, 40% of job ads for Google are for engineering positions. For each year we therefore multiplied the number of employees by 40% to get to the number of engineers.
Number of PMs: The typical ratio of PMs to Engineers at tech companies is between one to eight and one to ten. We've assumed one to eight here to convert the number of engineers into a number of PMs.
Of course, becoming one of those hires isn't easy: Google hires less than 1% of applicants and is therefore one of the toughest employers to break into in the world. (Interestingly, this number grows to 5% if you are referred by a current employee.)
However, the good news is that cracking PM interviews is actually very manageable once you know what to prepare for. So let's take a look at the different types of questions Google will ask you.
What does Google look for in product managers?
Google is looking for product managers who have a good understanding of how products work and have a strong sense of user needs and experiences. Google calls this “product insight.” Candidates will need to show that they can think analytically and strategically, work well with different teams, demonstrate leadership, and represent the company values and culture.
3. Example Questions ↑
The main difficulty with PM interviews at Google is that you will be asked a wide range of questions. We've grouped them in five buckets and analyzed how frequently they were asked by Google using questions reported by former candidates on Glassdoor.com.
Here are the results:
- Product Insight Questions (34%)
- Analytical Questions (21%)
- Behavioral Questions (21%)
- Strategic Insight Questions (14%)
- Craft and Execution Questions (10%)
Note: These percentages are based on an analysis of Google Glassdoor interview reports from 2023 to 2020. As the craft and execution category was introduced in 2022, there may be a higher percentage of craft and execution questions in current interviews than represented here.
Let's step through each type of question, take a look at a few examples, and briefly discuss why Google asks these questions.
Note that we have edited some questions for language and clarity.
Google product managers must be able to consider user experiences from the customer’s perspective and use that point of view to design and improve products. They should then convey a clearly defined product vision to stakeholders, and follow through on it.
Interviewers test these capabilities using product insight questions. In this portion of the interview, you will be expected to combine your understanding of the product space with technical and business considerations.
You’ll see that we divided the product insight questions below into three categories. For more in-depth information about how to answer each of these subtypes, take a look at our guides to product design, product improvement, and favorite product interview questions.
Example Product Insight Questions Asked by Google
Create a social travel app with a twist
Design something for Google Meet
Design a camera for the elderly
Design a product for travel
Design a product to find a doctor
Design a new product to compete with a technical product you love
Design an experience for people who are booking flights and are traveling for the first time
How would you design an airport?
What would you design if you were the PM of Google Flights and the strategy had to be monetized?
Which Google product will you improve and which will you cancel?
How would you improve our flying experience?
How would you improve a Google product you frequently use?
Choose a phone app that you use daily and identify 3 features you would improve or build from scratch.
Imagine a world where everyone has smartwatch. What will you do to improve user experience?
- What is your favorite product and why? How would you improve it?
Exercise: Watch the video below to see how an ex-Google PM answers the question "How would you improve Google Chrome?". Pause the video throughout so that you can construct your own answer and see how it compares.
At Google, product managers understand the challenges that a product faces, absorb relevant information, and develop data-based conclusions on how to address them. This requires working with numbers to break down problems.
Interviewers will test whether you’re able to do this using analytical questions. You’ll be tasked with estimating key market information and defining distinct metrics to measure success and failure. Your responses should be clear and well-structured so that interviewers can understand your thinking process as well as your final solution.
We’ve divided the questions below into two categories: estimation and metrics. These two subcategories require individualized frameworks in order to step through your answers with clarity, so we recommend that you consult our guides on how to answer each type: how to answer estimation questions, how to answer metric questions.
Example Analytical Interview Questions Asked by Google
How many planes can take off from an airport in an hour?
How many lights are on in San Francisco at 8pm in an average day?
- How many messages per second does Gmail receive?
- What is your favorite restaurant? Estimate how much money they make in a year.
- How much did taxi rides increase or decrease worldwide during Covid?
- Estimate the number of street lamps in New York City
- Estimate the market size for vintage watches
- How many self-driving cars would be needed to transport every person in London?
- What metrics would you set for YouTube in a developing country?
- What are the key metrics for an API in a cloud?
- Select a product and choose the metrics that you would gauge to measure its success.
- Asana made a new ticketing system—how would you measure its success?
- How would you measure metrics for BART (i.e. Bay Area Rapid Transit)?
- What metrics are important for Google Docs?
- You notice a 30% change in usage of your product, what would you do?
- As a PM in Gmail you come in on Monday, take a quick look at the metrics dashboard and see received emails have dropped 15% last weekend over the weekend(s) before. What do you do?
Exercise: Watch this video to see how an ex-Google PM answer an estimation question. Pause the video throughout to practice making your own calculations.
In order to get things done at Google, employees must work in cross-functional teams and display emergent leadership. This requires effectively addressing difficult questions, handling pushback, thriving in ambiguity, and challenging the status quo when necessary.
Interviewers at Google will be assessing this by targeting two important qualities: Googleyness/leadership and cross-functional collaboration. They’ll target these two qualities using behavioral interview questions, which explore your past experiences to predict future behavior.
Googleyness and leadership focuses on whether you align with Google’s values and can lead and influence effectively. Cross-functional collaboration focuses on how well you can maintain a professional demeanor while engaging in high-pressure situations that require buy-in from a diverse range of stakeholders.
To learn a repeatable answer framework that you can use to answer behavioral questions that target Googleyness and leadership as well as cross-functional collaboration, read our guide to Google behavioral interviews.
Example Behavioral Interview Questions Asked by Google
- Why do you want to work at Google?
- Why product management?
- Why are you leaving your present company?
- Why should we hire you?
- How do you handle stress or tight deadlines?
- What is your approach to work-life balance?
- What makes you unique?
- What are your career goals?
- What are you looking for in your next role?
- Tell me about yourself and your qualifications.
- Tell us about a time you faced conflict.
- Tell me about your previous experience.
- Describe a product that you built.
Googleyness and Leadership
- Explain your project management philosophy.
- Tell me about a time you used data to make a decision.
- Tell me about a time you resolve a problem as a Product Manager.
- Tell me about a time you led a team.
- Tell me about a time you set and achieved a goal.
- What would happen if Google fired all of its PMs tomorrow?
- How did you lead a project and what were the steps you took?
- How do you handle challenges with meeting deadlines?
Tell us about a time you disagreed with the team
How do you collaborate with others?
Who are your closest allies on your team?
Describe a time when you had a cross-functional challenge on a project. How did you manage it?
Tell me about a time when you were able to create a win-win situation
- Describe how you would convince engineering to work on a business-requested feature that would interfere with their existing work, especially if the engineering team is working on meeting a deadline
- How do you resolve conflicting product requirements? What or who determines which requirement takes the hit?
- How would you manage through a latent field failure or bug that is directly impacting customers and driving return rates up or support contacts?
- Your largest customer is loudly advocating for a new feature that is not in your prioritized roadmap. Sales, eager to please, have gone straight to Engineering to see if they can drop everything and get this done. What do you do?
Exercise 1: Watch this video to see how an ex-Google PM answers five typical Google behavioral questions.
Exercise 2: Watch this video to see how an ex-Google PM answers three typical Google cross-collaboration questions.
3.4 Strategic Insight Interview Questions (14%)
Google product managers can establish and adapt strategies by understanding the customer, the competition, external trends, and data from tracking metrics. They set the product vision and build the roadmap to deliver it.
With strategic insight interview questions, interviewers assess if you're comfortable thinking about the wide range of aspects good PMs need to take into account when making product decisions. This includes competition, pricing, marketing, time to market, etc.
Thinking through all these aspects requires creativity and a structured approach. For more information, check out our article on how to answer strategy interview questions.
Example Strategic Insight Questions Asked by Google
How would you go about mapping an unmapped area?
How would you double YouTube’s user base?
What would be your 3-year strategy if you were a PM at Snapchat?
- Imagine you’re a PM in Google’s consumer hardware organization. What would you build next?
- How do you see the "creator economy" evolving over the next ten years? If Google wanted to make a new major product investment within this space, what would you recommend we build?
- Pretend Google wants to acquire iRobot. What do you look for, and how would you position yourself?
- How would you revolutionize the car wash industry?
- How would you monetize [a certain product] more effectively?
Exercise: Watch this video to see how an ex-Google PM answers the question "Imagine you're CEO of Uber: what's your 10-year strategy?". Pause the video throughout so that you can construct your own answer and see how it compares.
Finally, in addition to gathering the right insights, setting the perfect strategy, analyzing the data, and making a plan, Google product managers must be able to execute on what they’ve planned. This requires knowledge of the product life cycle, prioritization skills, and delivering in moments of crisis.
Google interviewers test these abilities in the craft and execution round. They will test your experience in developing, maintaining, evolving, and sunsetting products, as well as how you act in the face of a crisis or unexpected change.
You may notice that we’ve also included some technical questions here. While the craft and execution category was initially introduced to replace the technical round, some roles will still require technical explanation questions to find out whether you understand the problem space well enough to contribute.
If you’re looking for more information about execution interviews, take a look at our complete guide. Note that this guide targets Meta’s execution interview, but can apply to Google’s interview process as well. If you're likely to be asked technical questions, use our guide to technical questions in PM interviews.
Example Craft and Execution Questions Asked by Google
- You’re the PM on Search 'snippets.' Say your engineering team comes to you with an improvement to the algorithm and wants to implement it - what would you do and how would you implement it?
- You're given seed funding to pursue any opportunity. What do you go for and why? Then what's the user journey? What's the Total Addressable Market?
- If a basic version of Maps has to be built, what info would you gather initially? What would your first MVP look like? What would you do if you had data of all the World's traffic?
- Draft a plan for a start-up that is ready with their MVP to launch a courier service. They have built pods to deliver goods from destination A to B. Keep in mind they do not have a lot of cash to burn.
- Pick a product of your choice. What are the goals of the product? What’s in your monthly business review deck for the leadership team?
- Imagine I'm a VC, offering you $20M to build any technology-enabled product/service you'd like. Please walk me through how you would get started? (Problem, Solution, User, Monetize, TAM)
- At what milestone or markers would you look for to determine if a product isn’t performing well and what considerations do you make before you sunset the product? What is the process you would lay out? How do you handle the stakeholders?
- You are about to launch a new app that is of strategic importance for the company. 1 month out from launch, internal Dogfood suggests the app isn't ready (you are below target on several key metrics including CSAT). What do you do?
- Imagine you launch a new feature, and the day after launch usage drops dramatically. How do you go about inquiring what happened?
- Create an algorithm to show radio stations to new users on YT Music
- Explain how a specific algorithm works
- Explain what cookies are to a grandmother
- Explain Google Search to your grandmother
- What is the difference between C and SQL, HTTP and HTTPS?
- How would you troubleshoot browser-based security problems?
- How does a DNS work?
Exercise 1: Watch the video below to see how an ex-Google PM answers a typical craft and execution question. Pause the video throughout so that you can construct your own answer and see how it compares.
Exercise 2: If you are going to have technical questions in your Google PM interview, use this video to practice. Pause it periodically to craft your own answer alongside the ex-Google PMs.
4. Google Interviewing Tips ↑
You might be a fantastic product manager, but unfortunately, that’s not necessarily enough to ace your interviews at Google. Interviewing is a skill in itself, that you need to learn.
Let’s look at some key tips to make sure you approach your interviews in the right way.
4.1 Focus on the customer
When answering a PM interview question, your first instinct should be to focus on the customer. Identify who uses the product, why, and what the use cases are.
Avoid designing a product based solely on personal preferences. Instead, explain how the product will enhance the customer’s experience.
4.2 Communicate your thoughts in a structured way
Google is looking for product managers who can articulate their thoughts in structured ways.
Using an answer framework will help you do this. For example, we recommend the BUS (Business objective - User problems - Solutions) framework for answering product insight questions and the SPSIL (Situation - Problem - Solution - Impact - Lessons) framework for behavioral questions.
4.3 Make sure your answers are data-driven and facts-based
Base your assumptions on facts, where possible. Google interviewers like arguments that begin with “We have seen that” or “A percentage of users behave this way.”
Of course, in an interview situation, you might not have access to the facts and data. But you need to make it clear that in real life, you would seek out that data and that your approach would be highly data-driven.
4.4 Show how you have influenced team decisions
You will be asked to describe past projects you’ve worked on and the decisions that you made that helped push your team forward. Google interviewers want to hear about the times when you’ve shown team members that you value their perspectives even when they’re different from your own.
4.4 Ask clarifying questions
Some of the questions you will be asked will be quite ambiguous. In those cases, you’ll need to ask clarifying questions to get more information about the problem and to reduce its scope.
Jumping straight in to say, a question about product strategy, without asking questions first will be a red flag to the interviewer and will hinder your answer.
For example, if you were asked, “What would be your 10-year strategy if you were a CEO?” you could respond by first asking what the company’s current situation is. This would help you make some clearer assumptions about the company’s business objectives.
4.5 Check-in with your interviewer
Interviewers vary in their willingness to provide hints. Some may wait for you to ask for details about the customer or product, while others expect you to make assumptions on your own.
Gauge this by asking a direct question or specifying your assumptions. If the interviewer appears not to want to engage, minimize additional questions to showcase your ability to make decisions on your own, but continue to explain the thinking behind each assumption.
4.6 Don’t get stuck in a framework
Using a framework offers a systematic and structured approach to answering questions. However, some of our successful candidates have mentioned that excessive reliance on frameworks may hinder your performance.
During the interview, trust your instinct, and don’t be afraid to deviate from the framework if needed. A framework is there to help you craft a better answer, not make you twist your answer to fit the framework.
4.7 Know your favorite product
Expect questions about your favorite product. This may be your favorite product from Google or a different brand, so be ready with examples for either.
Be ready to give detailed reasons for your preference. Analyze why the product outshines competitors, highlight the strengths of its design, and identify any potential areas for improvement.
4.8 Center on the company’s core values
Google emphasizes the importance of culture or value fit when selecting applicants. You need to study the company’s values, core principles, and mission statement.
When answering behavioral questions, share stories from past experiences that align with Google’s core values. When designing a product or a strategy, consider how your answer aligns with these values.
4.9 Think before speaking
Feel free to take a pause or request a few minutes to think before proceeding. This will help you organize your thoughts before answering so you can avoid jumping to conclusions.
4.10 Treat the interview like a conversation
Remember that the interview is part of a mutual discovery process. The interviewer is there to determine if you’re a good fit for Google while you’re also evaluating if the company aligns with your aspirations and preferences.
4.11 Save questions for your interviewer
At the end of the interview rounds, you’ll have a few minutes to ask questions to your interviewer. Coming without any questions may convey a lack of investment in the company or the job.
Think of thoughtful questions and avoid those that you could have easily searched online. You can ask about opportunities for career progression or qualities they consider ideal for the role.
5. Preparation Plan ↑
Now that you know what questions to expect, let's focus on preparation.
Below, you’ll find links to free resources and four introductory steps to help you prepare for your Google PM interviews.
5.1 Deep dive into the product / organization
As you've probably figured out from the example questions listed above, you can't become a PM at Google without being familiar with Google's products and its organization. You'll therefore need to do some homework before your interviews.
Here are some resources to help you get started with this:
- Alphabet annual reports and strategy presentations (by Alphabet)
- Google SWOT analysis (by Strategic Management Insight)
- Google org culture analysis (by Panmore Institute)
5.2 Learn a consistent method for answering PM interview questions
As mentioned previously, Google will ask you questions that fall into certain categories like behavioral, design, strategy, estimation, and metric questions. Approaching each question with a predefined method will enable you to build strong interview habits.
Then, when it comes time for your interviews, these habits will reduce your stress and help you to make a great impression.
If you’re just looking for a jumping-off point, you can start learning about the different question types you’ll need to master in the following blog articles:
- Behavioral questions
- Product design questions
- Product improvement questions
- Strategy questions
- Metric questions
- Technical questions
- Estimation questions
- Prioritization questions
Once you understand how to answer each question type, you also need to be able to communicate your answers clearly, under the pressure of interview conditions. That’s where practice comes into play.
5.3 Practice by yourself or with peers
In our experience, practicing by yourself is a great way to prepare for PM interviews. You can start practicing alone, asking and answering questions out loud, to help you get a feel for the different types of PM interview questions. It will help you perfect your step-by-step approach for each question type. And it also gives you time to correct your early mistakes.
You can find free practice questions on articles like this one or on YouTube.
If you have friends or peers who can do mock interviews with you, that's a great option too. This can be especially helpful if your friend has experience with PM interviews, or is at least familiar with the process.
5.4 Practice with experienced PM interviewers
Finally, you should also try to practice product manager mock interviews with expert ex-interviewers, as they’ll be able to give you much more accurate feedback than friends and peers. If you know a Product Manager who can help you, that's fantastic! But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.
Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practice 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from Google and other companies. Learn more about how an interview coach can give you an advantage, or simply start scheduling sessions today.
Keep reading: product manager interview articles