Google interview rejection: why you failed and what to do next

candidate frowns after receiving a google rejection

Have you been rejected after interviewing at Google? If so, consider this: we know lots of candidates who made it into Google at the second, third, or even thirty-ninth attempt!

In this article, we’ll explain how Google handles the rejection process, why you might have failed your interview, and how you can be successful getting into Google the next time around.

Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover:

Let’s go.

Click here to book a coaching session with a Google ex-interviewer

1. How Google rejects candidates

There are four moments in the Google interview process where candidates are rejected. Let's look at each one in turn.

1.1 Rejection at application stage

You apply via the Careers page or by emailing a Google recruiter, and you don’t hear back.

What’s happened? A Google recruiter has evaluated your resume and doesn’t think there’s enough chance of you landing a role in order to make it worth giving you a call.

You may eventually get an automated rejection email or you may not - individual recruiters receive so many applications that they simply don’t have time to reply to everyone. For the same reason, it's difficult to get any feedback if you're rejected at this stage.

If this is your case, see how to improve your resume for Google and re-apply when you think you’re a better fit.

1.2 Rejection after recruiter call

The recruiter called you for a chat about your experience, motivations, etc., but they decided not to take it further. You should get a rejection email from them letting you know this.

If you've not heard anything for a couple of weeks after the initial chat, email them asking for an update.

1.3 Rejection after phone screen(s)

If you've had a screening interview (usually via Google Meet) with a hiring manager or a peer in the team you're applying to join, your recruiter will inform you via email whether you were successful or not in getting to the next stage.

This decision will have been made by the recruiter and hiring manager.

If you get a rejection email, feel free to ask for feedback (see how in section 3).

1.4 Rejection after onsite/loop interviews

If you've done the loop of 4-6 interviews at the Google offices or remotely via Google Meets, feedback forms from each of your interviewers are combined in a packet (which includes your resume and feedback from the initial phone screens) and sent to a third-party hiring committee for review. 

The hiring committee then decides whether you're a hire or no hire.

An exception to this is if the feedback forms from your onsite interviewers are generally not positive, in which case the recruiter and hiring manager may decide it's not worth sending your candidacy to the hiring committee.

Your recruiter should email you to inform you that your candidacy is with the hiring committee (or not!) and will then call you once they make their decision.

Unfortunately, they are instructed not to give feedback on reasons for rejection. However, there IS a way you can get some feedback, as we'll show you in section 3.

2. Why you failed your Google interviews

If you've been rejected at any stage of Google's hiring process, there's a very high chance that it's down to one, or a combination, of the following reasons:

# You displayed insufficient role-related knowledge and experience (RRK)

As you'd expect, Google looks for candidates who possess a deep understanding and hands-on experience relevant to the role they've applied for.

If you think that a lack of experience or knowledge let you down, we recommend that you wait 12-18 months before applying to a similar role at Google. That way, you've got time to build up the experience and knowledge that you were lacking.

To maximize the progress you make in that time, you might want to work with one of our career coaches. They can help you develop key skills and become better at your job, or help you work out the next steps in your career.  Book a 1-to-1 product management coaching session or engineering coaching session.

# You didn't sufficiently demonstrate "Googleyness" or leadership

Google seeks candidates who embody the essential character traits that it deems fundamental to thriving at Google, namely 'Googleyness' and 'leadership'."

These can be slightly hard to define and therefore it's hard to know if you demonstrated these strongly enough during your interviews.

Read our guide to "Googleyness and leadership" and consider if you did enough on these traits.

# Your interview game wasn't up to scratch.

Interviewing is a skill in itself and many great candidates fail simply because they haven't properly prepared for interviews. 

For example, if you're an engineer, it's not good enough to come up with a great system design or solve a coding problem on your own. You need to talk the interviewer through your thought process, make sure they're on board, and react to any hints they might give you. All while displaying a strong "engineering instinct".

And then there's the time element. It's no good solving a coding problem correctly and talking it through nicely with the interviewer if it takes you thirty minutes to reach a solution when other candidates got there in ten.

Or perhaps what felt like a solid answer was, on reflection, lacking in structure, too superficial, or didn't consider the relevant trade-offs.

Suffice to say, there's a lot to get right in interviews. The good news is that, with some effort, you can rectify this. You just need to prepare better!

# You did well, just not as well as other people

Google is extremely picky about who it hires, so you might have done fine in your interviews and yet still get rejected. After all, Google would rather miss out on a great candidate than hire a mediocre one.

In borderline cases, "insufficient enthusiasm from interviewers" is the most common reason for rejection. So you might have done quite well across the board but not quite well enough to get a "strong hire" rating.

If this is the case, a few coaching sessions with our team of Google ex-interviewers can help you go from a "leaning hire" to a "strong hire".

Of course, it's hard to know for sure which of the reasons above apply to you, which is why getting feedback is so important in helping you know what to work on. Let's dive into that now.

3. How to get feedback on your rejection from Google

Like most large corporations, Google doesn't offer feedback for unsuccessful candidates. This is to minimize the potential for being sued.

However, your recruiter may be able to give you some feedback if you ask them the right questions. Bob See (ex-principal recruiter at Google) gives some great advice on how to do this, which we've summarized here:

Instead of asking the recruiter directly why you were rejected, allow them to be less explicit. Say that you'd like to study ahead of re-applying and ask them which areas they think you need to improve on, listing the topic areas you interviewed on to make it easier for them to pick one.

For example, if you're a software engineer, you could say:

"I'd like to do some studying before reapplying again, and I'm trying to determine where I should best devote my energies. Do you have any thoughts on what I should focus on most? Coding? Algorithms? System design? Leadership?"

This allows the recruiter to honestly identify the area(s) you were weaker on, without going against the "no rejection feedback" protocol.

Even if you don't plan on re-applying to Google, we strongly recommend you try and get this feedback as it will be very valuable next time you're preparing for an interview at any company.

4. How to get a job at Google after being rejected

It's always tough to get rejected by a company like Google, especially after such as long and difficult interview process. But that shouldn't stop you from re-applying. In fact, Google actively encourages candidates to reapply, as it knows that it rejects good candidates all the time.

These are the first steps you should take if you want to get a job at Google after being rejected:

  1. Ask for feedback

  2.  Get motivated

  3. Prepare better

  4. Do mock interviews

Let's look at each step in a bit more detail.

4.1 Step 1: ask for feedback

We've explained how to do this in the section above. The more pointers you can get from the recruiter about where you fell down, the more effectively you can improve on your weaknesses.

You should also try and get a sense from your recruiter of how long you should wait until re-applying. If the recruiter hints that you lacked certain skills and experience, you'd be well advised to spend 18-24 months doing something else first, but if you were close to a hire, you should reapply as soon as you're ready - Google will accept your new application after just 90 days.

4.2 Step 2: get motivated

If you're feeling de-motivated, try to change your perspective regarding your rejection. There are countless stories of people who got into Google after being rejected at least once. Reading a couple of the below will help you start believing again!

We've also worked with plenty of candidates on our coaching platform who failed Google the first time around but then got an offer after working with a Google coach.

4.3 Step 3: prepare better this time

Did you put in enough hours? For roles like software engineering, successful candidates usually do 100+ hours prep.

Using the right prep resources is also important. Choose the relevant Google interview guide from the list below, and use it as the base point for your interview prep

4.4 Step 4: Do mock interviews

Preparing by yourself is important, but it's not enough. So often, good candidates are rejected because they didn't sufficiently practice interviewing. And the best way to improve your interview skills is by doing mock interviews.

If you know someone who has run interviews at Google, ask them to do some mocks with you.

Of course, not many people have those sorts of connections. That's why our coaching platform lets you practice Google mock interviews one-on-one with real ex-interviewers from Google. They know exactly what the interviewers will be looking for and can give you insightful feedback to boost your interview performance and confidence. Start scheduling sessions today.