Get VIP invites to recruiting events with popular employers! Sign up here.

MBA Corner
First Time on Brazen?

Spice Up Your Inbox!

Get invites to exclusive career events, networking opportunities and top career advice.



10 Insider Tips for Getting Hired at Google (or Any Coveted Company)

Pin It  

Dream Job Sign

Brazen’s blog is growing fast! For ideas on how to take your career to the next level, sign up for updates via RSS or get all our posts in one weekly newsletter.

As a former hiring manager at Google, I can tell you that the first secret of getting hired at Google is that there are no secrets to getting hired at Google. The truth is that Google’s hiring process is highly decentralized; so while there are general company guidelines, each group has its own best practices, go-to questions and, most importantly, ideal candidates.

If you’re fortunate enough to be called for an on-site interview, the first thing you should know is that the person asking questions most likely really wants to hire you. After all, few people at Google like doing interviews as it takes away from their core job.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help get you into Google CEO’s Larry Page’s Google+ circles:

1. Answer the question you’re asked. This may seem intuitive, but I can’t count the amount of times that a candidate answered a different question than the one posed. For example, one of my favorite questions is, “How could Facebook make money outside of advertising?” About 7 out of 10 candidates will give me an answer that in some way ends up coming back to advertising, and I am left to conclude that the person doesn’t pay close attention to details.

2. Don’t impose your agenda. You may be very eager to tell your story and phrase your candidacy, but it may be that the interviewer is interested in elements of your resume you hadn’t considered especially relevant. Pay attention to the clues embedded in the interviewer’s questions to determine what she’s looking for and how you might fit the bill.

3. Expose your thought process. Google is famous for asking brain-teasers (how many blue cars are there in Arizona?) and the purpose is to determine whether or not the candidate can break down a complicated problem and distill it into composite parts. To do this, be sure to verbalize your entire thought process and feel free to use the whiteboard or paper to draw out what you are thinking. I once had a candidate use the white board to organize and visualize all of his answers. He got hired.

4. Don’t be intimidated. If the interviewer pushes you for a more detailed answer, the worst thing you can do is become defensive (my favorite failed candidate once stated in exasperation, “wow man, you’re really putting me on the spot here!”). If you’re feeling intimidated, be sure to smile, breathe and stay on track. If you require further clarification don’t be afraid to ask for it. Remember: sometimes seeing how you respond to intimidation is part of the test.

5. Don’t mention the food. Regardless of what role you are applying for, at some point someone is going to ask you why you want to work at Google. This is a trick question to see if you focus on the famous benefits or the role. Responding to this question is your chance to talk about your knowledge of and passion for the position.

6. Do your homework. Google hires a lot of athletes, meaning super-smart competitive generalists who know how to get things done. This doesn’t mean, though, that you’re not expected to understand the product you’ll be working on. The strongest candidates show their initiative by knowing the product well, the competitive landscape and the industry space. You also want to demonstrate an appreciation for how Google brings products to market and then iterates on their development. Ultimately, if you’re not prepared to engage in an in-depth conversation about the product and strategy, then you clearly haven’t done your homework.

7. Examples and anecdotes are your best friend. Tell the interviewer about yourself through examples. If an interviewer must distinguish you from ten other candidates, the easiest tool you can give that person is great stories that illustrate your strongest attributes. Similarly, you should also have some flexible stock anecdotes available at will to answer questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you’ve worked cross-functionally to solve a problem?” If you need to spend a lot of time considering the question, you probably don’t often work cross-functionally. Any candidate, for example, can state that they possess leadership qualities, but if you can tell a story that proves your point, the interviewer will be far more likely both to believe and remember you.

8. Asking questions is your time to shine. Interviewers will judge you based on the quality of questions you ask. The person interviewing you probably spends a lot of time thinking about her product and its impact on the world. Your question, therefore, should be engaging, slightly gratifying, and hopefully unlock the passion of the interviewer. Don’t ask what someone’s average day is like or about her favorite part of working at Google. While the interviewer can easily deliver a canned response that will take up the rest of the allotted time, she is likely already thinking about which cafe she wants to eat lunch at. Ummm: Hot Pots!

9. Give me an answer I’ve never heard before. Your goal shouldn’t be to provide a satisfactory answer to every question. Instead, your goal is to be memorable; after all, what the interviewer is looking for is a non-standard answer to a question he may have asked a dozen times before. Sergey Brin, for example, is famous for asking people to explain to him the most complicated thing they understand. That way, if you bore him to tears, at least he’ll hopefully learn something. If your encounter isn’t memorable the chances of you moving forward are slim. Make it memorable for the right reasons.

10. Passion and enthusiasm are deal-breakers. The presence of these two qualities can often make the difference between a number of highly qualified and other-wise even candidates. Many hiring managers operate on the assumption that passion for the product and the role trump all other attributes. You can’t go wrong by demonstrating a deep passion that’s confirmed by your ability to speak in an intelligent and articulate manner about the product.

Lastly, if at any point a high-five is warranted, it should be instigated by the interviewer, and not you (my second favorite failed candidate).

Matthew Carpenter-Arévalo works for an international organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He blogs at carpenterarevalo.com.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://twitter.com/CareerSpan Carla Hunter

    Great article for jobseekers with tangible ideas to put into practice and show you mean business. Thanks!!

  • http://ryanstephensmarketing.com/blog/ ryanstephens

    These are solid and extend well beyond Google as they’re applicable to virtually any job interview. With respect to passion and enthusiasm, shouldn’t these be a prerequisite for most jobs at this point? For me, I feel like that’s given — not that some people aren’t more capable of conveying said passion, but I don’t think people should be there in the first place unless they can derive passion from the position (regardless of whether or not it is their ‘true calling’).

  • http://www.automaticfinances.com junger

    “Lastly, if at any point a high-five is warranted, it should be instigated by the interviewer, and not you (my second favorite failed candidate).”

    — Haha, awesome. Great post!

  • http://www.askamanager.org Alison Green – Ask a Manager

    #2 — don’t impose your agenda — is key. It’s frustrating when a candidate comes in clearly determined to tell me all about X and Y, when I really want to spend our time talking about A and B. Be prepared to talk about what you think is most relevant, but don’t push back too hard when the interviewer takes you in a different direction.

  • Sudangautam

    One of my favorite interview was:
    HR: Why do you want to be paid so high?
    Me: So that i could quit my job as soon as possible and start living my life outside the cubicle.

    Yes! i didn’t get hired for that answer but they have put this interview in their notice board so that they could make their day reading it. Isn’t that funny.

    The only advice that people need to take seriously is, interview is not about giving answers to the questions asked. It’s about you too asking few questions that blows interviewers mind. Always observe the location very carefully, most of the time you will be asked questions to see your observation skills too.

  • Tyler

    This is an excellent, well articulated article. I appreciate the insight! Posting it on my Facebook wall now!

    Thanks.

  • http://www.techarta.com/ NIKHIL

    really needed this tip for my placements! thnks a ton! will surely go according to this guide when google comes to our college :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/themca Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo

    Thanks Everyone:

  • http://www.facebook.com/themca Matthew Carpenter-Arevalo

    Thanks Everyone: I appreciate the comments. I agree with you Alison: a job interview is sort of like an improve act, in that you need to be highly aware of the clues others are passing to you in order to know where to take the scene. As such, sometimes having a strategy is the worst strategy. On the other hand, being confident, comfortable, expressive and good humored will go much further than most people imagine. After all, lots of people come through the door and know their stuff: what any interview is really getting to is, “would I be happy working next to this person day in and day out?’ Letting your personality shine through is key to addressing that question.

  • http://www.homelifecarinsurance.co.uk/ Colleen

    High five? Oh my nerves!! That was my favourite, too, Junger.

  • Pingback: Monday Motivation Links and Photo Shoot Sneak Peek!

  • http://matthewcantwell.com/ Matthew

    It’s amazing to me how many of these points are common sense and discussed by many careerists. The one thing this article does best is relate this advice to a job at Google. Anyone in the job market may very well read a bit more intently just because it is related to a high profile position. This article hit the mark for sure: common knowledge presented in a new more interesting way. Great job

  • http://www.expertfromindia.com/ Hire PHP developer

    Thanks for Nice Post.

  • http://www.premiumjetset.com/ victoria alex

    Interesting article but most of the it is common sense and would apply to any job situation not just google

  • http://www.mojedelo.com/ Zaposlitev

    Had job interview via Skype yesterday…. I wish I found this article sooner :)

  • http://www.livelovetravel.si/2010/11/how-to-apply-for-a-job-at-google-and-fail/ Martin Pelicon

    Be prepared for Google’s unusual job interview question. I got this one: ‘How many cups of coffee are sold everyday in your city?’

  • http://TeachMeAwesome.com/ Ben Winters

    Haha love this I can only think about the stuff google comes up with in their interviews1 “High Five Bro!”

    Ben Winters CEO
    http://www.Teachmeawesome.com
    Teaching you awesome.. 1 day at a time

  • Hiqq2011

    Thanks…….It helps a lot…

    http://www.weddingdressbusiness.co.uk/

  • http://twitter.com/seopre Thông Trác Ngàn

    your article very useful, I’ll following your blog !
    ——————————————————————
    think different!
    -may lanh lg: http://dienlanhminhkhoa.vn/may-lanh/ds/10-may-lanh-lg
    -may lanh panasonic: http://dienlanhminhkhoa.vn/may-lanh/ds/14-may-lanh-panasonic

  • Pingback: 10 Insider Tips for Getting Hired at Google | Beautiful organizations | Scoop.it