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Guide to the Google Interview Process for Software Engineers

Google Interview Question
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If you have aspirations of joining Google as a Software Engineer, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the interview process at Google. From the initial resume screening to the technical phone screens and the final virtual or onsite loop, we’ll cover each stage step by step. Additionally, we’ll share helpful tips and tricks, discuss what Google looks for in candidates and provide resources for coding and system design practice. So, let’s dive in!

Google Interview Process Overview

The Google interview process comprises three main stages: Resume Pre-screen, Technical Phone Screens and Virtual or Onsite Loop. Each stage evaluates different aspects of your skills and abilities.

Resume Pre-screen

The resume pre-screen is a non-technical interview that lasts around 20 to 30 minutes. During this stage, you’ll discuss your resume and background with the interviewer. Be prepared to answer questions about your motivations for joining Google and your biggest achievements. It’s important to highlight your passion for the company and showcase your suitability for the role.

Technical Phone Screens

The technical phone screens typically consist of one or two interviews with the hiring manager or a Google employee. You’ll be given coding questions related to data structures and algorithms. These questions will be solved on a shared Google Doc and you’ll need to explain your thought process. Additionally, expect questions about your technical background and experiences.

Virtual or Onsite Loop

The final stage of the interview process involves 4 to 5 interviews, conducted either virtually or onsite. These interviews will focus on coding and system design questions. You can expect more challenging questions related to data structures, algorithms and system design. It’s crucial to showcase your problem-solving skills and ability to navigate complex technical challenges.

Key Criteria Evaluated by Google

Throughout the interview process, Google evaluates candidates based on four key criteria:


Google values individuals who prioritize the user are friendly, approachable and humble. They seek candidates who are proactive, team players and have a bias for action. During the interviews, demonstrate your user-centric mindset and your ability to collaborate effectively within a team.

General Cognitive Ability

Google wants to see your problem-solving skills and how well you can explain your thought process. Be prepared for open-ended questions that require optimization and critical thinking. The interviewer wants to understand how you learn and adapt to new situations.


Google looks for individuals who can tackle challenging problems and rally a team to solve them. Be ready to share instances where you demonstrated leadership, even without a formal managerial position. Discuss how you handle trade-offs and ambiguity, showcasing your ability to navigate complex situations.

Role-Related Knowledge

Google assesses your technical expertise and how well it aligns with the company’s goals. They want to know if you can drive impact and contribute effectively. Highlight your technical skills and demonstrate how you can grow and scale with Google.

What is Google looking for?

Google is looking for software engineers who possess the following qualities:

Problem-Solving Skills: Google wants engineers who can tackle complex problems and find innovative solutions. They value candidates who can approach unfamiliar problems with a logical and analytical mindset.

Critical Thinking: Google seeks candidates who can think critically and deeply analyze problems. They want engineers who can identify underlying patterns, evaluate trade-offs and make informed decisions.

Learning Ability: Google is interested in individuals who have a thirst for knowledge and can quickly learn new concepts and technologies. They value candidates who can adapt to evolving challenges and stay updated with the latest advancements in their field.

Collaboration and Teamwork: Google emphasizes the importance of collaboration and effective teamwork. They look for candidates who can communicate well, work effectively in a team environment and contribute positively to a collective goal.

Creativity and Innovation: Google values candidates who can think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. They seek engineers who can explore multiple approaches, challenge the status quo and propose innovative ideas.

Adaptable and Flexible: Google wants engineers who are adaptable and can handle ambiguity. They look for candidates who can thrive in dynamic environments, adapt to changing requirements and remain flexible in their problem-solving approach.

Strong Communication Skills: Effective communication is crucial at Google. They seek candidates who can articulate their thoughts clearly, actively listen to others and ask relevant questions. Good communication skills help in collaborating effectively and conveying ideas to stakeholders.

Technical Expertise: While problem-solving abilities and soft skills are important, Google also expects candidates to have a strong technical foundation. They look for engineers with a deep understanding of data structures, algorithms, software development principles and relevant programming languages.

It’s worth noting that the above qualities are not exhaustive and Google’s evaluation process may vary for different roles and teams. However, having a combination of these qualities can significantly increase your chances of success in the Google interview process.

Technical Preparation Tips

To succeed in a Google interview, software engineers should focus on the following areas:

Algorithm Complexity: Understanding Big-O notation and analyzing algorithm complexity is essential. Practice solving problems and review the Big-O Cheat Sheet to strengthen your skills in this area.

Sorting: Be familiar with sorting algorithms, such as quicksort and merge sort. Avoid inefficient algorithms like bubble sort. Merge sort is particularly useful in certain situations, so familiarize yourself with its implementation.

Hashtables: Hashtables are crucial data structures. Understand how they work and practice implementing them using arrays. This knowledge is important for interviews.

Trees: Learn about basic tree construction, traversal, and manipulation algorithms. Familiarize yourself with binary trees, n-ary trees and trie-trees. Understand balanced binary trees such as red/black trees, splay trees or AVL trees and know how they are implemented. Additionally, grasp tree traversal algorithms like BFS and DFS.

Graphs: Graphs play a significant role at Google. Understand the different ways to represent graphs in memory and their pros and cons. Learn graph traversal algorithms, such as breadth-first search and depth-first search. Familiarize yourself with more advanced algorithms like Dijkstra and A*.

Other Data Structures: Expand your knowledge of various data structures and algorithms. Familiarize yourself with NP-complete problems, including the traveling salesman problem and the knapsack problem. Understanding NP-completeness is valuable.

Mathematics: Refresh your knowledge of discrete math, as it may be tested in interviews. Focus on combinatorics, probability and n-choose-k problems.

Coding: Become proficient in at least one programming language, preferably C++, Java, Python, C, Objective-C, Swift, Kotlin or JavaScript. Your comfort level with a language should be indicated during the interview process.

Top System Design Questions

  • Palindrome Number (Easy)
  • Minimum Meeting Rooms (Medium)
  • Number of Islands (Medium)
  • Merge Intervals (Medium)
  • Employee Free Time (Hard)
  • Alien Dictionary (Hard)

Top Coding Design Questions

  • Design Web Crawler
  • Design Google Docs
  • Design Facebook Messenger
  • Design YouTube
  • Design Twitter/Facebook Message Search


This guide has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of the Google interview process for Software Engineers. By following the outlined stages, focusing on key criteria and preparing for coding and system design questions, you’ll be well-equipped for success. Remember to utilize the recommended resources and practice on platforms like LeetCode and GeeksforGeeks. Good luck on your journey to a Google interview and feel free to ask any questions or request further content in the comments section. Thank you for reading!

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