The Surprising Things I Learned During My Google Interview Process

TL;DR: Tim Hykes shared his experience of securing a job at Google, which took about six months from the initial point of contact to his first day on the job. The process involved various stages, including an initial interview with a recruiter, a meeting with a Googler to verify his skills and determine fit, three interviews in a single day, team-matching interviews to determine the best team fit, and finally, a verdict from the recruiter. To prepare for the process, Tim practiced whiteboarding and mock interviews, created a presentation and script, and reviewed and prepared for behavioral questions. He emphasized the importance of showcasing work through images and videos, explaining design decisions, and keeping the user at the center of your design process during the interview process.

I started interviewing in October 2021
In March 2022, I decided to leave my previous job at World Wide Technology and pursue a new opportunity at Google. Transitioning from one company to the other was lengthy and involved, taking a total of six months from the first point of contact to my first day on the job.

During this time, I put a lot of thought and effort into planning and executing my move in a way that would set me up for success in the interview process. I utilized various resources to help me navigate the process, including a few YouTube videos, articles, and networking.

Overall, the experience was challenging but rewarding, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to make such a significant change in my professional life. So in true Tim fashion, I am sharing what I learned to help you in your future career transitions.

The Process
The process of securing a job at Google took me about six months for me. It all started with an initial interview with a recruiter who assessed my skills and qualifications. After that, I met with a Googler who verified my skills and determined if I was a good fit for the company. The next step was a meeting with my recruiter, who provided me with some Google interview materials to review and explain the rest of the hiring process.

After that, I was handed off to a new recruiter who worked with the specific section of the organization I am now a part. This person confirmed the available positions and ensured I understood the remaining steps of the process. I was then scheduled for three interviews in a single day, which took five hours to complete.

After the interviews, my recruiter met with me to deliver the verdict. Finally, I had a series of team-matching interviews to determine which team I would be a good fit for.

To further hone my interview skills, I practiced whiteboarding and conducted mock interviews with friends or colleagues, where we would go over common questions and discuss how I might approach them. In addition to these activities, I also took the time to design a presentation and create a script for it. This would be a valuable way to showcase my abilities and demonstrate my fit for the role.

Finally, I also spent time reviewing and preparing for situational behavior questions and answers, as I knew these questions would likely come up during the interview. Overall, I made sure to cover all my bases and put in the necessary effort to be as well-prepared as possible for my interviews at Google.

What I would tell anyone who's interviewing

The Presentation
To create a fantastic presentation, it is important to have a lot of images of your work. These images can showcase the designs that you have created and give the audience a better understanding of your skills and abilities. Additionally, using gifs or videos to demonstrate how your designs are used can add an extra level of engagement and help set the bar high for your presentation.

This video by Tony was very helpful in helping me develop my presentation.When preparing for an interview, it is important to go through all of the materials provided by the recruiter and take note of what they are looking for. During the presentation, you must explain the reasoning behind each design decision you made and keep the user at the center of all decisions. For example, if you conducted a usability test, it would be important to explain why this was done - perhaps to establish a baseline understanding of the old product to compare and contrast with future usability studies. By focusing on the user and explaining your design choices, you can effectively communicate the value and thought that goes into your work.

You must explain the reasoning behind each design decision you made and keep the user at the center of all decisions.

Mackenzie's video helped me capture things people commonly missed when interviewing.

Behavior-based Questions
During a job interview, it's common for the interviewer to ask behavior-based questions to get a sense of how you work with others and handle various situations. These types of questions may involve topics such as teamwork, collaboration, and conflict resolution. To prepare for these types of questions, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with some key concepts and principles from books like "The Ideal Team Player" by Patrick Lencioni and "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by the same author. These books discuss the characteristics and behaviors that are crucial for effective teamwork and collaboration, such as being hungry (motivated and driven), humble (open to feedback and willing to learn), and emotionally intelligent (aware of and able to manage your own emotions and the emotions of others).

In addition to behavior-based questions, you may also be asked more specific questions about your job function and the work you have done in the past. This may include questions about the decisions you made and the reasoning behind them, as well as hypothetical scenarios in which you are asked to consider alternative approaches or outcomes. It's important to be prepared to explain and defend your decisions, while also being open to discussing different approaches and considering other perspectives.

Overall, it's important to remember that the goal of the interview is to have a productive and collaborative conversation about your skills and experience. While it's natural to feel anxious or nervous, try to stay focused, remain respectful and professional, and approach the conversation as an opportunity to showcase your strengths and skills. By demonstrating your ability to think critically, work well with others, and adapt to new challenges, you can increase your chances of success in the job interview process.

Whiteboarding can be an intimidating and anxiety-provoking experience for many people, especially if it's not a common practice in their region. However, it's important to remember that the purpose of whiteboarding during an interview is to evaluate your thinking process and how well you work with others rather than to test your knowledge or coding skills. With that in mind, it's important to approach the whiteboarding session as a collaborative problem-solving activity rather than a solo competition.

To get the most out of the whiteboarding session, it's helpful to divide your time into different parts, focusing on different aspects of the problem. First, it's important to work with the interviewer to fully understand the problem at hand, including the reasons why it's a problem, the target audience, the players in the industry, and any design or engineering constraints that may impact the solution. This information can then be used to create a user map or journey that outlines the key steps and considerations involved in solving the problem.

This whiteboarding challenge video was very helpful

Next, you can begin to brainstorm and sketch out potential solutions or ideas. This may involve drawing out a flowchart or diagram, or simply jotting down notes and ideas on the whiteboard. It's important to be open-minded and flexible during this phase, as the best solution may not be immediately obvious and may require some trial and error.

Finally, once you have a solid understanding of the problem and have generated some potential ideas, you can begin to design a prototype or mock-up of your solution. This can be as simple as sketching out a wireframe or more detailed, depending on the problem's complexity and the session's time constraints.

As a surprise, the interviewer may throw in a curveball by introducing an additional level of complexity to the problem, such as a new constraint or requirement. This is a common tactic used to test your ability to adapt and think on your feet. Be prepared for this possibility, and try to remain calm and focused as you work through the added challenge.

Here are some example prompts to ask
Who am I designing for
What field are these individuals from
Where are they from / location/company / age group / disabilities
Any preliminary user research
what are the difficulties
What problem does this solve
What is the business problem? Why is the business interested in solving this
Is there any business out there doing this now / are they doing this well
is there a need to do it better
can we white label what they've done, and would that save us time and money
Is there any technology that would help us solve this problem that you know of that we should be looking at
What are the stakeholders most concerned about
Walk me through a current scenario (flow) - map out the pain points - summary of pain points
What's the current solution right now
What's the most important thing
Is there a problem with the way people do this right now
Why is this problem a big deal for the user
Are there timeline constraints
Who are the stakeholders on this

In the end
I put much effort into preparing for Google's interview process. I successfully navigated the various stages of the process to secure a job at the company. Some key things that I did to prepare included

practicing whiteboarding and mock interviews,
creating a presentation and script, and
reviewing and preparing for situational behavior questions.

Additionally, I emphasized the importance of showcasing your work through images and videos, explaining your design decisions, and keeping the user at the center of your work. These are all important considerations to keep in mind when preparing for a job interview, as they can help you effectively communicate your skills and abilities to the interviewer and demonstrate why you are a good fit for the role.

Dan Shilov
Crushing the product design whiteboard challenge

Vijaya Das
My Google Interview Experience (UX Design)

Whiteboard challenge from my workshop (UX or product design)

Mackenzie Derival
5 Tips to ace your Google design challenge from Ex-Google designer

Tony Aube
My EXACT Portfolio Presentation that Got Me Hired at Google, Facebook & Amazon