Technical Program Managers at Google are put in charge of some of these most ambitious technologies in the world. From Ads, YouTube, Android to Maps, Search and Gmail, Google’s products impact millions of consumers on a daily basis. Thus, it’s only fair for Google’s recruitment process for a Technical Program Manager to be exhaustive and demanding. After all, their role in the successful execution of a program at each stage is indispensable. If you are past the phone call with a recruiter, and a second phone interview with a Google TPM, you are in the third round of Google TPM onsite interviews. This round consists of 4 to 5 sessions with senior-level Google TPMs having diverse skill sets, and you are evaluated for your technical acumen and project management abilities. There is an additional cross-functional interview session with a Google TPM who doesn’t share the same technical background as you.
So, based on what Google expects from their Technical Program Management team, we will be looking at the top 5 things a potential candidate must remember while prepping for Google TPM Onsite Interviews.
Table of Contents
1. Networking is key to gaining insight on the interview process
In Silicon Valley, if there is one thing that is equally as important as WHAT you know is WHO you know.
Knowing the right people doesn’t just help you get your foot in the door but also allows you to brush up your skills in accordance to a role. This is possible through attending meet-ups, seminars, or conferences which high-profile technical professionals are known to frequent. You can also look up for resources on online platforms that are specially designed to help candidates prepare for interviews.
Basically, you need to get in touch with ex TPMs, those currently employed at Google, or anyone who’s “been there, done that” to gather in-depth knowledge on what Google TPMs do on a daily basis — the technologies they use, the management methodologies and tools they swear by, and the skills required to execute tasks.
What’s more, if you manage to get a referral, it will go a long way in creating a positive impression of you on the interviewers.
2. Google TPM interviews lean heavily on technical knowledge
Google TPM interviews are largely technical in nature. Since TPMs work cross-functionally with different departments and project teams from different technical backgrounds, they are required to be knowledgeable of a majority of technical concepts, if not all. This means you need competence in data structures, cloud, system design, architecture, technical decision-making, operating systems, CDNs, tradeoff, OOP concepts, and any technology you’ve listed on your resume. While preparing yourself to become a technical program manager, be sure to remember these factors.
Google is also interested in how effectively you can create algorithms as this demonstrates your problem-solving ability and coding prowess. Thus, you can expect plenty of whiteboard questions based on programming languages like C, C++n Java, Python, Go, and so on.
So, be prepared with carefully-curated answers to a wide array of questions in this regard.
Here is a list of technical interview questions that most candidates claim to have been asked at Google TPM interviews:
- What is a UNIX file system?
- What is your experience with the Cloud?
- I see X on your resume. How would you describe that to someone just starting out?
- Describe TCP protocol and how is it different from UDP and when to use each one of them?
- How would you design a server infrastructure for Gmail?
- What is Young’s modulus?
- What is struct, enum and union in C?
- Write a program to find if an Integer is a palindrome?
3. Prepare for scenario-based questions
Management constitutes half of a TPM job role and requires strong leadership and collaboration skills to steer cross-functional teams towards a common objective. Google will be evaluating your managing capacities across the entire project lifecycle, from project ideation to completion. Thus, most of the management-related questions will be based on hypothetical, value-based scenarios which give insight into your management style, behavioural skills, time management skills, ability to delegate and prioritize tasks, conflict resolution skills, and risk management skills, among others.
Therefore, you need to be able to demonstrate expertise in Agile methodologies and Scrum management principles to increase your chances of success. We also recommend anticipating and preparing hypothetical scenarios where you can cite examples from experience to formulate your answers effectively.
Here is a list of the most commonly asked management questions at Google TPM interviews:
- How do you define KPIs for your projects?
- Given a project deadline and limited resources, how would you complete the project successfully?
- How do you make trade-offs between time, resources, scope and risks?
- How do you manage risks for your projects?
- How do you manage cross-team dependencies and deliverables?
- Describe and whiteboard a continuous deployment system as well as a continuous build system.
- How would you prioritize tasks when you do not have the resources to complete all of them?
- How would you make sure that you are delivering quality in your product or service?
4. Know the attributes on the basis of which an interviewer grades you
The Technical Program Manager role is crucial to the successful execution of a program, which is a combination of multiple projects and cross-functional teams. It’s a challenging role because you are required to work equally upwards and downwards, and cross-functionally to ascertain the right approach to achieving the required outcome for an initiative.
Google will evaluate you on all of the above based on a feedback form that lists the key attributes that they expect a potential Google TPM to fulfil. These include:
- GCA or General Cognitive Ability
- Role Related Competence/Knowledge
- Leadership record
- Googley-ness (to determine if you are a cultural fit)
The final hiring process is undertaken by a group of Google professionals who weren’t present at your interview, and the final decision is based on this feedback form.
Therefore, make sure you leverage technical and management expertise, and back it up with experiences to answer every question they ask you. Assert the impact your initiatives have created in the past, and include figures to give a concise idea of your calibre such as a growth percentage, or amount of money saved. It is these little details that will help you stand apart from the crowd.
5. Give yourself enough time to prepare
There’s plenty you need to cover before you appear for your interview, from learning about management principles, to enhancing your technical knowledge base and practicing coding. You also need to set aside time for mock-interview sessions to structure your answers, thought-process, and streamline your interview demeanor. So, begin preparing at least a month in advance for the onsite interview so you don’t end up regretting later.
This brings us to the end of the article. It goes without saying that you need to practice as much as possible to refine your answers and gain confidence. You can either do this on your own or use the resources available online to schedule mock interview sessions with tech professionals who can assess your performance.
We hope these tips will help you land your dream job at Google!