The ultimate guide to Google (plus interview advice from the tech giant)

Google is the model of everything that it means to be a “tech giant” in Silicon Valley. The company name has been turned into a verb, the brand appears in movies and television shows, and if you’ve never heard of it you must live under some sort of no-internet-access rock. But there’s a lot we don’t know about the company, despite its popularity. Learn with Ladders all there is to know about the company behind the cultural phenomena that is Google.

Google facts and figures

Size: As of April 2019, Alphabet Inc. (Google’s parent company) claimed 103,549 full-time employees.

Founded: September 4, 1998

Industry: Technology

Value: $16.7 billion, according to Forbes

Locations: Googleplex in Mountain View, California, is the corporate headquarters of Google and Alphabet Inc.

While the headquarters is located in California, the company has offices all over the world. Check out this map for the other U.S. locations.

CEO: Sundar Pichai

sundar pichai google
Google

Salary of the CEO: According to the Alphabet Inc. 2018 SEC Def 14a filing, Pichai has an annual salary of $650,000. He received $0 as a bonus, $0 as stock options, and $1,231,066 from other types of compensation.

How much do Google employees make?

The average salary for a Google employee is $134,891. Ladders estimates are based on our calculations.

The average salary for a software engineer is $106,923, while the average for a product marketing manager is $158,947. Sales representatives make an average of $141,176.

Google Jobs 

Google is currently hiring for over 4,000 full-time roles, nine part-time positions, and 212 internships. The tech giant is currently searching for a Communications Manager to work from its California headquarters. Open Google roles in New York include a Cloud Corporate Field Sales Representative and a Head of Industry for the Landmark Vertical, among others.

What Google says it takes to get hired at Google

According to Google, there are three basic steps to getting hired there: Apply, Interview, Decide.

Apply for Google

The initial application process is fairly standard. The company recommends that you match your skills and experience with the best open roles for you. While many companies discuss the decreasing need for resumes, Google recommends you definitely take time to focus on your resume, as it’s the first piece of information they’ll see about you. Here’s the tech company’s official advice on how to frame your resume:

  • Align your skills and experience with the job description.
  • Be specific about projects you’ve worked on or managed. What was the outcome? How did you measure success?
  • If you’ve had a leadership role, tell us about it. How big was the team? What was the scope of your work?
  • If you’re a recent university graduate or have limited work experience, include school-related projects or coursework that demonstrate relevant skills and knowledge.
  • Keep it short. If there’s additional information (like a portfolio) we need during the hiring process, your recruiter will work with you to collect it.

Once you submit your application, it will be read by recruiters who then can move you along for that open position, pass you along to another role somewhere in the company, or make a note to remember you for future positions if there’s no current open match.

If the recruiter does find a potential match for a current open position, they will call to learn more about you. During this call, you should ask any questions you may have about the role or application process.

Interview with Google

You can expect two types of interviews: phone and onsite.

Keep reading for Google’s detailed advice on how to prepare for an interview.

Phone/Google Hangout interview

Virtual interviews are when you’ll speak with a peer or manager. During a 30 to 60 minute interview, software engineers will be asked to answer coding questions. You are asked to talk through your thought process while writing code in a Google Doc that is shared with the interviewer.

The phone interview will cover data structures and algorithms. You should be prepared to write 20-30 lines of code in your strongest language. Google gives the following instructions for this type of phone interview:

  • You will be asked an open-ended question. Ask clarifying questions, devise requirements.
  • You will be asked to explain it in an algorithm.
  • Convert it to workable code. (Hint: Don’t worry about getting it perfect because time is limited. Write what comes but them refine it later. Also, make sure you consider corner cases, production-ready.)
  • Optimize the code, follow it with test cases and find any bugs.

Candidates for all other roles will have a virtual discussion that will last between 30 to 45 minutes. You can expect case-based, hypothetical, and behavioral interview questions.

Decide

After your interview process is completed, Google starts its final decision process. This process may take several weeks, so be patient. Google assures that any employee hired does not still have to prove themselves, but can be trusted to do good work from day one.

Here’s how to prepare for an interview with Google

Google lists eight steps to get ready for an interview for any type of role

  1. Predict the future. Google has revealed that they no longer use BLANK questions, meaning you can predict many of the questions your interviewer will ask you. They suggest thinking of possible questions and even Googling “most common interview questions” in order to prepare.
  2. Plan. Writing down answers to the possible questions will help them stick in your brain better than just simply thinking about them.
  3. Have a backup plan. Never mind writing down one answer, Google suggests writing down three so that you’re prepared for the next interviewer if the first “doesn’t like your story.”
  4. Explain. Google doesn’t want one-sentence answers during interviews. Interviewers want to hear your thought process behind ideas because they want to know how you go about solving problems.
  5. Be data-driven. By data, Google means you need to back up your claims. Tell a story that proves you’re great at what you’re claiming to be an expert at.
  6. Clarify. Google likes to ask open-ended questions to see where you take the question in order to determine what “you value within the technological puzzle.” They suggest that you talk through your thought process and ask questions if a question needs clarification.
  7. Improve. If you don’t like your initial answer to a question, don’t be afraid to backtrack and improve your response. Google is all about improving.
  8. Practice. This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but Google stresses the importance of practicing your answers so you can deliver a clear and concise story.

Google also lists separate advice on how to prepare for an interview for a software engineering or technical role:

  1. Coding practice. Google recommends using CodeLab, Quora, and Stack Overflow to find practice coding questions, as “Cracking the Coding Interview.” Depending on which Google site you interview with, you’ll most likely have the option to code on a Chromebook or whiteboard. Test your code and make sure it’s easily readable, with no bugs of course.
  2. Coding. If you’re applying for a technical job, Google expects you to know one programming language well. They prefer C++, Java, Python, Go, or C. You also will be expected to know APIs, Object Orientated Design and Programming, how to test your code, and be able to come up with corner cases and edge cases for code. Google emphasizes an understanding of concepts rather than memorization.
  3. Algorithms. Google expects you to know the complexity of an algorithm and how you can improve or change it. Google uses the following algorithms to solve problems: sorting, divide-and-conquer, dynamic programming/memoization, greediness, recursion or algorithms linked to a specific data structure. Google suggests knowing Big-O notations and coming ready to discuss complex algorithms like Dijkstra and A*.
  4. Sorting. Google recommends that you are familiar with common sorting functions and whether or not they’re efficient with different kinds of input data. Google encourages you to think about efficiency means in terms of runtime and space used.
  5. Data Structures. Know data structures inside and out, including what algorithms go along with each data structure.
  6. Mathematics. Depending who’s interviewing you, you might be asked basic discrete math questions. Apparently counting problems, probability problems, and other Discrete Math 101 situations are frequent at Google. You should refresh your memory before your interview if it’s been a while since you’ve worked with these problems.
  7. Graphs. According to Google, there are three basic ways to represent a graph in memory, including objects and pointers, matrix, and adjacent list. What are the pros and cons of each?
  8. Recursion. Some coding problems require you to think recursively and potentially code a recursive solution. Using recursion allows you “to find more elegant solutions to problems that can be solved iteratively.”

What to know about the application process

Google no longer asks brain teaser questions in interviews because data showed it didn’t predict how well someone would do on the job. Instead, interviews consist of work sample tests and structured interview questions.

The HR department doesn’t mind if you apply for more than one job, but the company recommends narrowing down your picks to roles that actually fit your skills and experience. While it allows you to apply to multiple jobs, it will cut you off at three jobs within a 30-day window. For engineering roles, recruiters ask that you wait a year before reapplying to a position that you didn’t land so that you can gain more relevant experience for the role.

While recruiters may not update every applicant once a role has been filled, it’s safe to say that another candidate has been selected for a job if you haven’t heard anything within two months of applying. Don’t be too surprised if a recruiter reaches out to you about another open position at a later date.

The website says that a computer science degree isn’t absolutely mandatory to score a job as a software engineer or product manager.

If there’s a deadline for a specific role, the job description will state it. If there’s no date on a role, applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

google office
Google

How students can prepare to with Google

The tech company has many resources for students looking to one day work with the company. The Students page offers advice from how to create a resume that will impress Google to their very own guide to grow your technical skills with Google. Resources like available scholarships and grants, a virtual career fair, and a list of sponsored events are also available.

About Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.

Alphabet Inc. is Google’s parent company. Created in 2015, its purpose is to make Google “cleaner and more accountable,” according to former Google CEO and current Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Google’s stock was converted to Alphabet’s stock. Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet, but still remains the umbrella company for Alphabet’s Internet-related businesses like Android, YouTube, and Search.

A complete rundown of Google’s products and services

Search Engine

The tech company got its start with its search engine product, Google Search, in 1997. Across all platforms, it is the most used search engine in the world. Google News, an app and news aggregator, launched in 2002. Google Books, launched October 2004, searches text found in the books in its database and previews or full text.

google doodle

Advertising

Based on its annual reports, this tech company generates most of its revenue from advertising. Google Ads allows brands to purchase the top spots on a page when a customer types in a specific keyword.

AdSense is a program that allows website publishers to match text and display ads to their sites based on your content and visitors. The program exists as a simpler way for content creators to make money through advertisements.

The Analytics program allows website owners to track traffic, including where and how people enter their website and their activity following the first click.

Additionally, YouTube ads also create an extreme revenue stream.

google youtube
Google

Consumer services

Web services

Whatever issue you may turn towards the web to solve, this tech company probably has a tool for you to use. Some of it’s most-used web-based services include Gmail for email, Calendar for scheduling, Maps for navigating, and Drive for file storage. GSuite, which consists of Docs, Sheets, and Slides, are used for productivity. The ‘My Business’ product is used for managing public business information. Duo, an app used for video social interaction, is Google’s response to Apple’s FaceTime.

Software

Google acquired Android Inc. in 2005 for an undisclosed price. The company develops Android OS as well as Wear OS, which is a version of the Android operating system that is used with smartwatches and other wearables. Android TV is another version of the operating system used with digital media players. Android Auto is a mobile app that mirrors features from an Android smartphone to a car’s information and entertainment unit.

Hardware

The Nexus One, released January 2010, kicked off a number of phones and tablets under the Nexus branding, which was discontinued in 2016 and replaced by Pixel. The Pixel and Pixel XL

The Chromebook was released in 2011 using Chrome OS. The Chromecast dongle, which enables users to stream content from their smartphone and laptop to televisions, came in July 2013. Google Cardboard, the cardboard viewing device that lets users put their smartphone in a headset to view virtual reality media, was released in June 2014.

Internet services

The Fiber project was announced in February 2010 as a plan to build an ultra-high-speed broadband network for 50,000 to 500,000 customers in one or more American cities. The project was moved to Alphabet’s Access division after the corporate restructuring. Then, the company announced Project Fi in April 2015. Project Fi is a mobile virtual network operator that combines WiFi and cellular networks as a way to reach seamless connectivity.

Separately, the Google Station initiative began in September 2016. This project aimed to bring public Wi-Fi to railway stations in India.  This product now exists in stations in seven different countries, expanding from India to Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand, and the Philippines.

google office
Google

Complete list of Google products, as they are listed on the official site

Products for all:

Android Auto, Android OS, Calendar, Cardboard, Chrome, Chrome Web Store, Chromebook, Chromecast, Connected Home, Contacts, Daydream View, Docs, Drawings, Drive, Earth, Finance, Forms, Gboard, Gmail, Alerts, Cast, Classroom, Cloud Print, Duo, Expeditions, Express, Fi, Fit, Flights, Fonts, Groups, Input Tools, One, Pay, Play, Play Books, Play Games, Play Movies & TV, Play Music, Store, Street View, Google Wifi, Google for Education, Hangouts, Hangouts Chat, Keep, Maps, Messages, News, Photos, Pixel 3, Play Protect, Scholar, Search, Sheets, Sites, Slides, Tilt Brush, Translate, Trips, Voice, Waze, Wear OS by Google, YouTube, YouTube Gaming, YouTube Kids, YouTube Music, YouTube TV

Products for business:

AdMon, AdSense, Analytics, Android, Assistant, Blogger, Chrome, Data Studio, DoubleClick by Google, G suite, Google Ads, Cloud Platform, Digital Garage, Domains, Enterprise Search, Manufacturer Center, Maps Platform, Merchant Center, My Business, Shopping Campaigns, Surveys, Tag Manager, Trends, Trusted Stores, Web Designer, Google+ Brands, Hire, Local Inventory Ads, Optimize, Search Console, Waze Local

Products for developers:

App testing, Cloud Computing, Devices, Engagement, Game Services, Growth, Maps+Location, Messaging+Notifications, Monetization, Monitoring, Payments, Sign in + Identity, Storage + Sync