Recruitment

Build Impactful Teams: 10 Google Interview Questions to Inspire Your Hiring Process

1 June 2023

16 min read

Kelsey Breton
Kelsey Breton

Recruiting top talent is one of the keys to success. If you want your business to reach its full potential, hiring extraordinary people is the first step.

Building impactful teams can take work and dedication. Thanks to the latest human resources information system (HRIS) technology, recruitment processes can be automated, becoming more efficient and less time-consuming.

Developing your company’s interview process is essential to ensure you can identify people who will thrive within your company’s environment. Over the last few years, Google has been leading the way in terms of designing interviews that can provide the information recruiters need.

Learning about Google behavioral interview questions can inform your company’s hiring process and supercharge your team-building efforts. This knowledge is invaluable for any hiring manager in today’s fast-paced business landscape.

The Importance of Interview Questions

According to Google’s former SVP of People Laszlo Bock, after analyzing massive amounts of data, the company concluded that successful recruiting relies more on a well-designed interview process than on any individual’s ability to ‘sniff out’ talent.

The secret to consistently good hires is behavior-based interviewing. Google, which handles massive amounts of job applicant data, has noted that there is little correlation between university grades or test scores and the potential success of a candidate.

In order to build impactful teams, you need to implement interview questions that reduce subjectivity and maximize predictive data. With advanced HRIS data analysis, you can, for example, learn what kinds of answers the most successful candidates are providing, so you can directly target your interview questions to find the right people for your teams.

The Google interview process has become a model for HR managers and recruitment specialists all over the world. By asking questions about past behaviors and potential scenarios, Google has found a way to predict a candidate’s future behavior, including how they might react under pressure or whether they can successfully pivot when circumstances change unexpectedly.

An efficient recruiting plan involves objective criteria that a skilled hiring manager can identify and measure. You should design your interview questions taking into account the values and principles you expect team members to uphold.

The value of behavioral Google interview questions

At Google, interview questions focus on identifying how a candidate might react in situations that will likely occur at the company. Sometimes, Google behavioral interview questions may seem odd, but there is always a logic behind them.

The applicants’ answers to some of these unusual questions tell hiring managers exactly what they need to know about how each specific candidate might fit into a team.

You have likely encountered one of the most popular Google interview questions around: how many golf balls can fit in a school bus? This type of question is designed to find out whether the candidate understands the challenges the problem involves.

The right kind of applicant might estimate the volume inside a standard school bus, the volume of a golf ball, and how much space the seats would take. In a nutshell, Google wants to know how people think; they are less interested in a definite answer.

Often described as “questions that make you feel dumb,” these types of Google interview questions can yield a lot of information about an applicant’s ability to solve all manner of problems.

Hiring based on someone’s resume alone provides a limited amount of information about their potential performance. Behavior-based questions expand that information, revealing the kinds of details that can help a hiring manager identify individuals who can take a team from good to great.

What Makes a Good Interview Question?

Good interview questions are designed to determine whether a candidate is a match for a position’s qualifications and requirements. They can also determine if the potential employee and the employer are a good fit.

An effective job interview is a far cry from a quiz to see if the candidate knows the correct answers; memorizing information can hardly help applicants succeed.

Good interview questions will reveal how well prepared the candidate is to face the position’s challenges. They will also shed light on their thought process.

Conversational interview questions

Google interview questions are basically conversation starters. This is a highly effective job interview question style because you can elicit the same information with much more context. For example, asking, “walk me through your career journey,” rather than, “where did you work before?” primes a candidate to tell you their story.

When you implement an effective interview process, you learn much more than whether a candidate can write code, understands digital marketing, or has certain role-related knowledge.

Effective interview questions will reveal whether a candidate’s ethics are aligned with the company’s culture and mission, and whether they have what it takes to fit in and contribute something unique to the team.

Open-ended interview questions

When you ask closed questions — that can be answered by yes or no — you can miss out on a lot of important information. Opting for open-ended interview questions results in more detailed answers that can better demonstrate a candidate’s communication skills.

One format candidates often encounter during the Google interview process is a type of question that begins like this: “Tell me about a time when…” Asking this type of interview question can elicit elaborate responses from candidates that can yield a wealth of key information about their past behavior and their interpretation of how things played out.

Open-ended questions help contextualize the applicant’s past decisions and events. They can also help you understand how they function in a team, how they see themselves, and what their long-term goals are.

Behavioral interview questions

google interview questions

Behavioral questions typically present a scenario and ask what actions the applicant has taken in the past to address specific workplace situations.

By asking behavioral questions, you can learn about the candidate’s problem solving skills and their ability to achieve a successful outcome in difficult situations.

A good behavioral interview question has three parts: introduction of the situation, inquiry about the action taken to resolve it, and inquiry about the outcome and the candidate´s interpretation of that outcome.

An in-depth analysis of the applicant´s responses can yield vital information about their ability to lead, communicate, adapt, reinforce the company’s culture, and uphold the company’s mission.

Using the SBO Technique

google interview questions

The Situation, Behavior, and Outcome (SBO) technique is a very useful tool if you want to implement behavior-based interview questions.

The SBO technique can guide your behavioral interviews. You start by setting the scene, i.e., presenting the situation. For example, “tell me about a time when you thought your supervisor was about to make the wrong decision.”

After the respondent offers some details about the situation, the people involved, and the time and place where the events took place, you can move on to their behavior. You may ask, “what did you do next?” or “how did you approach the issue, and what was the logic behind your decision-making?”

Finally, you inquire about the outcome. At this stage, you may ask, “how did the team respond to your actions?” or “what was the result of your actions?” You might also ask, “what could you have done better?”

Utilizing the SBO technique can help you assess whether the applicant has the necessary skills, values, knowledge, and beliefs your organization requires.

Thought-provoking interview questions

Open-ended behavioral questions are invaluable to catalyzing a productive hiring process. These types of interview questions must also be thought-provoking to yield the most useful information.

Thought-provoking interview questions can offer you a glimpse of their critical thinking process and how they might respond to problems in real-time.

Examples of thought-provoking interview questions:

  • Tell me how you worked effectively under pressure.
  • Tell me about a mistake you made. How did you handle damage control?
  • What aspect of your work are you most proud of and why?

Answering these types of questions inevitably requires analyzing the context, understanding the role each person played, and interpreting the results of specific actions and decisions.

Thought-provoking Google interview questions

Google has perfected the art of thought-provoking questions. As an HR manager or recruiter, you can learn from their interview process and reverse engineer their interview questions to power your own recruitment efforts.

Here are some examples to inspire your hiring process:

  • How would you explain the importance of HTML to your grandmother?
  • How many ways are there to find a needle in a haystack?
  • What would you spend your time on if you didn’t have to work?

By asking these types of questions during onsite interviews, Google recruiters get to observe each candidate’s logical mind and imagination at work.

10 Effective Google Interview Questions

Google interview questions have become the gold standard for advanced interview processes. Some of the tech giant’s questions may seem nearly impossible to answer, but there is always A greater strategy at play.

By asking questions that require a mix of philosophy, mathematics, and ethics to provide a viable answer, Google’s recruiters ensure they get the full picture. Thus, they may choose a candidate capable of thriving under pressure rather than another one who has better qualifications on paper but is incapable of functioning when times get rough.

You can use Google’s unique interview questions as a model to develop similar questions that are more relevant to your business and industry.

This list includes some of the most interesting among Google’s very effective interview questions.

1. How do you go about ensuring that your co-workers are doing what they need to do?

As a hiring executive, you want to favor applicants who can help other team members stay accountable. Google views accountability as a central factor throughout its hiring process.

Naturally, Google prefers candidates who know how to stay organized, track deliveries, and adhere to deadlines. A successful candidate will consistently block out time on their calendar to handle key tasks, use key performance indicators (KPIs) in the case of large projects, and schedule team meetings to discuss progress when needed.

An applicant who has a great answer to this question is more likely to fit into a company that exists in such a competitive space as Google.

The best candidates will propose strategies like contacting co-workers periodically and offering assistance when they seem to be falling behind. Additionally, they will have ideas about how to inspire and motivate team members.

2. Have you ever done something professionally, risked a lot, and failed? What was it? What made you take the risk, and what did you take away from it?

Innovation always requires a certain degree of risk. Google wants people who will have the courage to go where no other company has gone. Risk averse people are better off in less competitive environments.

This Google interview question can also elicit key details about the candidate’s ability to bounce back after a failure.

3. Share a detail about yourself that you haven’t put on your resume.

This type of Google interview question puts candidates on the spot. A quick, smart answer will tell you that the applicant can think quickly on their feet.

A question like this is an opportunity for candidates to show that they can bring something unique to the table and may offer an opportunity to highlight something about them that signals a culture fit.

4. Can you give me an example of a time when you and your manager were at odds? How did you two finally come to an agreement?

This interview question can elicit some of the most valuable revelations about the interviewee’s ability to function within a team. The right candidate will offer an answer that hints at their superior negotiating skills and assertive mindset.

5. Describe a time when you were faced with adversity. How did you overcome it?

In a fast-paced environment, you need to hire people who are capable of overcoming adversity. Google recruiters designed this question to weed out candidates who are ill-prepared to thrive in the face of adverse circumstances.

The best candidates will be able to explain in detail how they succeeded in overcoming adversity through well-executed plans involving collaborative strategies and efficient team work.

6. Share a time when a project expanded beyond what was originally anticipated.

This question focuses on the candidate’s ability to adapt in the face of unexpected issues. Google is looking to hire people who can take charge of a situation and effectively manage time and resources.

The top applicants usually acknowledge there were challenges and explain the steps they took to achieve the desired outcome.

7. What can I discover about you by checking your browser history?

This is a typical Google interview question designed to get a sense of the candidate’s personality.

An applicant’s browser history can reveal interesting aspects of their individuality. For example, their hobbies or their interest in current affairs.

Even things that are usually considered guilty pleasures, like spending time on social media, can have positive connotations in the context of a job interview. First of all, this information tells you the candidate is trying to be honest. Secondly, it can show you that they have a network of meaningful social connections or are tapped into the cultural zeitgeist, a great quality for a marketing position.

8. Share a story with me about when you had to handle confusing circumstances.

People who seek help from colleagues in the face of confusing circumstances are better equipped to work at a top tech company like Google.

Companies that employ people who can quickly develop strategies to tackle confusing circumstances and scenarios are more likely to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced business world.

9. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Questions about leisure and personal life serve to humanize the candidate. They can show you that the person in front of you is more than the sum of their qualifications and career trajectory.

People who are capable of maintaining work-life balance have a more positive attitude; they are the kind of people everyone wants around in the workplace.

Learning about a candidate’s family life, favorite sports, or volunteer work is important to establish what kind of person they are and whether they might be a fit for your company’s culture. Additionally, taking an interest in your employee’s personal life is a great way to signal company culture, and build an organization that actively combats employee burnout.

10. If you had no fear of failure, what would be your dream job?

Cautious risk-takers capable of driving innovation will likely offer some exciting ideas in response to this question.

Candidates can also use this opportunity to discuss what fear of failure means to them and the strategies they use to keep it in check.

How to answer Google interview questions

Google offers useful advice to candidates on one of its recruiting portals. For example, the company recommends candidates prepare for a Google interview by thinking about their career and the challenges they have faced along the way.

Whether or not you are planning to implement Google-inspired interview questions, it is always advisable to clearly communicate with your candidates on what to expect before their interview. Share details such as the format (will it be a video call or a phone call?), length of the interview, who they will be talking to, and the purpose of the conversation (to assess their skills? Learn if they’re a culture fit?)

Being relaxed and prepared is the first step to acing a complex interview process. By sharing some details about how the process will unfold, you can put candidates at ease and foster a more productive climate.

Understanding the Google Interview Process

Google’s hiring managers work diligently to identify the best candidates for each job description and team. Whether they are looking for a top-tier software engineer or an online advertising specialist, the company’s hiring process involves several stages, including several in-person meetings and vetting by various stakeholders.

What are the 5 rounds of Google interviews?

Successful candidates go through 5 rounds of interviews at Google.

  1. Resume screening
    At this stage, recruiters focus on determining whether candidates fit the position’s basic requirements.

    A winning resume typically mentions the skills and experience Google seeks for the position. Additionally, it will likely feature specific goals achieved as part of the applicant’s previous job. For example, if a candidate’s work contributed to boosting sales or cutting costs at their previous company, they should include details like the amount of money saved, etc.

  2. Phone screenings
    There may be 2 or more rounds of phone screenings. The first round focuses on explaining the interview process and offering details about the position. Then, during a second screening, recruiters will likely test the candidate’s technical expertise by presenting basic problems, coding challenges, etc.

    In the case of non-technical roles, the second phone screening typically involves behavior-based interview questions.

  3. On-site interviews
    These interviews are usually carried out in groups of 4 or 5 candidates. They are designed to assess the candidates’ fit for the role as well as their teamwork style and company culture fit.

    Candidates must usually go through various rounds of on-site interviews at Google.

  4. Team-matching phase
    This is an intermediate step only some candidates have to go through. It involves meeting would-be supervisors and learning about the team the candidate would be joining. If a team feels the applicant is a good fit, the candidate will move on to the next round of the hiring process.

  5. Hiring committee review
    Next, a hiring committee reads each candidate’s interview results and makes a recommendation to hire the most suitable applicants.

  6. Executive committee review
    If a candidate manages to make it through all the phases of the Google interview process, their portfolio will reach the executive committee. At this point, top Google executives review the hiring committee’s recommendation and determine the appropriate compensation for the selected candidates.

    Once this last stage is completed, the applicant will finally receive an offer to join Google’s ranks.

Master Your Recruitment Processes with Omni

Google interviews work because a lot of research has gone into designing them, and they are analyzed using efficient systems. Modern HRIS like Omni’s can similarly streamline your recruitment process to help you attract, screen, and retain top talent.

Omni helps you streamline and automate your recruitment workflows, enabling you to attract, screen, and hire the best talent. Our platform allows you to sync all candidate applications in one place and easily collaborate with hiring managers to schedule interviews, send impactful communications, and analyze interview feedback.

The power of Omni’s recruitment workflows

With Omni’s recruitment workflows, you can send offers or rejections with just a few clicks, coordinate candidate interviews, share candidate feedback among management, and swiftly transition successful candidates into the onboarding process to ensure top performance and engagement.

Omni manages and automates time-consuming manual tasks to allow you and your recruitment team to focus on what’s really important: crafting impactful interview questions, establishing parameters to interpret responses, and ultimately hiring award-winning candidates.

Book a demo with our team today to learn more about how Omni can help revolutionize your employee management.

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