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Google Behavioral Interview Guide 2023 (Questions, G&L Round)

Careerflow Team

Are you gearing up for a behavioral interview at Google? 

Then you're in the right place! 

As one of the world's most innovative companies, Google is known for its rigorous hiring process, and behavioral interviews are a crucial part of this process. Google's behavioral interview questions are designed to assess how you have tackled real-life challenges in the past and how you might handle similar challenges in the future. At Google, you will have the chance to work on some of the world's most cutting-edge products and services, from YouTube and Gmail to Chrome and Google Drive. So, if you want to be a part of the Google team, take on the challenge of a behavioral interview, read on and get ready to shine!

Google’s vision statement

What is Google’s Behavioral Interview? 

Behavioral interviews conducted by Google are often called "Googleyness and Leadership" interviews (G&L interviews) and are sometimes even referred to as "General Cognitive Ability" interviews. These interviews are primarily aimed at checking if a candidate is a cultural fit for Google or not. These interviews are a crucial and very fundamental part of Google’s hiring process as it has very high standards for leadership. 

Tirsa F., Auditor at Google, says – “Leadership at Google is important at every level. Leadership can take many forms. And every Googler, no matter their job or level, has leadership qualities. ”

However, Google necessarily doesn’t conduct separate behavioral interviews for every role. For some roles, they assess candidates' general cognitive ability by asking 1-2 behavioral questions in all stages of the hiring process (including tech interviews or phone screening with hiring managers). They may, however, conduct separate behavioral interviews for more senior roles.

What Values Does Google Look for in its Employees?

Essentially, the Googleyness and Leadership interview measures the candidate's ability to work with his or her teammates toward a common goal while also inspiring them to do the same.

Jodie Taylor, university programs specialist at Google, says there are some core central tenets Google is looking for while hiring folks:

  1. How a candidate thinks - This quality assesses how the candidate uses data logic and reasoning while answering the question.
  1. Leadership skills -Interviewers assess how a candidate has performed leadership tasks in college, an internship, or a past job.
    Google’s advice to aspiring GooglersBe prepared to discuss how you have used your communication and decision-making skills to mobilize others. This might be by stepping up to a leadership role at work or with an organization, or by helping a team succeed even when you weren’t officially the leader.
  1. Role-related knowledge- Google checks whether candidates have the skills required for that particular position.
  1. Googleyness- It's tricky to define Googleyness, and the definition keeps evolving as Google grows, but in a broader sense, Googleyness is a mashup of passion and drive that’s hard to define but easy to spot.

    Google’s advice to aspiring Googlers
    : Share how you work individually and on a team, how you help others, how you navigate ambiguity, and how you push yourself to grow outside of your comfort zone.

Tirsa F., Auditor at Google, while guiding aspiring Googlers on Google leadership interviews says that no matter which position you are interviewing for, we will assess you on:

  1. Communication and Leadership Style – Google expects its leaders to be able to communicate effectively and lead with authenticity and humility. This means being able to effectively convey your ideas and thoughts to others, as well as being able to listen and understand the perspectives of others. In addition to strong communication skills, Google also values technical expertise and the ability to continuously learn and grow.
  1. Navigating complexity and ambiguity – Navigating complexity and ambiguity is a crucial skill for Googlers, as they often face complex problems and situations that may not have clear-cut solutions. In these cases, it is critical to be able to see the bigger picture and make informed decisions.
  1. Working with Teams – Working with teams is a key aspect of Google's culture, as the company values collaboration and teamwork. Googlers must be able to collaborate effectively with others, even when opinions differ. This means being able to listen to others, respect their ideas, and find ways to work together towards a common goal.
  1. Vision – Vision is also important for Googlers, as the company values individuals who are driven to make a difference in the world. Aspiring Googlers should be able to demonstrate their ability to think outside the box and identify opportunities for change.
  1. Delivering Results – Finally, delivering results is crucial for Googlers, as the company values individuals who can turn their visions into concrete goals and plans. Googlers must be able to strike a balance between setting processes in place and getting results, to drive success for the company.
Bonus Tip: To know more about Google, familiarize yourself with Google’s core 10 values and read Google’s official interview guide.
Google’s core 10 values
Also read: Google - A tech titan with the best corporate culture.

Behavioral and Hypothetical Questions Asked by Google During the Interview

The obvious question that might be crossing your mind right now is–What to expect from a Googleyness and Leadership interview?

In the Googleyness and Leadership interview, you can expect a mix of behavioral and hypothetical questions.

  • Behavioral questions based on candidates' previous work experience – These questions are mainly aimed at assessing if candidates are the right match for the role you are applying for or not. And often start with phrases like “tell me about the time”, “give me an example of” or “describe a decision you made”. These questions are meant to assess your past performance thus it’s crucial that you effectively communicate your past experiences and showcase skills required for your target roles. This category may include the following questions:
  1. Tell me about a time you led a team.
  2. Tell me about a time you failed.
  3. Tell me about a time you had to deal with ambiguity.
  4. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  5. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What did you learn?
  6. Describe two specific goals you set for yourself and how successful you were in meeting them. What factors led to your success?
  7. Describe the challenges you faced during your group project.
  8. Tell me about the time you had to lead or influence others without being in a formal position of authority.
Here is a bonus: You may expect follow-up questions such as “what did you do then?” or “what was the result?” on these questions.
  • Hypothetical questions based on imaginary situations that you may potentially face at Google – These questions often start with “imagine this”. Most of these questions concern situations that candidates have never experienced before. This category may include the following questions:
  1. Imagine you are in charge of organizing the grand opening of a new Google office in Bangalore, India. What steps would you take to plan this event?
  2. As a team leader, two of your team members passively pass time without contributing to the team. What will you do with them?
  3. Imagine you need something important from a colleague and he/she is not responding. What would you do in this situation?
  4. Imagine you are working on a project and you notice that one team member is not meeting their deadlines consistently. How would you address the issue and ensure the project stays on track?
  5. Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult team member or supervisor. How did you handle the situation and maintain a positive working relationship?

Now another critical question that might be crossing your mind right now– What qualities do Google interviewers assess in candidates’ answers?

Prepare well for the interview by practicing many questions beforehand.

So to answer both types of questions effectively, you must demonstrate the following qualities:

  • Effective communication.
  • Decision making.
  • Initiative.
  • Organization.
  • Time management.
  • Flexibility.
  • Leadership.
  • Problem-solving.

How to Answer Googleyness and Leadership Interview Questions Effectively?

Before we deep dive into this topic, it is important to note that there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to these questions. However, following a certain framework can help you frame a potentially ideal answer. To answer any question successfully in a Google behavioral interview, you must check all four of these boxes. 

  • Understanding of the question.
  • Preparation strategy 
  • Ability to identify solutions.
  • Justification for a specific solution.
  • Communication.

Behavioral interview questions may seem the easiest to tackle, but they can be the hardest to respond to accurately. So here are a few things to follow to answer these questions effectively

1. Make sure you understand the question well and ask clarifying questions if required.

It is of no use to attempt to answer a question you are unsure of. So don’t directly jump into answering a question and take a moment before responding.

Jodie Taylor, University programs specialist at Google says: “Oftentimes your interviewer will give you too much or too little information as we want to make sure you are understanding the core and central issue so making sure that you are distilling through all of the excess noise and excess words and making sure that you are getting to the core issue at hand.” 

So listen to the question carefully and don’t hesitate to ask your interviewer to repeat the question if you haven’t understood it at once. 

2. Frame a dynamic answer. 

Google looks forward to a coherent and dynamic response. Here are a few tips that will help you prepare a dynamic response during an interview.

  • Use the STAR method to frame your answers.
  • Don't think single-dimensionally about any situation, but rather weigh both the pros and cons.
  • If necessary, make logical assumptions.
  • Be sure to include all relevant information in your answers such as budget, locations, etc

3. Communicate your answer efficiently.

While answering behavioral interview questions, you will also be evaluated on your communication skills.

Josh C., Google since 2013, while advising candidates on Google leadership questions says: “In your interview, it’s important to illustrate your communication skills and style as a leader with examples from your past.”

Communicating your thought process during an interview is incredibly critical, and the only way to achieve this is- Practice. Practice. Practice.

Consider these points while articulating your response:

  • Start your answer by sharing your assumptions, if any.
  • Practice body language, eye contact, and vocal delivery with friends or in mock interviews to ensure that you are confident during the actual interview. 
  • Your answer must be concise and to the point. So remove all the irrelevant information while presenting your final answer to the interviewer.

4. Tie back your answer to previous experience.

It is also necessary that you reflect on your past experiences and achievements while answering questions during the interview: 

  • Think about specific examples from your past that demonstrate the skills and qualities that are relevant to the role you are applying for.
  • Practice explaining these experiences clearly and concisely with examples from university, internships, and previous jobs.  

Bonus Tip- You can carry a pen and paper with you in an interview and note down questions and essential points while interacting with the interviewer.

Also read: Google Product Manager Interview Guide 2023 with Questions.

5 Commonly Asked Google Behavioral Interview Questions with Sample Answers

1. Tell me about yourself. 

Note: This answer is specific to the Technical Recruiter role. However, you can use a similar structure to frame an answer for your target role.

Hi, my name is [Name] and I am a Senior Technical Recruiter with a strong background in sourcing and screening top talent. One of my proudest achievements as a technical recruiter was in my previous role at Amazon Web Services. In this role, I exceeded my sourcing goals by 5x by reaching out to over 5,000 Front End Engineers in just 7 months. I utilized various tools and strategies, including my extensive LinkedIn network, Boolean searches, and internal hiring tools, to identify and engage top candidates. As a result of my efforts, we were able to hire 9 highly qualified Front End Engineers for a key team within the organization.

I am confident that my ability to efficiently source top talent using various tools and techniques will enable me to make a significant impact as a recruiter at Google. That’s why I applied for this position.

Things to remember: 

  • Make sure you aren’t reading your resume in your introduction.
  • Don’t just talk but share the impact of your work.
  • Support your statements with stats.

2. Tell me about a time when you handled a team conflict.

Note: This answer is specific to the Product Manager role. However, you can use a similar structure to frame an answer for your target role.

Situation: As a Product Manager at an e-commerce company, I was leading a team that was responsible for developing a new feature for our website that would allow customers to customize their products. One member of the engineering team was worried about the potential technical challenges and limitations of the feature. However, the marketing team was confident that the feature would be a major selling point and wanted to prioritize its development.

Task: My role was to mediate the conflict between the teams and ensure that the project stayed on track.

Action: I called a meeting with teams and asked them to present their perspectives on the issue. After listening to both sides, it became clear that there were valid concerns on both sides. I then proposed that we conduct user research to better understand the demand for the customizable product feature and to gather feedback on potential technical challenges. We could then use this research to inform our decision-making and ensure that we were making the best decision for the company and our customers.

Result: By handling the conflict effectively and proposing a unique solution, we could move forward with the project in a more informed and data-driven way. The team also felt more united and confident in the direction of the project.

3. Why do you want to work at Google?

First, I am drawn to Google's commitment to innovation and its track record of making a positive impact on billions of people around the world. From creating products that make our daily lives easier and more connected to advancing the field of artificial intelligence, Google's impact on the world is undeniable. I am eager to be part of a company that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible and making a difference in the world.

Secondly, I am attracted to Google's values of diversity, collaboration, and continuous learning. I believe that these values are crucial to the success of any organization and I am excited to be part of a team that prioritizes them. Google is known for its inclusive and dynamic culture, and I am confident that I would thrive in such an environment.

Finally, I am impressed by Google's commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability. As a company, Google has taken a leadership role in addressing global challenges such as climate change and social inequality. I am excited about the opportunity to be part of a company that is not only successful but also takes its responsibilities to society seriously.

Things to remember: 

  • While answering this question put Google at the center, not yourself. 
  • Provide a genuine explanation of what attracted you to Google.

4. Tell me about the time you had to lead or influence others without being in a formal position of authority.

Note: This answer is specific to the Finance Analyst role. However, you can use a similar structure to frame an answer for your target role.

Situation: While working as a finance intern at a small startup, I was part of a team that was tasked with evaluating a potential acquisition. The team consisted of three more experienced finance professionals, one of whom was unsure about moving forward with the acquisition due to concerns about the target company's financial health.

Task: As the only intern on the team, I did not have a formal position of authority. However, I wanted to contribute to the success of the project and influence the direction of the analysis.

Action: I asked questions and gathered more information about the target company's financial performance. I also researched similar acquisitions and looked at industry benchmarks to see how the target company compared.

Result: I shared my findings with the team and explained how the target company's financial performance compared to industry standards. My research helped persuade the hesitant team member and the rest of the team to move forward with the acquisition. The project was ultimately approved by upper management and the acquisition was successful.

5. Tell me about a time when you challenged a teammate's unpopular opinion.

Note: This answer is specific to the Software Engineer role. However, you can use a similar structure to frame an answer for your target role.

Situation: I was working as a Software Engineer on a project to develop a new mobile application for a retail company. My team was responsible for designing and implementing the user interface, and we had a tight deadline to meet. One of my teammates, who was in charge of the visual design, proposed using a particular color scheme and layout that I felt was not user-friendly.

Task: My task was to challenge my teammate's unpopular opinion and propose an alternative solution that would better meet the needs of our users.

Action: I began by explaining my concerns about the proposed color scheme and layout, and provided specific examples of how they might negatively impact the user experience. I also presented some alternative design ideas that I thought would be more effective and user-friendly. To support my argument, I shared research and best practices for mobile app design that I had gathered.

Result: Through my challenge and alternative proposal, I convinced my teammate and the rest of the team to adopt my design recommendations. As a result, the final product was more intuitive and user-friendly and received positive feedback from both internal and external stakeholders. This experience showed my ability to challenge unpopular opinions and propose effective solutions, as well as my commitment to user-centered design principles.

Bonus Tips for Excelling in Google's Behavioral Interview

Boost your chances of success in the Google behavioral interview with these additional tips.

  1. Research the specific role you are applying for and understand the skills and qualities that are relevant to the position. And while answering questions, try to highlight these skills.
  1. Practice answering common behavioral interview questions such as "Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work and how you overcame it". Practice answering these questions out loud, and consider asking a friend or mentor to give you feedback on your responses.
  1. It's common for Google to ask unexpected questions during interviews, so prepare yourself mentally for what might come your way. Practice thinking on your feet and coming up with creative responses to unexpected questions.
  2. Use ChatGPT to practice common behavioral interview questions, create answers and evaluate your answers. There is no limit to how you can interact with ChatGPT. Therefore, spend some time interacting with this revolutionary AI tool and you will definitely yield fruitful results for a Google behavioral interview. Here are a few prompts that you can use to leverage ChatGPT for your Google behavioral interview:
  • I am appearing for a Google behavioral interview next month and I want you to act as a Google interviewer for practice. I will be the candidate and you will ask me leadership, Googleyness, and hypothetical situation-based questions for the product manager position. I specifically want you to act as the interviewer and expect you not to write the entire conversation at once. Ask me one question at a time and wait, take my answer and then ask another question as interviewers do. Do not write explanations and give unnecessary hints. Ask me the questions one by one like an interviewer does and wait for my answers.
Real-time conversation example with ChatGPT: https://gpt.best/sst90JJB
  • I am preparing for a behavioral interview at Google and have an answer to the question: 'Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult team member. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?' Here is my answer: “I had to work with a difficult team member on a project at my previous company. They were constantly disrupting meetings and not pulling their weight on tasks. I approached them privately and calmly discussed my concerns and asked for their input on how we could improve communication and collaboration. We were able to come to an understanding and establish some ground rules for future team meetings. The project was completed on time and received praise from our manager.” Can you review my answer and give me your feedback?
Real-time conversation example with ChatGPT:  https://gpt.best/IA6gw5tY
Conversation between a job seeker and ChatGPT.

To know more, read our guide on How to use ChatGPT to Prepare for Behavioral Interviews.

          5. Try to find people in your professional network who have recently appeared for Google interviews for the same role as you. Talk to them and ask them                about their experiences. In fact, you can also schedule a mock interview with Careerflow mentors who are currently working at Google. 

Bonus Tip: It is most likely that the recruiter may have sent you preparation material before the interview, so go through that rigorously.

Conclusion:

Simply put, Google looks for Googleyness in candidates during behavioral interviews. To be a Googler you aren't necessarily required to have an educational degree from a Harvard-like university or exceptional experience in tech giants, but Google isn’t going to compromise leadership values in its employees.

Advice from a Google engineer that perfectly sums up this Google behavioral interview guide: Relax. Ask questions. Think out loud.

Like any other behavioral interview, the Googleyness and Leadership interview is not about giving the right answers. Instead, it's all about how you approach questions and how effectively you communicate your approach. Do not overburden yourself before the interview; ask questions to interviewers and communicate effectively with the panel. 

You are all set to ace your Google behavioral interview. All the best!

Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. ~ Google.

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