Google Interns’ Top 5 Interview Tips

At Google Students, we’re all about providing content for students, by students. So, we asked over 100 Google interns for their best resume and interview tips. Last week, we shared their top 5 resume tips. This week, we’re sharing their top 5 interviewing tips (and a bonus tip for the coding interview):
1. Think out loud
Oftentimes, there’s a tendency to only speak in interviews when you have a fully fleshed-out answer. However, in Google interviews, we’re just as interested in your thought process as we are in your final answer. So, don’t be afraid to think out loud and talk through how you’re planning on approaching the problem and what steps you’d take to tackle it, especially when the question is complex.

2. Practice using the CAR technique to answer questions with stories
Stories are a brilliant way to paint a picture of your skills for the interviewer. Instead of just saying, “Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve been a leader,” share a specific story of a time that you exhibited leadership skills. Not only will this give you more credibility, it will also stick in the interviewer’s mind. When telling stories, use the CAR technique: context, action, result. For the context, briefly describe what the situation was (who, what, where, when), then discuss the action you took and why you decided on that specific course of action, and finally, share the results.

3. Do your research
Before the interview, familiarize yourself with the company: What are some of the initiatives that the company is involved in right now? What type of products or services do they offer? What are their values? What do they look for in candidates? By doing your research, you’ll be able to answer (and ask) questions much more insightfully, which will help you to leave a very positive, memorable impression on the interviewer.

4. Hone your answers to the specific company’s values
This ties in with the previous tip. By doing your research, you’ll be much better able to adapt your answers to align with the particular company’s values and points of emphasis. For example, at Google, we place a lot of importance on emergent leadership, which is the ability to step up and lead when it’s necessary and you have expertise, but to also be willing to step back once the specific issue has been resolved. So, if you were interviewing at Google and you were asked about your leadership style, sharing a story (using the CAR format) that demonstrates your emergent leadership ability would be extremely effective.

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5. Ask questions at the end of the interview
Interviewers are people, too! At a place like Google, interviewers come from all different departments and backgrounds, so they have a wealth of knowledge that you can tap into. In light of that, at the end of the interview, be sure to ask two or three questions. At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer will usually introduce herself, so definitely pay attention during that part and think of some interesting questions related to the interviewer’s background, role, or thoughts on the company. Asking questions not only shows that you did your research and that you’re interested, it also can help you develop rapport with the interviewer (and you’ll probably learn a thing or two, as well!).

Bonus: Tech tip
Practice coding with the interview in mind. Although school coursework is designed to prepare you for the kinds of questions asked in coding interviews, the experience of coding by yourself is different than doing it in an oral interview. Also, you never know what data structures or algorithms you might have forgotten from last semester until you sit down to try answering some questions! For practice, try answering questions one at a time from Cracking the Coding Interview.
Posted by Steven Claunch, Online Hiring and Insights Team