Knowing Some Google Technical Program Manager Interview Questions

No tech company is probably more popular and ubiquitous than Google. People and businesses across the globe are familiar with their search engine. They may even use or have used one of their other products like YouTube, Workspace, Android, and more. Thanks to the technical program managers who oversee their development from conceptualisation to launch, these powerful technologies are here.

Technical program managers are essential members of Google’s teams. And with the company’s numerous projects and initiatives, they are needed more than ever. However, breaking into Google as a technical program manager is challenging. Besides the competition, the hiring process is stringent. That is especially true for the interview stage, which comes in several rounds. Google technical program manager interview questions are also known for their complexity. However, this should already be expected since Google only hires the best talents to join their teams.

The good news is that securing a job at Google is not an impossible task if you prepare ahead of time. That is why we have created a short list of some of the standard Google technical program manager interview questions that you can use as a guide. But before that, allow us to provide you with some details about the TPM role and walk you through the interview process.

What does a Google technical program manager do? 

Technical program managers at Google lead any one of the company’s core projects from start to finish. They utilise their technical knowledge to work with stakeholders to define needs, identify requirements and risks, manage timelines, and communicate with cross-functional teams. They also articulate their team’s findings and recommendations to executives and technical considerations with product development engineers.

It is vital to have some engineering expertise and the ability to communicate technical concepts to audiences to be considered for a technical program manager position. Being creative, innovative, self-motivated, and detail-oriented will also put you in good stead with the company’s recruiters. Likewise, strong leadership skills and a good program sense (e.g. requirements elicitation, risk management, and change management skills) will also be beneficial to succeed in this role.

How does the interview process work?

Google’s interview process for the technical program manager role comprises three rounds: recruiter, technical phone screening, and onsite.

  • The recruiter interview is conducted over the phone. It is designed to help recruiters know your background and understand your motivations for pursuing the role. Be prepared to share your previous experiences and explain why you are a good fit for the company and position.
  • The next stage is the technical phone screening facilitated by a practising technical program manager at Google. This may last between 30 and 45 minutes and covers a mix of program sense, leadership, and behaviour questions.
  • The final stage is the onsite interview or the virtual onsite interview. Typically, this includes a series of 4-5 interviews that take about 45 minutes each. There is some overlap between the questions asked at this stage and the previous one. That is why you can expect program sense, technical, leadership, and behavioural questions. 

After completing the interviews, Google’s recruitment team will bring together everything from your application and interviews and review them. If they think you are the perfect match for the position, one of their recruiters will give you an offer. If you accept the offer, you will proceed with the onboarding process, including a walkthrough of the remuneration, insurance, badging, and other details.

Some common Google technical program manager interview questions

As part of your preparation for Google’s hiring process, you must become familiar with the most common questions they ask for the technical program manager position. That way, you will have an idea of the vital points to cover, plan and articulate your answers effectively and become more comfortable and confident talking about yourself. Below you will find some of the standard Google technical program interview questions you can expect.

Program Sense Questions

  • Describe how you approach a full-cycle technical program/project.
  • What characteristics do you think makes a successful technical program manager?
  • How do you decide which methodology to use in a program/project?
  • How do you make decisions related to a project you are handling?
  • What will you do if a project goes beyond the budget?
  • Describe a moment when you worked on a program/project with a tight deadline.
  • How do you ensure the delivery of a quality program/project? 
  • How do you manage program/project risks?
  • How do you decide on a key performance indicator when planning a program/project?

Technical Questions (System Design and Coding)

  • Design GDrive/Whatsapp/Gmail server infrastructure/web cache/other Google tool or relevant technology.
  • Can you describe what Ethernet means to a non-technical person?
  • What distinguishes UDP from TCP?
  • Can you describe the TCP Protocol to a non-technical person?
  • Are you familiar with MTBF? What do you know about it?
  • Can you explain what happens when a file gets deleted from a machine?
  • Create a program that determines if an integer is a palindrome.
  • Create a program that reverses a string without built-in functions.

Behavioural Questions

  • Describe a time when you took on a program/project and failed?
  • As a technical program manager, what was the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
  • What is that one accomplishment you are genuinely proud of and why?
  • Describe a time when stakeholders disagreed with your approach to a program/project?
  • Tell me a time when a conflict arose in your team. How did you handle it?
  • What characteristics make you a good leader?
  • What Google product interests you, and what do you think about its future?
  • Why do you want to work at Google?

Now that you are aware of some Google technical program interview questions a recruiter might ask you, it is crucial to focus on preparation. Think about what you want to tell recruiters about yourself, so you know how to articulate them during the interview. Also, spend some time getting to know Google in-depth by researching their culture, projects, accomplishments, and involvements. The more you understand who they are and what they do, the more confident and comfortable you will be to answer questions about the company. That, in turn, will make you look good to interviewers because it will demonstrate the time and effort you had put in to understand the company.

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