How to land an interview at Google
Here’s what you need to know to guide you through the application process.
Google received 3.3 million job applications in 2019, and the number has been increasing every year. That’s about 9,000 applications per day that hiring managers have to go through in addition to the time that they dedicate to the interview process.
Wonder how they manage to read through every. single. one. of the submissions?
Well, for the most part…they don’t!
Your first obstacle: ATS
If you’re applying online via any submission platform, be it Google’s job search platform or other job listing sites, your resume will go into a system called an Applicant Tracking System (“ATS”) where it’ll be scanned. Many companies use this system nowadays and Google is no different. The system evaluates and screens which candidates have the requirements for the job and determines which resumes will get seen by hiring managers.
Given how competitive it is to get noticed at Google, you want to avoid getting overseen by the system at all costs. Here are two points to keep in mind to pass resume screening:
- ATS will be scanning for keywords in your resume that match the job description, so you’ll want to make sure to customize your resume and optimize the language that you use in your application. Use a tool like Jobscan.co to help you match the right key words to the job description.
- Forgo any fancy resume design and formatting as these elements make it harder for bots to import, scan and organize the content of your resume. It might feel lackluster to submit a plain-looking resume, but the bot focuses on keywords and not on creativity. Here is an example of how to turn a bad resume into a good resume.
Once your resume passes the bot, here’s what hiring managers at Google will be looking for
Beyond making sure that your resume aligns with the job description, Google is looking for resumes that contain data and quantifiable information. Showing the measurable aspects of what you’ve accomplished in your role is what’s going to set you apart from other candidates who have the same level of experience as you.
Specifically, Google wants you to do the following to build your job-specific resume:
- 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 them 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. While there is no length requirement, concision and precision are key — so think twice before letting your resume move onto multiple pages, and take careful aim with your information.
Here’s an example of a well-written job summary:
As for a cover letter? They’re not required and may or may not be considered. But you should probably submit one just in case, so be sure to keep the same pointers from above in mind and let Google get an understanding of who you are.
Here’s a tip to refine your resume for Google
An effective way to match Google’s requirement is to ask yourself this: What situations (challenges, goals, or a new idea) did you encounter in your role, what actions did you take, and what results did you achieve?
Once you’ve detailed each of these, flip the elements around by using this format to write what you’ve done in each of your roles:
Achieved [results] by doing [actions] to solve [situation].
When you use this tip, you’ll take your resume from one that tells people what you do, to one that shows them how you work. This framework works really well for interviews, too – come learn how to use the STAR framework for FAANG interviews, here.
Here’s a hidden side door to landing an interview at Google
One thing Google hopefuls overlook is contracted temporary positions. A temp job might sound to you like a low paying part-time position, but that’s far from the truth. There are many job listings for elite roles such as trainers for new product launches or project leaders that have around a 2-year lifespan with the potential to be extended based on how the products and projects evolve. If you’ve had trouble getting an interview in the past for full-time positions, then this could be a chance worth considering.
“When I was working in an accounting department for a recruitment firm, I was amazed to see how high the salaries are for temp employees at Google. The payroll I processed showed employees easily making 10-30% more than those in similar full time roles in other companies,” said Catherine, a former accountant.
How to Apply for a Temp Position
There are two ways that you can apply for temp positions: directly on Google’s Career site, or via a third-party recruitment firm.
When you’re searching for jobs on job listing platforms, look for the filter function and you’ll see a category called “Job Type”. Here, you’ll find options to choose full-time positions, temporary positions, part-time positions and internships.
Check the option for temporary positions and your job search will be narrowed to job openings for roles that are contracted.
Here’s what the Job Types filter looks like on the side panel of Google Careers:
Apply for a Temp Job via a Recruiter or Third Party Agency
Here’s a list of agencies that recruit for contracted positions for Google:
In many cases on job descriptions, recruitment firms won’t disclose that a job opening is specifically for Google. It’s worth scanning through job descriptions for unnamed companies and searching for ones that are for a “leading firm in the tech industry”. When you submit your job application and the recruiter feels you’re a great fit, they can disclose to you what the company is, which might very well be Google.
Here are answers to a couple of questions you may be wondering
Will Your Google Search History Affect Your Application?
Ah, so you’re wondering if Google checks to see what you’ve been looking up when you’ve gone Incognito.
Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief, because the answer is “Nope”!
“Google does not look at your search history. It’s encrypted and it would take a collusion of many people at Google to accomplish such a thing, and it would be known if such things happened.” said Greg, a former Staff Engineer. Read his funny story about his unneeded worries, here.
How does Google Score Candidates?
There are two kinds of scores you’ll receive during your application: scores from ATS, and scores from interviewers.
“ATS scans your credentials and gives you a score. You’re then ranked against other candidates and a decision is made based on ‘data.’ ATS is a weapon of mass rejection [if you don’t optimize your resume]”, says Michael, an SEO specialist and former Googler.
As for interviewers, they do weigh your application on a numeric scale. However, that’s not going to make a whole lot of difference according to Googler Michael:
“The most important thing I ask [fellow decision makers] is: Would you be OK if we hired this person onto your team and you had to be their coach — and responsible for their quantity and quality of work, bugs and all — for the next several months?
“If the answer is anything like ‘hell no’, ‘no’, ‘maybe’, or ‘probably’ then it’s a firm DNH [Do Not Hire]. If it’s at ‘yes, but they’re weak in area X’, then it’s a ‘maybe-hire, if-and-only-if someone else saw good strength in some other skill’. Moving up the scale, there’s ‘Hire, with only minor reservations’, and the ever-elusive ‘Definitely Hire!’. We want to be sure that everybody considered for hire is excellent in at least one dimension.”
If all of the interviewers have agreed to move you to the final stage of the application process which is a final review by the hiring committee, they’ll provide a score as well as a complete write-up from which hiring committee members can draw their own conclusions.
Lyman, a software engineer at Google, says, “[The hiring committee] sees the histogram of the scores an interviewer has given out to other candidates so they can weigh the relative experience level of the interviewer and whether they tend to assess candidate’s easier or harder than average. When learning to interview we also get to see what our peers said about the same candidate which helps us to self-correct our expectations.”
If we could describe the Google application process in one word, it would be “thorough”!
The #1 thing to keep in mind when applying to Google: Timing is Everything
The application process to becoming a Googler is competitive and stringent, to say the least. It might take you multiple tries to land an interview. In fact, Google stipulates that most Googlers applied multiple times before they made it to interviews!
And even if you get an interview, you might need to try and fail a few times to make it far enough into the process. Take it from Emma, a software engineer who’s been through the interview process 3 times.
The good news is that you can apply for multiple jobs at the same time. When you’re applying via Google’s Career platform, you can apply for up to three jobs within a rolling 30-day window. If you want to re-apply for the same job, you have to wait 90 days before being able to do so.
Not getting a role can often be a matter of timing, so keep that in mind and make it a point to apply regularly for open positions.
Need help with applying to Google? Get your resume reviewed by an ex-Googler by checking out our coaching program, here.
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