Google Interview Questions

Anyone looking to work for the search engine giant Google needs a keen sense of problem solving and analytical skills, as common Google interview questions go well beyond simple stereotypes. Google, who hires thousands each year, wants to know if prospective employees can think fast, provide educated estimates and solve problems.

  1. "How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?"  While it's highly unlikely this will be part of the job, this Google interview question tests the job seeker's ability to estimate, one skill coders have.
  2. "You're shrunk and trapped in a blender that will turn on in 60 seconds. What do you do?"  This Google interview question can have several correct answers, all of which involve escaping from the blender in a short amount of time.
  3. "What is the probability of breaking a stick into 3 pieces and forming a triangle?"  A question that could easily be seen as complex tests the prospective employee's problem solving skills.  Since the question does not state specifics to the type of triangle, the answer would always be 100%.
  4. "There's a latency problem in South Africa. Diagnose it."  This Google interview question is not about world news or history, rather the understanding of the term latency.  If a prospect understands the term, he or she can then think fast to explain why it happens in South Africa.
  5. "How much would you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?"  Mainly asked of coders during a Google interview, this question asks the prospective employee to estimate.  Determine the number of windows, time to wash each window and rate of pay for a window washer, then do the math.
  6. "If you look at a clock and the time is 3:15, what is the angle between the hour and the minute hands?"  This Google interview question involves problem solving skills, known information and simple math.  Many will say zero, falsely thinking the hour hand will be on three, but it's actually one-quarter of the way to four, creating a small gap between the minute hand.  
  7. "Imagine you have a closet full of shirts. It's very hard to find a shirt. So what can you do to organize your shirts for easy retrieval?"  Rather than having one right or wrong answer, this Google interview question tests imagination and problem solving.  Be creative, but analytical.
  8. "How many resumes does Google receive each year for software engineering?"  Just like the window washing and golf balls, this question tests an interviewee's ability to break down a complex problem and find a solution.  Hint, it helps to research a company like Google before an interview, including finding out how many they hired in a given year.  
  9. "Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco."  Another with several correct answers, this tests the prospective employee's ability to plan and anticipate.  Remember that the plan will be different based on the disaster.
  10. "Explain the significance of 'dead beef.'"  Mainly asked to prospective coders at Google interviews, dead beef has nothing to do with steak and everything to do with a hexadecimal value used for debugging decades ago.  While rarely used in modern times, the question tests a prospect's education in computer sciences.
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