Google Associate Product Manager Interview Guide

updated on 06 August 2022

Google is a tech titan that many product managers dream of working with. Breaking into FAANG companies as a Product Manager is not an easy task. There are opportunities like Google's Associate Product Management program that allows recent grads or entry-level product managers to work with full-time Google PMs and set their foot into the PM industry. Having additional support and mentorship enables APMs to develop the skills needed to pursue the role full-time later in their careers. 🚀

If you're planning to apply for Google's Associate Product Manager role or are already interviewing, this blog is right for you! ✅

We'll cover the following topics in this guide:

Google Associate Product Manager Program Overview 🧑🏼‍💻

Google accepts cohorts of up to 50 Associate Product Managers each year. The Associate Product Management program at Google is a two-year rotational program where candidates get an opportunity to work on various products, anything from cloud-based video gaming to Google Maps, depending on their background and expertise. Launched in 2002 by Marissa Mayer, Google aims to develop and train new product leaders through this program. It is a prestigious opportunity for candidates targeting to kickstart their career at Google or Product Management.

The Google APM program trains candidates to deal with undefined, unstructured obstacles and work towards nebulous goals.
The Google APM program trains candidates to deal with undefined, unstructured obstacles and work towards nebulous goals.

According to Levels. fyi, the annual average total compensation of a Google Associate Product Manager is $167,000. Depending on the performance and manager's feedback, APM1s are further promoted to the position of APM2, leading to a PM position at Google.

To summarize what a Google Associate Product Manager does as Google describes it, APMs identify the critical problems, pick an approach to solve them, and find ways to make it happen.

Read here: How To Write A Product Manager Resume

Google APM Program Benefits 💯

The main highlights of Google's Associate Product Management program are:

  • Opportunity to work on projects for different products of the company
  • Potential to impact millions of users
  • Mentorship through Alumni Advisors, APM buddies, and Management Coaching
  • Opportunities to travel with other APMs on the APM Trip and Mini-Trips
  • APM-specific events like fireside chats with PM leaders, annual program reunion, and other social events

Associate Product Managers at Google also benefit from learning and growing as they work. Listed below are a few of them:

  • APM Trips: APM trips are one of the oldest traditions of Google's APM program. Each APM gets a chance to go for a two-week trip between their first and second year of the program, covering four cities. In each city, APMs meet Googlers to participate in activities to learn more about Google's users and what they think about their products.
  • APM Mini-Trips: Besides the main APM trip, APMs also get an opportunity to go on three-day mini-trips within the US to understand the industry by meeting up with local companies.
  • Management Coaching: Google APMs are assigned an APM buddy who is a year ahead of them. They are also assigned management coaches to help them prepare for conferences, develop negotiation tactics to close deals with partners, and work on time management skills to become future managers and leaders.

Interview Process 

The application process for the Google APM program begins with the candidate uploading their details and resume on the jobs page. If your resume is shortlisted in the resume screening round, you can expect 3-4 interviews before finding out whether you've got an offer.

  • Screening Call: On your resume has been shortlisted, you may receive a screening call from a Google recruiter. The screening call mainly focuses on assessing your fit for the company and the role, besides generic product management questions to understand your understanding of the field. You can expect questions like "Why Google", "Why Product Management", "What do you know about Google's products", and other behavioral questions during this call.
  • Phone Interview: Like other PM role interviews, the Google APM phone interview will also consist of product sense, product strategy, analytics, or estimation questions. Basically, this will cover the general product questions that are mainly theoretical. 
  • Take-Home Assignment: After the phone or onsite interviews, you may be asked to complete a take-home assignment as part of the hiring process. The take-home assignment will consist of a prompt, to which you must submit a 2-5 page written response within the deadline.
  • Onsite Interviews: You may undergo anywhere between 4-5 onsite interviews that will last 45 minutes each. For the Google APM onsite interviews, you will meet Google PMs and interact with them over several interviews on different product questions. You may also get an opportunity to meet PMs working at Google over lunch on the day of your interview and ask them any questions you may have.

Also Read: How To Crack FAANG Product Manager Interviews

Please note that the sequence or number of interviews may vary depending on the location of your application and how you've applied.

Sample Google APM Interview Questions 📄

You may come across questions for your Google Associate Product Manager interview in six major categories - Product Design, Product Strategy, Analytical, Estimation, Technical, and Behavioral.

Product Design

One of the tasks a product manager performs on a day-to-day basis is introducing new features for their products and updating the existing ones. These are the most common questions you will come across in your Google APM interview. Product design questions aim to assess your ability to understand ambiguous problems and your users' needs, pain points, and goals to design a product/features that create value. 

Example Questions

  • How would you design a bicycle renting app for tourists?
  • How would you design a web search engine for children below 14?
  • How would you prevent hate, misinformation, or deep-fakes on YouTube?
  • Design a new product that is visual to organize guests to sit by others with a common interest.
  • How would you design a coffee maker for the International Space Station?

Product Strategy

Formulating the right strategy is an essential part of a PM's responsibilities. From building to launching the product, a product manager is expected to coordinate with several teams and work with different resources to execute the plan. This may also involve creating long-term roadmaps and setting the product vision. Product strategy questions assess your understanding of the industry landscape and how your product fits into the market.

Example Questions

  • Imagine you are the head of product for Chrome. What would your strategy be?
  • Suppose a customer is considering switching from Azure to Google Cloud. What are 5-7 key pieces of information (metrics, policies, etc.) about Google Cloud you would want to show them?
  • How would you internationalize a US-based product?
  • How will you increase the market share if you are a product manager at Google's food delivery service?
  • How would you get more usage for Google Search?

Analytical

Analytical questions in your Google APM interview will assess your ability to break down complex and ambiguous problems into small solvable units. This would also involve your ability to set primary and secondary metrics to determine the overall success of a product. 

Example Questions

  • What data points would you like to track to know if the zoom meeting was successful?
  • What are the success metrics for Google Maps?
  • You're the PM for Amazon, and sales just dropped 7%. What would you do?
  • What KPIs do you think Gmail monitors?
  • What are 10 critical metrics for Spotify under the engagement category? Which one would you improve? Why?

Estimation

Estimation questions focus on your mental math ability and the logic you apply to arrive at an answer, even if it does not lead you to an exact figure. What assumptions do you make when estimating something? Is the logic you used to arrive at the solution valid? How do you back your metrics with sufficient reasoning? These are a few things that are assessed using estimation questions.

Example Questions

  • How many commercial flights fly in a day?
  • Estimate the expected loss in productivity for a mid-sized app development company due to the company's switch to remote working?
  • Estimate the market size for Google Fi.
  • Estimate total storage capacity for all videos on Youtube.
  • How much storage data will YouTube need for the next year?

Technical

Being proficient with technical concepts is essential for Google APMs because they often work closely with engineers for their products. Although you're not expected to solve coding questions from Leetcode like SWEs, you are expected to be able to write pseudocode and be familiar with data structures and algorithms and high-level system design concepts. Summing up, cracking the technical questions efficiently is essential to keep progressing in your Google interviews.

Example Questions

  • What happens with Google Maps when you type in its search bar?
  • What are the various strategies used by recommendation engines?
  • Write an algorithm that detects and alerts meeting conflicts.
  • How is a set different from an array?
  • Write a code to increment an array of digits (0 to 9).

Read: Google Software Engineer Interview Guide

Behavioral

While most candidates undermine prep for behavioral questions before an interview, these can make or break your chances of making it to the next round in the process. To do well with behavioral questions during the interview, practice example questions and create bullet points of situations/actions you would like to highlight. Google does not expect candidates to be perfect but wants to know that the candidate can thrive in ambiguous situations, work well with a team, and have the right attitude to do well in the role.

Example Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had an idea you proposed was not agreed on.
  • What would your topic be if you were to give a ted talk?
  • What do you think is the most important part of being a Product Manager?
  • Tell me about a product you love, but you can't get any of your friends to adopt.
  • Give me an example where you negotiated for resources that are not in your control.

Pro Tip: How to use the STAR method to ace your FAANG interview

Resources To Prep For Your Google APM Interview 📚

Not sure how to prepare for your upcoming Google Associate Product Manager interview? We've curated a list of resources from our FAANGPath mentors below 👇🏼 

Books

  • Cracking the PM Interview – Gayle Laakmann McDowell, Jackie Bavaro
  • The Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman
  • Cracking the Coding Interview – Gayle Laakmann McDowell
  • Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur
  • The Algorithm Design Manual – Steven S. Skiena

Websites

Tips From FAANGPath Mentors 💡

Here are a few tips from our mentors that you must keep in mind when appearing for your interview:

  • Don't oversell yourself. The Google APM role is a building block to the overall journey in the Product Management industry. At this level, your interviewers don't expect you to know everything. Hence, avoid using jargon that you're not entirely comfortable with. Be as honest about what you know as possible.
  • Communicate effectively. Speak things clearly, and slowly and be authentic in how you communicate.
  • Improve and iterate. While practicing before the interview, consider any edge cases, and explore alternatives and trade-offs to come up with the most optimal solution. Avoid considering your first approach to the answer as the final one.
  • Practice more. One way to succeed is to practice through mock interviews. Not only will they help you feel more confident, but the feedback from a mentor will help you identify areas you need to perfect before your final rounds.

Conclusion

The Google Associate Product Manager position can be your perfect opportunity to kickstart your PM journey in the industry. As you prepare for your interviews, speak to candidates who've interviewed for this position or work as APMs with Google to better understand the role and expectations. This will help you learn more about the role and help you stand out from others by indicating that you've done your research and are really invested in the process.

For resume reviews or mock interviews, connect with our FAANGPath mentors to get feedback that could set you up for success! 

FAANGPath team is committed to helping job seekers to take the next step toward their dream job. The team of our dedicated mentors will provide you with an in-depth overview of resume preparation, the best LinkedIn tips, interview guidance, career mentorship, and much more.

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