The Google Associate Product Manager Internship Interview Saga

Below is the tale of my 3+ month, 6 interview, 2 essay Google Associate Product Management Internship Interview Saga. I hope that it assuages some of the interview stress for future interviewees. This saga took place during the Fall of 2011.

First Contact on 9/8/2011

First Phone Interview: Scheduled on 9/20/2011: 45 minute phone interview. A mix of technical and product management (aka algorithms/thinking questions).

Recruiter Response: Received the following message the day after my phone interview (on 9/21/2011):

Great news! We would like to move forward with your interviews for the APM role. Can you please provide me your availability over the next couple of weeks to have another interview or two with us? This time we would like you to come onsite if you can fit it in your schedule.

Second Round: Onsite Interview (10/21/11): The Onsite Interview consisted of three or four interviews + lunch + tour; one interview was very PM oriented (aka very strange), one was very marketing/ads/quantification thinking oriented, the third was a technical interview that discussed my current coding projects + some theory. 

Aside: 

I got a frantic call from my recruiter the night before I arrived in NYC for my onsite interview: she had realized I was 16 years old and could not therefore check in to a hotel by myself. My dad had already arranged to meet me in NYC, but she was quite panicked! My dad and I did end up in a penthouse, two bathroom hotel suite next to the Lincoln Center thanks to Google, and spent the rest of our weekend going to Broadway plays.

Third Round: Essay (Heard back on the Monday after my Friday interview, on 10/24/11):

I hope this email finds you well! I am truly excited to move forward with the final step in the APM intern interview process with you! This final step involves writing an essay.

Once I send you the prompt, you will have 48 hours to complete the essay and return it to me.

Can you let me know when you are ready to receive the essay prompt?

The essay was 3 pages double spaced and the prompt was very product management oriented.

The recruiter can not answer any questions about the prompt.

I finished my first Google APM intern essay (this essay later garnered me a job offer from Wooga the social media game company in Berlin, German) and submitted it on Saturday 10/29/11.

Hiring Committee Presentation: (Email received Monday 10/31/11)

I hope this email finds you well! I am excited to tell you that I am presenting your candidacy to our hiring committee on Wednesday! There is one piece of information remaining that I need from you and those are your SAT scores.

Do you think you can get those to me by tomorrow afternoon?

And the strangeness begins

Recruiter Response (Round 4?) (this is the next email I receive from the recruiter, four days later, on Thursday 11/3/11):

I hope this email finds you well!

I would like to arrange two more phone interviews for you with another APM and another engineer.  Please let me know some convenient times and dates over the next two weeks for us to reach you.  Please also provide the best number to reach you for the phone interview.

Candidate Response: highly confused, I sent my recruiter the following email, in addition to including my availability.

I guess this means I passed the hiring committee? Or is this prior to my being presented? Also, will the interview with the engineer be technical?

Recruiter Response:

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. These interviews are to get more information from you before presenting your candidacy.

The engineering interview will indeed be technical.

My interviews were scheduled for 11/8 and 11/16 (each for 45 minutes).

More strangeness…

Another Essay (Round 5?): The night before my first of the two “final” phone interviews, I received the following email from my recruiter. The subject line was APM Essay Rewrite:

I hope this email finds you well! I wanted to reach out to you regarding your APM Essay. We would like you to rewrite the essay using the same prompt but we would like you to focus on a different topic/product.

We will allow another 48 hours for the rewrite to be written and submitted.

Can you please let me know when you would like to start working on this?

There have been many conjectures as to why I was asked to rewrite the essay: my first essay was too researched and not marketing focused or creative enough or in some other way “wrong”, they didn’t believe it was my own work (at the time of my application I was 16 turning 17, and I often struggled with people not believing that I actually completed the work I did complete), some other alternative never-to-be-known reason.

Candidate Response: (In an attempt to get some more information on what I should be re-writing)

I was wondering if you could give me some guidance on what type of product you would prefer that I pick this time/if you would like a different essay format?

Recruiter Response: 

As for the topic I can’t give you much guidance other than focus on another product you find to be revolutionary. Build a strong case as to why it is revolutionary and how it matches up to competitors in the same space.

Candidate Response: (I also wanted to find out how much longer this process would be continuing, it was now 2+ months since we started the process, and this was for a less than 3 month long internship).

Just one last question: what additional steps in the application process should I expect (if you know or do they change as you go along?).

Recruiter Response:

Great questions! Rewriting the essay is one step and then your final interview with Sheridan next week.

After that, I’ll present your candidacy!

For the interview with Sheridan her focus is going to be on product savvy. So be as best prepared as you can for anything and everything!  🙂

How strange, on 10/24 my recruiter said “I am excited to move forward with the final step in the APM intern interview process with you [the essay]” and on 10/31 the recruiter said “I am excited to tell you that I am presenting your candidacy to our hiring committee on Wednesday.” Yet, her email on 11/9 seems to imply that she didn’t ever present the candidacy in the first place? Or, she is re-presenting it? Since the first “final” step, I have now been asked to complete two additional phone interviews and an additional essay, for a total of 6 interviews and 2 essays over the course of nearly 3 months for a less than 3 month long summer internship.

Second Essay Submission & Two Additional Phone Interviews: I submitted my second essay on 11/20 after completing the two phone interviews, the technical interview was quite rigorous, although it seemed to go reasonably well, and the product interview had many “google-y questions” . With my Google APM Intern Essay #2, I took a “regular” product and turned it technological, trying to be as google-y and product comparison oriented as possible.

About a week later I received a phone call from my recruiter that I did not receive the position and I was “strongly” encouraged to apply again next year.

Needless to say, I did not apply next year and I have turned down 5+ interview email offers from Google. I ended up receiving a $100,000+ salary PM offer from a competing company for a product management position (more on that in a later post) and although I did not end up working in that position, it was invigorating to have “beaten” at least one company’s system. My story is not the first or the last Google interview tale of woe, that said, Google is worth a shot if it has always been your dream, and the Google name will certainly help you later in life, however, don’t be afraid to tell them to “shove it” if they lose respect for your time – there will be another company with an equally cool position (that pays just as well).

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