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Explain Google Cloud to Your Grandmother

google interviews Feb 09, 2023

Believe it or not, you may get this question in a Google interview! Oftentimes, you will be asked to explain a technical concept to an audience that is unlikely to be familiar with the subject area. It could be something like explaining Google Ads to a six-year-old or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to your grandmother. The objective here is to simplify your answer and provide an explanation that anyone can understand. 

Let’s walk through this process using the C.F.A.S. (Clarify. Framework. Assumptions. Solution.) method.

Item #1—Clarification

This is where many people fail because there is so much gray area in this question. Ask the right clarifying questions to get the right data. First, you must understand the user and how much knowledge they actually have about the topic. Second, you need to define the relationship. Even if they tell you it’s your grandmother, you still want to clarify the relationship you have with this person.

The last step is to understand the logistics. How much time do you have to explain GCP to your grandmother and do you have any tools available to help assist you in the process?

Item #2—Framework

A framework is not going to be super relevant with this particular question. It is a very straightforward hypothetical question with the framework concept pretty well defined already, so you don’t need to spend much time on this item.

Item #3—Assumptions

Make sure your assumptions are very clear before diving into this answer. Review and reestablish key clarifying items like your relationship, their knowledge base, timeline and tools. You can’t move forward without stating these items and showing the foundation for your solution. 

Item #4—Solution

It’s all about creating great visuals. You can’t get too high level with your answer. A good approach is to focus on a few specific functions of the service. In this case, you’re talking about Google Cloud. Talk about how GCP will benefit your grandmother as the user and explain it in a way she will be able to understand based on your assumptions. Then, always remember to circle back and show how it will also benefit the organization.

Item #5—Sample Answer

Think of relevance and pick an analogy that makes sense. So in the sample answer I focus on gardening, something that the older generation is known to love (yes, this is a little bit of a stereotype, but not a negative one). And gardening, like companies managing their technology on premise, can have challenges. I recommend you watch my full YouTube video on this topic below. You can skip ahead to 3:11 if you want to jump straight to the sample answer. I walk through the clarifying questions, assumptions and solution as it relates to this concept of explaining Google Cloud to my grandmother.

Item #6—Switch it Up!

The basic hypothetical question is clear in this example, but I also like to switch it up sometimes. You can ask all the same clarifying questions. Then, change up your assumptions. For instance, say your grandmother is Director of Engineering for GCP. You are going in for a sales position at Google and she is helping you with your interview prep. You are going to talk to her in a more simplistic language as if you were talking to a customer, with the goal of her providing feedback as a GCP expert.

This is a bold approach, but could be a way to help you stand out. You are flipping around the narrative and shaking up this stereotype that grandma is not at all tech-savvy. You are still providing the simplified explanation that is the core purpose of the question. You are just providing a different scenario for framing your answer, which could catch your interviewer’s attention on a higher level. 

I hope you find this information helpful as you prepare for your interview at Google or another tech company. For more resources, follow my YouTube channel, visit my blog or sign up on the Practice Interviews website.

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Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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