Google GCA Interview: A Key Question

google interviews Mar 22, 2022

As you prepare for your Google GCA interview, remember that this acronym stands for “General Cognitive Ability.” Your interviewer is looking to see how well you are able to solve problems. They will ask open-ended questions and may also present some random questions to see your response. This is an example of a GCA question that has been asked at Google:

How would you measure the effectiveness of our employee referral program? 

There are a million different paths you can take to answer this particular question. Today, I’d like to walk you through how I would answer it. As always, I’ll be talking to my hypothetical interviewer named Sue and utilizing the C.F.A.S. method (Clarify. Framework. Assumptions. Solution.).

Item #1—Clarify

There are a few items a few items to clarify right off the bat:

  • Have we ever measured the effectiveness of this program before?
  • I want to understand the scope and scale, so are we doing this just domestically or do we want to measure the effectiveness globally?
  • Are we trying to niche down and look at any specific department?
  • Are we focusing on the overall engagement, awareness, success metrics or all of the above?

Transition Statement:

“Sue, can you clarify any of these items for me?”

Item #2—Framework

For this Google GCA question, I’d like to focus on a several key framework items:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • Historical Data—Specifically, past performance
  • Engagement—From referrers and candidates
  • Awareness and Satisfaction
  • Metrics—Examining quality, speed and ROI
  • Incentives
  • Transparency
  • Timeline
  • Critical Stakeholders

Transition Statement:

“Sue, I think we should start by focusing on Historical Data, but is there another area you would like me to focus on?”

Item #3—Assumptions & Solution #1

Let’s assume you have the data that you need. Let’s also assume you haven’t conducted a recent survey and we’re targeting the global market.

“Sue, I would first like to bring in some critical stakeholders, specifically, the research team, data analysis team, recruiting department, some of Google’s top referrers over the past year, and some people who have been referred. I really want to get a holistic view of the historical data. One specific piece of data I’d like to gather is the number of hires from this referral program in comparison to the total hires. Other factors to consider are the diversity of hires, overall interview success rate, time to hire and average tenure.

“We definitely want to look at hires by referrer rating as a key success metric for this program. We also want to look at some items from an engagement perspective. These include participation percentage, awareness percentage and satisfaction percentage.”

Transition Statement:

“Sue, we could dig deeper into the data by discussing more regarding inclusivity hiring or time to hire, or move onto awareness and satisfaction, what do you prefer?”

Item #4—Solution #2

“Let’s focus on the survey. How quickly would we want to get that survey back? Let’s say 30 days is our timeline. The second question I would have is if this survey is mandatory? We would have to get support from leadership to make it mandatory, but that would be my recommendation. Referrals save the organization tons of money and this is an important initiative.

“Here’s my solution: it would include a message every five days. Next would be a message with your manager cc’d and we’d escalate from there as needed. We know it’s not going to be 100% participation, so we should target 90% to give us proper feedback. We also need to make the survey clean and short, maybe five minutes.

“This is where the partnership with research comes in. I would like to rely on their expertise to help determine the questions to ask in the survey. I would also want to meet with critical stakeholders to get more data on the program and overall process. We would want to look at trending data as far back as we can go. Additional issues to research will be satisfaction, awareness and transparency of the program. How can we get a true measure of this program’s past success?”

Transition Statement:

“Sue, this is a good time to pause. We could diver much deeper into the survey feedback, we can explore more regarding awareness, or dive into the metrics.”

Item #5—Solution #3

“I know we are trying to measure effectiveness. One of the best ways to do this is to measure the qualitative and quantitative results. On the quantitative side, we want to set some aggressive goals. I am looking for a year-over-year increase. One of the success metrics I would like to track over the next year is increasing the total number of new hires globally by 3-5%.

“Another metric would be time to hire. My goal would be to increase the speed of hiring referral candidates by 15-20%. This may be achieved by recognizing the top-level candidates from the referral program. They may be able to bypass certain steps such as the hiring committee stage to expedite the interview process for the best candidates.

“On the qualitative side, we are going to take that survey feedback and apply it instantly. This lets our audience and users know they’ve been heard. If you don’t already do this, I recommend Google has brand ambassadors dedicated to the referral program. They would focus on creating a great brand for this program because the money saved in the long run will be significant. They should not only push the program, but actively highlight the successes of the program.”

Transition Statement: 

“Sue, there are so many different areas we can focus on. We can dive in further on any of these metrics or any other items I mentioned. What do you prefer?” 

I recommend you watch my full video topic for more in-depth takes on the solutions above:

For more interview coaching tips and information, follow my YouTube channel, check out my blog or sign up on Practice Interviews.


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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