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Google GCA Question & Answer—Product Manager or Salesperson

google interviews Dec 15, 2022

Last week, we presented a sample Google general cognitive ability (GCA) question that often catches people off-guard because it doesn’t seem related to their role. Here is an example of a GCA question that an Engineer, Product Manager or Salesperson might get:

How would you design a program that would encourage more employee referrals?

At first, this question could seem jarring to someone who is interviewing for a non-HR role. However, Google is trying to test your cognitive ability and see how you will respond to this type of hypothetical situation. Plus, you have to consider that it may be more role-related than you initially think. 

The Most Important Tips

I suggest you read last week’s article [click here] for the most important tips, but here is a quick review. First, you should be role specific in your answer. Think about the question from the point of view of the role you are interviewing for and how it may relate to your specific skills. Then, you can draw from your past experience to fuel your answer using the C.F.A.S. method (Clarify. Framework. Assumptions. Solution.). Lastly, you need to practice your answers and be ready for GCA questions like this. They are more common than you think.

Last week, we covered a sample response to this question from the role of an Engineer. Today, we will do the same for Product Managers and Salespeople.

Sample Answer (Product Manager)

Let’s start by reviewing the question:

How would you design a program that would encourage more employee referrals?

Clarifying Questions:

“I really want to understand. Have we identified the user pain points yet? Will that be a part of creating this employee referral program? Are we adding features to an existing program or is this a brand new program? Are we focused on encouraging more Product Managers or referrals in general? Is the focus in the United States or globally based?”

Now, you can see the questions are getting thematic and related to your role. You will also want to focus on scope and timeline because they are good generic clarifying questions to weave in with some role-specific questions.


“There are a few items we want to be thinking about before solving. We definitely want to think about our users. We want to consider the specific features. We want to learn what we need to prioritize and consider trade-offs. The last two critical items are engagement and overall adoption. I think we should start by focusing on users, but is there another area you’d like to discuss?” 


“Okay, let’s make some assumptions. Let’s say we do need to collect that user pain point data. We will start there. Based on that feedback, we are going to be adding some additional features to a program that already exists. I have to imagine that Google has already established something like this, and that we are going to start with Bay Area Product Managers only. We want to have all this data and information gathered by the end of Q2 2023. 

“Let’s specify even further and say we are going to work on features that can be embedded into our ATS system. These can allow Googlers to identify updates to their current first connections in LinkedIn in order to build better referrals. We are absolutely going to work with the engineering team on how to automate this into our ATS system.


“If we are going to solve by focusing on users, we would do that by…” 

You would then present your own solution from a Product Manager perspective. You can see my framework and assumptions were more product focused compared to my previous engineering example.

Sample Answer (Salesperson):

Now, we can go through the same C.F.A.S. approach from the role of a Salesperson. 

Clarifying Questions:

“I want to know. When designing this program, are we focused on just incentives or anything else? Are we customizing this program based on an entire audience or a specific audience? Or, are we taking a more generic approach? Are we focusing on looking for Salesperson referrals or any referrals, in general?” 

Again, you would then focus on scope and timeline. Those are always key data points for any Google GCA question.


“If I was going to introduce this framework, there are a few items we might utilize to help us solve. I would definitely want to understand the overall goals of the program. We’d want to look at that historical data. Then, we’d want to transition and start to think about how to look at enablement, customization, incentives and critical stakeholders. I think we should start by focusing on the data, but is there another area you want to discuss?” 


“Let’s make some assumptions. Let’s assume that we are designing a program for more referrals by providing better financial incentives. Let’s also assume that the target audience is the entire U.S. Our goal would be to have it tested and completely rolled out by the end of 2023. Finally, let’s assume this is a program that we are going to heavily weight based on the number of people referred who accepted jobs. If they do it within a refined period of one year, the incentives would grow for the number of candidates referred that accept and join Google.”


“If we are going to solve by focusing on data, we can solve by doing…”

I left the solutions out on purpose. My goal is to prompt you with the set ups, so you can think through those solutions wearing the hat of your specific role. Using this strategy, you will be better positioned to provide a thoughtful and effective GCA answer.

For more insight on this topic, please watch the full video below:

To access additional interview tips and training 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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