Google GCA Interview—Sample Question & Answer

google interviews Mar 30, 2022

Let’s consider a sample question you might hear in your Google GCA interview.

I want you to imagine a situation where you’ve been working on a big analysis for a number of weeks. You just completed the final draft of your slide deck. You sent those outlines, work and findings to your director. Your director emails you back a list of changes that you anticipate will take about three hours. It’s 4:00pm and the meeting to discuss your final analysis with a broader audience is scheduled for the next morning at 8:00am.

How would you proceed?

Setting the Scene

For the sample answer below, I am going to respond wearing the hat of a Technical Recruiter. The role itself is a little less important in this particular answer, but I still want you to consider this important piece of data when it comes to all GCA questions. In addition, let’s imagine our interviewer Sue is fairly non-responsive. Let’s walk through the answer process.

Item #1—Clarification

This is a long question. Make sure to ask your interviewer to restate it, maybe even a couple of times. Have a pen and pad of paper ready to write it down. Then, start with your clarifying questions using the C.F.A.S. method (Clarify. Framework. Assumptions. Solution.).

“Sue, the first question I would have in regard to this analysis is if it’s being utilized as a driver or a sum-up. Is it becoming before a project or initiative, or after? (Pause briefly for response) 

“Okay, let me ask just a few more questions. Is the director my manager, or my skip manager in this case? I would also want to know if I have an established relationship with this director or not. Lastly, I would like to know if the broader audience is internal or external. Would I be presenting this data, will the director be presenting, or will it be a mix of both of us? Sue, can you clarify any of these questions for me?”

Item #2—Framework

“Okay Sue, in order to solve this answer, we need to focus on a few key items. I really want to focus on prioritization. In correlation, we want to look at dependencies. We are going to have to dive a little into the data and analysis. Of course, we’ll be looking at the timeline throughout the entire process. Lastly, we want to look at the overall communication.

“I think we should definitely start by focusing on prioritization, but is there another area you would like to focus on?”

Item #3—Assumptions

Let’s approach this exercise with some assumptions. Let’s assume this analysis is more sum-up at the end of a program or project. Let’s say it’s in regard to time-for-hire for all Software Engineers in North America. The director is my direct boss, and the audience is internal, but it is going to include critical stakeholders from multiple departments because this is such a critical program.

Item #4—Solution #1

“If we are focusing on prioritization, the first step is to respond immediately to my director via chat. I will let her know I plan to take the next 15-30 minutes to go through all the comments. I will then follow up to make sure there are no ambiguities. I definitely want to do this via chat so that she sees it right away.

“Then, I would instantly prioritize the questions that I have, if any, and organize them in a way where we’re focusing on the most critical items first. I might send 2-3 questions via chat and let her know I will be sending another follow up via email with more questions. However, the most pressing questions will be via chat.

“The second step after prioritizing these questions is to prioritize dependencies while I am waiting to hear back from my director. I would look into the data and uncover if there are any critical stakeholders who I may need to involve in this process. For example, I may need to connect with my product lead. I might need to bring in engineering leadership, as well. I may need to connect with a Data Analyst or Researcher to help me along the way. Assuming we’re at 4:30 by this point, I would give myself an additional half-hour to handle all of these reach-outs.

“Now, we are at about the one-hour mark. Sue, we could dive deeper into the work prioritization and what the tasks look like. We can also talk a little more about those communication items with the director or critical stakeholders. Sue, what do you prefer?”

Item #5—Solution #2

“Ok, I think a good path is to continue with prioritization. It’s 5:00pm, but I really haven’t started my clock yet. I’m still looking ahead to at least three more hours of work. I am going to start with re-prioritizing based on any additional feedback from the director or critical stakeholders. Then, I am going to plan out all these tasks with a timeline, in order of priority.

“I’m going to start with the larger vision and goal of the analysis. I want to connect it back to the project goals, especially when focusing with a broader audience. Second, I want to focus on that data I mentioned initially. I want to make sure the time-to-hire data is clear and concise. Third, I will correlate in order to tie this to benefits and the meaning behind the data. I would also want to uncover if there are any areas with room for improvement and how to address making these improvements moving forward.

“The last thing to prioritize is the admin piece. I want to make sure there are no spelling errors. I want to make sure the deck is super clean from a visual standpoint. Once I’ve gone through all these steps, I think the next best step is communicating with the director and closing out our solution. Do you think this is a good path? I am happy to dive a little more into the criticality of any of that data analysis and how I would prioritize these items.”

Item #6—Solution #3

“Let’s assume that with my initial prioritization and communication, along with a short break for dinner, I have the presentation finalized by 9:00pm. I would take the following actions. First, I would email the director with the finalized presentation. I would confirm every single item, including all the follow-ups throughout our communication. Second, I would make a note letting her know I am shutting down for the evening. However, I will be back online and or in the office by 6:00am tomorrow to handle any last-minute edits.

“Third, I would let her know that since they are my direct lead, I would like to get some guidance and advice during my next one-on-one with them. What are the key areas of improvement and how can I better organize my time? Is there a better system we can create together for these big analysis projects and presentations? I want to make sure that I am doing everything right. The real goal will be expectation alignment. I wouldn’t want to put my lead in a similar situation in the future. I am empathetic to the fact this presentation was shared with her pretty late in the process. I want to listen, question and look for areas of improvement.

“Sue, I believe this is a good stopping point, but I can expand on any area of prioritization, data analysis, communication or feedback.”

That’s it. We followed the C.F.A.S. method to walk through an excellent answer to this Google GCA question. We asked clarifying questions. We covered primary framework themes. We made key assumptions. And, we provided thorough solutions.

Watch the full video on this topic below:

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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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