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Googleyness & Leadership: Decision Making

google interviews Feb 06, 2023

There is one item that really stands out in the Googleyness & Leadership (G&L) interview at Google: decision making.


Whether you are sharing your past examples when answering behavioral questions or displaying your problem-solving skills when answering hypothetical questions, you are constantly talking about decision making. And in your answers, it is critical to remember that these decisions are made in correlation with others. And to always remember the value of inclusivity when making decisions.


This concept ties directly back in with Google’s motto, “Do the right thing.” Be thinking about this motto when answering any G&L questions. In addition, you will want to be thinking about ambiguity when answering hypothetical/open-ended questions. You are going to be in an environment at Google where change is constant, so you have to be flexible and adaptable.

Let’s explore decision making from all angles. We will look at both sides of the coin in terms of positivity and negativity. We will also want to look at this concept from both a behavioral and open-ended (hypothetical) perspective. 

Item #1—Positive Behavioral Questions

Always remember to use the S.T.A.R. (Situation. Task. Actions. Result.) method when answering behavioral questions. Think about examples that include decisions you made when you were managing or involved in a large-scale project, program or initiative. Focus on the overall goals and impact. Also think operationally. We’re talking about timeline, budget, risk, etc. Lastly, cover how you fostered collaboration and inclusivity as part of your decision-making process.

Really dig into the feedback component. Discuss how you took in feedback and how you gave constructive feedback. A key part of inclusivity is how you value everyone’s opinions. Go big on these questions by providing examples with a large scope and scale. Lastly, talk about your learnings from the experience(s).

Item #2—Negative Behavioral Questions

In any interview, it’s critical to be prepared for a negative behavioral question. I want you to spin all of these answers toward positivity. Use positive pitch, tone and wording and have a strong focus on learnings. You are likely to be asked about a time you failed, made a mistake, regretted a decision, were faced with an ethical dilemma, etc.

Keep any negative aspects of your answers very brief. Spend no more than 30 seconds (a couple sentences) to set up what happened. Too much time spent talking about negative things will only leave negativity lingering with your interviewer. Quickly pivot and talk about the positive actions you took to overcome this bad situation. Always end with learnings and, if applicable, you can include any applied learnings.

Item #3—Negative Open-Ended Questions

Let’s start on the negative side here. Of course, we are going to use the C.F.A.S. (Clarify. Framework. Assumptions. Solution.) method. I rarely hear about any negative open-ended questions coming from the Googleyness & Leadership interview. The most common one you might encounter is about working in a negative culture and how you would address that hypothetical situation.

Even if a negative hypothetical question doesn’t come in your interview, you should be prepared. Focus on asking great clarifying questions around historical data and stakeholders. Take a proactive approach and remember the importance of inclusivity. I also recommend niching down to a more specific scenario (your team or group) rather than trying to solve a company-wide culture problem. 

Item #4—Positive Open-Ended Questions

The positive side is going to require a lot of great decision making. A lot of it will be navigating ambiguity. Take in the feedback and display an inclusive environment. Think about how you make decisions when you don’t have all the data. Ask questions and attempt to gather data from your interviewers. Even if they are non-responsive, it shows your thought process and how you make important decisions.

Bring operational and collaborative items into your framework. Make your assumptions role-specific. Whatever you do for your solution, be sure to bring in others and highlight inclusivity. It will always be critical to success in the G&L interview especially when answering questions around decision making.

You can watch my full video on this topic below:

For more interview prep resources and tips, follow my YouTube channel, visit my blog or check out 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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