Unraveling the unexpected reason behind my Google interview fallout and a year-long wait to reapply.
The time I faced Google’s rejection: Here’s what we’ll delve into:
1. The intricate process
2. Some revealing 📈 statistics & resources
3. The missteps that led to my rejection
4. Lessons for both you and me
5. 🔓 Downloadable 🔓 cover letter & resume I used for Google.
6. Resources to also take forward
What we’ll talk about
Interviewing with Google
The process and what to expect
Interview with the hiring manager and what happened
How I didn’t get the job
Tactics and strategies you can learn from my mistake
Alright, let’s talk about applying to Google. Now, I’m sure many of you see Google as the promised land, a tech giant everyone dreams of working at.
But let’s get real for a second. The acceptance rate at Google is reported to be lower than 0.2%.
That means for every 1,000 resumes they receive, only 2 candidates might get the job. To put that into perspective, getting into Harvard, with its acceptance rate of about 4.6%, seems like a walk in the park.
Moreover, Google’s hiring process is notorious for its rigor. Candidates often undergo multiple rounds of interviews, tough problem-solving tests, and tricky technical questions.
They’re not just testing your technical prowess but also your grit, adaptability, and problem-solving skills in real-time.
So, if you’re gunning for a role at Google, brace yourselves. It’s not just about being smart; it’s about being resilient, adaptable, and ready for a challenge that only a few have conquered. But remember, even if you don’t make it, the very process will equip you with experiences that will be invaluable throughout your career.
I got the interview and was stocked
Interaction Designer, Android 📲 — United States
After applying and out of a sea of applicants I finally got in. This was it! That moment I was waiting for since coming out of the womb. 😅 Despite advice from friends and former Google employees, it became clear to me: while Google might offer attractive pay and unparalleled opportunities, it’s not all rosy. When everyone around you is vying to be the brightest mind in the room, it can create an intense competitive atmosphere that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
While I believe in my intelligence and skills, I recognize that such an environment might not be my ideal fit. Regardless, I felt compelled to give it a shot and see where the journey took me.
I got interviewed for an interaction designer-level role
A piece of cake in my book. This is what I specialize in. Something I’ve done in the past for a few years now and something that would be doable on my front. Interaction design (IxD,and services that they use.) is what I do for a living at the other companies I work for or the apps I build for clients and myself.
The experience exceeded my expectations. The interview was in-depth, and their initial assistance was impressive, offering resources from videos to tailored interview strategies.
I’ve never encountered a company that provides materials specifically to aid in their own interview process. It truly felt like I had entered the major leagues!
On another note, everything that everyone said about the hiring process at the major big tech companies is true. It’s deep, difficult, but rewarding.
One quick thing before we continue, please consider sharing this article. It means more than you know. 🚀
I spoke with the recruiter to see what the process would be like. This was a simple format, just understanding a few things, Google’s process, and how in-depth the interview will be.
We went over what the role entails, what I would take on, and what to expect when talking with the design manager who would be the next step in the process.
Understanding the Google Interview Process:
Recruiter Pre-screen (20–30 mins): A non-technical conversation where you’ll discuss your resume and background. Prepare to address questions such as: ‘Why Google?’, ‘Why are you considering leaving your current role?’, and ‘What has been your most significant achievement?’
Technical Phone Screens (45–60 mins): This stage might consist of one or two phone interviews, either with the hiring manager or a current Google employee. Here, you’ll tackle coding questions centered around data structures and algorithms, using a shared Google Doc. The interviewer might also delve into your background.
Onsite Loop (4–5 interviews): This stage is more intensive and will test your skills with coding and system design. Anticipate more challenging questions on data structures, algorithms, and intricate system design.
Initial Recruiter Screening 🗒
Highlighted is what I experienced. The others are potential questions that may come up.
1. Background and Experience:
– Can you walk me through your portfolio?
Can you tell me about yourself and your background?
– What projects have you worked on that you are most proud of?
– How do you stay updated with the latest design trends and technologies?
2. Technical Skills:
– What design tools are you most comfortable using?
– Can you discuss a time when you used user feedback to guide a design decision?
Describe your process behind your design decisions
3. Interpersonal Skills:
– How do you handle feedback and criticism on your designs?
– Can you describe a time when you had to collaborate with a cross-functional team?
4. Motivational Fit:
– What interests you about working at Google?
– Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
For the first initial interview with the recruiter, I wanted to keep things simple. I typically like to have notes before the meeting.
How I set up my notes works for me but it can work for you. However to each their own! ✌️
I organize my notes under specific headline topics, prepping me for potential interview discussions. If a topic arises, I can quickly reference my notes, whether they’re on-screen or jotted down in my notepad, ensuring I’m always prepared. Here’s a sneak peek of how I set it up.
After this, I took some time to review the material. Watching links about the hiring process, and studying how I can excel at the interview.
After securing a meeting with the hiring manager through the recruiter, I knew it was crucial to articulate my process, share my journey, and truly challenge myself. It was expected and sure enough, you can sense the pressure from the hiring manager.
UX Hiring Manager Round snippet and what to expect:
1. Portfolio Review:
Can you walk me through a project in your portfolio, explaining your process from research to implementation?
– What were the challenges faced and how were they overcome?
2. Design Process:
– How do you approach user research and usability testing in your design process?
Can you share an example of a project where you had to pivot your design based on user feedback or testing results?
3. Technical Proficiency and Problem Solving:
– How do you ensure the accessibility and inclusivity of your designs?
– Describe a time when you had to solve a complex design problem. What was your approach?
4. Team Collaboration:
– How do you handle disagreements in design decisions within a team?
– Describe your experience working with developers and product managers.
Facing Goliath: My Tense Half-Hour with the Manager
Engaging with the manager during my interview was more demanding than I anticipated. The weight of high expectations pressed heavily on me, making every minute feel tense. I meticulously walked through my portfolio, narrating the story behind each decision and the rationale for our solutions. Yet, throughout the conversation, an underlying sense persisted that I should’ve brought something more to the table.
In the initial half of the interview, I presented my background, highlighting my significant contributions and leadership roles at renowned companies like AT&T and Liketoknow.it (LTK). I emphasized my achievements in garnering substantial user adoption and proudly pointed out, that my work had even been featured on TechCrunch ↙️.
As the interview progressed into the second half, I began to feel less confident. The dynamic changed, and I could sense that things weren’t going as smoothly as they had in the beginning. My once sure footing now felt like I was treading on shaky ground, and deep down, I had this sinking feeling that things were starting to spiral downward.
As I began to delve into the highlights of my portfolio, I saw it as the prime moment to articulate my thought process and the rationale behind my decisions. This was my chance to showcase not just the end results, but the journey and the strategic choices that led me to those outcomes.
The one thing he kept asking me to do:
Sharif let’s take a minute and walk me through it again. I don’t think I’m understanding
He seemed to pose the same question after I walked through the same case study. What felt like a dozen times, though in truth it was only half of that. Each time he repeated the statement it increased my frustration. If I had to continuously reiterate my design decisions, data points, and rationale behind my solutions, then I knew this interview was a lost cause. And sadly, my intuition proved right. I understood but also didn’t which made me frustrated. But I had no right to be frustrated. This was my own doing and I lost the battle.
There are those moments when you’re convinced you’ve delivered flawlessly. Moments where your confidence soars because you’ve rehearsed to perfection, certain that your effort would clinch the job. Yet, the outcome can sometimes defy expectations.
I genuinely believed I had nailed it. My confidence was sky-high. However, he kept pushing me to explain to him the choices I made.
At the end of it, I know for a fact I did my best.
You should always aim high and do your best no matter what. Even if you get your ass kicked. Do your best.
After the interview, I walked away with a sinking feeling of failure, grappling with the realization that this role might not be in my future. During our conversation, I asked if he could give feedback on how I did, which is something I genuinely value. I suggested he connect with me on Linkedin to provide insights on areas of improvement. It seemed like a reasonable request to understand how I could excel in future opportunities.
Never heard back 🤣
I at least tried.
I received a call from the recruiter regarding my interview…
They informed me that they wouldn’t be proceeding further and unfortunately couldn’t provide any feedback. It genuinely sucked to not get an understanding of the areas of improvement. Constructive feedback can be invaluable for candidates in future interviews. So I had to wait a year before replying.
Nevertheless, I believe that emphasizing storytelling and offering more detailed explanations about design choices can make a significant impact on how one presents their portfolio.
Last Minute Reflections🤔:
As I reflect on this experience, a myriad of emotions washes over me. Yes, interviews can be unpredictable, and sometimes, despite our best efforts, they don’t align with our aspirations. But every ‘no’ takes us one step closer to the next ‘yes.’
While the feeling of rejection can be daunting, it’s essential to remember that it’s just a stepping stone in our journey. Each interview and each interaction provides a learning opportunity, a chance to refine our approach, and a moment to grow both personally and professionally.
The manager’s persistent questioning might have been a test of my patience or my deep understanding of my work. Perhaps, it was an attempt to see my resilience and clarity under pressure. Maybe it was none of these, but merely a difference in communication styles.
Regardless of the outcome, this interview has been an invaluable lesson. It reminds me of the importance of adaptability, the need for clear communication, and the undeniable value of resilience. It’s not the failures that define us, but how we rise after falling.
In future interviews, I’ll carry these learnings with me. I’ll approach each opportunity with renewed vigor, understanding that the journey, with all its ups and downs, is as valuable as the destination.
How you can learn from my mistakes
Applying to Google can be seen as entering the tech industry’s big leagues, and my experience was a testament to that. It’s a journey filled with challenges and intense competition, with an acceptance rate lower than Harvard’s. Google’s acceptance rate sits at a mere 0.2%, making the process not just about your skills, but about resilience and adaptability.
I secured an interview for an Interaction Designer role, a field where I have years of experience. Google provided an impressive array of resources, from videos to tailored interview strategies, setting a new benchmark for candidate preparation.
However, despite showcasing my portfolio and explaining my significant achievements during the interview, I encountered a tough realization. I struggled to convey my design decisions in a story-driven way that resonated with the hiring manager. It’s one thing to display the outcomes of your work; it’s another to articulate the journey and rationale behind each decision.
As designers, our work is more than aesthetics; it’s about the thought process, the problem-solving, and the user experience we craft. This is where I stumbled. Despite repeated attempts to clarify my approach, the hiring manager remained unconvinced. This experience highlighted a crucial lesson: the power of storytelling in design.
Storytelling is an integral part of design that I overlooked. It’s about weaving a compelling narrative around your design decisions that align with the user’s needs and the business’s goals. Reflecting on this, I see that I focused more on the “what” rather than the “why” and “how.”
For designers out there, remember this: Your ability to communicate your design journey and the decisions you’ve made is as critical as the design itself. Your narrative can engage the interviewer and demonstrate your problem-solving skills and user-centric approach.
In the end, despite not securing the role, I realized the value of feedback, which I unfortunately did not receive. Yet, I took away an important lesson on the importance of storytelling in design.
I invite those reading to learn from my experience. Understanding your work’s narrative and being able to articulate the story behind your designs can be as crucial as the technical skills you bring to the table. This reflection isn’t just about a missed opportunity at Google but a lesson on the impact of storytelling in the design process.
I want to give some resources below, which I think will help everyone with any interview.
Some goals to think about when interviewing
Addressing the Business Problem
– Defining the Problem: Understanding the challenges your business faces.
– Goals: What do you aim to achieve?
– Success Metrics: How will you measure the achievement of these goals?
– Problem Origin: Why did this become a problem in the first place?
– Your Role: Detailing your responsibilities and contributions.
– Target Audience: Who were the end-users in mind?
– Constraints: Any limiting factors or challenges faced during the solution process?
Crafting the Design Solution
– Testing and Edge Cases: Assessing all possible scenarios for a comprehensive solution.
– Cross-functional collaboration: Engaging with multiple teams and detailing the process.
– Problem Solving: Adopting a user-centered approach throughout the product lifecycle.
Validating the Design with Data
– Research and Testing Involvement: How deep was your participation in research interviews and user testing?
– Data-Driven Decisions: Emphasizing the importance of evidence-backed choices.
– Explorations: Chronicles of trials, tests, and discoveries during the process.
Reflections on the Journey
– Assessing Success: Did the solution meet its intended goals?
– Outcome Analysis: Evaluating the solution’s effectiveness and areas of improvement.
– Retrospective Changes: In hindsight, what would have been done differently?
– Lessons Learned: Personal and professional growth from the experience.
Side note: Google’s UX and Interaction Design Hiring Overview (2022–2023)
After experiencing a notable surge in 2021 and 2022, the job market for UX design and research encountered a downturn in 2023. This shift mirrored a wider cooling in tech hiring that emerged in the latter part of 2022 and persisted into the following year.
1. Despite some tech giants laying off employees, the demand for tech and UX jobs remained relatively high in 2023. Indeed.design.
2. The average salary for a UX Designer at Google in 2023 was $137,819. comparably.com.
3. A Google UI/UX Designer’s average total compensation was reported as $139,508 annually, including a base salary of $108,778 with a $30,730 bonus https://designlab.com.
4. UX designer positions at Google along with other tech companies. uxdesigninstitute.com.
Attached is the Cover letter I used at Google
I updated it to just show a name rather than my name. Use this as a template to build off of.
Google Cover Letter Name Light
17.7KB ∙ PDF file
Google Cover Letter Name Dark
17.7KB ∙ PDF file
If you don’t want to download offline here is the letter in full: Copied and pasted below
Hi, team at Google,
I’m certain I can be a major asset to the team as an interaction designer. From 3D design and animation for over seven years, I turned this passion into designing experiences and interfaces for web and mobile. Eventually turning that passion into product design. What kept me going, was when I was 14, I worked with a 13 year old ethical (in quotes) hacker and game dev kid from Nicaragua. We made games together, and we both made a $1,400 check for designing a clients game that was built in Unity game engine.
When I first got into UX, I bought 3 giant text books. iE: Interaction Design, Human computer interaction, and Understanding you’r users. Effectively teaching myself UI-UX product design for a few months before going to school for it. Mind you, these are dinosaur aged books, however, they’re the foundation of understanding how to design digital and tangible products for end users at scale while keeping everyone in mind. I’m always an advocate of these older studies because it is what we do today. I also have mentioned these books in some of the keynote presentations I’ve done with various bootcamps.
Moreover, I have been designing as a Sr product designer for AT&T and now LTK Creator leading projects and creating robust solutions that solve some wild crazy problems. I can effectively and strategically apply interactions and various state explorations to web and mobile products as well as their respective design system or library. Not only that, I have a vast and strong understanding of web technology, iOS HIG, and google material design for designing for mobile apps and scaling it up.
Lastly, I look for every opportunity to explore new designs, new robust interactive experiences and creative motion explorations within the UX that create a sense of joy that inspires the end user. While prototyping, I tend to make it simple for quick feedback, however I look for thoughtful feedback when creating advanced high-fidelity prototypes when using a combination of protopie and after effects. This gives me the ability to effectively design something and iterate it further, and not only from a static design perspective, but from a prototype that heavily involves movement and interaction design.
With all that to say, I hope to push the conversation forward, and align my goals and objectives with Google. Looking forward to hearing back…
All the best,
Resources used for the interview
✌️Thank you for reading. See you guys in a few days.
All the best,
Google rejected me because of this one simple thing was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.