If you are interviewing for a business strategy or operations role at Google, there is a high chance that you will be given at least one case interview or case study interview. Roles at Google that have case interviews as part of the interview process include:
- Strategy & Operations
- Product Management
- Business Partnerships
- Business Analyst
In order to land these jobs at Google, you will need to pass every single one of your case interviews. While Google case interviews may seem ambiguous and intimidating at first, know that they can be conquered with the right preparation and practice.
If you are unfamiliar with how to solve or prepare for Google case interviews, we have you covered. In this comprehensive Google case interview guide, we’ll cover:
- What is a Google case interview
- Why Google uses case interviews
- The 6 steps to ace any Google case interview
- Google case interview examples and answers
- Google case interview tips
- Resources to prepare for your Google case interview
What is a Google Case Interview?
Google case interviews, also known as Google case study interviews, are 30- to 45-minute exercises in which you are placed in a hypothetical business situation and are asked to find a solution or make a recommendation.
To do this, you’ll create an overall framework that shows what approach you would take to solve the case. Then, you’ll collaborate with the interviewer, answering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions that will give you the information and data needed to develop an answer. At the end of the case, you’ll deliver your recommendation.
Case interviews have traditionally been used by consulting firms to assess a candidate’s potential to become a successful consultant, but many companies with ex-consultants now use them to assess an interview candidate’s capabilities. Since Google hires so many former consultants in its business roles, you’ll likely encounter at least one case interview in your interview process.
The business problems that you’ll be given in a Google case interview will likely be real challenges that Google faces today:
- How can Google increase its revenues from enterprise businesses?
- How can Google reduce costs among its customer service call centers while maintaining customer satisfaction?
- Google has seen a steep decline in the number of Google searches in Japan. What is causing this decline and what should Google do to address this?
- How can Google improve customer retention among small and medium-sized businesses?
Depending on what team at Google you are interviewing for, you’ll likely be given a business problem that is relevant to that specific team.
Although there is a wide range of business problems you could possibly be given in your Google case interview, the fundamental case interview strategies to solve each problem is the same. If you learn the right strategies and get enough practice, you’ll be able to solve any Google case interview.
Why does Google Use Case Interviews?
Google uses case interviews because your performance in a case interview is a measure of how well you would do on the job. Google case interviews assess a variety of different capabilities and qualities needed to successfully complete job duties and responsibilities.
Google’s case interviews assess five major qualities:
- Logical, structured thinking: Can you structure complex problems in a clear, simple way?
- Analytical problem solving: Can you read, interpret, and analyze data well?
- Business acumen: Do you have sound business judgment and intuition?
- Communication skills: Can you communicate clearly, concisely, and articulately?
- Personality and cultural fit: Are you coachable and easy to work with?
Since all of these qualities can be assessed in just a 30- to 45-minute case, Google case interviews are an effective way to assess a candidate’s capabilities.
The 6 Steps to Solve Any Google Case Interview
In general, there are six steps to solve any Google case interview or case study interview.
1. Understand the case
Your Google case interview will begin with the interviewer giving you the case background information. While the interviewer is speaking, make sure that you are taking meticulous notes on the most important pieces of information. Focus on understanding the context of the situation and the objective of the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you do not understand something. You may want to summarize the case background information back to the interviewer to confirm your understanding of the case.
The most important part of this step is to verify the objective of the case. Not answering the right business question is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
2. Structure the problem
The next step is to develop a framework to help you solve the case. A framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components. Another way to think about frameworks is brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.
Before you start developing your framework, it is completely acceptable to ask the interviewer for a few minutes so that you can collect your thoughts and think about the problem.
Once you have identified the major issues or areas that you need to explore, walk the interviewer through your framework. They may ask a few questions or provide some feedback.
3. Kick off the case
Once you have finished presenting your framework, you’ll start diving into different areas of your framework to begin solving the case. How this process will start depends on whether the case interview is candidate-led or interviewer-led.
If the case interview is a candidate-led case, you’ll be expected to propose what area of your framework to start investigating. So, propose an area and provide a reason for why you want to start with that area. There is generally no right or wrong area of your framework to pick first.
If the case interview is interviewer-led, the interviewer will tell you what area of the framework to start in or directly give you a question to answer.
4. Solve quantitative problems
Google case interviews typically have some quantitative aspect to them. For example, you may be asked to calculate a certain profitability or financial metric. You could also be asked to estimate the size of a particular market or to estimate a particular figure.
The key to solving quantitative problems is to lay out a structure or approach upfront with the interviewer before doing any math calculations. If you lay out and present your structure to solve the quantitative problem and the interviewer approves of it, the rest of the problem is just simple execution of math.
5. Answer qualitative questions
Google case interviews will also typically have qualitative aspects to them. You may be asked to brainstorm a list of potential ideas. You could also be asked to provide your opinion on a business issue or situation.
The key to answering qualitative questions is to structure your answer. When brainstorming a list of ideas, develop a structure to help you neatly categorize all of your ideas. When giving your opinion on a business issue or situation, provide a summary of your stance or position and then enumerate the reasons that support it.
6. Deliver a recommendation
In the last step of the Google case interview, you’ll present your recommendation and provide the major reasons that support it. You do not need to recap everything that you have done in the case, so focus on only summarizing the facts that are most important.
It is also good practice to include potential next steps that you would take if you had more time or data. These can be areas of your framework that you did not have time to explore or lingering questions that you do not have great answers for.
Google Case Interview Examples and Answers
Example #1: What differences would you take into account when selling a product to a client in India versus a client in Argentina?
Sample solution: To answer this, create a framework that shows the most important characteristics or qualities of each country that you would want to look into. For example, one potential framework may look into the customer needs and preferences, the competitive landscape, market trends, and Google’s capabilities across the two countries.
Example #2: If you were a Google Search competitor entering a new market and had a small market share, how would you convince advertisers to advertise with you?
Sample solution: To answer this question, you should be familiar with Google Search. You can create a framework that outlines the product’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can identify gaps in customer needs.
At a high level, the strengths of Google Search is that it has the widest reach since it is the most used search engine. It also has high targeting specificity since it has lots of data on long-tail keywords. However, the main drawback is how competitive and expensive it can be for advertisers to use. Customer service can also be slow for smaller customers given the number of customers Google services. Finally, the product can be complicated for advertisers to set up initially. Therefore, when entering a new market as a Google Search competitor, it may make sense to target customers with smaller budgets and sell them on low-prices, fast customer service, and ease of set up.
Example #3: What are three areas that Google should invest in?
Sample solution: To answer this question, it may be helpful to clarify what Google’s primary objective is. Are they looking to increase profits, revenues, or number of users? The ideas that you brainstorm may vary depending on their actual goals. Next, develop a framework to organize your ideas. You may want to think about areas of investments as short-term investments, medium-term investments, and long-term investments.
Example #4: If you were the CEO of AdSense, what would be your strategy to improve the product?
Sample solution: As always, create a framework to help you organize your ideas in a clear and easy to follow way. To improve AdSense, you can think about improving the product for advertisers, improving the product for search users, and improving the product for Google’s profitability. Using a framework like this one will help you consider all of the different ways that AdSense can be improved.
Example #5: How much money do you think YouTube makes daily from ads?
Sample solution: This is an estimation question. Before doing any math calculations, make sure to lay out a structure or approach for how you would estimate this figure.
You may want to start by estimating the number of people in the world, the percentage that use YouTube, the percentage that use YouTube on any given day, the average amount of time spent on YouTube in a day, the number of ads seen for that period of time, and then estimating the amount YouTube earns per ad that is shown. Multiplying all of these figures will give you your answer.
Example #6: How would you set the price for the YouTube masthead? The YouTube masthead is a digital billboard placed on YouTube’s homepage for 24 hours, reaching about 60 million people.
Sample solution: In general, there are three ways to price a product: pricing by the cost to produce the product, pricing by the economic value the product provides customers, and pricing by the price of competitors’ similar products.
Since the cost of putting up a digital billboard is minimal, the first pricing strategy is not helpful. Looking at the second pricing strategy, you can price the digital billboard based on how much it would have cost the potential customer to get 60 million ad impressions. Looking at the third pricing strategy, you can look into how much other types of advertising that reach a similar number of people costs. For example, you could look into how much Super Bowl ads cost.
Example #7: How would you market the Google Ads product to a potential client?
Sample solution: To develop an effective marketing strategy, you may want to look into the client’s needs, competitor offerings, and Google Ads’ features or benefits. Exploring these three areas will help you identify the features or benefits of Google Ads that are superior to competitor products that the client values.
Example #8: How would you estimate the market size of Google display ads on websites?
Sample solution: This is another estimation question. As always, outline a structure before you begin doing any math calculations.
You may want to start by estimating the global population, estimating the percentage that have internet, estimate the average number of sites visited per day, estimate the percentage of websites that have ads, estimate the percentage of these websites that use Google display ads, estimate the revenue Google generates per ad. If you multiply the product of these figures by 365 days in a year, you’ll get an estimate of the market size of Google display ads.
Example #9: How would you determine the number of staff members needed in the customer support team next year?
Sample solution: One potential approach for solving this question could look like the following.
Start with Google’s annual revenues and estimate the average revenue generated per customer to determine the number of customers Google services. For each customer, estimate the frequency in which they call customer support and the average length of a support call. Assuming that a staff member works eight hours per day, you can estimate the number of staff members you’d need to meet the volume of support calls.
You may need to grow this number by Google’s historical growth rate to account for expected revenue growth next year.
Example #10: If you were setting up a new ecommerce business, what are the things you would look at?
Sample solution: This is a market entry case. Potential areas you should consider looking into in your framework include: the attractiveness of the market, the competitive landscape, the company’s capabilities, and the expected profitability.
Example #11: How should YouTube deal with spam?
Sample solution: There are many different ways to deal with spam. To ensure that you brainstorm ideas in a clear and comprehensive way, develop a framework to categorize all of the different ways of dealing with spam. You may want to think about this as: preventing spam from being posted, detecting spam, and removing spam.
Example #12: Let’s say that Google is considering acquiring iRobot, a company that builds consumer robots, such as the Roomba. What would you consider when deciding whether to make this acquisition?
Sample solution: This is an acquisition case. To determine whether or not this is an attractive acquisition, you may want to look into: the attractiveness of the consumer robots market, the attractiveness of iRobot as a company, the potential synergies from the acquisition, and the financial implications of the acquisition.
Example #13: Estimate the time it takes a Google Street View car to collect footage in a city.
Sample solution: To answer this question, first clarify which city the interviewer is talking about. Then, outline your approach for how you would do this calculation.
You might want to start by estimating the length and width of the city area. Then, estimate how wide a street is and the average distance between streets. If you think of a city as a grid that consists of vertical and horizontal lines, you can use these estimates to calculate the total street length in the city.
Afterwards, estimate the average speed of a Google Street View car, taking into traffic and stoplights. Dividing the total street length by the average speed of a Google Street View car will get you an estimate of how long it would take to collect footage.
Example #14: How would you define the strategy for YouTube over the next 5 years?
Sample solution: This question is very similar to Example #3. Before answering, it may be helpful to clarify what YouTube’s primary objective is. Are they looking to increase profits, increase number of users, or increase user engagement? You may want to think about strategy as short-term strategy and long-term strategy.
Example #15: Let’s say that Google is considering getting into the ride share business. What should they consider when making the decision on whether or not to enter?
Sample solution: This is a market entry case and the approach is similar to Example #10. Potential areas you should consider looking into in your framework include: the attractiveness of the ride share market, the competitive landscape, the company’s capabilities, and the expected profitability.
Google Case Interview Tips
Below are eight of our best tips to help you perform your best during your Google case interviews.
1. Familiarize yourself with Google’s business model
If you don’t understand Google’s business model, it will be challenging for you to do well in their case interviews. Therefore, you should know that Google makes the majority of its revenue by selling advertising and you should be familiar with the products and services that Google offers for the specific team you are interviewing for.
2. Read recent news articles on Google
Often, the cases you’ll see in a Google case interview are real business issues that the company faces. Reading up on the latest news on Google will give you a sense of what Google’s biggest challenges are and what major business decisions they face today. There may be a good chance that you’ll be given a case that is similar to something that you have read in the news.
3. Verify the objective of the case
Answering the wrong business problem will waste a lot of time during your Google case interview. Therefore, the most critical step of the case interview is to verify the objective of the case with the interviewer. Make sure that you understand what the primary business issue is and what overall question you are expected to answer at the end of the case.
4. Ask clarifying questions
Do not be afraid to ask questions. You will not be penalized for asking questions that are important and relevant to the case.
Great questions to ask include asking for the definition of an unfamiliar term, asking questions that clarify the objective of the issue, and asking questions to strengthen your understanding of the business situation.
5. Do not use memorized frameworks
Interviewers can tell when you are using memorized frameworks from popular case interview prep books. Google values creativity and intellect. Therefore, make every effort to create a custom, tailored framework for each case that you get.
Read our comprehensive case interview framework guide to learn how to create outstanding frameworks.
6. Always connect your answers to the case objective
Throughout the case, make sure you are connecting each of your answers back to the overall business problem or question. What implications does your answer have on the overall business problem?
Many candidates make the mistake of answering case questions correctly, but they don’t take the initiative to tie their answer back to the case objective.
7. Communicate clearly and concisely
In a Google case interview, it can be tempting to answer the interviewer’s question and then continue talking about related topics or ideas. However, you have a limited amount of time to solve a Google case, so it is best to keep your answers concise and to the point.
Answer the interviewer’s question, summarize how it impacts the case objective, and then move onto the next important issue or question.
8. Be enthusiastic
Google wants to hire candidates that love their job and will work hard. Displaying enthusiasm shows that you are passionate about working at Google. Having a high level of enthusiasm and energy also makes the interview more enjoyable for the interviewer. They’ll be more likely to have a positive impression of you.
Resources to Prepare for Your Google Case Interview
If you’re looking for the best way to learn and practice case interviews to pass your upcoming Google case interview or case study interview, give our one week case interview course a try. The material in the course has helped 6,000+ students land offers at top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain, so it’ll be more than enough for your Google case interview.
If you are considering alternative resources to use, below are the two books we recommend. They are available in digital or paperback format on Amazon.
- Hacking the Case Interview: Learn exactly what to do and what to say in every step of the case interview. This is the perfect book for beginners that are looking to learn the basics of case interviews quickly.
- The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook: Hone your case interview skills through 65+ problems tailored towards each type of question asked in case interviews and 15 full-length cases based on real McKinsey, BCG, and Bain interviews. This book is great for intermediates.