google ceo interview questions

He displayed “intellectual humility”

More often than not, telling an interviewer you dont know the answer to something will dock off a few points, but its better than coming up with something that may be completely false.

Science agrees, too. Research has shown that people with “intellectual humility” – or, as they say, the willingness to admit what you dont know – are better learners.

Laszlo Bock, Googles former senior VP of people operations, calls it one of the top qualities he looks for in a candidate. In an interview with The New York Times, he said: “Successful, bright people rarely experience failure, and so they dont learn how to learn from that failure. They instead commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, its because Im a genius. If something bad happens, its because someones an idiot or I didnt get the resources or the market moved.”

The next time youre faced with a difficult interview question, stay calm and take a moment to think before you respond. Pichai carefully thought about the question. What could he say about something he hadnt even seen? Gmail, at the time, was a newly launched, invite-only product, and so he concluded that it was acceptable to not know the answer.

He had a reason

Instead of simply saying “I dont know,” Pichai told his interviewers why he didnt know: he wasnt able to use the product. By doing so, he expressed curiosity, which is a trait employers always love to see in a candidate.

Pichai recognized his advantage in the scenario: for every “I dont know,” there lies an opportunity to learn. And by the fourth round, his interviewer decided to demonstrate the product.

More often than not, telling an interviewer you don’t know the answer to something will dock off a few points, but it’s better than coming up with something that may be completely false. Science agrees, too. Research has shown that people with “intellectual humility” – or, as they say, the willingness to admit what you don’t know – are better learners. Laszlo Bock , Google’s former senior VP of people operations, calls it one of the top qualities he looks for in a candidate. In an interview with The New York Times, he said: “Successful, bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure. They instead commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved.” The next time you’re faced with a difficult interview question, stay calm and take a moment to think before you respond. Pichai carefully thought about the question. What could he say about something he hadn’t even seen? Gmail, at the time, was a newly launched, invite-only product, and so he concluded that it was acceptable to not know the answer.

After asserting what he didn’t know, Pichai redirected the conversation to assert what he did know. Getting a glimpse of Gmail gave him a clearer understanding of the product. This allowed him to display the forthrightness and intellect that he would go on to become so famous for at Google.

The takeaway is that giving an honest answer doesn’t happen in a vacuum where you score virtue points. The value of being intellectually honest is that it gives you the opportunity to show what you do know.

In the first few rounds, Pichai said the interviewers asked him what he thought of Gmail. There was just one problem: Google had just announced the email service that very same day, on April 1st. “I thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke,” Pichai said.

Most candidates would have attempted to make something up before trying to move on to the next question. Pichai did the exact opposite and ended up impressing his interviewers (after all, he got the job).

Sometimes the best response is no response at all. Even in an interview.

google ceo interview questions

Ive conducted well over a thousand job interviews. (Dont ask.) During that time, I asked the most common interview questions. The most common behavioral interview questions. Even a few unusual interview questions.

Regardless of the question I asked, every candidate always offered some sort of answer, however lame. I asked a few friends who have interviewed lots of people and none of them could recall a candidate ever not cobbling together an answer to their questions.

Which makes sense, since being interviewed for a job is a little like being a leader: You think youre supposed to have all the answers.

But not to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. In 2004, Sundar was a consultant with McKinsey when he interviewed for a job at Google as the VP of product management.

During an early interview, he was asked his thoughts on Gmail, an obvious question to ask the person who would help lead product development. The problem was, Gmail had just been announced the day of the interview.

Which meant Sundar knew nothing about Gmail.

Most people would have reached for an answer. Maybe speculating on how Gmail would fit within Googles suite of tools and applications. Maybe describing the weaknesses of other email platforms, and how Gmail might solve them. Maybe predicting how an email service would add another input to Googles flywheel.

Most people would have said something.

Sundar thought for a moment and said, “I dont know. I havent used it.”

Great teams are often led by people willing to admit weaknesses and failings. Great co-workers are also willing to be vulnerable.

That starts with moments when people show their fallibility.

Daniel Coyle calls it the vulnerability loop: One person admits a mistake or a shortcoming. That allows the other person to do the same. The result is a candid exchange that helps build trust and, oddly enough, drives performance.

Vulnerability loops determine whether the members of the group appear strong or actually face hard truths and learn together.

Sundar didnt know how to answer the Gmail question. He couldnt know how to answer the question; no one except for people inside Google had ever seen the product.

Yet he still got the job. Why? Clearly because he was a great candidate, yet also because he admitted he didnt have all the answers — which is exactly what Googles former VP of people operations, Laszlo Bock, looks for in a candidate.

The level of intellect Bock seeks is similar to what Jeff Bezos says is the number one sign of intelligence. Bezos looks for people who can admit they are wrong — and change their opinions often. He believes the smartest people are open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking.

In short, they know they dont have all the answers — and even when they do think they have the answer, theyre constantly looking for new information or perspectives that might cause them to change their way of thinking.

FAQ

What are the questions asked in CEO interview?

Questions the CEO may ask
  • 1. “ Tell me about yourself” …
  • “What are you most passionate about?” …
  • “How do you challenge yourself?” …
  • “Is there anything about our vision or mission statement that sticks out to you?” …
  • “Do you have any questions for me?”

What questions are asked in Google interview?

Top Google Interview Questions and Answers
  • What is your favorite Google product, and how would you improve it?
  • Briefly explain the difference between coding and programming.
  • How do you stay accountable?
  • Tell me about a time when you set and achieved a goal?

What questions should I ask at the end of a CEO interview?

20 smart questions to ask at the end of your next job interview
  • What do you personally like most about working for this organisation? …
  • What do you find most challenging about working for this organisation? …
  • How would you describe your organisation’s culture? …
  • Can you tell me about the kind of supervision you provide?

What are the top 3 questions asked on Google?

20 smart questions to ask at the end of your next job interview
  • What do you personally like most about working for this organisation? …
  • What do you find most challenging about working for this organisation? …
  • How would you describe your organisation’s culture? …
  • Can you tell me about the kind of supervision you provide?

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