For many people – both those who are looking to kickstart their career in technology and people simply looking for a great company to work for – Google is a top company to intern with.
Google internships are like gold dust and competition is fierce. As such, it is never going to be enough to simply throw an average application into the ring with little to no preparation.
The following tips are designed to help you prepare as much as possible to ensure your application for a Google internship is polished and professional, and ensure you ace the company’s demanding application process.
1. Tailor your CV/résumé
Tailoring your CV or résumé begins with you creating a list of everything you have accomplished in your educational and professional life. Then, work this into chronological sections on a CV document. Make sure to also consider any extra credit assignments you have been involved in, such as volunteering, scholarships or interests that are connected to what the internship involves. It’s well known that Google is looking for people who are ‘Googley’ - explained in the company’s values as ‘Just be nice’. So, be sure to showcase your interests and uniqueness within your CV and make your personality, as well as your professional skills, jump off the page.
Where possible and appropriate, you should aim to add specific quantifiable data, statistics and numbers under each job role you’ve held. These make an enormous difference over a vague list of job responsibilities.
It is crucial to use the internship brief or job description for guidance so you can align your CV to the requirements of the internship. Identifying keywords and adding them within your document will also ensure that your application makes it through Google’s applicant tracking systems.
For example, if the internship is focused on sales and the internship summary mentions that candidates should have excellent negotiation skills and experience in client support, make sure to include these keywords in your document.
If the internship is focused on software engineering, then highlight relevant coding courses you might have completed and include projects you have worked on that demonstrate your experience.
The idea here is to show the recruiter that you are a great fit for the internship in every way possible. So, regardless of which internship role you are applying for, ensure that your CV is tailored to the position and that it matches the requirements stated in the job advert.
2. Form connections
It is an unfortunate but inevitable fact of life that to get a great job isn’t just a case of what you know, but also who you know. Landing a job at Google is no exception.
Your application might be pushed to the front of the queue if you are referred by someone who already works there for an internship.
So, before you apply, research your connections through family, friends, and your current professional network. Maybe you know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who works at Google and can give you a way in.
This doesn’t mean that having friends in high places is the only way to get ahead. There are other ways to make meaningful professional connections, too. If you have an opportunity to attend in-person networking events, do it! If you have the opportunity to get some face time with people who work at Google, even better! Make sure to introduce yourself and explain what you are looking for. You could also create business cards with your contact details and a Google Docs link or QR code to your online CV.
If you cannot attend physical events, seek out online networking events and use LinkedIn to connect with people online and seek out other Google employees who might work in the same areas the internship focuses on. If they accept the connection, drop them a message and introduce yourself, and what you are looking for. If all goes well, you could ask if they have time for a discussion (on Google Hangout, obviously) about the internship and life at the company.
This all might seem a little daunting but remember how competitive getting an internship at Google is, and this might just be the differentiator that gets you noticed. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
3. Send your application
You’ve got a great CV and made some connections. Now, it’s time to apply for the internship. You can do this by visiting Google’s job board, finding the internship you’re interested in and clicking the ‘Apply’ button. Fill in the application form and upload your CV (in PDF) and transcript. You may also be able to apply directly through your university it’s registered with Google.
Most Google job applications are straightforward and quick to complete. However, you must pay attention to every part and ensure that your application is completed to the very best of your ability.
If you are asked to provide a cover letter, ensure to use keywords that align to the role, like you did in your CV. Meanwhile, if you’re required to create a video introduction, then try to go beyond an unrehearsed selfie of yourself in your bedroom; do everything you can to ensure the recruiter looks at your application and thinks: ‘Wow’.
4. Prepare for the phone interview
Google, like many large companies, has various interview processes for each role, but whatever happens, expect a comprehensive, multi-staged process that will introduce you to many different senior figures, each with their own sets of questions. Usually, however, the first stage involves a phone interview.
You must also be ready to ask your own questions, showing curiosity about the company and the role. Complete your preparation by getting a good night’s sleep and don’t forget to test your connection before the interview takes place.
The best way to get through this part successfully is to prepare in advance. Common questions that will come up include the following:
‘Tell us what you know about Google.’
Do in depth research about what Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Google do, including their internal operating structures and their products. Pay special attention to the products associated with the division you would be interning with.
‘Give me an example of a time when you…(interviewer states a situation related to the internship role or department).’
These behavioural questions can be tricky. However, you can prepare for them by revisiting your CV and the job description and coming up with examples that are relevant to the role.
Your answer should include any accomplishments from previous projects and roles that fit the job description.
As you answer your question, try to tell it like a story. A good way to go about it is to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method: explain the situation and task at hand, by providing context and then explain the action you took and the outcome.
‘How would you tackle a situation where…(interviewer states a situation likely to come up in the department you are interning in. The situation might be a lot more high-level than what an intern would be expected to handle).’
Revise your technical knowledge and theoretical concepts, considering how these might apply to Google’s culture and business model. That said, try not to sound like a textbook when giving your answer; showcase your knowledge but make it relatable to the interviewers.
You may want to familiarise yourself with more abstract interview questions that Google is known to ask its interviewees, and come up with memorable answers for some of them. There is rarely a right or wrong answer, but some forethought will help with your effective delivery.
5. Clean up your social media
Take some time to ensure your online presence is as professional and ‘on brand’ as possible.
Google yourself and see what comes up. View your social media profiles as a ‘public’ person, removing or hiding any information or posts that you wouldn’t want others to see.
This might include embarrassing or unprofessional photos, posts and anything else a recruiter would raise their eyebrows at.
It’s also wise to have a friend look over your profiles and get a second opinion. They might spot things you didn’t.
Google internships can be extremely competitive, so preparation is key!
That said, as long as you put in the effort and utilise the above steps, you can maximise your chances of success.
Join the conversation! Are you considering applying to an internship at Google? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 27 December 2017.