Q&A: How to Get a Sales Job at Google

A Noogler (new Googler) at Google's New York offices.
A Noogler (new Googler) at Google’s New York offices.

On January 25th Google announced plans to hire over 6,000 new staff in 2011, representing the most aggressive recruiting year in its history. In the week that followed the company received over 75,000 applications from hopeful candidates, almost four times as many as its approximate weekly average of 19,000 submissions.

The Google recruitment site currently lists over 300 ad-related roles in the U.S. alone, including over 100 in New York and more than 150 at its headquarters in Mountain View, California. But what does it take to get a job at Google, and what does the hiring process involve?

To find out ClickZ spoke with Bryan Power, a sales-focused people operations manager based out of Google’s New York offices.

Q. Why do you think people want to work at Google?

A. When people join Google a lot of what they’re interested in is the culture, and people tend to take a longer view of why they want to join this company. Having worked with other companies, candidates are usually concerned with which job they’re taking. With Google it’s more about the company they’re joining.

When you talk to people that have been here four or five years, the stuff they’re working on now often didn’t even really exist when they started. I think people are attracted to come to Google because they know we’re going to be involved in lots of things.

Q. How do you source candidates?

A. Through a range of channels. There’s a lot of interest in working at Google so we get a huge number of applications coming at us. We spend a lot of time reviewing and interviewing that applicant pool. At the same time we’re very focused on tapping the networks of the people that work here. We also meet lots of people at industry events and tradeshows.

We also try to think about who are the most talented people out there across a range of industries and backgrounds, and try to figure out if they might be interested in working for us.

Q. What qualifications do you look for in sales staff?

A. Even within sales we’re really looking for smart people who have done interesting things and showed the ability to make broad impact. For a typical profile in sales we look at people who have been able to build a business in the past.

Separate from that basic characteristic we’re also looking for people who have been innovative, people who have been able to see where the world is going and created businesses or opportunities to take advantage of that.

Q. What type of experience do you look for in sales-focused staff?

A. We hire people from all sorts of backgrounds. Some of our most successful salespeople come from outside of the online advertising industry and they’ve learned it here.

Q. How does hiring for sales positions differ from recruiting for more technical roles?

A. An engineering interview will be very technically focused. For a sales person it will be similar but more business focused. How does a candidate think about a market or an industry?

Q. What does the average interview process involve?

A. [Candidates] talk to about five people on average. That might be during one or two visits, it depends on the person. That applies to junior roles, senior roles, whatever it might be.

Within the interview process… often times we put challenges in front of people to test how smart they are.

With other companies most of the focus is on what people have done in the past. People come onsite here and I think they’re surprised, often pleasantly, that we’re asking them more about where they think online advertising is going… That puts people in a position where they have to think.

Q. Is there any specific area of the business that’s currently a priority from a hiring perspective?

A. …Our display business and YouTube [are] high growth right now.

From a recruiting perspective some of our larger sites have larger recruiting teams. In New York we have a pretty sizeable team, which will, for example, provide support for teams in other markets such as South America. The team size generally reflects that of the individual market and the opportunity.

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