More than a number: How much does Google care about GPA?

Posted on Saturday, January 22nd, 2011


I’m currently a junior at Cal Poly, and my GPA isn’t great. I estimate when I graduate it’ll be between a 2.7 and 3.1. Will that put me out of the running for Google and Microsoft? Do those companies really have a minimum GPA requirement? Is there anything I can do to offset my low GPA to increase my chances of getting hired?

~ Alex

Not only is there not GPA requirement, but you don’t even necessarily need to have gone to college. I worked with a number of people at Google who had dropped out of college. Does that mean GPA doesn’t matter? Not quite.

Both Google and Microsoft will try to use any available metrics to predict whether or not you’d be a successful employee. Once you’ve interviewed, your interview performance matters much, much more than anything on your resume. In fact, I never even remember GPA being discussed after someone’s interview.

In the resume selection process, GPA can certainly have an impact, but it’s not the only factor. Ultimately, companies are looking for a “track record of achievement,” or signs that you’re smart and that you can code. That can be one or more of these factors:

  • Attending a good school
  • Internships / jobs at other “good” companies
  • A strong GPA (above 3.0)
  • Big / cool projects (course projects, open source work, things you’ve done ‘for fun’)
  • Other technical work: TAing, etc

If you don’t have a great GPA, that’s okay. Many people get interviewed with low GPAs, but they compensate with other projects and work. In fact, that’s exactly what I did (my GPA varied between a 3.0 and a 3.3).

One final thing: if you’re trying to compensate for a lower GPA with other projects, the quality of your resume tends to make a bigger difference. After all, if the numbers are telling a great story, it’s that much more important that you learn how to.

Read our resume tips on the links below, or check out CareerCup’s professional resume review service.



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One Response to
“More than a number: How much does Google care about GPA?”

  • Vagrant says: August 27th, 2011 at 1:12 am

    I can vouch for what Gayle says. I just got hired with a 2.2 GPA. I had other things going for me. Google seems to look at anything that convinces them that you are special.

    The main problem was getting through the resume screen. I was initially dropped, probably because of the GPA and some other things. To be fair, those poor recruiters get something like 3000 resumes a day. They have to filter it all somehow.

    My friend at Google asked them to give it a second glance and once I got past the resume screen, the rest of the process was awesome. Again, what can they do? 3000 resumes a day. How about you just don’t list it? And accentuate your other achievements on the resume. Once you get to talk to the HR recruiter, you are past the danger point and you can give your GPA there, if they insist.

    Just bear in mind, if they have two candidates and they see nothing but their GPAs (2.7 and 3.7) and nothing else to distinguish the candidates, why wouldn’t they pick the resume with the 3.7 candidate? With so overwhelmingly many applications, they can only conduct so many interviews.

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