How to Prepare for a Google Cyber Security Engineer Interview

Securing systems against potential threats and breaches is one of the most important functions of Google’s engineering teams. A role focused on cyber security at Google is preferable over other companies for several reasons. With abundant log storage space and engineering teams dedicated to making internal security infrastructure and tools, Google is the place to be for cyber security professionals. Security jobs at Google are always in high demand, but with the right coaching, you can land your dream job!

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! Also, read How Hard Is It to Get a Job at Google? and How to Get Software Engineering Jobs at Google for specific insights and guidance on Google tech interviews.  

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To get you started in the right direction, we have put together the essentials for your Cyber Security Engineer Google interview prep:  

  • What does a Google Cyber Security Engineer do?
  • Qualifications needed to pursue a Cyber Security Engineer role at Google
  • What's a typical Google Cyber Security Engineer interview structure?
  • What’s a Google Cyber Security Engineer interview like?
  • Hiring decision process for a Google Cyber Security Engineer
  • Skills required for Google Cyber Security interviews
  • Topics to prepare for a Google Cyber Security interview?
  • Sample Google Cyber Security Engineer interview questions
  • Google Cyber Security Engineer interview tips
  • Google Cyber Security Engineer career FAQs

What Does a Google Cyber Security Engineer Do? 

A Google Cyber Security Engineer is responsible for risk evaluation, assessing, monitoring, conducting forensics, and developing security tools, automation, and frameworks. Some of your responsibilities as a Google Cyber Security Engineer will be:

  • Designing and implementing system infrastructure to protect Google networks.
  • Providing security guidance and expertise to diverse Google engineering and business teams.
  • Conducting security-focused reviews of core corporate and production infrastructure.
  • Driving security improvements to Google products and services at the enterprise level.
  • Building security tools and processes using Python or Go for critical infrastructure monitoring, protection, and remediation.

Qualifications Needed to Pursue a Cyber Security Engineer Role at Google 

To become a Cyber Security Engineer at Google, you need these minimum qualifications:

  • A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related technical field or equivalent practical experience.
  • Five or more years of industry experience in security.
  • Coding experience in one or more languages.
  • Experience handling attacks and mitigation methods.
  • Experience working in at least two of the following:
    Web application and browser security
    Network protocols and secure network design
    Security assessments and penetration testing
    Operating system internals and hardening
    Authentication and access control
    Security monitoring and intrusion detection
    Applied cryptography and security protocols
    Incident response and forensics
    Development of security tools, automation, or frameworks

Pro Tip: You can take a Google cyber security course such as the professional cloud security engineer exam to increase your chances of qualifying for security roles at Google. 

What's a Typical Google Cyber Security Engineer Interview Structure?

The Google Cyber Security Engineer interview process primarily focuses on your network and infrastructure security skills and experience. Structurally, the process is similar to that of a Google Software Engineer.

  1. The main steps of this process are: Phone screen interview
  2. Technical screen interview
  3. On-site interviews

The interview process at Google can last for 6-8 weeks on average from when your application is accepted for the recruitment process.

Phone screen interview

Once your application is selected, you get a call from a recruiter. During this conversation, the recruiter will try to get to know you better and assess which team you would be the best fit for. Once you get past this first HR screen, the recruiter will then schedule your next interview, which will involve a coding assessment. 

Technical screen (coding) interview

In the coding interview, you will be asked data structure and algorithm questions which you will have to solve on a remote collaborative editor. These questions will be similar to the questions one would come across in a Google Software Engineer interview. Here’s a coding assessment cheat sheet for your Google Cyber Security interview prep.

Onsite interviews

Google usually conducts onsite interviews at its head office. The onsite round comprises 5 to 6 face-to-face interviews. Each Cyber Security Engineer interview at Google lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and focuses on the following topics:

  • Coding interview: You will be asked algorithm and data structure questions similar to those you would come across in a Google Software Engineer interview.
  • System design interview: In this interview, you will be asked to design a high-level modern technology system like a Google product or service focusing on its security features. For Cyber Security roles, Google may conduct more than one system design interview.
  • Cyber security design interview: In this interview, you will be asked to design a system while focusing on security risk evaluation and assessment. You will be evaluated based on your approach to solving problems.
  • Behavioral interview: These interviews are designed to know more about your work experience and your motivation behind applying for the job. Interviewers also want to see if your values align with those of Google.

For more information, read Google Cyber Security Interview Process.

What’s a Google Cyber Security Engineer Interview Like?  

A typical Google Security Engineer interview will be similar to that of a Google Software Engineer interview, except that the questions will be focused on system and network security. Also, the level of coding expected from you will be lower than in other software engineering roles. Most interview rounds remain the same, i.e., the coding interview, system design interview, and the behavioral Interview

The cyber security design interview will involve either redesigning an existing protocol or creating a new one altogether. You will be expected to assess a potential risk or respond to one. The questions are designed to be extremely vague. The intention for this is to leave room for you to ask questions and make inquiries about the system requirements. Design interviews at Google tend to go deep, so expect your interviewers to question your system design methodology at multiple levels.

Pro Tip: Once you recognize a potential risk or system threat in a design interview, make sure to back it up with an action plan.

The behavioral interviews are designed to understand your motivation behind applying for the role, your career aspirations for the next two to five years, and your ability to perform in teams and individually.

Hiring Decision Process for a Google Cyber Security Engineer 

Candidates are graded based on a performance feedback form throughout the interview process. This form has a summary of the attributes that Google is looking for in a candidate. It gets updated in every round by the interviewers. Questions asked in an interview are noted in this form to ensure that the questions are not repeated.

Here are some of the traits Google is looking for in Cyber Security Engineers:

  1. Ability to evaluate risk
  2. Cognitive ability
  3. Role-related evaluation
  4. Leadership traits
  5. Cultural fit

Your interviewers submit their feedback based on their observations. If you have done well in the interview process, you will get matched to a team based on your skillset. After a review by the compensation committee, the recruiter will contact you with an offer.

Do you tend to hesitate while negotiating your salary? Read The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineers to hone your negotiation skills and get an offer that matches your value.

Skills Required for Google Cyber Security Interviews 

We’ve put together some crucial skills to work on while preparing for your Google Security Engineer interview:

  • Foundational coding
  • Data science
  • System design and software architecture
  • Data structures
  • Web application and browser security
  • Network protocols
  • Security assessment
  • Ethical hacking
  • Penetration testing
  • Authentication and access control
  • Applied cryptography
  • Security protocols
  • Incident response and forensics
  • Binary analysis
  • Project management
  • Team management
  • Leadership

Topics to Prepare for a Google Cyber Security Interview 

You know now what the interview process for a cyber security engineer looks like. You also know what skills it takes to crack the interview. Next, it’s important to note the topics you should include in your prep to make sure you cover and hone all the skills required for the interview and the role. Following are the must-cover topics for your cyber security tech interview prep:

Coding topics:

System design:

  • Designing complex architecture systems and platforms
  • Product features

Recommended Reading: System Design Interview Preparation Tips

Behavioral topics:

Cyber security topics:

  • Basic security concepts 
  • Application security/Source code analysis
  • XSS types
  • Web vulnerabilities
  • OS internals
  • Malware/Exploits
  • SQL injections

Sample Google Cyber Security Engineer Interview Questions 

Here are some sample interview questions that can help you prepare for your Cyber Security interview at Google: 

  • Given a string, find the length of its longest substring with no repeating characters. (Solution)
  • Given a list of string words of size n, check if there is any pair of words that can be joined (in any order) to form a palindrome, then return the pair of words forming a palindrome. (Solution)
  • Write a function that returns the number of distinct binary search trees that can be constructed with n nodes. (Solution)
  • Find all palindromic decompositions of a given string s. (Solution)
  • If a security incident takes place with X and Y characteristics, how will you respond to it?
  • Assess the security risk of a given app, service, or network with X and Y characteristics and make recommendations.
  • Find the vulnerability in this (given) code snippet.
  • Reverse engineer this (given) code.
  • Given an attacker technique, X, how would you detect it?
  • How will you test for SQL injections?
  • How would you test for XSS?
  • How would you design security for Google Cloud Platform from scratch?
  • Where are passwords stored on a disk in Linux?
  • Given an application with X and Y characteristics, how would you assess it?
  • Design a social network that is inclusive and safe to use for visually impaired users.

For more practice questions, check out our complete list of system design questions and solved technical questions

Google Cyber Security Engineer Interview Tips 

Read these important tips that will increase your chance of getting the Cyber Security Engineer role: 

  1. Expose yourself to information security skills and learn to work as a team by participating in Capture the flag (CTF) competitions and vulnerability discoveries.
  2. Learn how systems and security work together. Read about the internal details of popular firewalls, routers, authentication systems, IDS, and web applications.
  3. Try to develop transformative approaches rather than iterative ones. 
  4. Practice redesigning Google features that already exist and focus on how you can improve their security.  
  5. Practice some tough interview-style coding questions on a whiteboard without using a compiler. 
  6. Practice mock interviews with yourself, your peers, or a complete google interview prep guide like Interview Kickstart.
  7. When practicing, make it a point to think out loud and explain your thought process to the interviewer. 
  8. Start timing yourself when you practice system design questions. A lot of attention is given to how you manage your time and how efficiently you come up with the solution. 
  9. Sign up with Interview Kickstart to practice interviews with experienced coaches, hiring managers, and tech leads from FAANG companies.

Google Cyber Security Engineer Career FAQs

  1. What does a Cyber Security Engineer do at Google?
    Cyber Security Engineers are responsible for ensuring that all of Google’s systems and networks are safe to use and hardened against potential security breaches.

  2. How much does a Google Cyber Security Engineer make?
    The average Google Security Engineer salary is $146,792 per year.

  3. What is the timeline for the Google Cyber Security Interview process?
    A typical Google Cyber Security Interview process can take 6-8 weeks from the time your application is accepted.

Get Ready for Your Google Cyber Security Engineer Interview 

Preparing for a FAANG+ interview is no less intense than preparing for a competitive sport. To win, you need the right coaching and dedicated preparation time. If you are confused about how to apply or where to start preparing, sign up for our free webinar and let our experts guide you to the finish line.

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