Google Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Prep

Cracking the embedded system engineer interview at Google is not an easy task. You are pitted against some of the most talented contemporaries, and you need to prove to the hiring managers that you are better than your peers to get an inch closer to your dream job. Given that only a handful of candidates make it past the initial screenings, acing the Google Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Prep is more important than ever. At the Google ESE interview, prepare to be grilled on a variety of questions, including some curveballs!

If you are preparing for a tech interview at Google, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation ebook to get interview-ready! Also, read Google Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Process and Google Software Engineer Interview Questions for specific insights and guidance on tech interviews at Google.

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We have created this guide to help you breeze through Google Embedded Systems Software Engineer interview prep. The article will cover:

  • Technical topics for Google Embedded Systems Software Engineer interview prep
  • Soft skills you need for the Embedded Systems Engineer interview
  • How does Google evaluate the performance of Embedded Systems Engineers during the interview?
  • Sample questions for Google Embedded Systems Software Engineer interview prep
  • Tips for Google Embedded Systems Engineer interview prep

Technical Topics for Google Embedded Systems Software Engineer Interview Prep

Remember that Google is looking for embedded systems engineers who can assess a problem and apply their knowledge for an effective and efficient resolution. 

To be able to answer the questions during the embedded system engineer interview confidently, a strong grasp of the technical concepts is non-negotiable. Based on the interview experiences of our alumni, we've put together a list of concepts you should know like the back of your hand. See below:

  • Design patterns and embedded system design patterns
  • C and C++ programming
  • Microcontrollers, or MCUs
  • SoC-level software optimization skill
  • Real-time operating systems (RTOS)
  • Device drivers
  • Debugging skills
  • Microprocessors
  • Linux operating system, Zephyr, Tensorflow
  • Machine learning 
  • Python (including Micropython and Circuit Python)
  • Design patterns
  • Multiprocessor design
  • Multi-subsystem issues
  • GNU project debugging (local and remote)
  • MATLAB programming language and MATLAB modeling
  • Open-source software
  • Wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi and BLE)
  • Unified modeling language

Soft Skills You Need for the Embedded Systems Engineer Interview

Even with adequate preparation, answering questions during your interview can be nerve-wracking. That’s why you should dedicate a large part of your Google Embedded Systems Engineer interview prep towards mastering the right approach to answer the technical and behavioral questions. 

All embedded systems engineers who make it past all the grueling interview rounds have a few traits in common:

  • They demonstrate to the interviewer that they possess the necessary knowledge;
  • They break down the question and answer it in a systematic fashion

Technical Questions

Before you begin to answer any technical question, make sure you: 

  • Ask for clarifications if you are unclear about something: This will ensure that you completely understand what the interviewer is asking you and save you from going down the wrong path. 
  • Read through the coding challenge presented to you: Candidates are usually asked to use Google Docs for coding challenges. Glance through the problem carefully and devise a plan for solving it. It’s best to avoid writing pseudocode because you may not have enough time to complete it. 
  • Implement the strategy and write out the actual code: Once you implement your strategy, take time to read through the code and see if there is any room for making improvements.

Behavioral Questions

To answer the behavioral questions or questions on the leadership principles, shine the spotlight on your problem-solving abilities. Once you make sure that you have understood the question, start by highlighting the difficulty you faced. 

Talk about the various potential solutions you considered, and conclude with the approach you adopted and the results you achieved. Don’t mug up the answers to such questions during Google embedded systems software engineer interview prep

The hiring managers are keen to hear an organic response to evaluate whether you are someone they would want to work with at Google. Additionally, avoid adding too much background information to your responses. You’re more likely to lose their attention — so keep the introduction brief and get to the point as soon as you can. 

Did you know? An Embedded Systems Engineer at Google can earn anywhere between $191K to $1M per year.

How Does Google Evaluate the Performance of Embedded Systems Engineers During the Interview?

It is also useful to remember that the hiring managers will evaluate your performance based on four key attributes. These are:

  1. General cognitive ability: Google wants to onboard embedded systems engineers who can quickly learn and adapt to situations. That’s why demonstrating strong cognitive skills is extremely important. 
  2. Role-related knowledge and experience: Known as "RRK" or "RRKE" internally, this parameter helps the hiring managers assess whether you have the necessary domain expertise for the role. Make sure that you revise all the relevant topics and practice coding questions.
  3. Leadership: This parameter is essential for everyone, even if you are applying for an entry-level role. You should demonstrate “emergent leadership,” which requires you to work with cross-functional teams at Google and step up when the need arises.  
  4. Googleyness: Culture fit is an important aspect for Google. The interviewers will try to assess how well-tuned you are to the company values. You should demonstrate that you value collaboration, have a bias to action, and don’t shy away from taking up challenges even when faced with ambiguity.

Recommended Reading: How Hard Is It to Get a Job at Google?

Sample Questions for Google Embedded Systems Software Engineer Interview Prep

Here’s a list of questions you can use for your embedded system engineer interview prep. Please remember that this is only an indicative list to give you a sense of what to expect:

Technical questions:

  • How to avoid memory fragmentation when targeting embedded devices?
  • What are the different ways of reducing power consumption in an embedded system?
  • What’s the difference between a process and a thread?
  • What are common issues in handling interrupts?
  • What is a semaphore? What are the different types?
  • Can semaphores be used for interrupt context in Linux Kernel?
  • How is the keyword "Volatile" used?
  • What is the meaning of the keyword "const"?
  • What is a watchdog timer?
  • What are the important metrics of real-time software?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a real-time operating system on a mid-range microcontroller?
  • Why are C and C++ still popular and widely used in embedded systems?
  • What are the benefits of using C/C++ vs. higher-level languages?
  • How does one code an infinite loop in C?
  • What is the difference between using an inline function and a macro?

Behavioral questions:

  • What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your current role?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked with a super performer in your team, and how did you handle it?
  • What do you do when someone you are managing doesn’t deliver as promised?
  • Tell us about a time when you had a disagreement with your colleague over a solution to an embedded system problem. How did you resolve the dispute?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to take a crucial decision under tremendous pressure.
  • When was the last time you made a wrong decision?
  • Talk to me about an unpopular decision that you made at work.
  • Describe a situation when you had to work with limited resources. 

Recommended Reading: Behavioral Interview Questions for Software Developers

Tips for Google Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Prep

Here are some tips that can help with your interview prep:

  • Familiarize yourself with Google’s culture. Read through the company website and mission statement. If you know software engineers, software developers, or engineering managers working at Google or someone who used to work there, it is a good idea to speak to them to get a sense of the culture. Even with the best credentials and technical skills, you may fail to make an impression if you are not the right fit culturally.  
  • There’s no substitute for practice. The more you practice technical and behavioral questions, the better you’ll get at answering them. 
  • When attempting the technical questions, write down the solution for a more organized approach. This will also ensure that you don’t miss out on any crucial points.
  • Listen to the interviewers closely as they may drop hints to guide you in the right direction.
  • If you are unsure about any questions, don’t hesitate to seek clarification. Getting clarification is better than answering a question incorrectly because you didn’t understand it completely.

Recommended Reading: Cracking the Coding Interview: 9 Extremely Important Things You Should Know

Get Ready for Your Google Embedded Systems Engineer Interview

If you need help with your prep, join Interview Kickstart’s Embedded Software Engineering Interview Course — the first-of-its-kind, domain-specific tech interview prep program designed specifically for Embedded System Engineers. Click here to learn more about the program. 

IK is the gold standard in tech interview prep. Our programs include a comprehensive curriculum, unmatched teaching methods, FAANG+ instructors, and career coaching to help you nail your next tech interview. 

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