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Google SRE Interview Process

With humanity slowly approaching the world of automation, site reliability engineers, machine learning engineers, and machine learning developers have become the talk of the town. Google Site Reliability Engineers are the front runners of innovation; hence the position is highly cherished and desired by budding engineering managers, tech leads, and machine learning engineers. Naturally, the process of bagging this high, in-demand position is daunting and is only practically possible with the right preparation. 

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 Google Interview Questions, How hard it is to get a job at Google? and How to prepare for Google Coding Challenge for specific insights and guidance on Google tech interviews.

Having trained over 6,000 Software Engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have been landing lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000!

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The Google SRE interview process is extremely stressful but rewarding. In the end, being recognized as a Google SRE manager or a Google SRE is worth the struggle. This article will help you understand the entire Google SRE interview process. 

The article will broadly cover the following:

  1. Google SRE interview process
  2. Google SRE interview questions 
  3. Google Site Reliability Engineer roles and responsibilities
  4. Organization of Google Site Reliability Engineer teams
  5. FAQs on Google SRE interview 

Google SRE Interview Process

The interview process for an SRE role at Google can be broken down into five major steps or stages: 

Step I: Resume and Phone Screen

In this process, the HR shortlists eligible candidates from thousands of aspiring machine learning engineers, software engineers, tech leads, engineering managers, and software developers. 

A good CV and a few reference letters play a crucial role in this stage. After shortlisting the candidates, the HR recruiter conducts a basic phone interview. This is to understand the background, behavioral aspects, and qualifications of the candidate. 

Step II: Technical Phone Screen

This is a technical round. The phone screening is conducted via Hangouts. This stage has one or two rounds comprising coding problems and Unix system internals. Each round lasts for an hour. 

Step III: On-site interview

Before proceeding to the on-site Interview, the prospective Google Site Reliability Engineer is given the liberty to choose preparation time well within the mentioned duration. This gives the candidate sufficient time to prepare for the interview. 

Google Site Reliability Engineer on-site interview has five rounds of 45 mins each, focusing on individual parameters for assessment:

  1. Unix system internals: Here, core concepts around Linux processes and their functioning are asked as a part of the interview. 
  2. Coding interview: A coding interview is inevitable for technical roles at any of the reputed FAANG companies. This interview is conducted on Google Docs, and as the future Google SRE manager, the candidate is expected to know the fundamentals of data algorithms, data structure, and system design. 

Refer to the Google Coding Interview Questions for practice questions. 

  1. Troubleshooting round: The interviewer presents an imaginary scenario, and the candidate is expected to analyze the situation, identify the problem, and recommend solutions for the same. This is an important round, as it can be correlated to one of the roles performed by Google SRE of overseeing reliability systems and troubleshooting. 
  2. Non-abstract large system design: This is unlike the usual system design interview; however, the element of the system being feasible remains the same across all FAANG system design interviews. 
  3. Google leadership: This round is to assess the candidate’s leadership, teamwork, and humane qualities. Refer to the Google Leadership Principles Interview Questions for sample questions. 

Step IV: Hiring Committee

After a candidate clears the on-site interview, the hiring committee round is conducted to ensure like minds are teamed up together. So, the prospective team manager informs the candidate of their duties and responsibilities within the team. This is known as the team-matching phase. 

After the team has been decided, the candidate's performance in all rounds is assessed, feedback is collected, and the offer/no offer decision is taken. 

Step V: Executive Reviews

The feedback given by the hiring committee is analyzed by one of the executives at Google. This is the final phase; at the end of this, the compensation package is decided and forwarded to the selected candidate. 

The entire Google SRE interview is long, and the duration varies from person to person based on the preparation time requested by the applicant. A similar process is followed in the case of the Google SRE manager interview as well. 

Google SRE Interview Questions 

Here are some sample questions asked during the SRE Google interview process:

  1. What is the basic memory layout of a process?
  2. What is the GNU project?
  3. How will you build diversity and inclusivity in your team?
  4. How will you handle colleagues who are frequently underperforming?
  5. Describe a stressful experience you had at work and how you handled it.
  6. What are some load-balancing strategies that can be employed?
  7. Design the profile page for LinkedIn.
  8. What are the benefits of the protocol like QUIC?

Recommended Reading:
Google Interview Questions
Google Leadership Principles Questions

Google Site Reliability Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

After standing out from the talented pool of engineers and being appointed as the Google Site Reliability Engineer, the roles and responsibilities of the individual will be: 

  1. Google Site Reliability Engineers are primarily responsible for planning latency, performance, efficiency, emergency responses, and monitoring. 
  2. SREs at Google are assigned the task of writing and deploying code to improve an existing application's infrastructure. 
  3. With their constant monitoring, Google Site Reliability Engineers can enhance the visibility of the system and thus fasten the response to any incident. 
  4. As software engineers are a part of the Google SRE team, they can easily detect the loopholes in the system while monitoring and can perform immediate remediation. 
  5. Site Reliability Engineers at Google are also expected to document their system observations and responses in detail. 

Organization of Google Site Reliability Engineer Teams

Generally, a blend of Software Engineers and System Engineers is chosen for the Google Site Reliability Engineering team. A combination of these two helps in the proper functioning of the team. 

There are six implementations of SRE; however, this list is not all-inclusive and may vary. So, before venturing into the Google SRE manager interview process or Google SRE interview process, it is better to understand these implementations. 

1. Kitchen Sink

This SRE team is also known as Everything SRE, as their work profile is extensive and unbound. This team acts as a gel connecting various dev teams and creates effective solutions. One major con of the team is that as there is no specific job profile and hence the team could be overburdened with work. 

2. Infrastructure

This implementation of SRE works on the maintenance of common components and shared devices to ensure that the behind-the-scenes of any system are managed effectively. Machine learning engineers usually occupy this team as they must use DevOps to handle the user interface. As the infrastructure team works on the back end, their lack of customer interaction may affect the improvements they make to the system. 

3. Tools

Tools, an SRE implementation is very similar to Infrastructure; however, this team tends to focus more on supporting and planning the systems with a reliability-oriented feature. Just like infrastructure, a lack of interaction with customers can affect the development of an ideal product. 

4. Product team

This team is focused on checking the reliability of crucial applications of the business. They do not work on ancillary projects. The team has a clear focus and a great sense to achieve assigned business priorities. 

5. Embedded

The Embedded SRE team works in conjunction with the developers on a time-bound basis. These Site Reliability Engineers work on changing codes and configuration of the application in scope. 

6. Consulting

This team works along the lines of Embedded SRE; however, they do not change the code or configuration of an already existing system. They instead work on changing codes and the configuration of their own tools. 

As previously mentioned, this list of implementations of SRE organization is not exhaustive; however, in recent years, almost all the teams are found at Google. 

FAQs on Google SRE Interviews

Q. What is the minimum qualification needed to apply for the post of Google SRE Manager?

A bachelor's degree in computer science or related technical field is needed. Additionally, experience in programming with any computer language, C, C++, or Python, is also required. Experience with algorithms will be an add-on benefit. 

Q. What is the average salary earned by Google Site Reliability Engineer?

The average salary earned by a Google Site Reliability Engineer in the United States is $125,385/ year. 

Q. How long does it take for the entire Google SRE interview process to conclude?

The duration may vary based on the preparation time requested by the candidate; however, it is generally completed within 4-5 months

The Google SRE interview process is intricate and elaborate, with multiple rounds. These rounds might seem excruciating without a reliable tech interview prep guide; hence we are here to ease this complex technical interview for all the Google Site Reliability Engineer aspirants. 

Interview Kickstart offers a one-of-its-kind Site Reliability Engineering Interview Course, which is tailor-made to help SREs crack the toughest tech interviews at the biggest companies. 

Want to learn more? Sign up for our FREE webinar to know how to nail your next tech interview.

Interview Process
Last updated on: 
August 10, 2021

Vartika Rai

Product Manager at Interview Kickstart | Ex-Microsoft | IIIT Hyderabad | ML/Data Science Enthusiast. Working with industry experts to help working professionals successfully prepare and ace interviews at FAANG+ and top tech companies

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