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Google SRE Interview Preparation

Since 2003, the Google Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team has expanded from seven engineers to over 2000 engineers worldwide. This drastic rise in popularity of the Google Site Reliability Engineering position is because of its importance in the entire functioning and handling of innovative products at Google.

Almost every software engineer, software developer, systems engineer, tech lead, and coding engineer has their eyes set on the Google SRE post. In this competitive space, we are here to help you plot a tailor-made strategy to nail your Google SRE Interview. 

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation ebook 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!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are Hiring Managers and Tech Leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

Read what one of our full-stack engineering students, Ed Salazar, has to say about Interview Kickstart's program

Want to nail your next tech interview? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.

This article will help you understand the Google Site Reliability Engineer Interview process and craft the perfect preparation plan to help you become the next Google Site Reliability Engineer. 

We will cover:

  • What does a Google Site Reliability Engineer Do?
  • Skills needed to be a Site Reliability Engineer at Google
  • Google SRE interview process
  • Google SRE interview preparation strategy
  • SRE Google interview sample questions and answers
  • 5 tips to ace the Google SRE interview
  • FAQs on Google SRE interview

What Does a Google Site Reliability Engineer Do?

At Google, a Site Reliability Engineer works across multiple teams with the ultimate goal of enhancing system reliability. Some of the roles and responsibilities of Google Site Reliability Engineer include the following:

  1. An SRE is expected to build software from scratch to enhance the functioning of the IT department and support team. The role also requires you to monitor and alter, if needed, to improve software delivery and incident management. 
  2. A Site Reliability Engineer is also expected to resolve support escalation issues. However, it is important to note that the number of support issues begins to reduce with maturity in SRE operations. 
  3. SRE teams at Google comprise machine learning engineers, software developers, system engineers, and software engineers. They all work in collaboration to deploy automation and update the documentation to improve on-call troubleshooting responses. 
  4. A Google Site Reliability Engineer is responsible for the overall enhancement of people, processes, and systems of Google. 

Skills Needed to Be a Site Reliability Engineer at Google

While preparing for a Google SRE interview, it is important to understand the skills needed to ace the job profile in the esteemed FAANG Company. They are: 

  1. An SRE at Google must have a software-centric mindset. The individual should not be biased towards Dev or Ops, and should provide sound advice to both teams. 
  2. The SRE team appoints software engineers, software developers, and coding engineers who are comfortable with coding. It’s important to be well-versed with coding and scripting knowledge to understand the operational framework and infrastructural issues. 
  3. Google SREs are the mediators connecting the development and operations teams. To effectively do this, you are expected to balance system launches and release against reliability. 
  4. As Google has a wide user base, a Google Site Reliability Engineer is expected to be comfortable with scale and associated complexity. 
  5. Complete knowledge of full-stack software and great attention to detail is a must. 
  6. An SRE at Google should be brave enough to take adversities as challenges to learn and improve. 

You can read How hard it is to get a job at Google, to understand the complexity of the entire process, and the need to upgrade skills. 

Google SRE Interview Process

The entire Google SRE manager interview process can be broken down into three main categories: 

HR Phone Screen

After submitting the application form, resume, and referrals, the HR recruiter shortlists selective candidates for the Google SRE Interview Process. The shortlisted candidates receive a call from the recruiter; this is a short, general interview. If the applicant fares well, then a date for the technical phone screen round is set.

Technical Phone Screen 

This stage is conducted in two rounds, focusing on Unix system internals and coding problems. This phone screen interview round is conducted via hangouts and for a duration of 45 mins each. 

On-site Interview

Once you clear the technical interview, you are called for an on-site interview. This round is organized at Google’s office and is conducted in five stages. The topic of focus for individual rounds is Unix system internal, Google leadership principles, coding interview, troubleshooting round, and NALSD

You can read more about the process in Google SRE Interview Process.

Google SRE Interview Preparation Strategy

All FAANG companies have extensive interviews, especially for software engineers, software developers, tech leads, engineering managers, and system design engineers. In the technical interviews, the coding interview round is the most difficult of them all. 

An effective strategy for Google SRE interview prep should include three key tips. Read on:

Coding Problems

A Google Site Reliability Engineer applicant must practice as many coding problems related to the data structure, algorithm, and system design as possible. Strengthening coding fundamentals by practicing is an essential part of Google SRE interview preparation. 

Check out Google Interview Questions for a comprehensive list of sample interview questions asked at Google.

You can refer to the Problems page for coding questions with solutions. 

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Mock Interviews

Mock Interviews are a great way to deal with on-site stress that might arise at the time of the actual interview. Practicing with colleagues or expert Hiring Managers from the field can help you as a candidate to understand your strengths and weaknesses, thus enhancing your performance during the actual interview. 

Interview Kickstart conducts mock interviews with experts working in FAANG companies. Wish to know more about us? Sign up for our FREE Webinar.

Google Leadership Skills

All FAANG companies have a specific set of criteria they look for in all their employees. One important parameter that Google looks for in its prospective employee is a great understanding of Google’s leadership principles. 

One should invest 70% of their interview preparation time on solving coding problems, 25% on system design questions, and the remaining 5% on other personality-based parameters. 

SRE Google Interview Sample Questions and Answers

Here is a list of Google SRE interview questions and ways to answer them during the actual Google SRE interview. You can practice these as a part of your Google SRE interview preparation. 

1. What’s the difference between DevOps and SRE?

An SRE is focused on managing the system engineer roles belonging to core infrastructure and is more inclined and applicable for the production environment. On the other hand, DevOps is used to inculcate automation and simplification in system development teams and their non-computing parameters. Ultimately, they both reduce the gap between the two teams' development and operations. 

2. Why do you wish to become a Google Site Reliability Engineer?

While answering this question, you have to show that you are passionate about this role. An SRE is not an easy role, and many developers are scared of the responsibilities that are associated with it. This question will be a great opportunity to convince the interviewers that you are willing to take on the responsibilities. Also, it is good to mention how you wish to leave a huge impact on everyone, right from product managers to end-users. 

3. What are the biggest issues in your current deployment pipeline?

With this question, the interviewer will judge your ability to analyze the deployment pipeline and make intelligent changes. The Google SRE teams identify monitoring deficiencies, deployment hurdles, and surfacing reliability concerns to the applicable parties

The Google Site Reliability Engineer team is renowned for identifying loopholes and suggesting improvements without impacting employee productivity.

4. What tools, programming languages, and architecture are you familiar with?

Share the list of tools, programming languages, and architecture you are familiar with and give instances on how you used it successfully. 

Here are some additional practice questions you can use to prepare for your SRE interview at Google effectively: 

  1. Tell me about one of the projects mentioned on your resume.
  2. What is an inode?
  3. What is the difference between a router and a switch?
  4. How does HTTP work?
  5. How does a three-way handshake work in TCP?
  6. What is the basic memory layout of a process?
  7. What is the GNU Project?
  8. How will you handle colleagues who are frequently underperforming?
  9. What are some load-balancing strategies that can be employed?
  10. Design the profile page for LinkedIn
  11. What are the benefits of the protocol like QUIC?

5 Tips to Ace the Google SRE Interview

Given below are 5 important  tips that can be inculcated in the interview preparation strategy for the Google SRE Interview: 

  1. Practice! Strengthen your fundamentals by practicing coding problems related to data algorithms, architecture, and system design. 
  2. Understand the importance of the roles and responsibilities of a Google Site Reliability Engineer and recollect instances from your experience to share with the interviewers as justification of how you are suitable for the role. 
  3. Read articles, books, and watch videos related to Google Site Reliability Engineer interview preparation to plan your schedule. 
  4. Also, read the company’s policies and leadership skills, and contact people who have previously interviewed for the same position. 
  5. Believe in yourself! Your perseverance and belief in yourself are bound to give fruitful results. 

FAQs on Google SRE Interview

Q. What are the levels of the Google SRE interview process?

There are three main rounds: HR interview, phone screen, and on-site interview rounds. You can read about it in detail on Google SRE Interview Process Page.

Q. Where can I find practice problems and solutions for coding interviews?

You can refer to the Problems page for coding problems with solutions. 

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. 

We offer 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 Preparation
Last updated on: 
August 10, 2021

Utkarsh Sahu

Director, Category Management @ Interview Kickstart || IIM Bangalore || NITW.

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