Google Site Engineer Interview Questions

Updated Apr 22, 2015
59 Interview Reviews

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  1.  

    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral – interviewed at Google.

    Interview

    Referred by employee, had a quick tech screen with a recruiter and then a more in depth interview with an SRE. Didn't make it past the second call. Overall the experience was good.

    Interview Questions

    • Write a function to do something.   1 Answer
  2. Helpful (1)  

    Site Reliability Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Palo Alto, CA
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 6 weeksinterviewed at Google (Palo Alto, CA) in March 2015.

    Interview

    Rejected after second phone interview. Seemed to me like communication between recruiter and interviewers is not the best. Take the info that interviewer provides you with the grain of salt; be prepared for everything.

  3.  

    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through other source. The process took 1+ weekinterviewed at Google.

    Interview

    The hiring process was fairly straight forward. I was approached by a recruiter on linked in, who saw that I would be a good fit of a position in several locations. I had to pass a very brief introductory round of questions by this recruiter, which was painless if you had the experience for the job required. They did not ask questions out of the blue and you are given the opportunity to look over the information before you get asked. I would take the opportunity to look over the information provided, don't just jump into the interview without reviewing other posts here.

    I got past the initial round and then it was onto the technical review by another current site reliability engineer. It is part of their job to consistently get involved in bringing in new talent and I enjoyed that knowledge.

    I feel that the questions where fair and that you had plenty of time to prepare if you had not been on the market for a while, like myself. I unfortunately did not get asked to attend an in-person interview because I lacked some specific knowledge they were looking for on the inner workings of the linux operating system.

    Interview Questions

    • Not to be specific, but understand how process control works in Linux. Know your signals and how job scheduling is handled in the most recent iterations. Do not be content in older knowledge of how things work.   Answer Question
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  5. Helpful (2)  

    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2+ weeksinterviewed at Google in January 2015.

    Interview

    Applied through a referral from the company. Great experience - cool people, stimulating interviews, very efficient HR.
    Two coding questions on phone interview - one on adding integers of arbitrary size and another that I can't recall.
    On-site interview entailed 5 back-to-back interviews and lunch.
    1. Talk with a manager and question regarding TCP Path MTU discovery - black hole connection.
    2. Others were whiteboard coding and design questions. Study up on algorithms and data structs!

    Interview Questions

    • Phone screen: the troubleshooting scenarios were typical things I'd seen in my 10 years administering a large network of Linux machines. For the coding exercise I chose Perl because that's my best language and as a result I had to explain some of the code to the interviewer (I think Google uses mostly python).   Answer Question
  6. Helpful (2)  

    No Offer
    No Offer

    Interview

    Applied through a referral from the company. But even though my field is machine learning and data mining, the recruiter wanted to ask me questions about site reliability engineering. later on, I tried to contact with them about the role that fits me but no reply.

    Interview Questions

    • we did not continue the interview because they did not know what they are doing   Answer Question
  7.  

    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter – interviewed at Google.

    Interview

    The recruiter first did some screening by phone, asking a few technical questions and driving me through Google's "self-evaluation" in about 10 domains (networking, *nix internals, *nix sysadmining, algorithms, and various languages) (the recruiter had a good idea of how I *should* score). I was asked to narrow down where I would work. Google picked an interviewer from one of the would-be sites of employment for a coding interview done via phone and a shared document. After that I did a day of interviews at Google's offices. Lunch wasn't an interview but I was also accompanied by a Googler who let me ask questions about the work, office life and such (all interviewers did this, but the interviews rarely left enough time). Sent back feedback to the recruiter, who called me back when the hiring committee declined to make an offer. Unfortunately the recruiter gave very little feedback when asked, claiming it wasn't shared with them.

    The on-site interviews featured troubleshooting, coding, large-system design, plus a bonus topic of my choosing (SRE-related) and an extra interview which I think was picked where I ranked highest. My least favourite was the troubleshooting, since there was no actual terminal prompt and I was at the mercy of the interviewer deciding how the system was built, how it would manifest symptoms, and their understanding of how my commands would work. That interviewer had asked me to pick a small number of things to monitor, without deciding what the purpose of the monitoring would be.

    Aside from early interaction with the recruiter, and the fact that my interviewers had access to my resume, there was very little of the traditional HR approach to recruiting; this was almost all technical, and I was the only one asking questions about the more general fit.

    One annoying thing is that, aside from the recruiter, everyone called me from numbers that wouldn't answer back. This plus the distance made organising some things painful. It also means you have to write down anything you might want to ask in advance, because the people calling you are more prepared than you do.

    Interview Questions

    • see description of troubleshooting above - more of a process than a simple question   Answer Question
  8. Helpful (6)  

    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4+ weeksinterviewed at Google.

    Interview

    Great experience - cool people, stimulating interviews, very efficient HR.
    Two coding questions on phone interview - one on adding integers of arbitrary size and another that I can't recall.
    On-site interview entailed 5 back-to-back interviews and lunch.
    1. Talk with a manager and question regarding TCP Path MTU discovery - black hole connection.
    2. Others were whiteboard coding and design questions. Study up on algorithms and data structs!

    Will be trying again in a year.

    Interview Questions

    • How would you design a real-time sports data collection app.   Answer Question
  9. Helpful (14)  

    Declined Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Difficult Interview
    Declined Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 3+ monthsinterviewed at Google in October 2013.

    Interview

    Contacted via LinkedIn by a Google recruiter. I'm not providing specifics on the questions due to Google request, but you can find nearly all of them in other posts here or at other sites.

    - Initial interview with recruiter: rate yourself 1-10 in various areas, then technical questions that mostly had one word, right or wrong answers so a non-technical recruiter could administer them.

    - Phone screen: the troubleshooting scenarios were typical things I'd seen in my 10 years administering a large network of Linux machines. For the coding exercise I chose Perl because that's my best language and as a result I had to explain some of the code to the interviewer (I think Google uses mostly python).

    I was called the next night by the recruiter to inform me that they'd like to schedule the on-site in Mountain View. I was passed to another recruiter who specializes in SREs. This recruiter coordinated the scheduling and also the selection of the five interview topics. The recruiter followed up with Google research papers and several textbooks that I was supposed to read.

    - On-site interview #1: system administration. We spent most of the time working on the design of a hypothetical web service. I ultimately came up with a solution that I am pretty sure my interviewer hadn't anticipated, but he could find nothing wrong with it and seemed to accept my solution.

    - On-site interview #2: troubleshooting. We made it through two problems, one dealing with networking and the other to figure out why a service was failing. I solved these problems quickly and beyond any doubt and the interviewer seemed satisfied enough not to go on to another problem, so we spent about 15 minutes just talking about Google in general.

    - On-site interview #3: large system design. The problem dealt with analyzing large volumes of data. I had read the Google research paper on map reduce on the plane ride over, since it was one of the things the recruiter had said to read. I suggested that map reduce may be a good solution, and I was then grilled for 30 minutes about the internals of how Google's current map reduce works. (Even though I pointed out that my experience was limited to just having read the paper, and I'm sure that Google's map reduce in 2013 works much differently than it did when they published the paper in the mid-2000's!). While I thought I did an admirable job on the basics given my lack of experience with that topic, this interviewer seemed to have a particular solution in mind that I obviously didn't get, nor did he really work with me to try to get there. So this one was probably a fail.

    - On-site interview #4: Perl coding. Consisted of a regular expression question and then a data analysis question with several iterations that made it progressively harder. I flew through these and it was clear the interviewer was trying to come up with additional iterations of his question on the spot to fill the time. I was surprised that the question was as easy as it was given Google's legendary interview coding questions.

    - On-site interview #5: networking. I have never been, nor claimed to be, a network administrator, and this awkward 45 minutes simply evidenced that fact. The interviewer wasn't particularly helpful and this was a definite fail.

    After the last interview, I was left in a different place from where I was dropped off. I was unable to walk through the courtyard due to an employee-only party, nor did the recruiter come get me to take me to the Google store as he had promised. Therefore I had to walk around the edge of the campus and backs of the buildings to get back to my car. This left a sour taste.

    The next week I received a call from the SRE recruiter informing me that I'd done really well on three interviews and that they really didn't care about the networking interview because I wasn't interviewing to be a network engineer. They wanted me to repeat the large system design interview via phone. I had seen enough of silicon valley to know I didn't want to move there, and I didn't want to muddle through another map reduce problem, so I told the recruiter I wasn't interested in continuing.

    A week later I received a call from the original recruiter asking me to reconsider, and describing other, more family-friendly offices (e.g. Seattle). Over the next week I talked to an employee who worked in Seattle and confirmed that this may be a better cultural fit, so I agreed to do the follow-up interview. This occurred two weeks later via phone, and was much more of the format of starting with a small setup and determining bottlenecks along the way. I did well on this interview.

    I was contacted by both recruiters the next day to let me know I had done well and I was requested to provide contact information for references. About a week later received my verbal offer and subsequently declined.

    Interview Questions

    • I'm honoring Google's request not to share specific interview questions.   Answer Question

    Reasons for Declining

    Accepted an offer from another company, for approximately the same compensation offered by Google, but that did not require relocation.

  10.  

    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2+ weeksinterviewed at Google.

    Interview

    The recruiter reached out to me on linked in.

    First the recruiter gave me a technical phone screen. She had about 5 questions related to programming and unix. I passed and moved on to a phone screen with a developer on the team I would be working on. He emailed me a shared google doc and posted a programming question in it. I was able to answer this question in about 2 minutes (similar to fizzbuzz) The he posted a harder programming question. I got a sub-optimal answer and chatted back and forth with the interviewer. I eventually stumbled to a good solution.

    Interview Questions

    • What signal is sent by default in the unix kill command   4 Answers
  11. Helpful (1)  

    Site Reliability Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Google (New York, NY) in September 2013.

    Interview

    It went pretty smoothly and on time. Very difficult because the depth of details required to work there. If you say that you know a skill really well, you'd better really know that skill—be as honest as possible. If you know at least one programming language REALLY well enough to admin or automate a series of systems, then the interview should go smoothly for you. Later on you must know Data Structures and algorithmic theories and how to apply it in programming. Know linux like the back of you hand—practice BSD.

    Lastly, don't get discouraged if you don't get in on the first try. I asked my interviewer how many times it took him and he said at least 2 and some other's 3 or more tries. It's all about how bad you want in. Take any failure as a learning lesson and apply again in the next 6months (their wait time) and try again. Good luck!

    Interview Questions

    • Made me do a regex of getting just the phone numbers out of a contacts.txt file over Google Docs.   Answer Question

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