MockQuestions

Google Site Reliability Engineer Interview Questions

To help you prepare for a Site Reliability Engineer interview at Google, here are 30 interview questions and answer examples.

Google was written by on November 11th, 2021. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 30

What are some of the basic issues a site reliability engineer addresses in their daily activities?

How to Answer

As an experienced site reliability engineer, you should be intimately familiar with the issues related to this job. When describing these, you may want to include issues Google is currently encountering. You can discover these by researching the organization's website, industry periodicals, news blogs, and other sources of information.

Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

Next Question

Google Site Reliability Engineer Interview Questions & Answers

  • Direct

    1. What are some of the basic issues a site reliability engineer addresses in their daily activities?

      How to Answer

      As an experienced site reliability engineer, you should be intimately familiar with the issues related to this job. When describing these, you may want to include issues Google is currently encountering. You can discover these by researching the organization's website, industry periodicals, news blogs, and other sources of information.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "There are some fundamental issues related to site reliability engineering, or SRE, which I encounter nearly every day. These include how SRE supports the DevOps organization, service level objectives, service level indicators, error budgets, ways to reduce toil, some of the technologies and automation used by an SRE, and the concept of anti-fragility."

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

  • Discovery

    2. Can you describe the three pillars of observability and describe the one you depend on the most?

      How to Answer

      Throughout the interview with Google, you will be asked a series of technical questions about the tools, methodologies, and processes you use in this job. You are expected to have a deep understanding of some of these and be familiar with others. Since observability is a fundamental practice used by a site reliability engineer, you should have extensive knowledge about this and be able to talk about what contributes to effective observability. As with any technical question, keep your answer brief and to the point and anticipate a follow-up question from the Google interviewer.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "The three pillars of observability are metrics, tracing, and logging. I use each of these a great deal in my work as a site reliability engineer. Most of my work involves measuring systems and determining how to adjust them for optimal performance. I continually strive to increase the observability within organizations' systems and processes by developing more effective measurement practices. This work involves refining the metrics, automating the tracing and logging, and educating the workforce about the importance of observability."

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

  • Operational

    3. What are some of the databases you've used in your previous roles? How do you manage database query times?

      How to Answer

      Since site reliability engineers deal with a lot of data in their measurements and analysis, you need to be able to work effectively with database tools. Each organization has a preference for which databases and tools they use, so the SRE needs to be flexible and able to adapt to new environments. When answering this question, you should provide the interviewer with the names of the databases you've worked with. If they do not correspond to the databases used by Google, you should discuss your ability to apply your existing knowledge to rapidly learn the features of the new database.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      1st Answer Example

      "During my career, I've worked with several different databases. These include Oracle Database, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and dbase. While each of these is unique in its features, commands, and structure, they are all fundamentally the same. I can quickly transition between database tools by applying the knowledge I already have and using guides and manuals to learn the new commands and database structures. There are several ways to improve database query times. These include avoiding wild card queries, choosing the appropriate data types, avoiding NULL in fixed-length fields, and other techniques to reduce the scope of queries."

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

  • Operational

    4. When analyzing a software development pipeline, how do you identify ways to improve its efficiency?

      How to Answer

      The key skill of a competent site reliability engineer is the ability to observe and analyze systems and operations within an organization like Google. This is the essence of this job. Google hires people who can help them improve processes and procedures to save the organization both time and money. Describing how you go about doing this will be fundamental in convincing the interviewer that you are the right person for this role.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    5. What is your strategy for staying up to date with industry trends and resources?

      How to Answer

      Google site reliability engineers work in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving. The rapid pace of this change, combined with the numerous sources of information and developments, makes it challenging to stay on top of recent updates. Every competent site reliability engineer will have a strategy to keep their knowledge of this profession up to date and learn about new practices, tools, methodologies. You should be able to easily describe this to the Google interviewer.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    6. How do you integrate the Google customer experience into your SRE strategy?

      How to Answer

      The most important stakeholder for any project is the organization's customers. The actions of the individual teams and projects should contribute to the organization's objectives. These goals often involve customer revenues and customer satisfaction. Therefore, you need to consider these when developing your strategies. Communicating this to the Google interviewer will demonstrate your qualifications for this position and improve your chances of being selected for the role.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    7. Describe to me how you balance the interests of different stakeholders here at Google.

      How to Answer

      This question may appear to be similar to one that the Google interviewer has already asked. It is common to be asked several questions about the same topic in an interview. One reason for this is that the interviewer has a specific interest in this area and wants to explore it in great detail. Another reason is to ensure that you are being consistent throughout the interview with Google. This should not be an issue as long as you answer the questions honestly. Keeping your answers brief and to the point will also help you to be consistent throughout the interview.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    8. Tell me about some of the process improvements you have implemented in the past.

      How to Answer

      Organizations like Google hire site reliability engineers to save the company money and time by improving the systems and processes used to develop and implement software applications. During an interview with Google, you will be asked how you accomplished this in the past. When preparing for the interview, you should have some very specific examples of process improvements you've implemented in your previous roles. You can describe these using the STAR framework. Describe the Situation, talk about the Task you were trying to complete, discuss the Actions you took, and finish with the results you attained.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    9. How do you establish SLOs and SLIs, and are you open to making adjustments to these when warranted?

      How to Answer

      Service level objectives and service level indicators are the keystones of the work SREs perform. Interviewers at Google will be interested to learn how you go about establishing these and whether you are open to changes once the project is underway. They're looking for a balance between commitment to the metrics used by SREs as well as the flexibility to change when circumstances demand it. Your answer should demonstrate a systematic approach to establishing the criteria used to measure the success of a project while also showing that you can adjust projects as they move forward to optimize them.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    10. Walk me through the process of determining if a Google development team should work on new features or pay down technical debt.

      How to Answer

      Site reliability engineers need to ensure that DevOps works towards improvements to the applications, resulting in Google achieving its business objectives. You're constantly asked to choose between adding new features or solidifying and improving the ones already developed. One way these conflicts can be resolved is through objective analysis and defined metrics. However, the most talented SREs can also use subjective judgment when choosing between developing new features or paying down technical debt. Interviewers at Google are looking for candidates who demonstrate skills in both of these methodologies.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    11. Can you describe the concept of observability? How would you improve Google's systems observability?

      How to Answer

      Observability is a key concept used by site reliability engineers to improve the operations of the organization. It involves measuring different aspects of the organization's operations and making recommendations to improve these. Observability requires specific metrics, the ability to note and measure them, and using the data to increase the organization's efficiency. It is critical for a site reliability engineer to improve the observability of an organization's operation. The Google interviewer wants to understand how you would do this.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    12. How would you describe cloud computing to someone here at Google who doesn't have a technical background?

      How to Answer

      When an interviewer at Google asks this question, they are less interested in your understanding of cloud computing and more interested in your communication skills. As a site reliability engineer, you will need to communicate with key stakeholders across Google. Many of these stakeholders will not have a technical background, so you will need to use non-technical, easy-to-understand language. When answering this question, you should avoid complex phrases, jargon, or other terminology that the interviewer may not know.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    13. Can you explain how Service Level Objectives, or SLOs, are used in the work of a site reliability engineer?

      How to Answer

      Service-level objectives, or SLOs, are one of the fundamental tenants of the site reliability engineering profession. Therefore, you should have a great deal of knowledge about these and be able to discuss them at length. The interviewer at Google knows this and is looking for a direct answer from you. Your response should provide an overview of SLOs and a brief description of how they are used. The interviewer will ask you a follow-up question if they need more information.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    14. What are some of the common data structures you work with in this role?

      How to Answer

      As a site reliability engineer, you are expected to have in-depth knowledge about databases and data structures. The Google interviewer will ask you a technical question like this to explore your knowledge and determine if you're qualified for this role. Since you work with data structures daily in this job, you should be able to easily answer this question.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Operational

    15. What are some of the steps you can take to reduce toil in a process?

      How to Answer

      One of the major responsibilities of a site reliability engineer is to reduce toil in processes. Toil is defined as the amount of manual work or effort required by individuals on a specific project or process. By reducing toil, site reliability engineers increase the efficiency of a project while preserving human resources to address issues or processes that cannot be automated or standardized. Your answer to the Google interviewer's question should include the main ways you accomplish this.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Opertaional

    16. What steps have you taken to improve collaboration between operations and IT teams?

      How to Answer

      Site reliability engineers collaborate with teams from across the organization. Your key contacts are in DevOps or software development teams and the operations group. To be effective in this role, you need to work with organizations within Google that have conflicting objectives. Your ability to negotiate, persuade, and compromise is necessary to move the organization's objectives forward. The Google interviewer will ask you several questions to determine if you can work effectively with people outside your organization.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    17. What is Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, and can you list some of the TCP connection states?

      How to Answer

      The job of a site reliability engineer spans the functions of Google's DevOps and IT infrastructure groups. One of the elements both of these teams needs to address is the network topography. Knowing about TCP and its connection states will demonstrate your qualifications for this role and may even set you apart from other candidates. Since this is a technical question, keep your answer brief and to the point.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    18. Can you describe the differences between DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering?

      How to Answer

      Site reliability engineering involves managing the relationship between the DevOps and IT infrastructure departments within Google. It incorporates best practices between these disciplines, resulting in reliable software systems, and can scale when needed. The Google interviewer will ask you a question about the difference between DevOps and site reliability engineering to understand how you perceive this. They're hoping you'll talk about the benefits you bring to this role.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    19. Tell me about the differences between process and thread in the context of site reliability engineering.

      How to Answer

      As with any profession, site reliability engineering has its own terminology, phrases, and jargon. This question is an example of how common terms may mean something specific in the context of a particular job. When asked by the Google hiring manager to compare two terms used within your profession, you should first define each of them, and then discuss the differences or similarities. Be prepared for a follow-up question.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    20. What is an error budget, and how is it used?

      How to Answer

      You should immediately recognize that this is a technical question since it asks about a term used in this profession. This particular term is unique and probably only used in the context of a site reliability engineer's work. This may create a challenge when answering this question. You need to describe the unique concepts using non-technical, easy-to-understand language. Your answer will demonstrate your communication skills to the Google interviewer.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    21. How would you define a service level indicator?

      How to Answer

      Sight reliability engineers deal with many issues related to service levels. The Google interviewer will expect you to be knowledgeable about each of these and be able to both define the term and discuss its use. As with any technical question, keep your answer brief and to the point. You should also be prepared for follow-up questions that the interviewer will use to explore the topic more deeply.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    22. What is a Linux signal, and what are some common ones you work with?

      How to Answer

      As a prospective Google site reliability engineer, you are expected to have a working knowledge of some of the more common operating systems. One of these is Linux. While you don't need to be proficient in writing Linux code, you should be familiar with some key commands. If you're asked about a command that you're not familiar with, readily admit this, and then describe how you would go about obtaining the information.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    23. What are some of the common Linux kill commands?

      How to Answer

      As a site reliability engineer, you should be familiar with all the major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux, a popular version of Unix. If you use any of these operating systems frequently, you should also be familiar with some key commands. This will help you interpret the code created by the Google DevOps team and understand how it is used in production.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    24. What are the fundamental stages of DevOps, and what tools do you use for each of these?

      How to Answer

      Even though you don't work directly for DevOps in your role as a site reliability engineer, you interface with them daily and therefore need to be familiar with their process and the tools they use. The Google interviewer will ask you this question to confirm your knowledge and determine if your perception of the process and tools is similar to the ones they use in their organization. You can align your answer with the processes of the interviewing organization by carefully researching their operations. Sources for this include Google's website, the job description, and both current and former Google employees.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    25. What is a docker container, and how do you secure these?

      How to Answer

      You will likely be asked about a topic you are not familiar with during an interview with Google. Even though docker containers are commonly used in information technology infrastructures, you may not have come across them in your career. If that is the case for this question or any other topic, the best strategy is to admit that you have not used the technology or are unfamiliar with it. Then describe to the Google interviewer how you would locate the information or learn about the topic. This will help you establish your credibility with the interviewer and demonstrate your willingness to learn new technologies once hired by Google.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    26. Please discuss hard links and soft links and provide an example of each command.

      How to Answer

      As the interview progresses, the interviewer at Google will continue to ask you technical questions. The difficulty of these will vary depending on where you are in the interview, your responses to previous questions, and the nature of the interviewer. You're more likely to be asked a more challenging question towards the end of the interview as the interviewer gains confidence in your capabilities. Continue to respond to these questions directly and succinctly, and anticipate follow-up questions.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    27. Can you discuss the difference between snat and dnat?

      How to Answer

      Often during an interview with Google, the interviewer will ask you to compare two terms used in this profession. This is considered a technical question and requires you to be aware of the technology to respond correctly. When answering technical questions, keep your response brief and to the point. The Google interviewer will ask you a follow-up question if they need additional information or want to explore the topic in more detail.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    28. What is Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), and what is it used for?

      How to Answer

      Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, also known as DHCP, is a network protocol used to locate websites that computer users are trying to reach. As a site reliability engineer at Google, you may not work directly with DHCP, but you should know what it is and be able to define it for the interviewer. The more familiar you are with the technology you will be engaging with, the better qualified you will be for this role and the more likely you will be to be hired byGoogle.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    29. Can you define the term 'inode'?

      How to Answer

      When interviewing for a site reliability job at Google, you may be asked a broad range of technical questions. These can involve operating systems, programming languages, networking protocols, and other items you may encounter in this role. While it is impossible to be familiar with all of these, you should try to be up to date on the ones you typically use and the technologies Google currently employs. Reviewing these technologies before the interview will enable you to answer the interviewer's questions quickly and proficiently.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view

  • Technical

    30. In your opinion, what are some of the key functions performed by an ideal DevOps team?

      How to Answer

      You may assume that the key function provided by the DevOps team is to develop applications and other types of software. By asking this question, the Google interviewer is trying to understand some of the other functions you deem critical from your perspective as a site reliability engineer. These other functions will help you manage the interaction between the DevOps team, the IT infrastructure group, and the rest of the organization. The interviewer will use your answer to determine if you can function within Google's environment effectively.

      Written by William Swansen on November 11th, 2021

      Answer Examples Have Been Hidden

      Please upgrade to view