Google Cloud Engineer Interview — with example

I had a conversation with one of the customer engineers at Google. And this is what he shared about how a cloud engineer interview is structured.

Google evaluates across four pillars:

  1. General Cognitive Ability (GCA)
  2. Leadership
  3. Googliness
  4. Role Related Knowledge (RRK)

Today, we want to take some time to set you up for success for your technical interviews, specifically the general cognitive ability and role related knowledge interviews for customer engineering.

General Cognitive Ability

The general cognitive ability interview, or GCA, will be a mix of behavioural and hypothetical questions designed to assess how you would solve problems?

Google wants to see how you approach the problem. Gather data, and relevant information, how you identify a solution and how you measure your success.

Be mindful of what type of questions you’re being asked if it’s hypothetical, try not to tie it back to a past situation.

Here’s an example of a question you might expect.

Imagine that you’re working with an enterprise client that is very concerned about moving to the cloud.

How would you approach the conversation?

A follow-up might be how would you change your approach? If the client was already working with a competitor?

Role Related Knowledge (RRK)

The role related knowledge interview or RRK will assess your sales skills, cloud foundational knowledge and domain expertise.

This interview will also involve an architectural design element, where you’ll be expected to convey your technical solution to a hypothetical scenario.

There will be a whiteboard available, and you’re encouraged to use it if it helps you to make your design as well as various components and processes understood.

In this interview, you’ll be expected to demonstrate proficiency in infrastructure plus one to two other domain areas.

You’ll also be expected to demonstrate good presence, meeting mechanics and time management.

There will be two interviewers in the session.

One will serve as the primary interviewer asking you questions and the secondary interviewer will take notes and ask follow-up questions during the interview.

You should expect to spend a minute or two doing introductions followed by

  1. 5 to 10 minutes of sales skills questions.
  2. 15 to 20 minutes of Cloud Foundation questions.
  3. 30 minutes of domain expertise questions and whiteboarding.

Please know that this is general guidance for the interviewer and actual timing may vary.

We also try to save time at the end for you to ask your questions.

During the sales skills portion of the interview, expect one to two questions designed to assess how you prioritise clients and stakeholders.

And the sales discovery process.

During the cloud foundational knowledge portion of the interview, expect two to three questions that test your ability to articulate

  1. The value proposition of cloud computing
  2. Talk through when and why it might make sense to move to the cloud,
  3. Cloud security and
  4. The concepts of IAAS versus PAAS.

Once the prior questions have been asked, the interviewers will pivot and ask you to design a solution based on a hypothetical scenario.

Whether you’re interviewing for a generalist role or a specialist role for our customer engineering team, you’ll be expected to showcase your technical depth, ability to articulate solutions and talk through both the pros and cons of your recommendation.

As customer engineers, you often have to convey complex architectures. And one of the things that we want to assess an RRK is your ability to do that.

You’ll be in a room with a whiteboard, and you’re invited to use it if it helps you to convey your architecture more clearly. Let’s walk through a sample RK architecture question.

If you were to build a cloud architecture for the next Airbnb, how would you design it?

You can start with a high level explanation of the components to your architecture and why they’re needed.

From there, you’ll want to dive into the details of your choices and be prepared for your interviewer to challenge you and to ask follow-up questions.

We may ask questions related to your storage choices, availability, scalability, disaster recovery, migration and the relative cost of your architectural choices.

If you’re interviewing for a specialist role, expect that the interview will be slightly more tailored to your experience, whether that be networking, virtual machine migration or one of the many other specialist domain areas.

You should be able to go several layers deep in your area of expertise.

To close, I want to provide you with a final few tips for success.

First, make sure you understand the question it’s perfectly acceptable to confirm your understanding of the question.

Ask the interviewer follow-up questions if you’re unclear.

This sounds obvious, but answering the wrong question can demonstrate that you’re not listening to the customer.

Be clear, concise and confident. Confidence in your delivery is confidence. In your answer.

Overly verbose answers diminish the value and clarity of what you’re trying to communicate.

Remember the time you asked a friend a simple question, but they went on and on, leaving you more confused.

Talk us through your thinking process and as you wrap up summarise the points to provide clarity to your response.

Support your responses with examples. Nothing beats a real world example. As you provide your reasoning behind some of your responses. Real examples help to solidify and support them.

Best of luck on your interviews.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


Imagination is the key to unlock the world. I am trying to unlock mine.