33 Questions to Ask at an Electrical Engineering Job Interview
Electrical engineers are highly educated professionals who help make machines and systems that use electricity. Hiring managers want to know that the electrical engineers they hire have the right education and skills to do the job. Many interviewers ask a set of questions about electrical engineering during job interviews to help them decide who to hire. This article has a list of common interview questions for electrical engineers and some sample answers for you to look over.
Most of the time, hiring managers start a job interview with a series of general questions that are meant to help them learn more about you as a person and as a candidate. Common general questions might include:
- Why did you decide to study electrical engineering?
- What makes you want to work for our company?
- What are your long-term goals for your job?
- Why do you think you’d be the best person for the job?
- What do you think is the most important skill for an electrical engineer to have?
- Have you ever used any electrical engineering software? If so, which ones?
- What do you like most about electrical engineering?
- Do you like working by yourself or with a group?
- How do you work on several projects or jobs at once?
- Which of our group’s projects do you care about the most?
Questions about work and history from the past
For jobs in electrical engineering, it’s especially important to ask about experience and background. Managers who hire people want to know if you have the right training for the job. You can expect questions like these:
- At your last job, what kinds of things did you have to do?
- Where did you go to college?
- What did you learn in school that helped you get this job?
- Do you focus on a certain part of electrical engineering?
- Which class or classes helped you the most while you were in college?
- What kinds of professional growth do you want?
- Tell me about a project you worked on at a previous job that you are especially proud of.
- Do you want to go back to school at some point to get a higher degree?
- What was the worst part of the last job you had?
- What was the most important thing you learned at your last job?
Often, hiring managers will ask detailed questions with a situational, behavioral, or technical framework to see how you have handled problems in the past, how you might handle a certain situation in the future, and how much you know about the job itself. Here are some examples of detailed questions:
- Tell me about an electrical engineering project you were working on where you made a mistake. What did you do?
- What do the different colors of the wires mean?
- You need to work on more than one project. How do you choose the first thing to do?
- How would you tell a leader that a project needs to be put on hold for safety reasons?
- Why might a transformer be humming?
- What’s wrong with the opposite of polarity?
- What is Norton’s Theorem, and how does it relate to the work you do?
- How do I decide what size wire I need for a new project?
- How does a bandgap circuit work?
- Tell me about the different kinds of control systems that are out there.
Sample interview questions and how to answer them
Check out these electrical engineering interview questions and the answers to them to get an idea of how you could answer common interview questions yourself.
Explain the difference between a digital circuit and an analog circuit. Which is more likely to change?
During an interview for a job in electrical engineering, hiring managers will often ask you technical questions to see if you know the basics of the field. This kind of question about circuits shows the interviewer that you know enough about electrical engineering and can also explain basic ideas to others in a clear way. Make sure your answer is clear and to the point:
Example: “With signals that always have the same value, an analog circuit works like a wave. These circuits are very simple, and the signal does not need to be changed when it is sent or received. On the other hand, digital circuits are more like switches that can be turned on and off. There is no need to convert the signal since it is sent at two levels. Engineers use digital circuits for a wide range of tasks because they are more flexible.”
How are an alternator and a generator different?
This is another kind of technical question that hiring managers often ask candidates for the job of electrical engineer. Interviewers like this question because a good answer will explain not only what an alternator and a generator are, but also when an engineer might choose one over the other. In your answer, give an example of when you might use an alternator or a generator on a project related to the kind of work the company does to show that you’ve done research on the company:
Example: “Alternators and generators are both types of generators, but they work in different ways and are usually used for different things. Generators change one source of power into another, but they don’t store any extra energy. Alternators, on the other hand, make energy and store it until it is needed. Generators are better for big projects than alternators are for small ones. I think this company mostly works with generators because your clients usually want big answers to their engineering problems.”
What would you do if a coworker wanted to go in a different direction with a project?
Electrical engineers often work in teams with other engineers, project managers, and designers to make electronic products from start to finish. During the design, testing, and making stages, coworkers may have different ideas about how to solve problems the best way. Hiring managers want to know that you are not only technically qualified for the job, but also have the “soft skills” that are needed to work with other people, like being able to communicate and deal with conflicts. To answer this question, use the STAR method to describe how you handled a similar situation in the past. STAR stands for the following:
Situation: Describe what was going on in your example to explain it.
Task: Tell me about the job or problem you had to do or solve.
Action: Write about what you did to finish the task or solve the problem.
Describe something good that happened because of what you did.
Example: “At my last job, the design team and the electrical engineering team would talk for a long time about whether how something worked or how it looked was more important. We were spending a lot of time on the same problem, so I suggested that we meet earlier in the creative process than we had been. That way, our team could structure the electronics in a way that was more in line with what the designers had in mind. We made a very good plan that helped both teams, cut the time we spent on each project by a lot, and made the products we made overall better.”
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