8 common questions asked at interviews for engineering jobs
During an interview for a job in engineering, you might be asked some tough questions. The person who is interviewing you will probably ask you about your skills, who you are as a person, and why you would be a good fit for the job. This article looks at some of the most common engineering interview questions and gives you examples of how to answer them so you can prepare for your next interview.8 common questions asked at interviews for engineering jobs
Normal questions asked in engineering interviews
If you think about some of the most common interview questions in the engineering field and come up with answers ahead of time, you can feel confident and well-prepared for your upcoming interview. Here are some of the most common engineering job interview questions:
- What do you like best about being an engineer? What do you like least?
- What are some new engineering skills you’ve picked up in the past few months?
- Tell me about a recent difficult engineering project you worked on.
- Tell me about a time when you had trouble with a client or customer.
- How do you make sure you don’t make a mistake?
- How well do you know TV shows and movies? Where do you think you could use more practice?
- How do you keep up with how technology is changing?
- When working on a big engineering project, how do you keep track of time?
- What do you like best about being an engineer, and what do you like least?
This is a question that interviewers often ask to find out what your goals are and why you want to work in engineering. They want to know what parts you like best and what parts you don’t. This can help them understand what you care about. In your answer, you should talk about what you like best about engineering and what kinds of problems you usually try to solve.
“My favorite part of being an engineer is being able to see a project through to the end. I get to use the latest technologies and put them to use in a finished project. Filling out the paperwork is my least favorite part of taking a test, but I’ve found that if I make time to do it every day, it doesn’t seem as hard.
2. What new engineering skills have you learned in the last few months?
The field of engineering is always changing. Employers want to know that you are not only qualified for the job but also up-to-date on what’s going on in the industry. It can be helpful to write down your most recent skills and how you got them.
Use the STAR method to give a full answer to this question. STAR stands for:
- Tell me about a problem you had to deal with.
- Describe what you are doing.
- Action: Talk about what you did to solve the problem.
- Explain what happened because of what you did.
“Going to college helped me become a better researcher and thinker. But I just recently found that I can’t work well when I’m in a hurry. I know this is an important part of the business because many projects need to be finished on time. I’ve found that making an outline of my projects helps me keep track of my time.
I’ve also learned that when I’m under a lot of stress, working as a team can help, so I’ve learned to ask for help when I need it. I started making plans for my projects that were more detailed and asked for help. I haven’t missed a deadline since then.”
3. Tell me about a hard engineering project you worked on in the last year.
By asking you about a recent project, the interviewer is not only trying to find out more about your past skills, but also about how you deal with problems. If you answer this question by giving a clear description of one of your most recent projects, including its goals, challenges, and the steps you took to overcome them, you will show that you are good at managing projects.
“When I worked as a civil engineer before, I worked on a mock project to build a city. My team and I were in charge of figuring out what the city needed, coming up with design ideas, and making and testing plans.
We ran into many problems, like plans that wouldn’t work with the way the city is now or the budget. We kept looking at the ideas that didn’t work and using them to come up with new ways to deal with the problems. In the end, we were able to come up with a plan for the city that met all of the needs of the fake city.
4. Tell me about a problem you had with a client or customer in the past.
In the engineering field, you will need to work closely with the client in many jobs. This question can show how good you are at helping customers and solving problems. The person interviewing you wants to know how you handled the challenge and what steps you took to get through it. Using the STAR method could help you come up with an answer that the hiring manager will like.
“During my internship, I worked for a big company that makes things. One of our clients asked us to come up with a better way to make their product. I spent the next week getting information so I could look at our current process and see where we could make changes.
Even though I gave a detailed plan of a new way to do things, the client did not agree with my engineering suggestions. I looked over my analysis again and was still sure of my research. I decided to look at his worries to see if I could find a solution that would work for both of us. The next day, I gave him a new solution that was based on my research and took into account what he had said. He seemed to like the idea, and the next month we put it into action successfully.”
5. What steps do you take to make sure you don’t mess up?
Mistakes can help you learn. But, especially in the engineering field, some mistakes can be expensive and dangerous. When you’re asked this question, the interviewer can see how well you pay attention to details. It shows them that you know what can happen when you make certain mistakes and how to avoid them. Choose the answer that best describes how you work and how your method helps you be precise.
Example: “When I’m doing research, I pay close attention to every detail. I also test each of my ideas on its own so I can find problems with each part before putting them together. If I do find a problem, I start the whole process over and test each part again. Then I compare my results to those of other tests to make sure they are the same.
It’s also important to talk to each other. A mistake can happen when people on a team don’t talk to each other well. I tell my coworkers every time I finish a task, and I ask them to do the same, so that we can always talk to each other.
6. What software do you know the most about? Where do you think you could use more practice?
Depending on the field you work in, engineers can choose from a wide range of software programs. An interviewer might ask if you know about a certain program that their business uses. They might also ask this to find out how serious you are about learning a new program you don’t know. When writing your answer, talk about the programs you know how to use best. Then, fill in the answer with the programs you’re not as comfortable with and what you’re doing to learn more and become more comfortable with them.
“In my last job, I used the Autodesk Product Design Suite and the MATLAB programs every day. I’d like to learn more about MECHDesigner, and I’m glad that this job gives me the chance to do so. I’ve already done a lot of research on the program and signed up for online classes to learn how to use it better.”
7. How do you keep up with how technology is changing?
Technology is always changing, and employers want to know that you’ll keep up with what’s going on in the field. In your answer, you can talk about what you have done recently to improve your skills and how you plan to keep up with changes in technology.
Example: “I keep up with the latest technology by reading the latest editorials and articles in the field. I pay attention to the thought leaders and think about new ideas in all of my projects. Every year, I also go to one or two business events. I’ve found that these events have helped me find and learn about the latest tech trends.
8. How do you keep track of your time when you’re working on a big engineering project?
Some engineering projects may take up most of your time at work, so employers ask this question to find out how well you can manage your time. A well-written answer will talk about the steps you take to organize your time and show how well you can set priorities.
“Before I start a big project, I make a list of all the tasks I need to do. If the project needs more than one person to work on it, I divide and assign the work. I think about how much time I’ll need to do each required task each day and make sure I have enough time to do my other daily tasks.
Engineering interview tips
These tips will help you get ready for your interview for a job in engineering:
- Practice answering interview questions with a friend or coworker you can trust. By practicing your answers to interview questions in person, you can try out different approaches and examples to see which ones work best.
- Use the mirror to work on your answers. Even if you are by yourself, you can practice your answers ahead of time. By practicing your interview answers in front of a mirror, you can boost your confidence and watch how your face moves as you talk.
- Research the company before meeting with them. If you tie each of your answers to something you’ve learned about the company, it will show the interviewer that you want to work there and are invested in the business.
- Write out some examples in advance. Many interview questions will ask you to give an example, so making a list of specific work examples you can use can be helpful. Writing these things down might help you remember them better during your interview.