If you are an engineer applying for a job, the questions posed during an interview may vary based on whether you are applying for a position as an electrical, mechanical, computer, civil, or other type of engineer. However, almost any engineer job interview will include questions that assess your technological knowledge, your engineering skills, and your ability to communicate with team members and clients.
As in any interview, it's a good idea to review common questions and practice your responses in advance.
Being prepared will help you feel confident and ensure that you're hitting the right notes in your answers.
Engineering Interview Questions
The following is a list of frequently asked engineering interview questions. Several of these general engineer interview questions are behavioral questions that ask you how you have acted during a given situation in the past.
Structure your responses by using the STAR interview response technique to describe a past Situation, the Task or challenge involved, the Action you took, and the Result of your action.
You might encounter questions like these:
- Tell me about the most challenging engineering project that you have been involved with during the past year.
- Describe the most challenging written technical report or presentation that you've had to complete.
- Describe an experience with a difficult client. How did you handle the situation? What would you have done differently?
- Tell me about your greatest success in using logic to solve an engineering problem.
- Give me an example of a time when you applied your ability to use analytical techniques to define problems or design solutions.
- What checks and balances do you use to make sure that you don't make mistakes?
- Do you have any patents? If so, tell me about them. If not, is that something you see yourself pursuing in the future? Why or why not?
- What engineering skills have you developed or improved upon during the past year?
- Which software packages are you familiar with? What is the most interesting thing you know how to do with one of these packages?
- What are you doing to stay current with the latest technology?
Civil Engineer Interview Questions
Civil engineering firms that are hiring new colleagues will often seek to gauge how seamlessly promising candidates would adapt to their company culture. Since hiring initiatives can be time-intensive and expensive, they also prefer to hire associates they can trust will stick around for a while. Prepare for these questions by researching the firm ahead of time.
- What appeals to you about working for our company?
- Why did you apply for this particular job?
- Why did you select civil engineering as your field or major?
- Describe a time when you questioned your choice of engineering as a career or major.
- Describe an occasion when you worked on a team, and something did not go well. How did you respond?
- Share a situation when a project or proposal of yours met resistance or was not adopted in a timely fashion. How did you handle this dilemma?
Software Engineer Interview Questions
If you're a software engineer, see these interview questions about the skills and attributes that qualify you for the job. Some of the common ones include:
- What programming languages are you familiar or proficient with?
- What is the process you use when writing a piece of code?
- What is your process for finding errors in large files with code that you cannot step through?
Some software engineering positions will require you to take a practical coding or programming assessment as part of the interview process, so keep this in mind.
Questions About Your Personal Attributes
Your interviewer will be interested not only in your training and professional experience, but also in your personal goals, self-knowledge, and soft skills (“people skills”) that enable you to work well with clients and other team members.
- What strengths make you a good engineer?
- What was your professional development plan for the past two years?
- Describe a time when you received criticism from a supervisor or professor. How did you respond?
- Describe your ideal boss.
- What is an example of a problem where you had to think on your feet?
- What will be the biggest challenge for you with this position?
Questions About Your Resume and Career Trajectory
Be prepared to explain any “red flags” on your resume, such as significant employment gaps and brief position tenures. Your interviewer may also inquire about your plans for the future and about information you may not have included on your resume.
- Why are you currently unemployed?
- What have you accomplished outside of school and work that you are proud of?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Where would you like to be with your career five years from now?
- Describe something you omitted from your resume and how that would make you a good fit for the position.
A good resume can make a world of difference. There are many resume writing and preparation services you can use in order to stand out—in a good way—and give yourself the best chance of success.
Problem-solving questions require you to “think on your feet,” just as you have to do daily in the workplace. Be ready to offer examples of a few of your most important engineering accomplishments that demanded deep analytical skills and a proactive trouble-shooting stance.
- Describe any situations where you took initiative or displayed an entrepreneurial approach.
- Give me an example of how you applied your problem-solving skills to a design challenge.
- Share an example of how you have applied your skills to on-site work.
- Describe your most successful engineering project. What enabled you to achieve this success?
- What about on-site work is most challenging for you?
Don’t be surprised if you have to field a few questions that test your basic engineering knowledge and training background.
- What is the required information to repair a midbeam in a building?
- Describe any projects or coursework that equip you to work on design issues for water systems.
- How much oil is necessary to pollute the ocean?
- Do you have any security clearance to work on classified projects? If you have worked on a DOD project, describe a challenge you encountered.
- What are the ways to filter the contaminants in drinking water?
- What are sources of contaminants in water?
- Describe the differences between Corsim and Vissim models.
- How have you best applied computer technology to your work during the past year?
- What software have you learned to use or mastered more fully during the past year?
General Job Interview Questions
In addition to job-specific interview questions, you will be asked more general questions about your employment history, education, strengths, weaknesses, achievements, goals, and plans. Here's a list of the most common interview questions to review, and examples of the best answers.
REVIEW COMMON ENGINEERING INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: Be prepared to answer both general queries about your education and professional background and questions specific to the job you are targeting.
RESEARCH THE EMPLOYER: Learn as much as you can about the engineering firm you are interviewing with so that you can prove how you would be the perfect fit for their department.
KNOW YOUR TRADE: Be ready to discuss the engineering design processes and technologies you use in your day-to-day work.