Landing the Gig: How to Prepare for an Engineering Interview

by Modis on September 28, 2017

Preparing for an engineering interview can be similar to preparing for any job interview. To ace your interview, start with research.

One of the first things an interviewer will ask is why you want to work at that company. Research the vision statements ahead of time to give you a better understanding of the company’s mission and culture. In addition to business and technical goals, most engineering organizations have sustainability goals and commitments to diversity and inclusion.

Be ready to describe what attracted you to your field of engineering and to this particular organization, including where its mission intersects with your personal values, vision and goals.

Show Your Problem-Solving Skills

To test your problem-solving ability, the interviewer may describe a scenario encountered on the job and ask how you would approach it. Be prepared ahead of time by researching the company’s clients and customers (internal and external), and thinking about the business and technical problems they may face.

The interviewer may ask for an example of how you helped a small group or team solve engineering problems in past experiences.

Engineering Skills and Experiences

Engineering job postings provide technical requirements, including programming languages, CAD/CAM, or electronics development platforms. The interviewer will ask about those and other engineering skills you’ve acquired.

They will want to know that you are familiar with applicable laws and regulations for your engineering specialty. For example, health & safety engineers need to understand the details of the OSHA Act and relevant guidance for all its major sections.

If the job requires a Professional Engineering (PE) license, be prepared to describe the process, including work requirements and test scores, that you went through to obtain it. Even if it’s not required for the job be sure to let the interviewer know, if you have achieved your license, or are working towards it.

If your past experience doesn’t line up exactly with stated requirements, be ready to explain how you will be able to excel on the job anyways.

Non-Engineering Questions

Keep in mind that many preliminary interviewers are HR professionals and know little about engineering, meaning that they are looking for candidates that can simply check off a list of requirements.

Every interview will include questions about your free-time activities. It’s fine to list hobbies that speak to your analytical or technical skills. It’s also important to show the interviewer that you have the soft skills you will need to work well within a team. Be ready to explain two or three fun and friendly anecdotes about your non-work life, if appropriate.

Looking to the Future

Most interviews include questions about your goals for the future. Do you see this job as a way gain more skills in a specific technical area? Or are you looking to move into management? Do you want to use your engineering know-how for the greater good, such as improving the sustainability of water resources in third world countries? Or is your goal to ultimately leave the company to start your own business?

These questions are important to think through for yourself, but you don’t have to share during an interview unless specifically asked.

Ask Me Anything

Most interviews end with the interviewer asking whether you have questions for them. You may want to find out how much travel is required for the job and what types of benefits are offered.

Beyond that, be ready to ask intelligent questions about the company’s products and services, such as, which new products is the company working on next.For help in developing your questions, read all the company’s recent newsletters and press releases, as well as any articles in the mainstream press covering product announcements and business news.

Do your research well ahead of time so that you can practice interviewing with all the facts at hand. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of being hired. Good luck!

Engineering and Tech Salary Guide

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