interview questions for engineers - mechanical, electrical, civil engineering

The most important interview questions for engineers you should prepare for

Jacintha Verdegaal

Have you ever met anyone who enjoys job interviews? Probably not. It can be quite nerve-racking to know you have to make a great impression in that moment. So a good preparation is key. Anand Ramachandran – one of our founders – has interviewed hundreds of engineers in his global leadership positions for companies like Panasonic, Philips and Ikea. And of course for Tasker today. We asked him what the most important interview questions for engineers are, so you’ll be ready to answer them.

Recent engineering problems you solved

Your resume – that got you the interview – might list your previous experience, but be prepared to discuss this in more detail. They’ll be mostly interested in the work experience that’s related to the job you’re interviewing for. This is your moment to demonstrate that you understand their challenges and have experience in solving them.

Before going into the interview, make sure to have at least three relevant projects top of mind. You won’t get a lot of time to explain them in detail, so stay focused and use the STAR method to describe what you did:

Situation: What was the challenge you were facing?

Task: What was your specific role in that situation?

Action: What steps did you take to overcome the challenge?

Result: What were the results of your actions?

How up-to-date are you with new engineering technologies and skills?

When you go in for an engineering interview it’s important to show that your knowledge and skills are up to date. A typical interview question for engineers is asking what you’re doing to keep it that way. 

Impress them by telling how you developed a new skill. Or how pro-active you are in learning about the latest tech developments. Are you active in (online) communities? Do you have subscriptions to relevant magazines or do you follow specific blogs and thought leaders?

Common engineering interview questions 

They’re the most standard and most asked questions for any job, but you’ll be surprised how often people still struggle to answer them. Don’t be one of those people! When preparing your list of interview questions for engineers, be ready to answer questions like:

  • Tell me a bit about yourself
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are some of your weaknesses?
  • Why do want to leave your current job?

And of course: Why should we hire you? Anand: “I once answered ‘You would have already failed by hiring others, and still want to get the project done. That’s why you need to hire me.’ Sounds arrogant, but that did the trick.”

Be prepared to work on a test project

For some engineering roles, the best way to see if someone is right for the job is by demonstrating it on the spot. Anand: “I always let engineers work on a small design or development project. To test if they understand the actual project content. It usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes in which they work on a tool like SolidWorks, write a piece of code or execute a test routine.”

Questions you should ask in an engineering interview

You can be pretty sure that the last question of the interview is “Do you have any questions?” This is not just a courtesy; they expect and want you to have questions. It shows that you’ve given this job opportunity as much thought as they have and are serious about it. Plus the purpose of an interview is not just for them to see if you’re the best candidate, but also for you to see if you want to work for them!

So prepare lots of questions! Some might already come up during the interview, so you should always have some left to ask at the end. 

It’s okay to ask practical questions, like what the next steps in the interview process will be. But most of all, show your interest in what they are doing with questions like:

  • What is the biggest challenge for your engineering team at the moment?
  • If we look back a year from now, what would success look like for the business and the engineering team?
  • What would be the first thing you want me to work on in this role?
  • How would you describe the way of working and culture of the engineering team?

And show that you’re ambitious and willing to learn. 

  • What are the opportunities for professional growth in the engineering organization?
  • What has been a career path for people who were previous in this role?

You can never fully predict how an interview will go. But as long you are prepared for these typical interview questions for engineers, they’ll realize they’d be happy to have you on their team! 

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