Essential Engineer Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)

Updated 17 October 2022

In an engineering interview, a hiring manager may frame questions to test a candidate's technical knowledge and grasp of engineering concepts and practical applications. They may also ask questions that help them ascertain a candidate's soft skills and personality traits. If you are preparing for an engineering interview, you may benefit from knowing about the different types of questions an interviewer may ask. In this article, we examine some common engineer interview questions and sample answers.

General Engineer Interview Questions

A hiring manager or interviewer may begin with general engineer interview questions. Your response to general questions can create a good first impression on a hiring manager. The general questions can also help you overcome initial nervousness and become more confident as the interview progresses. Some common general questions include:

  1. What makes you unique?

  2. Are you able to multitask? Can you give me some examples?

  3. How would your colleagues describe you?

  4. How do you organise your typical day?

  5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  6. How do you handle failure?

  7. How do you feel about constructive criticism?

  8. If you can go back five years in time, would you do anything differently?

  9. Have you ever been terminated? If so, what happened?

  10. What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?

  11. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

  12. Do you lose your temper while working? If so, how do you recover?

Related: Interview Question: "Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?"

Questions About Engineering Experience And Background

While preparing for an engineering interview, read about the company, its products, services, clients, mission, values, organisational structure and leadership. You can get this information from company websites, news articles, social media platforms, professional networking platforms, employee testimonials and job-search sites. Answer in a way that highlights your skills, expertise and experience relevant to the current job role. Some common engineering interview questions about experience and background include:

  1. Tell us more about your educational background.

  2. What do you like about engineering?

  3. What is your least favourite thing about engineering?

  4. What do you think makes a skilled engineer?

  5. Why did you apply for this particular position? What appeals to you about our company?

  6. How do you motivate a team of engineers when a project faces problems?

  7. What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced as an engineer?

  8. Do you have any security clearance to work on classified projects?

  9. Have you ever helped save money on previous projects? How did you do it and what amount did you save?

  10. What is the greatest success that you have had in engineering?

Related: 15 Highest Paid Engineering Jobs (With Duties And Salaries)

In-Depth Engineering Interview Questions

A hiring manager may ask questions to test your competency with regard to a particular skill or check your response to specific situations that may be relevant to their organisation's work. They may ask you to respond to a hypothetical situation relating to an engineering problem or test your ability to solve complex client requirements. Some common in-depth engineering interview questions include:

  1. What is your idea of having a successful team?

  2. Describe the steps you take when developing plans for a project.

  3. How do you handle unforeseen issues that may arise when working on a project?

  4. What may be your biggest challenge in this position?

  5. Have you developed any new engineering skills in the past year?

  6. Who was your go-to person when you encountered a problem on a project that you were unable to solve alone? Have you taken steps to acquire those skills?

  7. If you were not an engineer, what would you be doing instead?

  8. Describe when you had to work on a project with conflicts involving professional interests. How did you solve the issue?

  9. Tell me about a time when you successfully built a long-term working relationship with someone outside the engineering department.

  10. Describe the most challenging technical report or presentation you have worked on so far.

  11. What checks and balances do you use to avoid and prevent mistakes?

  12. Do you have any patents? If so, tell me about them. If not, is that something that you see yourself pursuing? Why or why not?

Related: 21 Essential Skills For Every Type Of Engineer

Engineering Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Below are some interview questions with sample answers that you may use to model your own answers. Your answers to these questions can exhibit your knowledge of the job and your ability to present information clearly and logically.

1. If we hire you, what is the first contribution you want to make to the company?

An interviewer may ask you this question after a few general questions. You can talk about your past professional accomplishments. You can link them to the current role and briefly explain how you can transfer those skills and achievements to the new role.

Example: "In the last three years, I have been part of eight high-value projects. I have expertise in every aspect of designing and developing state-of-the-art machinery components. I am ready to move into a supervisory role and am confident that I can successfully manage a team of designers and developers. I am known for my end-to-end process knowledge and I can bring in high-value clients from my extensive professional network."

2. What strengths do you have that make you a good engineer?

An interviewer's aim in asking this question is to test your technical competency and soft skills. You can tie your answer to the job specification that describes the company's competency expectations from a candidate. Avoid using too many adjectives and talk about four or five strengths.

Example: "My biggest strength is my ability to communicate effectively. I can clearly understand a client's requirement as I listen carefully, and can convey it effectively to my team. It benefits my company and its clients and saves valuable time and effort that we may otherwise lose to miscommunication. Planning is another strength of mine and I consider every minute detail, resulting in increased overall productivity. This is possible, as I have learned to analyse client requirements, project scope and team capabilities and limitations accurately. I am also very creative and it adds to my ability to look for innovative ideas to solve complex engineering problems."

3. How do you keep yourself updated with the latest job skills in your field?

An interviewer may want to know about your drive to learn about new technologies. Many companies invest in training their employees when technology companies release new software or tools. A hiring manager may assess how motivated you are to know about the latest trends in your area of specialisation.

Example: "My area of specialisation is system design and analysis. I have recently completed an advanced professional certification program in strategic design and analysis. I possess skills that can transform the most complex business requirements into software design effectively. I am also a member of many related networks which help me learn about new developments in my field."

4. What are your expectations of this company?

An interviewer may ask this question to candidates applying for middle and senior-level positions. They may want to know why you want to work with them and what your short-term and long-term career goals are. Be specific and do not hesitate to talk about your ambitions and career goals in detail.

Example: "I have learned the nuances of business and have created a strong foundation of engineering design and solutions in my current role. It is time for me to look at larger companies that provide a bigger scope for career growth. My experience and knowledge can benefit you and your projects, and I can challenge and prepare myself for senior team management roles."

5. Have you experienced a project failure and how did you handle it as a team leader?

Hiring managers may ask this question to candidates who have worked in leadership roles. Your answer can help them understand if you take responsibility and can keep your team motivated. Give a real example where you identified the cause of the failure of a project and list the steps you took to improve the process.

Example: "As a project lead, it was my responsibility to design a product with real data. Due to lack of time and other constraints, we did not get some parts of the data required for the design. We decided to work with approximate and untested data and the result was a faulty machine component that was not suitable. I understood that our product would have been perfect if we had tried a little harder and waited for two or three days. After this incident, we included a risk clause in the next project. We made a clause in our future contracts with potential clients that we do not work with untested data while designing solutions."


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