27 Entry Level Civil Engineering Interview Questions

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 16 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A civil engineer specialises in completing projects that contribute to a city's or community's infrastructure, such as road or bridge construction. Many people choose civil engineering as a career because it allows them to do creative work, such as developing designs, while earning a good income. If you want to get a job in this field, consider preparing for entry-level interview questions that can help you.

In this article, we discuss 27 popular entry-level civil engineering interview questions employers ask and share examples of how to answer them successfully, along with a few tips to improve your chances of getting the job.

10 General entry-level civil engineering interview questions

Here are 10 general entry-level civil engineering interview questions that an interviewer may ask you:

  1. How did you hear about this position?

  2. Please tell us about yourself.

  3. What do you already know about our company?

  4. What are your short-term career goals?

  5. Tell me some of your greatest strengths and weaknesses.

  6. What draws you to civil engineering?

  7. What is your work availability?

  8. What are your salary expectations?

  9. What are your long-term career goals?

  10. Do you have any questions for us?

Related: How To Write A Civil Engineering Resume (With Example)

10 In-depth questions for an entry-level civil engineer

Here are 10 in-depth interview questions for an entry-level civil engineer:

  1. Why is it important to be clear about separation membranes between concrete pavement slabs and the sub-base?

  2. Explain what aggregate is?

  3. Are you familiar with how to construct bridges for vehicles to use?

  4. What is the difference between true stress and engineering stress?

  5. What is soil reinforcement?

  6. Which measurements do we typically use for concrete, area or volume?

  7. Do you prefer a hollow steel pipe or a solid steel rod for your project?

  8. Is there a difference between absorption and adsorption?

  9. Are you familiar with modular elasticity?

  10. What is rigging in civil engineering?

Related: How To Become An Architect (Career Steps And FAQs)

Entry-level civil engineering interview questions with sample answers

Here are seven interview questions for an entry-level civil engineer with sample answers:

1. Why do you want to become a civil engineer?

This question can provide information about your personality and values to an interviewer. Due to the fact that civil engineers typically work long hours and complete projects, many employers look for candidates who demonstrate a strong passion for the field. You can respond to this question by describing your interest in becoming a civil engineer and, if possible, using a particular example.

Example: "I have always wanted a career as an engineer because I enjoy building and solving puzzles, which is a major part of the job. When I was in high school, I learned about civil engineering and decided that it was the speciality I wanted to pursue because it could allow me to be an engineer while also assisting people with their daily lives by making it easier to navigate their surroundings."

2. Which of your previous experiences has prepared you most for work as a civil engineer?

Interviewers usually ask this question to get additional information about a candidate's background. Considering which experiences you emphasise as the most beneficial can help demonstrate your values. When responding to this question, you may discuss one of your previous jobs or college experiences that you believe helped you prepare for a career as a civil engineer.

Example: "While all the engineering courses I took in college were informative and beneficial, I believe the two that prepared me the most for a career as a civil engineer are Strength of Materials and Geometric Design of Highway Facilities. As I aspire to work on highways and roads, these classes enabled me to study the specific concepts and abilities that can help me succeed and know what to do."

3. Please explain a time when you have worked with a team and been successful.

Interviewers can ask this question to check a candidate's collaboration and teamwork skills. This skill is highly important for civil engineers, who often work in teams to complete projects. Discuss a time when you achieved success as a team member and collaborated effectively to address this question.

Example: "I have considerable experience working in teams, having worked as a camp counsellor every summer since I was in my second year in high school. The camp counsellor team organised a large event one summer, inviting campers' families to join us for a picnic, talent show and farewell celebration. This project necessitated constant collaboration and communication and it was a huge success because of our great teamwork."

4. Are you familiar with computer-aided design (CAD) software?

A prospective employer may ask this question because civil engineers frequently create designs and plans using CAD software. While employers may not expect you to be an expert in CAD software as an entry-level professional, it can be beneficial to demonstrate that you are familiar with it. When responding to this question, you can confirm your understanding of CAD software and discuss your proficiency level.

Example: "I am fairly familiar with CAD software, having learned how to use it while pursuing a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. While I have not used it professionally, I am confident in my ability to create designs using CAD software as a result of the college projects I completed."

Related: AutoCAD For Civil Engineers: Key Features And Benefits

5. Do you understand how to prevent cave-ins during soil excavations?

This question can indicate your familiarity with the procedures that a civil engineer generally uses. As an entry-level candidate, demonstrating your familiarity with specific civil engineering processes can help you establish yourself as a potentially valuable team member. You can answer this question by describing how to avoid cave-ins during soil excavations.

Example: "The most effective method of preventing cave-ins is to use bracing techniques to reinforce the soil surrounding the area where you are going to dig. For instance, you can embed steel barriers or forms into the soil to help it retain its shape, which is particularly helpful when working with loose soil or sand."

6. What makes you a good fit for this organisation?

If a recruiter asks this question, use it to highlight your abilities and experience by stating the most relevant ones. This demonstrates to the hiring manager that you understand and are capable of meeting the job requirements. You can also emphasise the best part of working in this organisation.

Example: "I am a huge admirer of your organisation's commitment to collaboration and continuous improvement. As a result of my involvement in ten different civil engineering projects, I have understood the importance of collaboration and feedback in ensuring a project's success. I also believe that combining this with my problem-solving and creative abilities qualifies me as an ideal candidate for this organisation."

Related: 10 Civil Engineering Skills And Tips To Develop Them

7. How do you approach a civil engineering project?

Employers may ask this question to check your way of planning and executing a project. This may constitute a significant portion of the job's responsibilities and they may also want to assess your organisational, planning, critical thinking, teamwork, flexibility and leadership abilities. Consider describing a few simple steps you take to plan a project in your response. This may include brainstorming, sketching and team meetings. You can also consider using an example to demonstrate the process.

Example: "When I approach a civil engineering project, the first thing I do is understand the client's request. I thoroughly review all of the information they provide and contact them if any requirements are unclear. Following that, I collaborate with team members to establish project objectives. I also sketch at least three design concepts for implementing the project and meeting the client's requirements."

Interview preparation tips for an entry-level civil engineer role

Here are some tips to help you prepare for your civil engineer job interview and improve your chances of being shortlisted:

  • Ask a friend to interview you. Consider arranging a mock interview with an experienced friend, colleague or family member. This can help you practise responding aloud to common interview questions and make you feel more comfortable and confident when meeting with the interviewer.

  • Research about the company. Before your interview, check the company's website and social media pages to learn about the products they develop, their organisational goals and their company culture. It can help you in developing a few sensible and effective questions to ask the interviewer to demonstrate your interest in working for them.

  • Print your application documents. Even if you apply online, consider bringing hard copies of your resume, cover letter and any other required documents. You can share these with the interviewer at the start of the interview to assist them in quickly determining who you are as a candidate for the role.

  • Maintain a positive attitude. Try to maintain a positive attitude even if the interviewer enquires about your work-related issues. To demonstrate your work ethic, focus on the lessons you have learned, the opportunities you are grateful for and how you overcame obstacles.

  • Follow up after your interview. Within 48 hours of your interview, consider sending an email thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. You can share a few key details about your interview experience to demonstrate your interest in working for the organisation.

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