When it comes to sitting down and talking about engineering with a potential employer, it’s easy to get bogged down with theoretical answers and strained attempts to sound qualified, in the process losing sight of the real reason you want the job, and what makes you a genuinely good fit.
Let’s simplify the process a bit and provide an easy guide on how to answer interview questions for engineering jobs.
Discussing Previous Uses of Engineering Skills
When you’re asked a question about your prior experience in engineering, the interviewer is often looking at two things simultaneously: your practical use of engineering skills and your ability to communicate it. Engineers have to problem-solve constantly, both physically and mentally, and it’s important that they can articulate that work when need be—after all, engineering is a team sport.
Virtually every engineering interview will hit you with a question in this ballpark. Think your answer through days before, picking a life example that illustrates multiple skills at once—perhaps even some that aren’t exclusively engineering-related (mental dexterity, addressing groups, etc.).
Discussing Your Favourite and Least Favourite Aspects of Engineering Jobs
Many engineering job interviews will ask a question like this. Focus on the position you’re currently interviewing for and tailor your general love of engineering to the kind of excitement and craft that this particular job will require. Note that, beneath the surface, this is really a question of work ethic—what kind of tasks do you indulge and which do you avoid?
Tackling the Question of Where You See Yourself in the Future
This is solid adviceno matter what sector you’re in: When the question of your future comes up in an interview, answer with a position you can get to from this one.
The employer here is trying to figure out if you’ll stick around at this job for a long time to come, or jump ship at an opportunity that suits you more; it’s not only a question of your reliability, but also yet another test to make sure you’re actually keenly interested about this specific job.
Keeping up with and Discussing Technology
It can be tough to keep up with engineering technology. Tech is moving faster than ever these days, and it’s simply impossible to be adept at everything. This question requires a two-fold approach.
Indicate that you’re skilled in as much technology as you really are, giving examples of how you stay on top of newer tech—this is extremely important to virtually any engineering job.
The best you can give if you’re directly confronted with tech you’re unfamiliar with is a guarantee that you’ll learn it fast, and that you can do so on your own time. If you know what kinds of technologies the employer utilizes before the interview, and there are any that you’re unfamiliar with, give yourself a quick primer.
Describe Difficult Past Clients and Workloads
This is really an opportunity to showcase your tolerance and work ethic, and show how you function under pressure. Many interviewers will ask you about difficult past clients and/or how intense your workloads were in previous roles.
When describing the clients, you’re really trying to show off your ability to deal with confrontation in a firm, responsible way, without ever being disrespectful. When asked about past experiences, be mindful of confidential or proprietary information, and maintain a positive tone. You never know who is connected to who; speaking ill of past clients may prevent you from getting a job.
When it comes to workload, there’s perhaps an even more delicate balance to strike—you want to play up the hardest, most demanding work you’ve done, but never suggest that it was too much or that you would prefer less. Treat your most backbreaking experience less like an anecdote about exhaustion, and more like proof of your workplace durability.