How to Answer Engineering Interview Questions

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Most engineering job interviews require you to showcase your knowledge and skills for a particular role by answering a series of interpersonal, behavioral and knowledge-based questions. The way you answer these questions can have an impact on whether or not you land the job. The questions and tips in this article can help guide you in your next engineering interview and help improve your chances of success.

What are the most common engineering interview questions?

During an engineering interview, you can expect the interviewer to ask a range of broad to specific questions relevant to your field. You’ll likely get asked questions pertaining to your field such as software, civil, electrical or mechanical engineering. Interviewers will ask behavioral questions in order to test your ethics and character. In some cases, they may ask questions that test your knowledge of the company. Before the interview, it’s important to familiarize yourself with questions you might expect in this type of interview as well as how you would answer them.

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Why do employers ask common engineering interview questions?

Employers ask common engineering interview questions to test your knowledge of this field. The better you’re able to understand their specific questions, the greater the chances are that they’ll hire you for the job. Employers want to hire candidates that are qualified for the role they’re hiring for. By asking specific engineering questions, they can gauge your experience, skill set and how well your qualifications match up with the job position.

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Common engineering interview questions

Here are some examples of engineering questions you may be asked:

Name some of the programming languages that you’ve used as a software engineer.

The answer to this question is based on your personal experience with programming languages. Some of the different programming languages are Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, Ruby, PHP and Python. Name off all the ones you used before and add an example of your best coding achievement to excite the employer and make you stand out in the interview. 

Example: ‘As a software engineer, I’ve used JavaScript, Python, Scala, C++ and Java. My coding skills in these programming languages earned me a spot as a speaker at the Indiana IT Conference about the importance of software selection.’

Explain the difference between global and local variables.

As a software engineer, it’s important to understand the difference between global and local variables. When you answer this question, state the difference by considering the definition of both variables as well as their function.

Example: ‘The difference between global variables and local variables are the declaration of either outside or inside the function. Global variables can be used outside any function in the program. Local variables are inside a function and can only be used inside the function.’

What made you decide to pick civil engineering as your field or major?

This is a personal question that pertains to your own desires and passions in wanting to become a civil engineer. Use an example that matches the most with your passion for this field.

Example: ‘I decided to become a civil engineer because of my passion for thinking outside of the box. Growing up, I loved studying mathematics and understanding how things worked. Though I enjoy building various structures, I’ve always had a passion for understanding their function and if a different design could improve their overall function.’

In civil engineering, how would you measure concrete?

Interviewers ask this to understand your process for measuring concrete in a civil engineering role. Make sure to detail each step and provide them with an accurate response. In addition, consider what measurements you’re using and convert them if needed.

Example: ‘First, I’d decide how thick the concrete should be then I’d measure the length and width of the area I wanted it to cover. After that, I’d multiply the length and width to get the square footage and change the thickness from inches to feet. Next, I’d have to multiply the thickness in feet by the square footage to get the cubic feet measurement. Finally, I’d multiply the cubic feet by .037 to get the cubic yards.’

Name the electrical engineering computer software you are most comfortable with.

Your answer to this question is a personal preference. It will be based on your own experiences with various engineering computer software. Interviewers want to know that you’re comfortable using a variety of software and have in-depth knowledge of them so consider this when you answer.

Example: ‘I am comfortable with a variety of electrical engineering computer software including Calculatoredge, Electrical Tools & Reference, MATLAB and E3.series.’ 

Explain carbon sequestration.

You might have to answer technical questions in your interview. A question like this is intended for a civil engineer and allows the interviewer to test your knowledge at face value. Consider how you’d define carbon sequestration and its impact on the environment when you answer this question.

Example: ‘Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon dioxide. It can be seen as a great way to avoid global warming or other climate-changing effects.’

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General interview tips

Understanding the types of engineering interview questions you may be asked allows you to properly prepare and study beforehand. This will make your answers more confident, articulate and focused, and it will exhibit your knowledge and skills on the subject matter. Remember to research the employer so you can include answers that connect with their company. 

Also, be ready to answer how you handle communications, teamwork and other interpersonal, workplace connections. It’s also important to make a strong impression that you’re a team player. If you’re asked scenario-based questions, try to remain positive and state the facts.