40 Engineering Interview Questions to Help You Prepare (With Example Answers)

December 3, 2020

Engineering interviews can be daunting. With so much ground to cover, it can be difficult to guess which direction the interview will take. You might be asked more general questions about your experience, you might be asked about your personal qualities, or you could be asked highly technical questions.

The best way to prepare for an engineering interview is to practice different interview questions so that you don’t get caught off guard. When you’re prepared for any type of question, you’ll be less likely to be nervous and will give a much better impression.

In this article, we are going to explore some of the most common engineering interview questions we have come across. This information is the result of direct feedback from candidates and engineering companies. We’ve split some of the most common interview questions into three sections; general questions, education/ experience questions and in-depth engineering questions. We have then chosen six interview questions to explore in more detail.

To make the most of this guide, we recommend learning more about the STAR interview method. We’ve provided a brief explanation below, or you can read our blog article:

What Is The STAR Method When Interviewing?

Once you understand how to answer questions using the STAR method, work through the list below and practice your answers. For questions that require you to explain a situation, try thinking of a few different situations so that you have a range of answers to choose from.

If you’re struggling to answer any of the questions, head to the final section of this guide to see our example answers. This will help you to structure your answers in a logical way and help to keep you on track during your interview. Before you get started with the practice questions, it helps if you have a copy of your CV to hand so that you can jog your memory.

Business people, men and women, waiting for job interview

How to answer using the STAR method

The STAR method is a popular way to structure your interview answers. This can help you to prepare for your interview and may help you to remember situations that will make you look good in an interview setting.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. STAR answers are best used for situational questions. An example of a situational question would be: “can you tell me about a time when you faced conflict in the workplace?”

To answer using this STAR method, you would start by giving some context to your answer. 

Situation: Where were you working and what was the challenge you faced?

Task: What did you have to do, and what was your role?

Action: What action did you take?

Result: What was the outcome of the situation?

By sticking to this system, your answers will be clear and concise and you won’t feel like you are rambling or sharing information that isn’t relevant to the question. This is the method that Nolan Technical Recruitment advisors recommend when preparing for an engineering job interview.

Engineering Interview Questions

General engineering interview questions

These are the types of questions that could come up in any interview. These questions might not feel like they have any relevance to an engineering role, but they are useful to allow the interviewer to get an impression of who you are. Practice answering these questions in a few different ways so that you can adapt your approach to every interview you encounter.

  1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
  2. Are you a strong multitasker? Can you give me an example of a time you had to multitask successfully?
  3. How would your previous employer describe you? How would your colleagues describe you?
  4. How do you like to organise your day?
  5. What are your greatest strengths? And what are your greatest weaknesses?
  6. Where would you like to be in five years?
  7. How do you handle negative feedback?
  8. What do you like to do outside of work?
  9. What advice would you give to yourself five years ago? Is there anything in your work history you would like to change?
  10. Why are you interested in working for this company?

Education and Experience Questions

You can expect to answer questions about your education and experience, so make sure that you refresh your memory before heading into an interview. Re-reading your CV and returning to old university lecture notes is a great way to jog your memory and make sure you don’t miss any important points. Try answering these questions below and make notes as you’re going to prepare for your next engineering interview.

  1. Why did you choose to study engineering? Why did you choose that particular degree programme?
  2. What is your least favourite thing about engineering?
  3. What makes a successful engineer?
  4. What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced as an engineer?
  5. Can you tell me about a time you failed? How did you deal with this?
  6. Why did you choose to complete an internship with that company?
  7. What did you learn from your time as an intern?
  8. Have you ever helped to save your company money on a project? How much did you save and how did you achieve it?
  9. If you could go back to your time at university and change one thing, what would you change?
  10. How do you handle difficult colleagues? Have you ever had to work with someone you don’t get along with?
  11. Have you volunteered to do any additional training in your last role? What training did you do and why did you decide to do this?

Education and Experience Questions

Engineering interview questions

So far, we’ve looked at questions that could appear in any industry interview. Now we’re going to explore some examples of interview questions that are specific to engineers. You can adjust these questions to your sector of engineering to make them more relevant to you.

  1. How do you handle unexpected surprises when planning a project?
  2. What makes a successful engineering team?
  3. What do you think will be the biggest challenge in this role?
  4. What steps do you take to plan a successful project?
  5. Have you ever had to deal with a difficult client? How did you handle this?
  6. What steps do you take to make sure you don’t make any mistakes?
  7. Can you describe a time you make a mistake at work? How did you handle it? What steps did you take to correct it?
  8. Can you tell me about a time you had to work with someone with a non-engineering background? How did you manage this relationship?
  9. Tell me how you handle conflict in the workplace?
  10. What do you do when you can’t handle a problem on your own?
  11. If you weren’t an engineer, what career would you pursue instead?
  12. What is the most challenging technical report you have ever completed? How did you approach this challenge?

sample answers

Engineering questions with sample answers

By this stage, you’ve had the chance to answer some sample questions to practice your interview technique. Now we’re going to look at a few questions in more detail. We’ll explore how you can answer these questions succinctly to give the interviewer the best impression. Adapt these answers to your own experience and feel free to use these questions for practice.

  1. What is the most challenging project you have ever worked on? Did you know it would be challenging from the start, and how did you approach it?
  2. If you had to give a presentation to non-engineers, how would you approach the challenge?
  3. How do you manage your time and make sure you stay on schedule? Have you taken any steps to improve your time management skills?
  4. What is your favourite kind of engineering work?
  5. How do you stay on top of the latest engineering industry developments?
  6. What steps do you take to ensure you do not make any mistakes?

What is the most challenging project you have ever worked on? Did you know it would be challenging from the start, and how did you approach it?

The engineering sector is unpredictable and filled with unexpected challenges. Being able to think on your feet and predict challenges is a key attribute to have. Your response to this question will demonstrate that you think on your feet and adapt to challenges as they arise. Think of a few different challenging situations and make sure you explain why they were challenging for you.

Example answer: “I once worked on a civil engineering project that appeared simple at the outset, but on closer inspection, I discovered I needed to expand the data I would normally use. This project looked at landslide predictions in mountainous regions, so I had to take into consideration increasingly volatile weather patterns. Working with the additional data was a challenge for me, so I approached a more senior engineer for guidance.”

If you had to give a presentation to non-engineers, how would you approach the challenge?

Engineering is a technical field, but the best engineers can also communicate these complex concepts to non-engineering stakeholders. Employers are looking for strong communicators who can make complex topics easy to understand, as this makes for much easier client communications.

Example answer: “I recently ran a workshop at the high school I attended to help encourage more students into STEM subjects. I needed to find a way to make civil engineering more interesting and engaging to a room full of teenagers, so I prepared a challenge for them to design a football stadium. I was then able to take their designs and explain how an engineer would approach each one, bringing in some key engineering concepts like structural engineering.”

How do you manage your time and make sure you stay on schedule? Have you taken any steps to improve your time management skills?

This is a chance to demonstrate your understanding of project management. You can also show how you put your own processes in place to ensure you are always on track and able to deliver work on time. Delays in engineering work can cost companies a lot of money, so they want to know that they are hiring people who can effectively prioritise their workload.

Example answer: “At the start of every project, I create a list of every milestone that I need to achieve and then create subtasks in order of priority. This method helps to keep me on schedule for delivery and allows me to fully focus on one task at a time.”

What is your favourite kind of engineering work?

This question is perfect for demonstrating your passion for the industry. Employers want to hire someone who is enthusiastic about their work. It could also help them to place you in a sector of the company that you will get the most enjoyment from.

Example answer: “I’m passionate about green energy and how we can make this more accessible for the population. In my last role, I suggested ways to improve the energy efficiency of a project and these ideas were adapted into the final build.”

How do you stay on top of the latest engineering industry developments?

Engineering is a sector that is always evolving, and engineers need to make sure they are at the forefront of these developments. This question will allow you to demonstrate that you are proactive in your approach to engineering developments.

Example answer: “I have a subscription to several engineering magazines and I’m also active on several LinkedIn engineering groups. This allows me to connect with others in my industry and share my own insight on important topics. I also contribute to an engineering blog in my spare time.”

What steps do you take to ensure you do not make any mistakes?

Making a mistake as an engineer can be very hazardous and costly. Employers will want to know that you are familiar with safety protocols and that you take them seriously.

Example answer: “I have a system to check my work and calculations as I am going, so regardless of work deadlines, I can be confident there are no mistakes in my work. In my current role, I have developed relationships with fellow engineers that allow me to get a second opinion on my work to ensure I haven’t missed any errors.”

Nolan Recruitment is a Specialist Engineering Recruitment Agency. One of the UK's best Engineering & Technical Recruiter

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