50 Civil Engineering Interview Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 15, 2021

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.

Civil engineers are professionals responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructures. For those seeking this position, interviews can be opportunities to show the skills, experience and creativity necessary to succeed at the job. If you're interested in applying for a role in the civil engineering field, consider planning your answers to questions an interviewer may ask you. In this article, we explore lists of common civil engineering interview questions and provide some example answers to help you practice.

General questions

No matter the field, interviewers may ask some general questions to get an idea of the background and personality of a job candidate. They are usually interested in learning about how the candidate thinks and what their interests are. Preparing for your interview in advance can help you answer challenging questions with confidence, ease and professionalism. You can also make sure your answers are easy to understand. Here are some examples of common, general interview questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • How would you describe yourself in one word?

  • What is your most distinctive or unique quality?

  • Why do you want this job?

  • What interests you about this role?

  • How does this position fit into your career path?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • What has your greatest accomplishment been?

  • What encourages you to succeed?

  • Do you have any regrets?

  • What is your greatest strength?

  • What is your greatest weakness?

  • What is your first reaction to a problem?

  • Tell me about a time when you overcame an obstacle.

  • Tell me about a time when you practiced creativity.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to multitask.

  • Tell me about a time when you took some sort of initiative.

  • What are you passionate about?

  • What is the key to a successful collaboration with others?

  • Why did you leave your last job?

Related: How To Become a Civil Engineer

Questions about experience and background

Interviewers often ask questions about a job candidate's work experience and educational background. They may base these questions on your resume and cover letter, so make sure you're prepared to talk about any information you wrote on these documents. If you included certain skills on your resume, it's usually a good idea to prepare an example of how you have shown that skill in your previous jobs. Here are some examples of questions you may have to answer about your experience and background:

  • What do you like most about engineering?

  • What do you like least about engineering?

  • What is the key to successful urban planning?

  • Tell me about your experience with developing environmental impact reports.

  • Tell me about your experience with various construction materials.

  • What is the greatest professional accomplishment you've had in your previous jobs?

  • What is your favorite construction technique?

  • Tell me about your experience with surveying equipment.

  • What has been your favorite project you have implemented?

  • Tell me about the most innovative design you have created.

Related: 14 Types of Civil Engineering Jobs

In-depth questions

Interviewers usually ask in-depth questions about a job candidate's specific qualifications for a role. They may ask you about specific tasks you've completed, software you've worked with or processes you've implemented. These kinds of questions can be opportunities for a candidate to express the reasons they are the best fit for a position. Consider taking this time to show your creativity and uniqueness and to stand out to the potential employer interviewing you.

If you are lacking in a certain type of experience or qualification and your interviewer asks you about this, you can focus on and highlight the skills you do have that make you a good match for the position. Here are some examples of in-depth questions you may hear in a civil engineering interview:

  • What made you decide to become a civil engineer?

  • Describe your designing process.

  • What do you feel are the biggest challenges civil engineers face?

  • Do you have any professional credentials or certifications in the field?

  • Explain your experience with a particular civil engineering technology.

  • Tell me about a time you had to adjust your engineering designs based on a client request.

  • Tell me about a time you had to solve an engineering issue.

  • What experience do you have in managing large teams?

  • Tell me about your past civil engineering projects.

  • Explain your civil engineering portfolio.

  • How do you measure the success of your projects?

  • Are you interested in trying any new trends in civil engineering?

  • What qualities do you think a civil engineer needs to be successful?

  • What is the key to interacting with clients?

  • What principle do you believe should guide the work of every civil engineer?

Related: What Do Engineers Do? Types of Engineers and Responsibilities

Interview questions with sample answers

When preparing for a job interview, it can be beneficial to guess which questions your interviewer might ask you and develop powerful answers to them. These questions can be about yourself, your work experience, your educational background, information on your cover letter or your industry. Consider connecting your answers to the job description and requirements to imply that you are an excellent match for the position.

Practicing interview question answers can help you feel more prepared for an interview and express yourself more effectively. You may even memorize some answers and sound more genuine in an actual interview setting. It can also help you keep your answers short and concise. Here are some interview questions with sample answers that may help you practice:

What makes you a good fit for this organization?

Employers may ask this question to measure your interest in their company and your qualifications for the role. Use this question as an opportunity to show your enthusiasm about this specific role and the company's mission and principles. If you research the company beforehand, you may even be able to quote the company's mission statement to show that you share its goals. You may also want to emphasize your most important, relevant credentials, how you fulfill the job requirements and how your skills could benefit the organization.

Example: "I really admire your organization's mission to prioritize collaboration and continuous improvement. Because of my experience in 10 different civil engineering projects, I've realized that collaboration and feedback are crucial to a successful project. I believe that this coupled with my skills in problem-solving and creativity make me an excellent fit for this organization."

How do you approach a civil engineering project?

Employers may ask this question to learn your process for planning and implementing a project. This may be a big part of the job responsibilities, and they probably want to gauge your skills in organization, planning ahead, critical thinking, teamwork, flexibility and leadership. In your answer, consider describing a few simple steps you take to plan a project. This can involve "brainstorming," sketching and meeting with team members. You can also use an example to show the process.

Example: "The first step I take when approaching a civil engineering project is understanding the client's request. I study all the information they have given me and ask them questions if any requirements are unclear. Next, I collaborate with team members and create goals for the project. I also make sure to sketch at least five design ideas for how to implement the project and fulfill the client's needs."

Related: How To Set and Achieve Goals

What is your favorite part of civil engineering work?

Employers may ask this question to get to know you on a personal level. They may want to learn more about your personality and interests, and why you enjoy working in the civil engineering field. When answering this question, make sure to not only highlight your interests but emphasize your skills as well. Consider choosing a component of civil engineering that you are most skilled in to impress your interviewer.

Example: "My favorite part of civil engineering would have to be building infrastructures that are both safe for the environment and people. I am passionate about sustainability and environmental safety, and I actually received an award for a project I completed on the safest construction materials for the environment. I feel that structures that make smart use of limited materials are better for everybody in the long-term."

What types of projects do you find the most challenging?

Employers aren't just asking you this question to learn about a challenging task in civil engineering. An important thing they want to learn with this question is how you approach challenges and overcome them. They want to know if you give up immediately or work hard to create an excellent solution. They are most likely measuring your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. In your answer, describe the problem you faced, but spend more time describing how you solved it. Make sure to discuss any specific results you achieved and highlight the innovation and creativity in your solution.

Example: "I would say the most challenging kinds of projects are the ones near areas that have complex environmental protection requirements. These areas are usually habitats for endangered species and other wildlife, so it's obviously important that construction projects don't disturb these ecosystems. Although these are challenging projects, I always enjoy studying the requirements and making sure my projects are as eco-friendly as possible."

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

What is the key to maintaining a safe work environment?

Employers may ask you this question to confirm your ability to keep people safe during a civil engineering project, avoiding injuries and lawsuits. Since construction projects can involve heavy machinery, demolition and dangerous materials, it's important you prepare an answer that expresses your commitment to adhering to proper safety protocols. Acknowledge the importance of the safety of everyone involved in or near a project, including employees, contractors and pedestrians. Also, consider mentioning your understanding of specific industry worksite regulations and guidelines to impress employers.

Example: "I believe safety at the worksite should be the topmost concern of all civil engineers and construction professionals. I make it my mission for every project to debrief all employees who will be working at a site on proper safety measures. Of course, this includes wearing the correct safety attire and using equipment properly. I also make sure that my employees are energetic and alert before operating any heavy machinery. I always follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines for construction site safety."

Interview tips

There are many strategies you can practice to prepare for your interview and approach it with optimism. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Develop an answer to the "Tell me about yourself" question. As one of the most common interview questions that exists, your answer to "Tell me about yourself" is an opportunity to sell your skills and qualifications to your interviewer. Start with your current or most recent relevant work experience and then discuss how, because of your special expertise, this job is exactly what you've been looking for.

  • Practice with mock interviews. Ask a friend to present to interview you so you can practice your interview question answers. Your friend can also take notes on your performance to let you know anything you can do better in the actual interview.

  • Practice deep breathing. Taking deep breaths can help calm your pre-interview nerves and help your body relax. Remember that the reason you're being interviewed is that the company already thinks you are qualified for the job.

  • Ask questions. Interviewers often ask you if you have any questions for them at the end of an interview. This can be a chance for you to ask thoughtful, specific questions that can show your interviewer your enthusiasm about the job.

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