40 Engineering Interview Questions (Plus Sample Answers)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated October 24, 2022
Published January 3, 2020
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.
Before going to an engineering interview, it may be helpful to know what type of questions the hiring manager may ask. Being prepared before you go will keep your confidence level high and give you a better chance of securing the job. It’s wise to research the company before the interview and take your resume and notes with you.
In this article, we list common questions that are asked at engineering interviews, along with several sample answers.
The STAR interview response technique
Two colleagues in a large office space look at calculations made on a writing board.
Understanding and using the STAR technique is very beneficial when you’re preparing for an interview and practicing your answers. The STAR technique helps you answer behavioral questions with clarity by using your own experiences. STAR stands for:
Situation: Describe the challenge you faced.
Task: Explain your role in the situation.
Action: Offer the steps you took to overcome the challenge.
Result: Describe the results of your actions.
Your answers to general questions will be the employer’s first impression of you. This is your opportunity to talk about your best experiences and skills, which will help the interviewer understand your interest in the job and if you are a good fit.
What makes you unique?
Are you able to multi-task? Can you give me some examples?
How do you organize your typical day?
What do you consider your strengths? What do you consider your weaknesses?
How do you handle failure?
How do you feel about constructive criticism?
If you could go back five years in time, would you do anything differently?
If I hire you, what is the first contribution you will make to the company?
Have you ever been fired? If so, what happened?
What are your interests and hobbies outside of work?
Related: 7 Items to Bring to a Job Interview
Questions about engineering experience and background
Your answers to questions involving your background and experience give the interviewer an idea of your qualifications for the position you applied for. During this time, you can determine if the company’s values line up with yours.
What kind of education do you have? How much education do you have?
What do you like about engineering field?
What is your least favorite thing about engineering?
What do you think makes a great engineer?
Why did you apply for this particular position? What appeals to you about our company?
How do you motivate a team of engineers when a project is floundering?
What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced as an engineer?
Do you have any security clearance to work on classified projects?
Have you ever helped save money in previous jobs? How did you save it and what was the amount that you saved?
What is your greatest success that you’ve had in engineering?
Do you ever lose your temper while working? If so, how do you recover?
The answers to in-depth questions should consist of explaining your specific work styles, how you solve problems and what your goals are.
What is your idea of having a successful team?
Describe the steps you take when developing plans for a project.
How do you handle surprises that arise when working on a project?
What will be your biggest challenge in this position?
Have you developed any new engineering skills in the past year?
Who was your go-to person when you encountered a problem on a project that you couldn’t solve alone? Why was that person your go-to person?
If you weren’t an engineer, what would you want to be doing instead?
Describe a time when you had to work on a project with conflict involving professional interests. How did you solve the issue?
Tell me about a time when you were successful in building a long-term working relationship with someone outside the engineering department.
Describe the most challenging written technical report or presentation that you’ve had to complete.
What checks and balances do you use to make sure that you don’t make mistakes?
Do you have any patents? If so, tell me about them. If not, is that something that you see yourself pursuing? Why or why not?
Interview questions with sample answers
Below are some common interview questions for engineers, along with some guidance on how to answer them. Every question also has a thorough sample answer that you may use and apply to your situation. Your answers to these questions should show your knowledge of the job, as well as your ability to present information clearly and logically.
1. What is the most difficult project you have worked on, and how did you get through the challenging tasks?
Engineers often work on complex and tasking projects that involve multiple resources, timelines and teams. Your response to this question can show you can multitask and manage your time well. Make sure you thoroughly explain your thought processes for overcoming challenges and the practical ways you used your skills to get through the adverse conditions. If you have any first-hand experience with challenging engineering situations, offer to describe that too.
Example: “I once worked on an engineering project that involved developing predictions about mountains and the roadways near them. I changed the data that I was used to working with to include any climate or environmental changes, as the risk factors changed based on the wildlife, the weather and the people in that area. With these adaptations, I was able to complete the project despite how challenging I thought it was in the beginning.”
2. How do you explain engineering ideas to an audience who’s unfamiliar with the topic during a presentation or an important meeting?
An engineer may work with many people during projects, and it’s essential to let your interviewer know that you’re confident in communicating complex engineering topics to people of any skill level. Your answer should clarify that you have a strong understanding of engineering concepts.
Example: “I do my best to give examples of engineering that are easy to understand and that might relate to a person or their situation. For instance, if I’m sitting down with a group of construction works, I will compare what I am saying to the process of how roads are paved. Relating the engineering ideas to real situations gives my audience a better understanding every time.”
3. What is your favorite type of work to do in the engineering field?
When you answer this question, make sure you show your enthusiasm for your specialty or favorite work. If hired, the company will likely use the information from this question to place you in the teams best suited to you. Your answer should explain why you enjoy that particular type of engineering and also give examples of your previous engineering projects.
Example: “My favorite projects are those that include helping the wildlife populations and curing sick animals. I assisted with the plans for a new exotic animal hospital, and I was so happy to be doing something that was going to be so beneficial to those animals.”
4. What do you do to manage your time and stay on schedule and have your time management skills improved since starting your career?
The answer to this question should inform the interviewer you have some project management abilities. This is your opportunity to discuss how developed your time-management skills are and how you continue to improve those. Your answer should also reflect on how well you handle demanding projects.
Example: “Before I begin any work, I set aside some time to prioritize what tasks need to be done right away, and follow my list, doing the most time-sensitive parts first. Using this process has kept me on time and continues to improve my time-management skills.”
5. What resources do you use to keep up with the newest engineering technology and developments?
Many engineering fields continually change and update with the invention of new tools and software. By answering this question, you are letting the interviewer know if you stay up to date with technology and how you proactively improve your skills. Your answer should tell about your willingness to learn new engineering technology and concepts, and how adaptable you are to new processes.
Example: “I have a subscription to several authoritative engineer journals and I’m an active participant in a few engineer-based Slack chat rooms. I gain quite a bit of knowledge by reading blogs and articles on the latest research and staying in contact with peers in an environment outside of work.”
6. What kind of safety procedures do you have in place for when you check your engineering work for mistakes? Do the procedures ensure that you don’t overlook any mistakes?
This question gives you the chance to show how serious you are about safety measures at work and how you would minimize potential issues. A good answer will explain your knowledge of safety standards for your engineering specialization and will show your drive to keep projects safe.
Example: “My engineering solution has features to constantly check for mistakes or errors, and I always triple-check any measurements or math that I’m working with. Whether I’m rushing to meet deadlines or not, I get a fellow engineer to check my work before marking it as complete. Implementing these steps makes it easy to ensure there aren’t any mistakes.”
Companies have different policies and values, and an interview should be beneficial to you. The questions asked in the interview should give you a good idea if that company is the right place to work for you. When you’re done answering the interviewer’s questions, ask a few of your own questions before accepting the position.
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