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Civil Engineer Interview Questions

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  1. What made you decide to become a civil engineer? See answer
  2. Why do you want to work for our company? See answer
  3. What kind of personality traits do you believe a civil engineer needs to be successful? See answer
  4. How do you interact with clients? See answer
  5. What are the biggest challenges that you believe civil engineers face? See answer
  6. What do you believe should be the number-one priority for any civil engineer? See answer
  7. If a design flaw on a completed construction caused an accident, would you bring this to the attention of upper management? See answer
  8. How do you maintain a safe work environment? See answer
  9. Describe the ratio between M15 and M35.
  10. What is your process for testing the workability of concrete?
  11. What is a flange beam? How would you space stirrups for a flange beam?
  12. How much concrete do you need to fill 1,800 square feet of space?
  13. Do you have experience as a project manager?
  14. How would you describe the process of fatigue in buildings? Which structures are most susceptible to fatigue?
  15. Are you familiar with the various types of slump test indicators?
  16. Name five of the most common types of roofs.
  17. How would you prioritize your work if you had multiple ongoing projects?
  18. Design a water system for an underdeveloped area.
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8 Civil Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

What made you decide to become a civil engineer?

A:

This question allows candidates to explain their reasons for becoming a civil engineer. The answer will be unique to individuals and will give you insight into what inspired them to choose this career path.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A genuine answer that reflects a true passion for this career path
  • An unhurried reply that shows that the answer was well thought out

Example:


“I decided to become a civil engineer because of my father who is a Math teacher. As a child he shared his great love for solving mathematical equations and other types of puzzles with me. He was always asking me to look outside the box to solve each dilemma. He encouraged me to have a quizzical mind and to always explore not only how something was built but also how it worked. He inspired me to figure out if the design could be improved upon by utilizing a different means.”

Q:

Why do you want to work for our company?

A:

This question lets you see if the applicants have done their homework on the particular company. Before interviewing, it is critical that an applicant prepare to ask and answer questions relating to the company’s mission statement and priorities in accomplishing those goals.

What to look for in an answer:

  • An answer that shows that the applicant researched the company before applying
  • Details about the company that make it different from others
  • An answer that reflects the company’s mission statement

Example:


“I would like to work at HTWW Engineering because of the excellent reputation it has for doing a job efficiently, but also in a way that enhances the structure so that it represents the high standards of this company. Clients who employ this company should be confident that the work will be accomplished in a fastidious manner with attention to important details that will make the owner proud for many decades.”

Q:

What kind of personality traits do you believe a civil engineer needs to be successful?

A:

This question evaluates the ability of candidates to show that they understand the role and know what is necessary to be successful. This allows applicants to voice the traits that they believe are necessary for the job, as well as those required by senior management.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A thoughtful answer that encompasses what is necessary to do the job well
  • An answer that shows the individual is knowledgeable about the frustrations that can be present in this particular job
  • A well-rounded viewpoint about the pros and cons of the job

Example:


“I think that civil engineers need to have patience, flexibility and self-discipline to be successful. A deadline can be frustrating, particularly when there are many unexpected delays. But the occupation is extremely rewarding, and it takes a special type of person to excel in this field. Civil engineers have to consider state and local requirements, as well as the needs of the client.”

Q:

How do you interact with clients?

A:

This question helps the interviewer determine how the candidate will interact with clients who have many different temperaments and desires. If the civil engineer can’t communicate effectively with the client, an unhappy and dissatisfied relationship will result.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A truthful answer that lets you know the person’s strengths
  • An answer that shows the applicant knows the importance of maintaining good relationships with clients
  • An answer that doesn’t shy away from the fact that there are often conflicts between the client and engineer, but they must be handled professionally

Example:


“Clients play a critical role in the process, whether it is in the planning, design, construction, maintenance or operation of the infrastructure. Their input cannot be ignored or disrespected. At the same time, the engineer’s expertise must shine. I believe that my patience, knowledge and sincerity will help me during these interactions with clients.”

Q:

What are the biggest challenges that you believe civil engineers face?

A:

This is a great way to gauge whether the applicant is aware of the latest trends in the industry.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A honest person will readily admit that there are challenges in all jobs
  • Look for work ethics that reflect the company’s values
  • Listen for clues in how the applicant would resolve the conflict

Example:


“In my opinion, the biggest challenge that civil engineers face is dealing with clients who want to take shortcuts in order to get the job done on time. Persuading the client that taking shortcuts is not only unethical but can also be dangerous is sometimes a difficult task. It is imperative to gain their cooperation in order to protect the integrity of the company so that it remains a viable leader in the industry.”

Q:

What do you believe should be the number-one priority for any civil engineer?

A:

This answer shows what would be the main priority to the applicant and displays how well he or she is aware of the most important job qualifications.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Look for an answer that reflects the company’s values and mission statement
  • Listen for sincerity as the applicant discusses the priority
  • Watch for hesitancy. An honest answer typically is easy for the applicant to formulate if he or she has given the matter much thought.

Example:


“I believe that protecting the health of the public and environment should be utmost in the mind of civil engineers. In doing so, they also protect the reputation and respectability of their employer.”

Q:

If a design flaw on a completed construction caused an accident, would you bring this to the attention of upper management?

A:

This answer gives the interviewer insight into the character of the applicant and lets you know if the applicant is right for the job.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Look for a straight forward answer that is given without hesitation
  • Listen for sincerity in the individual’s answer
  • A person with a strong work ethic should know the right thing to do in this scenario

Example:


“I would bring the situation to the attention of senior management as soon as possible. This is because the liability is an ethical issue, and the company has the obligation to be held accountable. Another factor is that it can be a learning experience for the company, so that similar errors are not made in the future, thus protecting the longevity of the company in this industry.”

Q:

How do you maintain a safe work environment?

A:

Some civil engineers work exclusively on building and city designs in office settings, but many civil engineers also go out into the field to supervise construction projects. Ensuring the civil engineer you hire understands the importance of construction site safety and will adhere to it protects your company and your employees from injury and lawsuit.

Look for a candidate answer that includes:

  • Acknowledgment of the importance of worksite safety
  • Clear understanding of worksite regulations and guidelines
  • Respect for other employees

A strong candidate response might reflect this example answer:

Example:

"Safety on a construction site is my absolute top priority. Whenever I'm on a job site, the first thing I do is make sure I'm properly attired to set the expectations for the other employees on the job. Next, I look around to ensure all the workers have the right personal protective equipment, or PPE, on and that all tools and materials are safely stored. If construction employees don't have the necessary safety equipment, I ask the work supervisor to stop work until all employees are appropriately protected.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has clear guidelines for construction site safety, which I ensure are followed on the worksite."

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    Last updated: Apr 21, 2021