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5 System Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

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What is your process for conflict resolution within a team setting?


A system engineer often has to work with a team to analyze and address system and software issues. There are many times when individual members of a team may disagree on solutions. Yet, problems to solutions do not occur in a bubble. The candidate should convey an awareness of the risks and demands when working with a team. What to look for in an answer:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Diplomacy in conflict resolution
  • A proven process for conflict resolution


"I like to acknowledge the conflict, and then get everyone to agree to resolve the conflict effectively. I strive to work well with teams to ensure the good of the company. "


What do you think are the pros and cons of cloud computing?


The work of a system engineer can change on a daily basis. Some projects require more resources than others. With cloud computing, engineers can have systems and processes in place that are flexible enough to respond to demand. With this in mind, it's also important to understand where on-premise solutions are more cost-effective, secure and reliable. In reality, a hybrid environment of the cloud and on-premise is the best option. What to look for in an answer:

  • A comprehensive understanding of cloud computing
  • Calmness in conveying both pros and cons
  • Experience with cloud computing


"Cloud computing is not ideal for major IoT deployments, but it is ideal as a backup source of storage as it increases flexibility."


Often, system engineers are asked to give presentations about how systems or software platforms work. How do you go about explaining technical details to a non-technical audience?


It seems easy enough, but it requires an in-depth understanding in order to make the discussion more palatable to those who do not share an engineering background. You want to see if the applicant has experience giving presentations, and if they perform audience research beforehand to ensure the information is relevant. Effective presentation skills are also critical in terms of advising company shareholders on the necessary hardware and software for meeting the organization's needs. What to look for in an answer:

  • Willingness to research and learn what the audience already knows about the topic
  • Ability to define what the non-technical presentation should accomplish
  • Ability to summarize the important points


"I had to give presentations to relevant stakeholders in my last job. I always perform audience research to figure out what they already know. After that, I give a summary of the critical points."


What is your process for troubleshooting failed systems or websites?


This is where you can learn how the candidate defines the problem and approaches the problem statement. You also want them to have an understanding of requirements analysis, system analysis control, functional analysis/allocation and design synthesis. While there isn't a standard definition for troubleshooting, these are the types of processes commonly used. Furthermore, you want to determine if they have the ability to alter the processes to fit the exact need of the moment. What to look for in an answer:

  • Experience looking for problems with design
  • Possession of a design notebook
  • Understanding of how to create the right problem statement


"I often ask many questions around what the problem may be and why it needs solving before moving to the SE process. Ensuring that systems run like well-oiled machines is the most important part of my job, and I may need to change the process to solve the particular problem."


Which books and websites do you use to keep up with the latest technologies in the systems engineering field?


Systems engineering requires out-of-the-box thinking and a tailored approach to every issue. In addition, technology changes every several months or every year. To ensure only the most efficient approaches are taken, you want a candidate who is up to speed with the latest trends in systems engineering. It would be a boost if you have a candidate who has contributed content to systems engineering websites. An applicant who values continuing education will also be better equipped to make logical suggestions around improvements. What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to answer specifically
  • Willingness to learn
  • Value of continuing education


"I read systems and computing publications regularly and keep up to date with all my necessary certifications."

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