Common Engineering Interview Questions (What you need to know)

Going through a list of common engineering interview questions before an interview is a great way to prepare. Interviews can be hard and intimidating if you do not know what you are doing. However, if you walk in knowing you have prepared a great answer to 80% of their questions they will ask, you can fill confident.

Going through common engineering interview questions also helps you brainstorm experiences, situations, and stories. When your interviewer asks you a question you did not expect, having these experiences on the tip of your tongue will help you quickly develop an answer.

To help you will all your common engineering interview questions, we will look at the following in this article:

  1. A few tricky common engineering interview questions and how you should and should not answer them.

  2. Some guidance on how to come up with the right answers to all of your interview questions.

  3. A list of the most common engineering interview questions for entry-level engineers.

Common Engineering Interview Questions and Answers

There are a handful of important interview questions that are guaranteed to come up in any interview. Some people can nail these questions while others completely ruin their chances at getting a job offer.

Because these questions can be tricky, I have listed some common bad answers, some good answers and explained what makes a good answer.

Common Question No. 1: Why do you want to work for [insert name] company?

Bad answers to this question generally have nothing to do with that specific company or position. Good answers show why you want to work at that exact company and in that exact position. You need to make the company feel like the job they are offering is your dream job. Let’s take a look at a couple of answers.

Bad Answer No. 1: I just need a job.

This answer just stinks of desperation. It basically says, “please hire me because no one else will”. That is not the person that people want to hire. Companies what the great engineer who everyone is fighting to get. Not the engineer who has been left on the clearance isle with a 90% markdown sticker.

Good Answer: I have followed this company and the type of engineering it does for several years and I know this company is very well respected inside the engineering community. From what I know of the company culture here, I feel that I would fit in very well. The specific job position matches the skills where I excel and aligns with where I would like my engineering career to go.

Common Question No. 2:

What is your greatest weakness?

Bad answers to this question revolve around the “red flag” rule. If you say anything too bad, it will disqualify you from the position. Secondly, your answer should not involve any of the hard or soft skills listed in the job positing. A good answer on the other hand is honest and something that will not affect your job performance or your ability to fit into the group.

Bad Answer No. 2: Temper.

Not just temper, it can be any of the red flags discussed. There are some answers to this question that will immediately kill your interview. Examples are temper, disorganized, lazy, poor communicator, cannot work in teams, and so on.

Good Answer: My greatest weakness is that public speaking is difficult for me. However, I recognize this is a weakness and it is something I am working on. I have joined Toastmasters which gives me the opportunity to practice public speaking and I am becoming more comfortable with it.

A weakness is only a weakness if it is something you are not working to fix.

Common Question No. 3:

Describe what you have been doing since graduation?

This question comes up if there is a break between graduation and your interview. The break could be a month or a year. A bad answer shows that you have done nothing since graduation. A good answer demonstrates how you have continued to grow your skill set. It also provides a reasonable excuse for the absence, like caring for a family member or searching for a job in a particular city if applicable.

Bad Answer No. 2: Applying for Jobs.

This answer tells your interviewer that no one wants to hire you. You can say this but it needs to be phased differently and combined with additional information. See the Good Answer for how to do this.

Good Answer: I have kept the job I had during school while searching for the right engineering position. I really want to work in the automotive industry and so I have kept my career search limited to this specific field. Since graduation, I have been volunteering with the local professional chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers to stay engaged with the engineering community.

If the gap has been longer than three months, I would include an explanation of why there is the gap.

Common Question No. 4: I see you are not from here, what made you interested in a job in “fill in blank” City?

This question comes up if you are applying for a job in a new city that would require you to relocate. Company’s like to hire local people. So if you are apply for entry-level positions in another city, you should make it known that you are looking to relocate for more reasons than just the job.

Bad Answer No. 1: Just saw the job posting.

This is a bad answer because it does not include anything special about the specific City. Why would someone want to move 1,000 miles to take an entry level job in Fort Bend, Indiana? The answer stinks of desperation and will turn your interviewer off.

Good Answer (1): I have family that lives in the City and I have been looking for jobs in that specific area so I can be closer to them.

Good Answer (2): I have friends that moved to the City recently and they have fallen in love with it. The convinced me I should try to relocate here.

Right Answers for Every Common Engineering Interview Question

I cannot give you the right answer to every common engineering interview question because the answers should be personal. Your answer needs to be a true reflection of you and your experience and personality. However, I can provide guidance on how to draft good answers to all the engineering interview questions you will face.

Start with the Job Positing:

The job posting is literally a description of what the perfect employee would look like—what experience, skills and personality traits the hiring manager is looking for in their new hire. You just have to see where you match with what the company is looking for, and stress those common areas in your interview answers.

Drafting Answers:

You select answers to interview questions based on which skills and traits you want to highlight about yourself. By starting with the job posting, you can choose to highlight the skills that the company Is looking for.

For your soft skills, you will probably notice words in the job posting like: attention to detail, communication skills, team-oriented, self-motivated, analytical, etc. When you think of examples and scenarios to interview questions, make sure those examples and scenarios demonstrate how you possess the soft skills mentioned in the job posting.

If hard skills like modeling software are listed in the job posting, make sure you highlight that you have that skill in one of your interview answers.

If you are applying for a Transportation Engineering position and the job posting lists experience, make sure you highlight your experience in your interview answers. If you don’t have any job experience in that field, one or two of your answers should revolve around a class you took related to the subject. You want to show that you match as closely to the job posting as possible.

If you use the job posting as your guide when drafting answers, you should be able to answer all the engineering interview questions you face correctly.

Most Common Engineering Interview Questions

Here are some common engineering interview questions that you may see. Be sure to draft and practice each question before you head off to your interview.

Opening Questions

1. Tell us about yourself. (answer should be 3-5 minutes long).

2. What made you apply for this position?

3. Tell us about your experiences in school

4. What were some of your favorite classes?

5. How has your education prepared you for a career?

6. Describe what you have been doing since graduation?

Credential Verification Questions

7. What did /are you getting your degree in?

8. What is/was your GPA?

9. Tell us about your internship

10. What is your previous work experience?

11. Describe your last job. What responsibilities did you have?

12. Tell us about [insert experience] listed on your resume

Opinion Questions

13. What are your greatest strengths?

14. What are your greatest weaknesses?

15. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

16. Why do you want to work for [insert name] company?

17. Why did you choose this career path?

18. What made you want to go into engineering?

19. What motivates you?

Behavioral and Competency Questions

20. Describe a time you made a mistake. How did you handle it?

21. Tell us about a time you had to work with a difficult person.

22. Tell us about a time you had to work with a difficult team.

23. Tell us about a time you had to meet a big deadline. How did you handle it?

24. Tell us about a time you had to work with a team. What role in the team did you play?

25. Tell us about a time you had to motivate someone.

26. Describe a situation in which you had to solve a difficult problem. How did you go about doing it?

27. Describe a time you had to think outside the box.

28. Tell us about a time you had to help someone else

29. How do you handle pressure? Provide an example.

30. What are your career goals?

31. Describe a project you had to work on. How did it go?

32. How well do you work with others?

33. Tell us about a time you were not able to meet someone’s expectations.

34. What experiences do you have that relate to this job?

35. How would you describe the pace at which you would like to work?

36. How would you handle it if you knew your boss was wrong?

37. How would you handle it if you knew someone was doing something unethical?

38. What major challenges have you faced? How did you handle them?

39. Describe a situation in which you dealt with a confrontation

40. What is your usual role within a team?

41. How do you manage your time? Tell us about a time when you had to manage your time around a lot of tasks.

42. Give an example of when you showed initiative.

43. What are some of your hobbies?

44. Who else have you applied with?

45. Do you have any questions for us?

Additional Information to Help Your Engineering Career

Good luck in your interview, we hope you ace it and get the job you want!

Looking for more resources for your entry-level engineering job hunt, check out:

Our Free Guide for Entry-Level Engineers: The Winning Entry-Level Resume

From the blog:

The Right Engineering Interview Questions to Ask

Engineering Resume Tips – Add to the Awesomeness

The Power of LinkedIn for Entry-Level Engineers