If you are looking for entry-level engineering interview questions, it means you have an interview! That’s great. Are you prepared for it? Preparing for an interview is like practicing for a big game. How can you expect to win if you do not practice?
This article will walk you through some common entry-level engineering interview questions you can expect to see, and how you should prepare for them.
Preparing for the Entry-Level Engineering Interview Questions
Graduate engineers are often at a loss at how to prepare for entry-level engineering interviews. While there are many ways you need to prepare, this article focuses on prepare for the interview questions. Interview questions will consist of the largest part of your interview.
To prepare how you are going to answer interview questions, you first need to know what they are going to ask you. At the end of this article, we provided the 45 most common entry-level engineering interview questions. To prepare for these questions, go through the following steps.
Interview Preparation Steps:
Start with the list of common engineering interview questions at the end of this article.
Write down a good response to each question. Your answer should follow the guidance provided in the How to Answer Entry Level Engineering Interview Questions section.
When you come up with answers, try to use your engineering classes, assignments, professional organizations and internship experiences to answer the questions. If you cannot answer the questions from those, use other recent experiences. The more recent the experience, the better (i.e. not from high school).
Your answers should be positive and highlight your strengths that appeal to the position.
After you have a written down a response to each question, start memorizing your responses. You don’t have to remember the responses verbatim, but you should be able to deliver them confidently without taking a lot of time to think or remember your response.
After you have memorized them, practice, practice, practice! Have your parent ask you the interview questions. Have your roommate ask you the interview questions. Ask yourself the interview questions and record your responses on your computer.
The more you practice, the better you will be at delivering the answers during the actual interview. You should be able to deliver the answers without the answers sounding nervous, scripted, or rehearsed.
Even if you are a question not on the entry-level engineering interview questions list, the experiences, and situations you thought of for the practiced answers will provide you with great material. Using that information, you should easily be able to come up with a good answer on the spot.
How to Answer Entry-Level Engineering Interview Questions
The right answers to engineering interview questions do two things:
They do not give the interviewer any “red flags” about you.
They show the interviewer that you align perfectly with the position.
The Right Answers to Interview Questions
Before you start developing your interview questions, you need to read through the job posting and highlight all the keywords you see. The job posting will give you insight into exactly the type of person the company wants to hire.
What does the job posting say about working in teams vs. independently, personality traits, soft skills, and technical skills?
After reading many entry-level engineering job postings, these are the most common characteristics I have seen:
How you work: Be able to work independently and as part of a team.
Personality: Be positive and excited.
Soft Skills: Problem solving, effective communication (written and verbal), time management, and multitasking.
Technical Skills: Vary by position. If you have technical skills listed in the job posting, be sure to include that information during your interview.
When you start writing out your answers to the entry-level engineering interview questions, be sure to keep all these things in mind.
Red Flag Interview Answers
When interviewers ask you questions, they are trying to gage what it would be like to work with you. While they are looking for the good traits above, they are looking for any “red flags” against you.
To not give off any red flags during your interview, make sure your answers do not give off the impression that you are:
Do not work well in teams
Have a temper
Do not communicate well
Not excited about the specific company
Not excited about the position
After all of your answers are written out, re-read each interview answer to make sure there is no way it can be taken as any of the above.
Common Entry-Level Engineering Interview Questions
Below is a list of the most common entry level engineering interview questions that you will see. The questions have been broken down by their specific type.
1. Tell us about yourself. (Answer should be no more than 3 or 4 minutes)
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
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?
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. Tell us about a time you had to solve a very technically challenging problem. What was the result?
35. How would you describe the pace at which you 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?
46. Brainteaser Questions (There are too many to list. For these questions, the most important thing is to provide logical support for how you came up with your answer)
Engineering Interview Answers to Avoid
I cannot give you the right answer to all of the typical entry-level engineering interview questions because the answers are personal. The answer needs to a true reflection of you and your experiences.
However, here are some of the trickier questions and examples of bad answers I have seen. These are answers that have steered people’s interviews right off a cliff without the person even knowing it.
Question No. 1: Why do you want to work for [insert name] company?
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 No. 1: 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.
Question No. 2: What is your greatest weakness?
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 No. 2: My greatest weakness is that I tend to be an introvert. This makes public speaking for me difficult. 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.
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.
Bad Answer No. 3: 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 No. 3: I have kept the job I had during school while searching for the right engineering position. I have also been volunteering with the local professional chapter of the American Water Work Association 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.
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.
Bad Answer No. 4: 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 4a: 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 4b: I have friends that moved to the City recently and they have fallen in love with it.
They convinced me I should try to relocate here.
Good Luck in Your Interview
If you follow the steps in this article and develop answers to all the entry level engineering interview questions, then you ready. So relax and have fun with the interview. We know you will do great!
If you want to dig deeper, check out our free guide: The Winning Entry-Level Engineering Resume. This guide is made for entry-level engineers who want a better resume and more job offers. Get it for free by signing up below.
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