Top 25 Engineering Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

By Mike Simpson

Getting a call from the hiring manager is exciting. It’s a big ego boost to hear that they loved your resume and want to meet you. But it also means that you’re about to face off against tough engineering interview questions and answers, and that can be scary.

Luckily, you’re taking an important step. What step is that? Why coming here to learn about engineering interview questions and how to tackle them, of course.

So, if you want to rock your next engineering interview, here’s what you need to know.

How to Answering Engineering Interview Questions

Alright, we know you’re chomping at the bit for the engineering interview questions and answers, and we promise we are getting to that. But before we get to that, let’s talk about how you should go about answering engineering interview questions in the first place.

With any interview, you need a reliable strategy for crafting responses to what the hiring manager asks. Even if you do a ton of preparation, there’s always a chance the hiring manager is going to throw something unexpected at you. If you don’t have a strategy in place, dealing with that is difficult, to say the least.

However, if you do have a strategy, you can navigate tricky terrain with greater ease. That’s why knowing how to answer engineering interview questions is so important.

At the core of every solid approach is research. Not only do you want to go over the engineering job description with a fine-tooth comb, but you also want to do that several times. Review the required skills and experience list. Look for any repeating mentions that could indicate a capability is high-priority. Read any details the ad shares about the company, particularly those that give you clues about the organization’s culture.

After that, head to the company’s website. Learn about its products or services, and check out its mission and values statements.

Finally, take a trip to its social media profiles. There, you can usually find out more about the company’s culture, as well as recent achievements.

At that point, you have a lot of information about the job and the company. Now, you need to apply what you’ve learned. How? Keep reading to find out.

During your meeting with the hiring manager, you’re going to face a few types of questions. First, you’ll encounter general job interview questions. These fan favorites can pop up during any interview, including those for engineering jobs. It features classics like:

In the end, you need to be ready for the classics because there’s a good chance at least a few of them will come up.

Beyond that, you’ll also get some job-specific questions. These pertain to the exact engineering role you’re trying to land.

But that’s not all; questions can also be straightforward or behavioral. The straightforward ones usually focus on whether you have a particular skill. In many cases, they can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” However, you never want to stop at a one-word answer.

If you can say “yes,” then dig deeper. How? By using the Tailoring Method.

The Tailoring Method is all about finding ways to make your responses relevant. You may want to share an example from your work history that backs up your “yes” and also aligns with the position you’re trying to get. With that approach, you position yourself as a better match, which is what interviewing should be all about.

How do you pick a relevant example? Well, you think about all of that research and identify a career highlight that matches the required skills, company culture, or similar priorities.

Behavioral interview questions are a little trickier. These usually involve real-world scenarios and, sometimes, theoretical situations. You can’t answer with “yes” or “no.” Plus, there isn’t technically a right or wrong answer, making them even harder to navigate.

If you’re dealing with behavioral interview questions, then take advantage of the STAR Method, too. When you combine that with the Tailoring Method and all of that research you did, your answers are engaging and relevant, which is what you want.

Top 3 Engineering Interview Questions

Alright, it’s time for what you’ve been waiting for: the top engineering interview questions and answers.

Now, it’s important to note that there are lots of different types of engineers. There are more than a dozen college majors that relate to engineering, and each of them can have a slew of specialty engineering jobs inside of their categories.

Why does that matter? Well, because not all engineering questions apply to each of them. For example, even though they are both engineers, you wouldn’t ask a software engineer about road construction, and you wouldn’t ask a civil engineer about writing code.

However, some of the engineering interview questions people encounter could apply to multiple specialties. They are simply a bit more universal or only require a slight tweak to fit different jobs.

With these questions and example answers, we tried to focus on options that the largest number of engineering candidates may encounter. With that in mind, here are the top three engineering interview questions and answers.

1. What is the most challenging engineering project you dealt with? How did you ensure it was a success?

This multi-part question requires a specific example. Ideally, you want to choose a project that mirrors the kind of work you’d do in this role if hired, allowing you to showcase yourself as a great fit.

Additionally, don’t forget to talk about why the project was challenging. If you gloss over that point, you could miss the mark.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“One of the most challenging projects I encountered in my last position involved a historic bridge. We had to balance structural safety and function with preservation, ensuring that the end result maintained the original look and feel, as well as critical historical components, while shoring it up to meet safety standards.

To make the project a success, I worked closely with historical preservationists to learn more about the bridge and its significance. Additionally, I dug into the bridge’s history, exploring descriptions and photos to see how the bridge looked over time.

After conducting my research, I was able to create a plan that implemented modern structural improvements while preserving critical aspects of the façade. While it took extra time and diligence, the outcome met everyone’s needs and allowed a historic bridge to remain a part of the landscape.”

MIKE'S TIP: Not sure what your “most challenging” project was? That’s okay! The most important part of picking one is choosing an example that showcases you can get through a difficult situation. Any project that had a clear obstacle or unique aspect to navigate can do the trick, so choose an example that’s highly relevant to the role that fits that bill.

2. What processes do you use to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes?

Mistakes in an engineering position can be detrimental. At times, it prevents what’s being worked on from operating properly. In worst-case scenarios, it introduces safety issues, structural failures, or other dangerous situations.

Hiring managers want to know that you are dedicated to avoiding errors, so they ask questions like this one. Ideally, you want to outline any checks you use to review your own work for accuracy.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“When I’m working on a project or assignment, I take several steps to ensure there aren’t any errors in the end result. First, I always recheck my work as I go, using both a visual review and software tools designed to identify issues.

Second, I’ll get insight from a trusted colleague or other project members. At times, a second set of eyes can spot issues you may have accidentally overlooked or that the software misses. While problems at this point are rare, I find that it’s a practical step for ensuring accuracy.

Finally, before any work is turned in, I give it another review. Ideally, I set the project down for a moment, even if it’s brief. That way, when I return, I can look at it through fresher eyes, increasing the odds that, if there is an issue, I’ll spot it.”

3. What steps do you take to keep your engineering skills current?

Many engineering disciplines evolve over time. Hiring managers want to know that you take ownership of your career and actively strive to stay current.

EXAMPLE ANSWER:

“Maintaining and augmenting my skill set is very important to me. As a result, I’ve embraced several approaches to ensure I stay on top of new developments.

First, I am a member of a professional engineering association. Not only do they share industry news, but they also host conferences where new developments are discussed.

Second, I follow industry leaders on social media, belong to several email newsletters, and have a curated RSS feed. This keeps me apprised of recent headlines and intriguing trends.

Finally, one of my most important steps is continuing education. Once an emerging trend begins to take hold, I seek out formal educational opportunities focused on the subject. That way, I can get my footing early, ensuring I’m ready the moment my employer decides to move forward with it.”

22 More Engineering Interview Questions

As mentioned above, different engineering specialties may encounter different questions. As a result, some of the ones on this list might be relevant to you, while others may target another niche.

Here are 27 more engineering interview questions you may be asked, depending on your specialty:

    1. Why did you choose to become an engineer?
    2. What about this job attracted you?
    3. What do you know about our company?
    4. Which part of engineering is your favorite? What about your least favorite?
    5. Have you identified and implemented any process improvements that led to cost reductions?
    6. Tell me about a project where you had to personally deal with an especially difficult client. What steps did you take to navigate the situation and ensure the project was a success?
    7. Do you currently hold any patents? Do you have any patents in the works, or are you interested in pursuing some in the future?
    8. What software applications are you familiar with?
    9. Tell me about a time when you were working with a cross-departmental team, and something went awry.
    10. Can you tell me about a project that fell behind schedule? What happened, and what was the outcome of the project?
    11. Which of your traits make you a stronger engineer? Do any of your traits hold you back?
    12. Do you have a security clearance that would allow you to work on sensitive, secret, or classified government projects?
    13. Tell me the difference between the Vissim and Corsim models.
    14. What programming languages do you prefer? Why do those appeal to you?
    15. Are there any programming languages you try to avoid? If so, what do you do when you have to use them?
    16. Tell me about a time when you used your design skills to solve an issue.
    17. What has been your biggest engineering success?
    18. Can you tell me about the most challenging technical report you ever had to create?
    19. What engineering tasks do you enjoy most?
    20. What steps do you take to maintain a safe work environment?
    21. Tell me about a time where you made a mistake. What happened, and what did you do to fix it?
    22. Can you tell me about your best manager and why you thought they were great? What about your worst?

5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of an Engineering Interview

When your interview is drawing to a close, you get handed an opportunity. The hiring manager is going to ask if you have any questions for them, and your answer to that better be a resounding “yes.”

While you can certainly think of questions to ask on the fly, it’s also good to have a few in your back pocket. That way, you won’t be caught without a question.

Why does not having a question matter? Mainly because it makes you look disinterested in the job. You aren’t trying to learn more, and, in the hiring manager’s eyes, that’s a bad sign.

A single hiring mistake can cost a company the equivalent of 30 percent of the position’s first-year earnings. Hiring managers really want to avoid a bad hire, so they won’t take a risk on someone who doesn’t seem enthusiastic and engaged.

If you aren’t sure what to ask, here are five good questions for the end of your engineering interview.

    1. Can you tell me what a typical day in this position looks like?
    2. What do your most successful engineers in this role have in common?
    3. What is the biggest challenge the company is facing right now? How can this position help solve it?
    4. If you had one piece of advice to give the new hire in this role that would propel them toward success, what would it be?
    5. What steps does the company take to stay on top of emerging trends and technologies that could impact this team?

Putting It All Together

By now, you should have a solid idea of how to navigate engineering interview questions in a way that helps you stand out. Use all of the tips and examples above to your advantage. That way, when it’s your turn to meet with a hiring manager for a new position, you’ll have an edge that can help you stand out from the competition.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.