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Questions to Expect at an Engineering Job Interview

Peter Vogt/Monster Senior Contributing Writer

September 08, 2009




When Jeanne Knight’s husband was recently interviewing for a mechanical engineering job, he was asked what the letters “E” and “I” stood for in a bending equation for a structural beam.

Once he correctly replied “modulus of elasticity” (E) and “moment of inertia” (I), he then had to explain what each of the concepts meant.

“Hiring managers will ask these types of questions to find out if the candidate is a true practicing mechanical engineer or a paper pusher — one relegated to writing reports and doing documentation,” says Knight, a career coach who has worked with mechanical engineers as clients.

First and foremost, engineering interviewers want to determine what type of engineer you really are, or what you do best, according to Maureen Crawford Hentz, manager of talent acquisition, development and compliance for Osram Sylvania.

In her own hiring role, Crawford Hentz asks candidates what types of mechanical engineering tasks they’re most interested in. “A bad answer is ‘anything,’” she says.

“There are people who understand process manufacturing, and there are people on the bench, drawing products or designing larger systems,” says Crawford Hentz, who in her previous job as director of career services at Wentworth Institute of Technology prepared about-to-be college graduates for engineering interviews. “A bench engineer is significantly different from someone out on the floor. A bench engineer has a pencil in his hand, while a floor engineer has a screwdriver.”

What else will the typical engineering interviewer try to assess about you? Here’s a quick look at key questions you’ll face, using mechanical engineering to illustrate what you might expect across other engineering disciplines.

Photo: iBjorn/Flickr (CC)


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