8 Tricky Engineering Interview Questions & How To Answer Them

Interview questions seem obvious and easy, a question like ‘tell me about yourself’ seems to be an easy to tackle question but then your response should not be as easy as the question comes. Each question, no matter how easy or obvious it may seem, should be answered in the context in which it is asked. This is to mean that in as much as these questions sound similar or simple, the interviewer expects to hear a response that shows you are suitable to help solve his or her specific problem. Not all interview questions are simple, some can be quite challenging and even smart candidates could find some interviews really tough. Engineering interviews are for instance not easy to handle.

It is important to prepare for any kind of interview, whether an engineering interview or any other, this makes you have your focus on the interview psychologically for a while and gives you an opportunity to go through interview questions to expect as well as possible responses. This article will help you know some of the tricky interview questions and how to respond to each.

Engineering interviews are very complex and the engineering interview processes are much more complex. However, with good preparation and confidence, you might find it smooth. Here are some of the interview questions to expect at an engineering interview with guidelines on how to respond to them. Go through your experience and relate that experience to the job description. Your experience is the highlight of who you are and what you are made of, what you can do.  Research about the company you are hoping to work with as this will help you know how to structure your answers.

Key skills for an engineering position

An engineer is one who is expected to be very dependable and hardworking, demonstrating deep knowledge of the field and the specific specialized skills. An engineer is key to delivering all major results and products of a company. Engineers must be very keen in following guidelines and procedures as safety and good execution of guidelines is very key in engineering work. For employers therefore, there are key skills that are very necessary for an interview candidate to have. Having these skills helps you as an interview candidate to also know how to go about preparing for an interview.

Creative Thinking

As you have to be very smart and creative as an engineer as creativity makes you innovative. When you are creative, you are able to handle projects best and you even enjoy working. Engineering projects require technical and smart solutions so be smart.

Mechanical and Practical Abilities

Engineering calls for one to have the ability to implement projects and mechanical concepts. Ability to understand and be good in implementation is key.

Problem solving skills

Engineers are key problem solvers. They are expected to come up with solutions to sometimes very complex situations. You need innovative and good problem solving skills to handle day-to-day work. You cannot imagine being unable to offer solutions to issues in your hands.

Team Working Skills

Engineers are related to keeping to themselves or being loners. However, to be effective in handling your work as an engineer, you need to work with other very key team players. Be good at working with fellow engineers as well. Your work is important to the entire company and thus, teamwork is important. Hardly do employers want to hire engineers who never relate with others at work, therefore so that you are a team player.

Project Management Skills

You are an engineer because you manage projects. You therefore need good project management skills, important in handling company projects from the beginning to the very end. From basic skills such as time management to complex one such as analyzing skills, all equally matter for an engineering job so prove good mastery of project management in the interview.

Communication Skills

Engineering work involves plenty of talking apparently, even as most engineers are termed as introverts. As an engineer, you need to explain the projects and the key procedures to your superiors, co-engineers, stakeholders and all relevant parties. This definitely calls for engineers to have good communication skills as one wrong word could mean something totally different and wrong.

Tips to help you in preparing for an engineering interview

In an engineering interview, expect three major types of questions. The three types are motivational questions, behavioral questions and research questions. Motivational questions allow your interviewer to know you better as you also get the opportunity to show your interest in the position. With behavioral questions, the interviewer relates your previous experience to the job description at hand for you to bring out its relevance. Research-based questions at an organization aim at testing your understanding of the role and the company.

For any engineering position, ability to strictly follow rules and procedure is not optional. This is very key. Therefore, as you tackle interview questions, make strict reference to questions in the order the questions were asked. Adherence to strict order of instructions tells a lot about you as an engineer.

Another important tip for an engineering interview candidate is, find out as much as you can about the company. Every company hires employees so as to solve a certain problem. Find out as much as you can about the position as well. This way, you are able to relate the knowledge you have to the questions asked so as to boost your responses.

Be smart and neat as you appear for the interview. Engineering is not just any mere position but is a crucial one for any industry. Prepare to impress with your first impression. Try and have a formal outfit that brings you out as a serious candidate. No matter how much you know, first impressions really count in any interview as the interviewer will quickly develop some judgement about you from appearance.

Interview Questions And How To Respond To Them


Tell me about yourself

This comes as the first question in many interviews, to create rapport for the interviewer and the interviewee to know each other. Simple salutation works as the interviewee walks  in and with this question, the interviewer wants to know something about you that is of help to the position you are interviewing for and also something about you that makes you suitable. Answer this question in relation to the position, mentioning a few job requirement skills. Don’t just answer about your hobbies and experience that would not highlight key areas that are relevant to the position. How you respond to this question will have the interview already have a judgement of you. Respond to get the interviewer’s attention.

As an engineering interviewee, include relevant work experience as a key highlight in your response. Talk about the company’s products, software, systems and relate them to your experience. Avoid repeating what is already in your resume as that is information that the interviewer already knows, focus more on relating what is in your resume with the company objectives and the job description.

What is your greatest weakness?

In this question, the interviewer is testing you and mostly, it is advised that in response, you make an extreme positive thing about you to be a weakness. Tell the interviewer an issue you are dealing with. The response  should come out as what it is you are going through, how the issue has affected your work before and how you are dealing with it or working to improve the condition or situation.

Why do you want to work here?

This is a question that can freak you out if you are not properly prepared for the interview. When asked this question, have a response that expresses your interest in the company. Go through the company website and details before attending the interview. This question seeks to prove whether you have done your homework in getting to know the company you wish to work for. Highlight the company’s main business and say how your skill, knowledge and experience would help the company achieve its mission. You could also include how you feel the company would help you grow, as this makes the future employer feel valuable.

Another very impactful way of answering this question is by identifying the main problem that the company intends to solve by advertising for this specific position. This you can get from the job description. With that, frame your answer to show the employer that you are the solution to the problem.   

Tell me about a time when you failed    

None of us like to recall bad moments like failure and when an interviewer poses this question, their intention is to find out how you can handle tough situations and regain your focus back to work. This question is an opportunity to show the future employer that you acknowledge failure. Mention a situation that brought you down, how you reacted to the situation and bring it out to have a good ending. Show that you learnt from your mistake and fully understand that you were at fault. 

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

The fact that you are there applying for a job you hope to have, makes this question very hard to answer. However, there are smart ways to go around it in line with your dreams and fitting the company’s existence. For the interviewer, this question will tell them how realistic and focused you are in terms of the career and field you want to get into. This question also helps the interviewer to know whether you are there to walk the company’s journey. Answer this question explaining what you hope to achieve in the next five years, do not stop at your achievements but show the interviewer how your achievements will help the company goals.

Describe yourself in one word?

With this question, the interviewer wants to know how you think of yourself. It will mainly help them know your personality and will mainly be followed by a follow up question such as ‘why that?’ Therefore give the best description of yourself that suits the job description and what the company is looking for.

You could describe yourself as optimistic or passionate. Search terms are easy to explain and cut across various roles and duties of a professional. Remember an interview is an opportunity to sell yourself so don’t shy away.

Why did you leave your previous job?

Expect this question at almost all job interviews. Employers want to know if the reason you left your previous job was your own wrongdoing. It is advisable to be very honest when answering this question as this creates trust between you and your future boss. Avoid telling lies on this one as it is easy for employers to tell if you are lying, they have experience dealing with these types of questions. No employer wants to hire someone who was fired for mistrust and who is lying to their face even at an interview. You may lie during the interview and your referees happen to tell a different story or they learn through other networks. Honesty creates trust and again, some mistakes are reasonable and honest mistakes. You never know but stick to honesty.

If you happen to have messed up at a previous job and you encounter this question at your engineering job interview, prepare to answer it prior by writing down your response and then seeking advice from colleagues, online or mentors.

How do you deal with pressure at work?

For an engineer, pressure is part of the job. From tough projects to strict deadlines, engineers must always deliver under strict conditions. Another tricky aspect about engineering is that even as it is complex, engineering must deliver good results and nothing less. So when hired, how will you deal with pressure at work? This question is a test of attitude and to bring out your passion in the field of engineering. Responding to this question requires you to tell of your experiences delivering good results under stress and pressure.