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22+ real-life interview questions for engineer roles

Whether you're seeking a Civil Engineer, Design Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, or Surveyor, this guide is a valuable tool to ensure that you ask the right questions and identify the most qualified candidates.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

interview questions for engineer roles

Dive into a curated collection of questions that go beyond the standard interview script, offering a glimpse into the practical challenges these professionals face on a day-to-day basis.

All of the following questions have been carefully selected by actual hiring managers.

Real-life civil engineer interview questions

A civil engineer is focused on conducting technical calculations, applying governing codes, preparing engineering drawings and specifications, specializing in a specific area of engineering, and demonstrating proficiency in various civil engineering design software tools.

These 4 questions have been handpicked by actual hiring managers:

  1. What is your experience in calculations and the application of governing codes?

This question inquires about the candidate’s experience in technical calculations and code compliance.

Sample answer: 

“I have over five years of experience in structural analysis and applying both local and international building codes to ensure project safety and compliance.”

  1. What is your experience with the preparation of engineering drawings and specifications?

This question asks about the candidate’s capability in preparing engineering drawings and specifications.

Sample answer:

“I’ve specialized in producing detailed engineering drawings and specifications for eight years, focusing on clarity and precision to facilitate efficient construction.”

  1. Tell us about the subject of engineering in which you have the most experience or education.

This question probes the candidate’s area of specialization within engineering.

Sample answer: 

“My primary focus is on transportation engineering, where I hold a master’s degree and have contributed to several urban infrastructure projects.”

  1. What design software do you have experience with?

This question seeks to understand the candidate’s familiarity with various design software used in civil engineering.

Sample answer:

“I am proficient in AutoCAD, Revit, and Civil 3D, having used these extensively for project design, modeling, and simulation over the past six years.”

Read more real-life civil engineer interview questions.

Real-life design engineer interview questions

A design engineer focuses on detailing technical projects, understanding design considerations in manufacturing processes, estimating production costs, and applying statics principles in design. It requires technical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of manufacturing methods.

Real hiring professionals have curated the following set of questions:

  1. Can you elaborate on one of the technical projects you’ve listed on your resume? Share details about the design process, challenges faced, and the technical knowledge you applied.

This question asks the candidate to discuss a specific technical project.

Sample answer: 

“In my last project, I designed a high-efficiency heat exchanger. The design process involved iterative simulations, addressing thermal efficiency challenges, and applying my knowledge in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.

  1. In your experience, what are some critical design considerations for various manufacturing processes? How do these considerations differ for additive manufacturing versus traditional machining methods?

This question explores the candidate’s understanding of design considerations for different manufacturing processes.

Sample answer: 

“Critical considerations include material selection and tolerances. For additive manufacturing, layer adhesion and resolution are key, whereas for machining, tool access and material removal rate are vital. Each method requires a unique approach to design and feasibility.”

  1. Could you provide an example of a project where you had to estimate the cost of a part’s production? What factors did you take into account, and how did you arrive at the cost estimate?

This question focuses on the candidate’s experience with cost estimation in manufacturing.

Sample answer: 

“For a custom gearbox project, I considered material costs, machining time, and labor. I used cost estimation software combined with historical data to arrive at a comprehensive cost estimate, ensuring accuracy and competitiveness.”

  1. Describe a situation where you applied principles of statics in a design project. What were the key calculations or analyses involved, and how did they impact your design decisions?

This question is about applying statics principles in a design project.

Sample answer: 

“In designing a bridge, I applied statistics to calculate force distribution and stress points. My analysis of beam deflection and stress concentration informed decisions on material selection and structural reinforcements, ensuring safety and durability.”

Read more real-life design engineer interview questions.

Real-life environmental engineer interview questions

An environmental engineer involves engaging in projects or coursework, sharing personal motivation and interests in the field, demonstrating initiative, solving complex problems, and collaborating effectively in a multidisciplinary environment, all within the realm of environmental engineering.

Here are 5 questions carefully chosen by real hiring managers:

  1. Can you discuss a project or coursework related to environmental engineering that you found particularly engaging or challenging?

This question asks about the candidate’s experience with a significant environmental engineering project or coursework.

Sample answer: 

“I led a project on wastewater treatment where we developed a low-cost filtration system. It was challenging to balance efficiency with budget constraints, but ultimately, the system significantly improved water quality in a small community.”

  1. How did you first become interested in environmental engineering, and what motivates you to work in this industry?

This question seeks to understand the candidate’s passion and motivation for environmental engineering.

Sample answer: 

“My interest began during a high school project on renewable energy. I am motivated by the potential to create sustainable and innovative solutions to environmental challenges, making a tangible difference in preserving our planet.”

  1. Can you share an example of a time when you demonstrated initiative in a project or work environment?

This question explores the candidate’s ability to take initiative in a work or project setting.

Sample answer: 

“In my last role, I initiated a project to improve our office’s energy efficiency. I researched and implemented new technologies, leading to a 20% reduction in energy use and setting a precedent for sustainable practices in our workplace.”

  1. Describe a situation where you had to solve a complex problem. What approach did you take, and what was the outcome?

This question is about the candidate’s problem-solving skills in complex situations.

Sample answer: 

“Faced with a contaminated soil issue, I applied a systematic approach, analyzing soil samples and researching remediation techniques. My strategy led to the successful cleanup of the site, restoring the area to safe environmental standards.”

  1. How do you approach collaboration and teamwork, especially in a multidisciplinary environment?

This question focuses on the candidate’s approach to teamwork and collaboration in a diverse environment.

Sample answer: 

“I thrive in collaborative settings, valuing diverse perspectives. In multidisciplinary projects, I focus on clear communication, respect for different expertise, and aligning team goals. This approach has led to successful, innovative solutions in complex environmental projects.”

Read more real-life environmental engineer interview questions.

Real-life manufacturing engineer interview questions

A Manufacturing Engineer requires skills in reading and interpreting assembly drawings, experience with automation and microelectronics manufacturing, and the ability to write clear and effective manufacturing work instructions. It involves a blend of technical knowledge and practical application in a manufacturing setting.

Actual hiring managers have provided the selection of questions you see here.

  1. Are you able to read/interpret assembly drawings and manufacturing specifications?

This question inquires about the candidate’s ability to understand technical documents.

Sample answer: 

“Yes, I have extensive experience in reading and interpreting complex assembly drawings and manufacturing specifications, which was a key part of my role in my previous job at a machinery manufacturing company.”

  1. Do you have any experience working with automation?

This question asks about the candidate’s familiarity with automation in a manufacturing context.

Sample answer: 

“I’ve worked with automation extensively, particularly in implementing robotic assembly lines. This included programming, maintenance, and optimizing the production process for efficiency and quality.”

  1. What experience do you have with microelectronics manufacturing and automation?

This question delves into the candidate’s experience with microelectronics manufacturing and its automation.

Sample answer: 

“In my previous role, I specialized in microelectronics manufacturing. I was involved in automating the assembly process, which improved precision and production speed while reducing manual errors.”

  1. What kind of experience do you have writing manufacturing work instructions?

This question explores the candidate’s ability to communicate manufacturing processes effectively.

Sample answer: 

“I have written detailed work instructions for various manufacturing processes, focusing on clarity and ease of understanding. My instructions have been used for training new staff and standardizing production techniques across departments.”

Check more real-life manufacturing engineer interview questions.

Real-life surveyor interview questions

A surveyor focuses on understanding educational background in relation to land surveying, interest in subjects relevant to the field, experience with outdoor field work, ability to navigate challenges in difficult terrains and weather conditions, and knowledge of state-specific land laws and surveying regulations.

These 5 interview questions come directly from the expertise of hiring professionals in the field.

  1. Can you describe your educational background and how it has prepared you for a career in land surveying?

This question explores the candidate’s educational background and its relevance to land surveying.

Sample answer: 

“I hold a degree in Geomatics Engineering, which covered extensive coursework in topography, cartography, and GPS technology, providing a strong foundation for a career in land surveying.”

  1. Which subjects, such as geography, trigonometry, or cartography, do you find most intriguing in the context of land surveying, and why?

This question seeks to understand the candidate’s interest in specific surveying-related subject. 

Sample answer: 

“Trigonometry fascinates me the most due to its crucial role in calculating distances and angles in land surveying. Its practical application in determining precise land boundaries is both challenging and rewarding.”

  1. Land surveying involves a significant amount of field work. Can you provide examples of your experience working outdoors in various conditions?

This question inquires about the candidate’s field work experience in varying outdoor conditions.

Sample answer: 

“I’ve worked in diverse outdoor settings, from urban landscapes to rural terrain. This includes surveying in both inclement weather and under the scorching sun, adapting to each environment to ensure accurate data collection.”

  1. How do you handle challenges like navigating through difficult terrain or dealing with adverse weather conditions during field work?

This question asks how the candidate handles challenging field work conditions.

Sample answer: 

“I prioritize safety and planning. For tough terrains, I use appropriate gear and techniques, and for adverse weather, I plan meticulously, ensuring that the conditions don’t compromise the accuracy of the survey data.”

  1. Each state has its own land laws and requirements for licensure. How familiar are you with the land laws and surveying regulations in our state?

This question is about the candidate’s familiarity with specific state land laws and surveying regulations.

Sample answer: 

“I am well-versed with our state’s land laws and surveying regulations. I have kept up-to-date with the latest amendments and have experience working within these legal frameworks, ensuring compliance in all my surveying projects.”

Check more real-life surveyor interview questions.

In conclusion, this guide serves as a beacon for HR professionals aiming to refine their hiring process for engineering roles. 

By incorporating real-life interview questions from seasoned hiring managers, you’re equipped with a strategic advantage to assess candidates with a nuanced understanding of the challenges inherent in Civil Engineering, Design Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Surveying. 

Elevate your hiring practices and make informed decisions that align with the unique demands of these specialized roles.

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