How to Prepare for Interviews and Tips to Ace Them (Part 2)

The biggest fear that most interviewees have are about how to best answer interview question. I will talk about certain questions I’ve received during interviews. Some of these are also from sites listed in the reference.

1. Why did you pick engineering?

The interviewer is trying to determine your motivation for the job. You should be engaging in your answer. Try to sell engineering as the best career choice. In the past, I would have said that I liked Physics in high school, but that’s not a very great motivation. A better answer would be that engineering makes a large impact in the world we live in. Especially since engineering by definition is to design and improve on technology and systems to better society. You should also tailor this question towards the job, in terms of how you could make the biggest impact through the position in the company.

2. When did you start your job search? Have you been offered any positions?

This goes back to my other blog, Mechanical Engineering Job Searchwhere the job you are searching and applying for should fit your interests and career path. The interviewer can discern whether you’re simply applying to get employed or applying because you want to work in the position. A worker with keen interest is preferred over one who will simply drone on day-to-day. So to answer this question, explain honestly and clearly that you are trying to find the “right job” and what that means to you. Even if you have been offered positions, don’t brag about them, simply answer a yes or no.

3.Tell me about the most challenging engineering project that you have been involved with during the past year.

If you have a portfolio of projects you have worked on (which I strongly recommend), pull it out now. It’s always better to show than talk. Explain the problem solving process using Situation, Task, Action, Result, Transfer (START) technique. For me, one of the most challenging engineering project I had been involved with was developing payload dropper attached to a multi-rotor drone for a solar farm-simulating competition (Situation). There was no precedent system that I could optimize, so I had to design, from scratch, a device to drop off markers onto damaged solar panels (Task). I looked for inspiration on a project-sharing platform, then found a button dispenser to base my marker dropper on. After modelling the marker dropper to fit within the limited space on the drone, I printed and assembled it for testing. As we attempted to test, we encountered unforeseen problems such as wind generated by the drone veering the payload from dropping straight down. With only one day left before competition, we improvised with the available material to make the dropper more stable (Action). Because of this device, we are now able to achieve an important task in the competition (Result). These research, design, prototyping skills will help me transition into any fast-paced workplace and solve engineering problems encountered in the job (Transfer).

4.What new engineering specialty skills have you developed during the past year?

There is no doubt that continual learning is one of the most important aspects in life. Your interviewer wants to know that you’re proactive in acquiring and updating your skills in the ever-changing engineering industry. This question also serves as a great opportunity to show your eagerness to learn on the job. Talk about any skills that are relevant to the position, and how you mastered (or got better at) them. Important skills to Mechanical Engineering include ANSYS, CFD, CAD, and CAM. This semester, I learned how to use Siemens NX 12 software develop CAM programs by assigning appropriate tools, operations and parameters to properly manufacture parts.

There are many more potential interview questions. Take a look at the links provided below. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to comment them. I look forward to hearing from you! Happy job-hunting everyone.

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