The typical interview for this position consists of three phases:
- Personal questions (interviewers inquire about your education, motivation, goals, and previous working experience in the field).
- Behavioral questions (interviewers try to assess your attitude to pressure, deadlines, conflicts in the workplace, and other situations that belong to a daily job of an engineer).
- Technical questions (these questions are related to the technical aspect of the job, and the hiring managers ask them to test your fundamental knowledge of mechanical engineering and readiness for the particular role in the company).
Situation favorable in the labor market
Fortunately, there is currently a shortage of mechanical engineers, and companies are competing for qualified candidates. (However, this will likely change shortly as artificial intelligence penetrates the industry.)
In many instances, you will be the only candidate being interviewed for the position, or you will be competing with two or three others for the position (which is nothing compared to managerial positions or jobs in banks, where one competes against dozens of other job applicants). Nonetheless, even if you are by yourself, you must demonstrate your job readiness, work ethic, and mechanical engineering knowledge. Let’s investigate the questions!
Personal questions constitute the initial phase of an interview.
- Can you provide some information about yourself? Discuss your background, experience, and enthusiasm for mechanical engineering. You may also discuss your education and how it prepared you for the position. Mention briefly one or two hobbies from your personal life; this helps break the ice and create a friendly environment (if the room is not already relaxed).
- Why do you desire a career as a mechanical engineer? Focus on your motivation, interest, and confidence in your design and engineering abilities. You should also mention that you enjoy doing what engineers typically do and cannot imagine doing anything else at this point in your career. Do not discuss money. Mechanical engineers deserve high salaries. However, you should not cite a high salary for your job selection.
- What are your professional goals? You should state that you want to work as a mechanical engineer and gain experience in the field while specializing in a particular engineering area. If unsure, state that you want to work on various designs and will reevaluate your career goals in a few years.
- Tell us about your educational background. Which subjects did you find the most and least enjoyable?
- How have your academic pursuits prepared you for a career as an engineer?
- What salary expectations do you have?
Behavioral questions – testing your attitudes and motivation
- What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? Discuss something unique, not something that everyone has done. Discuss the design of a machine or some interesting modifications you made to an existing design. You may also mention that you overcame a challenging period in your life, such as a life-threatening illness. Every employer understands that difficult times make us stronger…
- Describe a time when you failed to complete a job-related task or accomplish a desired outcome. Try to be sincere and demonstrate that you are conscious of your mistakes and failures. Everyone fails occasionally. The difference between exceptional and average employees is that the former will learn from their mistakes and quickly move on to the next challenge, unaffected by their recent failures.
- Describe a time when you were under work-related pressure. Tight deadlines, challenging objectives, and a boss who expects too much from us can contribute to workplace pressure. Describe a situation in which you experienced the pressure that had a positive outcome. This refers to a condition in which you eventually overcame the anxiety, and it did not negatively affect your job performance. Some people crack under pressure. Others work harder and better than we do. And some people are simply so laid-back that they experience no pressure at work – they simply don’t let it in… What about yourself?
- Describe when you utilized your mechanical engineering skills outside of the workplace.
- Describe a disagreement you had with your supervisor or a coworker.
- Describe a time when it was difficult for you to explain a technical issue to someone with no technical background.
- Describe a challenge you overcame.
- Describe an instance in which you utilized logic to solve a problem.
- Provide an instance in which you demonstrated initiative at work.
- Describe a time when you had to decide without all the necessary information.
- Have you ever worked on an unsuccessful project?
If there is one aspect of job interviews that excellent engineers struggle with, it is behavioral questions. I’ve witnessed numerous engineers respond to these questions with silence, which cost them their opportunities and, in some cases, a position paying over $100,000 annually.
Technical questions assessing your field expertise
Mechanical engineering is a technical field, so at least some interview questions will be technical. The difficulty will depend on who conducts your interview and their knowledge of mechanical engineering. It will also depend on the amount of competition for the position. To some technical questions belong:
- What are the various fits utilized in the United States?
- Which computer programs do you employ in your line of work?
- What materials would you suggest for manufacturing shafts?
- Can you describe the various types of springs and explain when each type is used?
- What are the advantages of hydraulic brakes over mechanical and electric brakes?
- Which bearing type do you prefer, and why?
- Could you describe the benefits of Cycloidal and Involute gears?
- Have you ever utilized torque?
Many companies will require you to take a mechanical aptitude examination, such as the Bennett Mechanical Comprehension Test, the Wiesen Test of Mechanical Aptitude, or the Ramsay Corporation’s Mechanical Aptitude Examination.
Conclusion and future steps
Technical questions can vary significantly from one interview to the next, depending on what the company designs. Alternatively, the company may request that you complete a mechanical aptitude test, which is sufficient for determining your actual level of technical expertise. Every time you interview for a job as a mechanical engineer, you’ll be asked similar behavioral and personal questions.
While you will not face stiff competition in this interview (unless you apply to Google, General Electric, or another well-known employer), you must still demonstrate your engineering skills and the value you can bring to the company.
Complete your interview preparations by examining other questions and answers;
- Interview Question: “Are You a Team Player?” Sample Answers
- How Would You Describe Your Communication Skills?
- How to Answer ‘What Are Your Salary Expectations?’
- What makes you stand out from the other candidates?
- 6 Ways to Answer “What Are Your Career Aspirations?”
- How to Answer “Why Did You Choose This College?”
- 18 Common Phone Interview Questions & Answers
- Why do you want to work in Human Resources?