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Top 10 Common Interview Questions for Mechanical Engineers

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There’s no doubt about it: preparing for a job interview can be a stressful endeavour if you’re not adequately primed for the task. And when pursuing a career such as mechanical engineering — a job that requires immense skill, experience and precision — the endeavour may appear even more daunting.

However, this insightful guide is sure to aid you in better understanding what to expect in your upcoming conversations. Indeed, by the end of this article, you’ll hopefully know what to say when answering some of the most common questions that are likely to come up in a mechanical engineer interview – and, as a result, bag the job of your dreams.

 

1. ‘What was your very first design?’

By asking interviewees to provide a verbal sample of their early work, hiring managers are able to better understand the candidate’s history in the field. This is an important question to ask any candidate, whether they’re an aspiring mechanical engineer freshly out of school or one who is already well established. Indeed, a mechanical engineer’s objective is to create and design power-producing machines.

Not only is this an ideal time to showcase your talents, but it is also a great opportunity to make your interviewer aware that you know how to complete the vital technical tasks at hand.

To answer this question, you can provide a literal example of the first project you completed either in school or during your first job, or you can get a little more creative with your response.

An illustration of the latter reply could be a brief description of a childhood design you created – one that initiated your love of the field and fostered a desire to pursue a career in mechanical engineering as an adult. Regardless of which answer you opt to give, it is a critical opportunity to share your passion, evidence of troubleshooting abilities and history of innovative enterprise.

2. ‘What is it that made you want to become a mechanical engineer?’

A firm seeking new candidates to hire will be interested in why they want the job. Understandably, shallow and lacklustre responses such as ‘because it pays well’ or ‘because I need a job’ won’t get you hired. Although, of course, your objective in responding to this question should be honest, it should be a reply that makes you stand out from the crowd of applicants.

Highlight your understanding of the field on a personal level, perhaps touching on points about the importance of mechanical engineering and your desire to better society through the designs you would be creating. Be clear that you understand the role itself and the tasks that it would entail, noting that these are all aspects of the job that you are passionate about.

3. ‘What is your ultimate career objective?’

This is a common interview question, not just when interviewing for the position of a mechanical engineer, but for a plethora of other career paths, too. However, despite its popular use, many potential job candidates fail to answer the query adequately – indeed, many people tend to reply with ‘Working here, in the position that I’m applying for’.

Instead of offering a response such as this, make some adjustments. Emphasise that you still wish to be working in the field of engineering, even at the firm in which you are applying to, but add in these key elements:

  • you would like to move up to a more prominent position (after showcasing your talents and worth to the company)
  • you see yourself further developing your skills as a mechanical engineer thanks to both your coworkers and through avenues of continuing education

 

4. ‘How do you prevent yourself from becoming bored with the more routine facets of engineering work?’

As with many different jobs, the repetition of basic daily tasks can become monotonous and, as a result, boring. However, working as a mechanical engineer means that you can’t afford to let your mind wander from the tasks at hand; indeed, the design of power-producing machines requires the utmost attention to detail.

Consequently, interview questions such as these aim to separate quality workers from those that will not take their position as seriously as they should.

When answering a supposition such as this, you have the opportunity to discuss the methods in which you self-motivate, encourage those on your team and think innovatively about the tasks that you are completing. Make a note of an example where you made the ordinary more extraordinary; talk about avoiding boredom by taking regular technical components and reassembling them in a novel and out-of-the-box manner.

5. ‘Describe a situation where you were on the job and failed to accomplish a task or a goal.’

This is perhaps one of the hardest interview questions to answer, as it involves a need to provide your interviewer with an example of a time when your work was less than satisfactory. At the core of this question, the interviewer wants to know that you’re an accountable individual who can be upfront about your mistakes, as opposed to making excuses for them.

When answering this question, be sure to tell a clear and concise story, ensuring that you do not become side-tracked. At the same time, keep your tale brief, not exceeding two minutes.

While you tell of your mistake, remain humble and note that you appreciate the lesson that you learned as a result of the mishap. It’s also important to mention that, going forward, you learned to be more aware, more conscientious, and so forth.