Three Interview Tips for Engineers

Mark Koschmeder
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Landing an engineering job can be a daunting task. Before you can even be considered, you have to invest significant time and money in getting qualified, so you'll have a lot riding on a successful interview. Most candidates are happy for any interview tip they can get. Here are three that can help you get the engineering job of your dreams.

Arriving to your interview on time is good advice for any professional, but this interview tip takes on a special urgency for prospective engineers. What is engineering all about, if not problem solving and attention to detail? Getting to your interview precisely on time—not too early, not late by a single second—signals to your prospective employer that you understand and respect the importance of details. A good way to avoid sending the wrong message is to arrive early enough that you're sure not to be late, and then burn off any surplus time you have by listening to the radio in your car until it's time to go in and introduce yourself.

During the interview, you're sure to be asked about your background and experience. For many first-time job seekers, this is where it can all come to pieces. While you might have a very impressive educational background—Cal Tech, say—you're likely competing for the job you want with another Cal Tech alumni who has fifteen years of experience in the field. Your interviewer might also be making a conscious effort not to be swayed by the implicit bias of preferring certain backgrounds over others, making your accomplishments to date less important than you think. An interview tip to get you through this phase of the discussion is to draw the talk away from your past wherever possible—instead, focus on the future. That grizzled veteran you're up against might have the seasoning to challenge you for the job but is also probably closer to retirement. By keeping the focus on your many good years ahead with the company, you're leveling the playing field.

One interview tip many jobseekers overlook is to be as inquisitive as the interviewer. Asking your own questions at the interview is a great way to show the hiring manager you've done your homework—and you've taken a real interest in this company in particular. Interviews are a two-way street, after all, and if you aren't excited to learn about the company, why should the company be interested in you?

These tips are generally applicable to any kind of job search, but precision and problem solving, courtesy and research, and a willingness to make a long-term commitment to one company are uniquely attractive qualities to companies hiring in the engineering trades. Any interview tip that helps you emphasize these traits in yourself will put you that much closer to the job you've been working toward for years.


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