Conducting technical interviews requires a very specialized skill set, experience and knowledge of the engineering discipline. When interviewing engineers, whether they are software engineers, civil engineers, mechanical, electrical, etc., it’s important to combine technical and skill-based questions, along with questions to learn if the candidate has the interpersonal skills required to relate to others and fit into your organization.

Here are questions that will uncover the best engineering candidate for your organization:

Can you tell me about a side project you’ve worked on (outside of school or work) in the past year or so?

Having a side project, whether it is freelance or volunteer-based, is a great indicator that the candidate loves their profession. Depending on where they are at in their career, it can also indicate the desire to be mentored or mentor others. Which are both great attributes for your organization.

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

This question immediately pulls the candidate into a specific mindset of describing what type of project details they consider to be ‘challenging,’ and why. Assuming the interviewer probes beyond the initial question, the response will reveal not only what particular project stretched them, but also how they navigated through the challenges of that project and what was the outcome.

What processes have you helped develop or singularly created that enhanced engineering performance capabilities? What was the impact of this process on your team’s/department’s/division’s performance and/or how did this impact something bigger company-wide?

Sprinkling in a few multilayered questions is important. Engineers are process-oriented which allows the candidate to describe a process they helped build. Listen for their ability to translate the outcome of this initiative further into a bottom-line impact.

Tell me about a time you failed?

This will tell you about how a person overcame a failure, without trying to hide their mistakes. Engineering teams go through a lot of trial-and-error processes. Employees who hide behind failures waste time and cause confusion. Employees that admit to mistakes, learn from them, and move forward are assets.

If I were to ask your last set of co-workers to describe you, what do you think they’d say?

This forces the candidate to look through the lens of those they work with, which can provide interesting insights about the candidate’s working style. Answers range from “dependable” to “opinionated,” and often provide a good opening to ask follow-up questions about why they believe their co-workers would hold that opinion.

Technical Interviews – Don’t Go It Alone.

Technical interviews are stressful for both the interviewer and the candidate. The best approach for technical recruitment and hiring is to work with an experienced technical recruiter. The Jarvi Group has expertise in recruitment of engineers of all disciplines and industries. Reach out to the Jarvi Group today!

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Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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