Questions to ask when interviewing a mechanical engineer

Written by jillian o'keeffe Google
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Questions to ask when interviewing a mechanical engineer
The interview is the chance to delve deeper into an applicant's personality. (David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

When a mechanical engineer is going for an interview, he's not going for a job that exists on its own, but rather as part of a team. He needs to slot into the role with the skills that only an engineer can bring, such as problem-solving skills and the ability to manage other people. Coupled with the information on his CV, an interviewer can bring out the engineer's suitability for the role with some additional questions on his natural ability with machinery, his interactions with people and the skills that he has learned in previous jobs.

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Qualifications and job history

According to Prospects, the UK graduate careers website, mechanical engineers can get jobs in a massive variety of fields. An interviewer can get an idea of what types of transferable skills an interviewee has by asking her if she has further qualifications than her undergraduate degree, and about her previous work history, as experience working on an oil rig, for example, will have honed very different skills to those gained working in the medical device industry.

Computer skills

Mechanical engineers often use computer software, generally called computer-aided design (CAD) or computer modelling, to design and interpret projects. If a particular job specification requires the new hire to use specific programs, then it is important to ensure the engineer is familiar with the use of these programs. Interviewers who are themselves competent with the software can also ask more in-depth questions that are particularly relevant to the role, and ensure that the applicant's skills are up-to-date in a fast-moving technology.

Teamwork and leadership

Commonly, mechanical engineers are project leaders, and may also interact with customers or clients of the industry they are in. Asking for descriptions of previous teamwork projects, and how the interviewee deals with challenges or problem team members, can help give an overview of his personality, and how he is likely to fit into an existing team. In addition, details of budget management and examples of initiatives that made the project management more efficient are useful.

Practical skills

While engineers commonly have to work off documents and plans, they also have to be able to physically work with the machinery. An interviewer can get a feel for how comfortable the applicant is with machines by asking him about his ability to employ mechanical skills in normal life, such as doing up old cars, or fixing things around the house.

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