Every engineer will eventually need to have a conversation with one or many hiring managers regarding a new job or a job advancement opportunity. Just as your resume and cover letter should show the best side of yourself as an engineer, the interview process should highlight your value to the company and help them to see you as a productive member of their engineering team.
Knowing the process and applying these guidelines will boost your chances for a successful interview regardless of whether you are applying to a new company or trying to move upwards at your current job.
Before Your Interview
Know Your Accomplishments and Skills – Take a few minutes to review your resume and cover letter and prepare you for any questions about your bullet points. Be prepared to answer questions about anything that was written on your resume and cover letter regarding abilities or accomplishments.
Print Your References – Print out a copy of the recommendations that you have secured from previous managers and supervisors.
Research the Company – Take an hour or so to learn about the company to learn more about where they fit in the engineering world. This will give you some talking points during the interview that you can reference to show that you are invested in the company.
Plan Your Talking Points – Use the skills and requirements that the employer requested to create a guide for what you should speak about during the interview.
Practice Your Answers to Interview Questions – Take some time to practice your answers to common engineering questions such as your specific role on projects or how you would approach different problems. Practice these questions out loud so that you feel more comfortable answering your interviewer’s questions during the process.
Plan Your Outfit – Make sure that you have your outfit picked out and prepared the night before the interview. Wear something professional that doesn’t have any wrinkles or stains. Even if you are applying for a job in a more laid-back environment, most employers expect you to wear something professional during the interview itself.
During the Interview
Shake Hands – Take the time to smile, make eye contact, and shake hands with everyone on the interviewing team. This is your first in-person impression and it should be positive.
Be Specific About Your Contributions – Provide clear and specific instances of how you have contributed in the past. Make sure to give credit to teams that you were on, but focus on your role in the team to ensure your interviewer gets a full picture of what you offer.
Ask Questions – Asking questions about the company and its culture shows that you are actually interested in the position. It also shows that you have taken the extra time to research the company instead of walking into the interview blind.
Ask About Any Concerns the Interviewers Might Have – This will give the interviewers a chance to ask any questions that they might have felt uncomfortable talking about. Additionally, it gives you a chance to clear up these concerns and address any misunderstandings that might have occurred during the interview.
Don’t Be Negative – Even if you have had a bad experience with a previous employer you should maintain a positive attitude. Speaking badly about other companies and employees can get you blacklisted from other engineering opportunities.
After the Interview
Send Thank You Notes – Take the time to send a thank you note to each person who interviewed you. It is appropriate to send an email to each person but make sure that each thank you is slightly different as sending stock messages can be viewed negatively.
Think About the Interview – Take a few minutes to think about your interview and to jot down anything that you might want to re-address or clarify in a follow-up interview.
These tips will give you the groundwork that you need to ensure that you are presenting your best self during your engineering interview.