Hiring Engineering Talent: 5 Must-Ask Interview Questions

The engineering industry is one of the most dynamic and rapidly evolving sectors in the job market today. As technology improves and industries rely more on engineering, the need for skilled engineers is increasing.

However, identifying and recruiting the right engineering talent can be a daunting task. To ensure you're bringing the best candidates on board, it's crucial to ask the right interview questions. In this article, we will explore the top 5 interview questions for recruiting talent in the engineering industry.

1. What has been the most challenging engineering project you’ve ever faced, and how did you drive the project toward success?

Engineering projects are often extremely complex, requiring a lot of careful thought and planning to ensure their successful execution. Hiring candidates who have successfully completed difficult projects (at work or school) improves your chances of making a good hire.

What to listen for:

  • Responses showcasing the applicant's analytical thought process
  • Indications of passion, both in narrating their triumphs and in discussing the obstacles they surmounted
  • Excellent responses that highlight tenacity despite encountering difficulties
  • How they navigated through the challenges of that project and what the outcome was.

2. In what instances have you demonstrated leadership skills, and how would you describe your style?

This question can help you gauge a candidate’s leadership potential and collaboration skills. Even engineering professionals who aren’t in leadership positions should be able to step up and lead when necessary. Having previous leadership experience, even if it's not official, shows that a candidate is willing to take on difficult tasks.

What to listen for:

  • Responses indicating the applicant's ability to maintain a broad perspective, while not overlooking crucial specifics
  • Mentions of their ability to motivate the team and facilitate efficient teamwork
  • Responses that exude self-assurance but also display modesty
  • Know how to step up and steer the way, when needed.

3. What checks and balances do you use to make sure that you don't make mistakes?

Engineering mistakes can have serious and even dangerous consequences, so taking the necessary steps to avoid them is critical. All engineers should have a system to avoid errors, regardless of whether they follow a formal process or not. It’s not just about safety — it’s about doing the job well.

What to listen for:

  • Particular strategies they implement, like discussing concepts with a colleague or utilizing technological instruments
  • Responses that show a dedication to safety as well as quality assurance
  • Smart solutions that reduce mistakes, enhance quality, productivity, and boost corporate profits.
  • It may be as simple as running ideas and initiatives by a colleague. Or, maybe they have notes or a digital system they use to assess tasks or project steps.

4. How do you stay current with today’s changing technology?

Technology is always changing with new tools and software. Employers want to know if candidates will keep up with industry updates. Answering this question helps you determine if candidates are tech-savvy and actively enhance their skills.

What to listen for:

  • Their willingness to learn new engineering technology and concepts
  • How adaptable they are to new processes.
  • Recent steps that they have already taken in updating their expertise
  • Their plan to stay current with technology changes.

5. What engineering software and tools are you proficient in, and which do you feel the need to brush up your skills in?

In today's engineering landscape, software proficiency is essential. Ask candidates about the specific software and tools they are comfortable with. Their familiarity with industry-standard software can indicate their readiness to hit the ground running in your organization. There are many software programs available for engineers depending on your field.

What to listen for:

  • Dedication to learning a new program that they're not familiar with.
  • Description of the programs they are most comfortable using as well as programs they are not as comfortable with.
  • A list of steps they're taking to increase their knowledge and comfort levels.
  • Whether or not they are familiar with the specific program that you use at your company.


Hiring engineers requires a strategic approach to identify candidates with the necessary technical skills, problem-solving skills, flexibility, and teamwork skills. These soft skills are crucial for success in the constantly evolving field of engineering. Ask these 5 questions to learn about a candidate's skills and how they can help your engineering team. To find the best engineers, you need both technical skills and people skills.

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