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Interview Questions for Electrical Engineers

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Electrical engineering is one of the most complex and diverse career fields globally. The terminology used in the different areas of electrical engineering could be a language in itself. 

Words like hertz, watts, amps, capacitors, semiconductors, and wafer fabrication may sound exotic to a layperson. Even if you recognize a few of these words, just thinking about them for more than a few minutes is enough to make your head spin! 

When looking to hire an electrical engineer, the first step is finding the correct type of engineer. The next step is the interview process, but what are some important questions to ask? 

In today’s article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common interview questions to ask candidates, as well as some specific questions to ask engineers that you are considering for your business. 

What Type of Engineer Do You Need?

Electrical engineering breaks down into five primary types of engineers: power, signal processing, control systems, telecommunications, and electronics. 

Let’s take a moment to break these down.

Power Engineering

Power engineers specialize in generating power and getting from point A to B. They may design generators, electrical grids, or simply how the power will get from the battery to your stereo in your car. 

Control Systems Engineering

Control systems engineers are focused on controlling various things. Some common examples would be: designing home thermostats, building control panels for custom manufacturing equipment, ensuring fire alarm systems can communicate via wireless internet for monitoring and controlling remotely from anywhere.

Electronics Engineering

Electronics engineers are the people who build and design circuit boards and power systems for our everyday devices and complex machinery all around the world. Electronics engineers have designed anything from headphones to the workings of supercomputers at laboratories. 

Telecommunication Engineering

Phones, radios, and the internet—these are the technologies that make the world go rocking round. Telecommunication engineers design these systems so texting your mother is as seamless and effortless as reading the morning news. 

Signal Processing Engineering

So how exactly do those phones send and receive signals? Let’s turn to the signals processing engineers. These engineers design algorithms so that computers can understand what they are receiving and where to send it to ensure that your text for your mother doesn’t end up going to your girlfriend instead. Yikes.

Determining Interview Questions

After understanding what type of electrical engineer is needed, the next step is to select qualified candidates. After that, the interview process begins. We’ll start with some common questions that you could ask of any candidate you’ll be interviewing for your open position.

Common Questions

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why are you interested in working for us?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • How would your previous manager describe you?

While some of these questions may seem mundane, they are a great way to force the candidate to share things they may not immediately be comfortable answering. This awkwardness is a great way to see how the candidate deals with a situation where the pressure is on, and they need to think of an answer quickly. 

Engineering Specific Questions

  • Could you tell me what your specialization was when you were studying engineering?
  • What familiarity do you have with X (technical terms, equipment, etc.)?
  • What is your understanding of Y (regulations, industry best practices, specifications of technical designs)?
  • Tell me about your most challenging project.
  • What are some skill gaps you face with the development of new technologies?
  • Do you have any experience dealing with government organizations?
  • Do you have a security clearance?
  • What measures have you implemented in the past to bring costs down?
  • Do you have any patents in your name?

As you can see, these questions are a bit more in-depth. They will give the hiring manager a better understanding of the candidate’s experience and understanding within their respective field. By asking these questions, the candidate also can sell themselves and their skillset to the manager. 

Final Thoughts

Interviewing candidates is a time-consuming affair. By asking the right questions at the start, a hiring manager can select the best person for the job. 

Choosing the right candidate is critical, as you’ll likely be spending the next several weeks or months and potentially tens of thousands of dollars training this individual to be an influential member of your team. So take stock of exactly what you need in an engineer, create an appropriate electrical engineer job description and get interviewing!

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