Graphic that shows three different types of interview questions you should be asking.

Use these questions to identify a candidate’s technical knowledge and abilities

Use these questions to determine how a candidate handled situations in the past

Use these questions to assess a candidate’s personal traits and cognitive skills

Why this matters

This seemingly simple engineering question is designed to ensure your candidate is clear on fundamental concepts. Experienced electrical engineers will provide the correct answer with no hesitation. You’ll also be able to gauge the individual’s composure and affinity to detail when sharing their knowledge.

 

What to listen for

  • Categorization of the types of cables on the basis of their size and capacity, as well as the transmission voltage of each.
  • Bonus points for those who are able to answer the question clearly without jargon or complex terminology.

 

Why this matters

Electrical engineers are increasingly relying on CAD systems to create schematics and lay out circuits. You want to hire a professional who is experienced with this widely used technology to speed up the processes, and contribute to quick and easy modifications of designs and prototyping.

What to listen for

  • Demonstrated experience using CAD systems to visualize concepts, simulate designs, and produce them.
  • Eagerness to improve productivity with automation and help lower business costs.

Why this matters

Any time an engineer talks about input or output impedance, they’re using Thevenin’s theorem in practice. Not only does this question test for knowledge of fundamental theory, it reveals the ability to synthesize and communicate thoughtfully, articulately, and succinctly.

What to listen for

  • Strong candidates will be able to share examples of using this complex scientific position in the workplace.
  • Be wary of candidates who aren’t familiar with the theory or those that can’t describe its practical use.

Why this matters

Electrical engineers often work on their projects in teams. It’s important to know how candidates approach team dynamics, including leadership, execution, interpersonal communication, and conflict.

What to listen for

  • Past experience making decisions as part of a team, and comfort carrying out shared decisions.
  • Individual effectiveness in working with others.
  • An interest in using today’s collaborative design tools and design-flow applications.

Why this matters

Many electrical engineers use an Engineering Requirements Document (ERD) to break a large project into smaller tasks. Candidates should have familiarity with this process as well as prior experience using it to delegate tasks to team members, track progress, and document operational issues.

What to listen for

  • Emphasis on the importance of preventing miscommunication between product, design, and engineering teams.
  • If candidates don’t discuss an ERD, they should have experience using some sort of living document in the early stages of a project.

Why this matters

More and more companies are asking for their projects to incorporate the latest high-performance systems and green technologies. It’s good to have an electrical engineer on staff who’s knowledgeable about using practical sustainable design principles, even without a current need.

What to listen for

  • Knowledge of eco-design and its role in reducing the environmental impacts of products, services, and systems.
  • Interest in the principles of sustainable energy and renewable technologies, and/or specific research in this area.

Why this matters

This question is designed to gauge the candidate’s adaptability. Effective electrical engineers  embrace change, tailoring their approach, behavior, and actions to respond to current parameters. While they may not like change per se, they should see the value of adapting to it, with minimal resistance.

What to listen for

  • Specific strategies, such as communication exchanges, quality assurance, and documentation that can help with change management.
  • Look for signs the candidate can be flexible and pivot when necessary.

Why this matters

Client satisfaction involves clearly defining parameters—and meeting or exceeding them. A promising candidate understands the importance of being proactive, communicating clearly to all stakeholders, and performing at or above the standards set.

What to listen for

  • Demonstrated experience design systems to track project performance from concept through close-out.
  • Great answers will include past experience with client satisfaction tracking and data analysis.

Why this matters

The best candidates are intrinsically driven—by their own standards, by a job well done, and by the ultimate objective of improving people’s lives.

What to listen for

  • Indications that the candidate strives for excellence in everything they do,
  • Raise the caution flag if there’s evidence the candidate struggles to answer this question. It might be an indication of lack of self-motivation and follow-through.