Civil engineering is a steady job that offers a high average salary. If you’re interested in learning about high-rise buildings, stress trajectories, quality assurance, and mineral admixtures, you should pursue a job in this field. Civil engineers work on a construction team to design structures, maintain cost control, and uphold construction site safety.
No matter your skill and experience level, civil engineer interviews can be intimidating. You want to impress the employer and prove you have the industry knowledge to run big and small projects. Read this guide to learn about civil engineering interview questions and answers and interview tips to help you prepare.
What Is a Civil Engineer?
Civil engineers are responsible for constructing a wide range of infrastructure, from roads to stadiums. Civil engineers will conceive the idea and research, design, and supervise the construction process. Some of your duties will include designing plans, monitoring expenses, researching government regulations, and compiling and submitting requests for permits.
You can work as an environmental engineer, construction engineer, municipal engineer, or geotechnical engineer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineer jobs will grow by eight percent between 2020 and 2030, which means there will be more jobs in the coming years. This is a great time to become a civil engineer.
Answers to the Most Common Civil Engineer Interview Questions
Interview questions are part of the hiring process in any industry. The interviewer wants to gauge your skills and experience level, which ensures you can run a project from inception to completion. In addition, the managers will want to assess your personality. Below are a few of the common interview questions for civil engineers, categorized into three parts.
Top 5 Technical Civil Engineer Interview Questions and Answers
Typically, civil engineering technical interview questions assess your problem-solving ability and conceptual understanding of civil engineering. The interviewer will also pose situational problems to gauge your reasoning. These questions can be about anything from compressive strength to a specific safety requirement, so you should prepare.
What Is a Slump Test? Can You Give Us Different Types of Slump Test Indications?
Slump tests measure the consistency of fresh concrete before it sets during the concreting process. Therefore, explain how a slump test ensures a concrete slab is ready for further construction. The different types include true slump, shear slump, and collapse slump. You could also talk about types of cement and the strength of concrete.
What Does Honeycomb in Concrete Mean?
Explain that a honeycomb in concrete refers to the rough surfaces formed in concrete. The honeycombs appear in any form of concrete if the mortar doesn’t fill out all the spaces between the coarse aggregate. You can remove the loose aggregates of concrete, wet the surface, and fill the spaces with specialized equipment.
Name the Different Types of Roofs in Construction.
This question analyzes your technical knowledge of roofing. You can name the common types of roofs used in building construction. In addition, you can talk about the standard roof height for structures and the benefits. The roofs include the gable roof, mansard roof, wind roof, sawtooth roof, skillion roof, and A-frame roof.
What Is the Difference Between a One-Way Slab and a Two-Way Slab?
A slab is a type of concrete foundation poured into a pit dug in the ground. The first type of slab, the one-way slab, is supported by two parallel beams or walls. It carries the load in one direction, and the ratio of the longer span to the shorter span is greater than two.
Four beams support a two-way slab on all corners. Additionally, it embodies a saucer-like shape and carries the load in all directions. Furthermore, the ratio of the longer span to the shorter span is greater than or equal to two.
What Are Wooden Shingles?
Wooden shingles are a type of roofing system used in weatherproofing. They are tapered pieces of wood used to cover roofs and walls. Other types of roof systems include metal roofing and slate or stone roofs. In this question, you can talk about your personal experiences with shingles from when you learned civil engineering.
Top 5 Behavioral Civil Engineer Interview Questions and Answers
Behavioral questions focus on how you approach situations and people. The interviewer analyzes your personality and how you handled past experiences in the workplace. You should answer the questions honestly, providing concrete evidence and stating scenarios.
Tell Us About a Time You Had a Dispute with a Colleague and How You Fixed It.
Your colleagues possess different personality traits and communication skills, and disputes are bound to occur. Therefore, the interviewer asks this behavioral question to assess your interpersonal skills and dispute resolution. The best answer will include mutual understanding, open communication, and patience when carrying out your respective tasks.
How Do You Handle Working Under Pressure?
The construction industry is a fast-paced sector with a lot of pressure. Answering this question showcases your decision-making ability, time-management skills, and organizational skills. Highlight a situation when you had a lot on your plate but still managed to prioritize and deliver the work on time.
Tell Us About a Time You Had to Persuade a Client or Company Executives.
This question also assesses your interpersonal skills and ability to bring in business. Your answer should demonstrate your judgment ability and how you approach people in authority. Refer to an experience that yielded excellent results when you used your communication skills. For example, you could talk about your effective process for solving a design flaw.
How Do You Handle Clients, Specifically Difficult Ones?
Customer service is essential in any industry. The interviewer wants to determine your communication skills, patience, and reaction to demanding clients. Give a truthful answer, and don’t hesitate to highlight past conflicts with demanding clients. When you talk about clients, be honest but not rude to show your respect for the business.
Describe Your Most Successful Construction Project and How You Achieved It.
You must showcase your leadership and teamwork skills when answering this question. The interviewer is keen to observe whether you’re a self-centered or nurturing leader. For example, you could talk about your team fixing cracks in masonry structures, maintaining brick quality, measuring the capacity of soil, and upholding quality control.
Top 5 General Civil Engineer Questions and Answers
General questions cover everything from salary expectations, career goals, and preparedness for the role. Use this opportunity to convince the panel why you’re the best candidate for the job, emphasizing your skills. Below are some sample questions and answers for general civil engineer interview questions.
Why Did You Pursue Civil Engineering?
This common question allows you to explain your career path. Therefore, take your time to present a genuine response. After all, you want the interviewer to believe in your passion for the job. For example, you can talk about your affinity for mathematics and custom design. You could also talk about your career goals, for example, becoming a construction manager.
Why Should We Hire You?
This is a common interview question. The hiring manager is trying to identify why you stand out from other candidates and whether or not you’re an excellent fit for the team. In this answer, showcase your knowledge of the company and confidence in your skills. You can also talk about anything about the company that stands out to you.
What Skills Do You Believe Are Necessary for Every Civil Engineer?
The interviewer wants to ensure that you understand your role and what it entails. Therefore, highlight essential skills, explaining why each of these skills is necessary for a civil engineer. Moreover, remember to embody these skills during the interview. You should talk about mathematical thinking, innovative design, organization, and leadership.
Why Did You Leave Your Previous Position?
Not many candidates prepare for this civil engineering interview question. However, interviewers will ask the question to understand your career goals and commitment to the job. Explain your reasons honestly and talk about a desire to move forward in your career. If you made a mistake, own up to it and demonstrate your drive to change.
What Are Your Salary Expectations?
Construction companies must ensure they’re maintaining the company budget by hiring people they can sustain. Therefore, check out the market price and select a fair salary. According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for civil engineers is $78,472. Remember, this is a negotiation, and you can always ask for their quotation first.
Tips to Prepare for a Civil Engineer Interview
1. Research the Company
Do in-depth research on the company, its mission statement, and the services it provides. Additionally, refresh your skills in construction terminologies like hybrid foundation and aggregate grading. The research will help you approach the interview confidently because you have basic knowledge of the company and what your job entails.
2. Prepare a Portfolio
Interviews involve more than answering questions. You must also prove that you have worked in the construction sector and supervised construction crews on successful projects. You could include experience at a previous construction company, types of reinforcements used on a certain project, or water damage repair.
3. Practice as Much as Possible
To avoid being ambushed by random questions, take time to practice for your interview. Use online resources to find mock technical interview questions. You might be lucky enough to get to answer these same questions in the interview room. If you can’t focus, ask a family member or friend to act as the interviewer and go through question lists so you can answer on the spot.
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What Skills Should I Put on My Civil Engineer Resume?
Civil engineers must be well-versed in mathematics, physics, management, computer-aided design software, map reading, and more. Even better, the more skills you possess, the higher your chances are of securing the civil engineer position. These skills will come in handy in the analysis of proposals, research, design, and construction.
Computer-Aided Design Software
Whether they’re conducting strong soil analysis or designing a residential building, civil engineers rely on software. Computer-aided design software enables engineers to design 3D models, conduct satellite reviews, or exchange 2D illustrations. The most common civil engineering software includes AutoCAD Civil 3D, Microsoft Project, SSA, and Adobe Creative.
Project management is an integral part of civil engineering. You must be efficient in delegating duties, managing resources, and adhering to safety requirements. Luckily, you can learn project management skills in a bootcamp. Some popular product management bootcamps include Thinkful, Springboard, and Code Institute.
Attention to Detail
It is common for civil engineers to work on more than one project at a time. Therefore, you must be a detail-oriented individual, paying attention to every installation, time frame, construction material, or design structure. You should also pay attention to cost estimates and contract time for a successful project.
How to Find Civil Engineering Jobs
You can find civil engineering jobs on government forums, company websites, job search sites, social media pages, or networking events. You can use these resources to narrow down your options and decide which job is best for you. Read below to learn more about the different ways you can find civil engineering jobs.
Civil Engineering Forums
Civil engineering forums allow civil engineers to interact, share career advice, and advertise job opportunities. They are career-specific and open to civil engineers only. For example, you can join the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), where you will interact and explore opportunities to advance your career.
Job Search Websites
Popular job search websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor allow job seekers to explore a wide range of job opportunities. For example, you can search for civil engineering jobs across the country or within your state. Moreover, if your qualifications fit the job description, you can apply on the site or follow a link to the company website.
Official Company Websites
This is the easiest way to find real civil engineering jobs. First, visit the company website, go to the careers page, and go through the available pages. Typically, you can discover whether or not the company has job vacancies through a Google search. This also shows the company that you’re interested in working there specifically.
Civil Engineer Interview Questions FAQ
In a civil engineering interview, you are likely to hear a question about your career choices, a question about your management skills, and at least one technical question. These can include everything from drawing a symbolic diagram to talking about construction contract negotiations.
To introduce yourself, you should start by breaking the ice with a friendly demeanor and stating your name and your specific role in civil engineering. If possible, include your education details to highlight your experience.
For a civil engineering job, you should emphasize your multitasking, time-management, project management, and interpersonal skills. Above all, don’t forget to showcase your skills in design and computer programming skills.
To answer this question, you should familiarize yourself with the standard industry salary, depending on your qualifications, before the interview. Alternatively, you can ask the interviewer for their quotation before you state your expectation.
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