Mechanical engineer interviews can be nerve-racking, especially if it’s your first time. Preparing beforehand is a great way to boost your confidence and increase your chances of securing that job. To help you get interview-ready, we’ve compiled the most common mechanical engineering interview questions and how to answer them.
What Is a Mechanical Engineer?
A mechanical engineer is someone who applies force, energy, and motion principles to design. They test and build mechanical devices that function safely, efficiently, and reliably. These professionals work on solving today’s problems while creating future solutions in energy, transportation, healthcare, space exploration, climate change, and more.
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According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are over 299,200 mechanical engineers currently working in the United States. They work in a variety of areas, including architecture, engineering, machinery manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing, computer design and production, electronics manufacturing, and scientific research.
Answers to the Most Common Mechanical Engineer Interview Questions
Mechanical engineering interviews usually include a series of behavioral, general, and technical questions that help assess your technical and communication abilities. Practicing answers to the common questions listed below will help boost your confidence, be prepared for tough questions, and help you stand out from the competition.
Top 5 Technical Mechanical Engineer Interview Questions and Answers
Mechanical engineer technical interview questions are designed to test your knowledge of this field. It is best to answer these questions in a straightforward way. It’s also helpful to review the job description so you know which technical skills to highlight during this portion of your interview.
What is a process flow diagram?
A process flow diagram (PFD) highlights the relationship between a plant facility and its major pieces of equipment. They include minor details, such as piping and designations. PFDs are used to show the overall flow of equipment, plant processes, and other related resources. They are common in chemical and process engineering.
What is mechanical refrigeration?
Mechanical refrigeration is a process that involves the removal of heat from a location using a man-made heat-exchange mechanism. There are various refrigeration systems, including magnetic, non-cyclic, cyclic, and thermoelectric refrigeration, which have different applications.
Explain the different types of fits.
In mechanical engineering, fit refers to the clearance between two mating parts. They are classified into clearance fit, interference fit, and transition fit. Clearance fits allow for loose mating or fee movement. Interference fit, also known as press fit or friction fit, requires applied force to join two components. Transition fits are used to provide accurate alignment between mating parts.
What is the difference between fatigue and creep?
Fatigue and creep refer to phenomena that cause the deformation and eventual failure of components. Fatigue refers to the reduced ability of a material to withstand cyclic loading. Creep, on the other hand, refers to the progressive deformation of a material under constant stress.
What is universal coupling?
Universal coupling is the connection between two objects, usually shafts, that allows rotation on two axes. It is sometimes referred to as a universal joint or U-joint. A universal coupling usually features a pair of hinges used to connect shafts inclined towards each other.
Top 5 Behavioral Mechanical Engineer Interview Questions and Answers
Behavioral interview questions are designed to test how your problem-solving skills and how you react in specific scenarios. This way, interviewers can gauge whether you are a good fit for the company’s projects and overall culture. Here are some common behavioral interview questions to help you prepare.
What do you think are the most important skills and qualities to have as a mechanical engineer?
Mechanical engineers should have safety awareness and compliance skills. However, they also need analytical and problem-solving skills to help them accomplish their tasks. Communication skills play a vital role, especially when talking to non-technical stakeholders. Whatever set of skills or qualities you choose to bring up, be sure to relate them to the job in question and your own experience.
What was the first thing you designed?
Mechanical engineers are known to be creators. By asking this question, interviewers learn more about a candidate’s history with engineering and their passion for this field. Whatever example you choose, make sure you highlight your history of design and innovation, evidence of problem-solving or troubleshooting skills, and your passion for engineering.
What do you enjoy about working on a team with other mechanical engineers?
Companies usually want to hire mechanical engineers who work well with others. You’ll likely be working with other engineers in different departments for tasks such as design or implementation. When answering this question, bring examples that show that you have experience working with others and receiving feedback from other departments in a company.
How do you explain complex designs and related concepts to non-technical individuals?
Mechanical engineering often involves complex terminology. However, as a well-rounded professional, you should be able to use your communication skills to explain concepts to people with limited technical knowledge in this field. Interviewers are looking for candidates who can break down complex terminology while demonstrating professionalism and patience when working with others.
Describe a project which required you to adhere to a strict deadline and how you were able to get the best results.
Interviewers often ask this question to gauge a candidate’s time management skills. Time management skills increase your focus and productivity. They also help eliminate distractions and procrastination. To answer the question, describe a scenario that required you to apply your time management skills to get your work done efficiently and effectively.
Top 5 General Mechanical Engineer Interview Questions and Answers
General mechanical engineer interview questions are designed to find out more about a candidate’s educational background and past professional experiences. Here are the most common general mechanical engineer interview questions and answers you’ll likely encounter during your interview.
Why do you want this job?
Before answering this question, make sure you research the company and fully understand the job description. Find ways in which the company’s values align with your own. Explain how the position matches your long-term professional goals. This shows the interviewer that you are highly motivated and committed to the role.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
Talking about weaknesses can be pretty challenging, but it is the way interviewers assess your self-awareness and willingness to take criticism and improve. Being honest and focusing on self-improvement is your best bet. If, for instance, you’ve struggled with completing large projects on time because of your perfectionism, mention it and also talk about the ways that you are actively trying to improve on this fault.
What is your favorite part about being a mechanical engineer?
You should use this question to show the interviewers the passion you have for your chosen field. This is your chance to talk about how mechanical engineering gives you an opportunity to create value and make a real difference, or the ways in which it allows you to express your creativity.
How do you keep up with industry trends?
Employers often ask this question to gauge a candidate’s natural interest in the field. They will be looking to hear about the many ways you keep up with the latest industry trends. You can talk about events you attend, whether you contribute to online discussions in forums or social media, and the latest webinars, books, or academic publications you’re familiar with.
Whatever the case, you should show the interviewer that you are still passionate about your field and put effort into keeping up with your industry.
How do you stay motivated?
This is one of the follow-up questions that interviewers might use to assess your commitment to your roles and responsibilities. No one expects you to be completely motivated all the time. Stress and challenging projects are part of life. What’s important is that you acknowledge this and then speak about specific stress management techniques that work for you as part of your routine.
Tips to Prepare for a Mechanical Engineer Interview
Prepare Answers for General or Common Interview Questions
Interviewers will want to learn more about the kind of candidate they are hiring. This means that you should expect a lot of technical and behavioral questions designed to find out more about your academic background and professional experiences. For this reason, you should go over both general and in-depth questions to make sure you have answers prepared and won’t stop the conversation.
Work on Your Body Language
Most interviewers today still prefer an old-fashioned face-to-face interview. Studies have shown that a lot of communication is non-verbal. With this in mind, you should work on your body language to ensure you make a positive first impression. For instance, making eye contact, opening the meeting with the right greetings, and suppressing restlessness are confident body language cues.
Anticipate Any Concerns the Interviewer Might Have
You should consider looking at your application from the interviewer’s point of view in order to anticipate any concerns that they may have. Remember interviewers have to sift through hundreds of applications. Pay close attention to the job description and make sure you understand what complex ideas you’re able to provide to the company.
What Skills Should I Put on my Mechanical Engineer Resume?
A top resume writing tip is to highlight only the most relevant skills on your mechanical engineering resume. Remember the recruiter will only glance at your resume for a few seconds before deciding whether to keep or discard it. Here are some of the most in-demand mechanical engineering skills that you should consider adding to increase your chances of success.
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Complex Problem-Solving Skills
Problem-solving skills are essential for a mechanical engineer. These are the skills that allow you to work through issues that might arise, such as design errors or a component malfunctioning during the testing stage. Make sure these skills are front and center on your resume and application.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software Skills
Mechanical engineers should have a working knowledge of at least one of the most popular CAD software programs. These include AutoCAD, CATIA, NX, Pro-engineer, and Solidworks. These software skills come in handy when designing in 2D or 3D, and help visualize aspects of a component or product.
Project Management Skills
Project management skills speak to your ability to see a project through from start to finish as well as your leadership attributes. Your interviewer will want to know that you are able to move effectively from the concept phase to the production stage, and work through designing, prototyping, and qualification testing with fellow coworkers.
How to Find Mechanical Engineer Jobs
You can find mechanical engineer openings through various sources. We’ve compiled a few of the most effective ones to help you on your job hunt.
ASME Career Center
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers Career Center is designed to simplify your search for engineering jobs. This website provides resources to help you move forward in your career, such as industry insights, and resume writing, networking, and interview preparation tips.
You can create a mechanical engineer job alert, work on your resume, and use their career resources to help you find the right position.
LinkedIn is a well-known platform that connects professionals worldwide. You can access thousands of relevant jobs by simply signing up on the platform and working on your profile. In addition, this platform has a referral feature that allows your peers to ‘vouch’ for you to increase your chances of being shortlisted for an interview.
Mechanical-engg is an online community that features contributions from thousands of mechanical engineers worldwide. This platform has a variety of helpful features, including blogs, clubs, topics, forum discussions, and downloadable resources. You can use them to advance your career as a mechanical engineer.
Mechanical Engineer Interview Questions FAQ
The best way to prepare for a mechanical engineer interview is by studying the most common interview questions and practicing your answers beforehand. Not only does this give you a confidence boost when walking into a technical interview, but it reduces the likelihood of being caught off guard. It’s always a good idea to learn more about the hiring company, its culture, competitors, and work practices.
Questions asked during a mechanical interview will vary according to the company and specific role. However, you should expect a combination of technical questions to test your mechanical engineer skills, behavioral questions to assess your personality and fit for the company, and general questions that tell more about your academic background and previous experience.
Yes, you can earn good money working as a mechanical engineer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a mechanical engineer is $90,160. In addition, employment in this field is projected to grow seven percent from 2020 to 2030, which is close to average for occupations in the US.
As a mechanical engineer, you have the flexibility to work in a wide variety of industries. Your choice will be determined by your skills and personal interests. You can find openings in the aerospace or automotive industry, work in the production of consumer goods or pharmaceuticals, or join companies dedicated to construction and utilities.
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