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Engineering Internship Interview Questions

by Kristine Tucker

Most engineering students have a similar experience when interviewing for an internship, regardless of their specific major. Engineering students must be prepared to answer interview questions about their area of study and their career goals. Additionally, interviewers might ask questions to see if a candidate is a good fit for a permanent position after graduation.

College Coursework

The hiring manager will likely ask about your major, coursework, grades and expected graduation date. Because engineering is a broad field, internship directors and employers want to ensure they get the right students in the right positions. Expect the interviewer to ask, "What engineering field do you plan to pursue?" "Will you be getting a minor to accompany your engineering major?" "What is your overall GPA and what is your GPA in your engineering coursework?" and "When will you graduate?" Answers to questions about your college education help employers determine where to place you and when you might be available for permanent employment should they decide to hire you.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Internship directors often ask applicants their greatest strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to mention strengths that directly relate to engineering, such as technical skills and problem-solving abilities. Avoid weaknesses that could negatively affect your engineering credibility and focus on unrelated shortcomings, such as public speaking anxieties or your tendency to provide overly sufficient details. Remember that even if the position is unpaid and the employer has little to lose by hiring you, he doesn't want to hire an intern who don't fit in with the company culture or won't be happy with the job duties.

Future Plans

Most internship directors ask applicants about their short-term and long-term goals. They realize that interns are often qualified applicants for long-term positions, and want to get a feel for which candidates are likely to climb on board. An interviewer might ask, "What are your career goals?" "Where do you see yourself in five years?" "Do you plan to stay in the area once you graduate?" "Are you willing to relocate permanently?" or "Are you planning to pursue permanent employment in the field of engineering after graduation?" Answer these questions to the best of your ability, but don't feel bad if you change your mind in the meantime. Internships are learning experiences and you might shift your focus before you graduate.

Surprising Questions

Robin Richards, CEO of Internships.com, often asks unusual questions to see how well interns respond to unexpected situations in high-stress interview environments. Richards often asks candidates to tell a clean joke or asks, "Who is most important to you and why?" (Reference 2) It's difficult to plan for unexpected questions, so think of one or two real-life, engineering-related stories you could incorporate into almost any oddball question. Stories about lessons you learned the hard way or people who made an impact in your decision to major in engineering usually provide good interview answers.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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