Engineering interview tips

It’s well known that the engineering industry is crying out for skilled engineers but this doesn’t mean that you won’t face competition when you’re applying for a job. When you’ve made it through to the interview stage, you should still take every step necessary to ensure you’re fully prepared.

If you’ve been invited to interview for a role, it is a positive sign that your CV or application has impressed. But that is only round one so to ensure you stay ahead of your competitors at the interview stage, you need to keep up your impressive performance. And to do that, preparation is key.

First impressions are vital when it comes to face-to-face interviews and there are some simple ways to ensure you’re fully prepped. From wearing the right clothes and asking the right questions, to knowing the history of the company, here are some sure-fire ways to ensure you stand out and make a good impression when it comes to interview day.


Do your research

Knowing what the company does, what it provides, its structure and the market it operates in will be sure to impress. Going to an interview without knowing the basics could make you look disinterested and lazy.  Stuart Minchin, Director - Water and Environment, further explains:

“Do your research and show a keen interest in the company or project you’re interviewing for. Find out the challenges they face and how they compare to their competitors. If you’re interviewing for Thames Tideway, for example; knowing the framework or joint venture partners, the selection of the projects they cover and the culture of each organisation will really impress.”


Prepare questions

Often an interviewer will give you the chance to ask a few questions towards the end of an interview and it’s important you do. Questions like ‘why has the position become available?’ and ‘what are the main objectives of the role?’ are always a good start. Having around five questions prepared will stand you in good stead. Just remember to filter your questions at the end if they have been answered naturally through the course of the interview.


Dress to impress

Dress smart and look tidy, unless you’re told otherwise. While some companies might opt for a more relaxed approach when it comes to working attire, wearing traditional smart clothing will do no harm. A smart shirt and tie combination, paired with suit trousers and clean (black or brown) shoes is a winner for men. For women, avoid being too glitzy. Smart, low-key dresses will never tire, but a trouser suit or skirt with a blouse also works well. But as Chris Thornton, Department Manager - Maritime says, not all companies share the same expectations:

“Some employers won’t expect a shirt and tie combination. If you were interviewing for a permanent skilled trades role then smart is best. But if you’re interviewing for a contract position, wearing smart jeans and a shirt is probably more suitable and successful candidates have even been known to turn up in overalls and work boots. Check with the recruitment contact to find out what is suitable for the company you are interviewing with.”

Pack the night before

Pack your bag/briefcase/handbag the evening before to avoid unneeded interview-day stress. Ensure you have a pen, notepad and a copy of your CV, plus anything else that may have been specifically requested. If you’re interviewing for a design engineering role, take a small portfolio of work; then if they ask to see an example of your work, you’ll be prepared to show them on the day.


Plan your journey

Ensure you know how you’re getting to your interview and where to park if you’re driving.   Graham Day, Department Manager - Rail adds:

“Planning your journey, although it may seem obvious, is crucial. If you don’t factor in for potential traffic it could be detrimental to the interview. Turning up late isn’t a good first impression; turning up early or on time will give an indication of your time-keeping ability should you be offered the role.”

On the day

Greet the interviewer(s) with a smile and a handshake. Throughout the interview, make eye contact and always make sure you look engaged. Try and mimic their style – if they’re formal, be formal, if they’re informal, be informal. Avoid negative body language like crossing your arms or leaning back in your chair. Instead, try and be open and engaged in the way you hold yourself.

You can find more advice on our career advice  pages.

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