9 interview tips no engineering applicant should miss

Posted February 20, 2014, by Emily Ford

Close to 10 per cent of all graduates leave university with an engineering degree. Competition for jobs is tough and how you present at an interview could be what helps you stand out from hundreds of other applicants with similar qualifications. 

The best way to set yourself apart is to come prepared. Be aware of what skills and attributes prospective employers are looking for. Knowledge is power, and empowering yourself with the right information, added to your academic achievements, experience and charming personality, will hold you in good stead. It’s important to remember that the industry is a diverse one, with a wide range of jobs available to suit all types of personalities and expertise levels. 

For example, incorporated engineers and engineering technicians need to possess a high level of attention to detail and excellent reasoning ability as well as the skills and know-how to make things happen. Craft workers and operators, on the other hand, need more basic mathematical ability, resilience, patience and highly competent manual skills.

Here are some pointers that anyone applying for a role in engineering should keep in mind:

Problem solving

Point out your exceptional problem solving skills, a critical element in engineering. Combine this with your good planning and organisational skills and you’re almost there. 

Broad horizons

You may have all the academic requirements but employers also look for well-rounded employees; those who have interests beyond their field of expertise. They also look for applicants with the motivation and drive to make an impact within the company. 

Be yourself

Relax and be yourself. Be chatty and confident, but not a know-it-all. Market yourself as someone who is competent, polite and likeable. Do not misrepresent yourself – you must be able to deliver on everything you promise during the interview.

Are you the right engineer for the job? 

Find out exactly what the employer is looking for – ask provocative questions, engage the employer and create the impression that you are well-informed and interested in helping to solve problems.

Don’t talk too much

Try to talk no more than 50 per cent of the time. Engineers are detailed by nature, but keep answers informative, brief and to the point. Don’t offer up too much information, rather, wait for the interviewer to ask.

Work experience

Even students need experience, and those that have made the most effort to gain practical work experience while studying will find themselves in a strong position.


Never appear desperate (even if you are). The hiring process is a two-way conversation and you do have other options. The company needs to fit you as much as you need to fit the company.


Explain how you take responsibility for your work and are quick to own up and learn from any errors you might make.


If you speak additional languages – mention it. Many companies are multinational and having an extra language can be a big advantage.

According to recruiters at Petro Min engineering firm, there is also a set of generic, often intangible skills, which all employers look for, and should be noted no matter the field.

  • Communication skills: Clear and concise communication is a critical part of any company’s success – everyone needs to be an effective communicator.
  • Interpersonal skills: Few jobs exist in a vacuum; employees must be able to work as part of a team and deal with clients effectively.
  • Technical knowledge: Applicants need to demonstrate a good understanding of all technical requirements and the implementation thereof.
  • Organisational skills: Task prioritisation, time management and resource planning are key skills for engineers.
  • Curiosity and interest: Do your research. Know what the company does, their competitors and target market. Try get a sense of the company culture and whether it is a good fit for you.
  • Enthusiasm and commitment: Enthusiasm and commitment never go unnoticed in interviews.
  • Ability to learn quickly: New employers will assume you can learn new concepts easily – assure them you are a fast learner and adept at assimilating new information.
Author bio: Emily Ford is a Perth-based writer with a passion for deconstructing difficult topics. She'd like to thank the friendly staff at Petro Min for their valuable time. Connect with her on Google+.

Emily Ford

Academy Xi
ACBI (Australian College of Business Intelligence)
AIBI Higher Education
AIM Business School
ALC Training
Australasian College of Health and Wellness
Australian College of Physical Education
Australian Institute of Business
Australian Institute of Management Education and Training
Australian Institute of Personal Trainers
Billy Blue College of Design
Builders Academy Australia
Building and Construction Training Australia
Celtic Training
Collaboration Learning
College for Adult Learning
Demi International
Ducere Global Business School
Ella Bache College
Endeavour College of Natural Health
Foundation Education
Gateway Training Academy
GROW Training Group
Hader Institute of Education
Hammond Institute
Industry Skills Training
Insight Training
James Cook University Online
La Trobe University
Lumify Learn
MCI Institute
Melbourne College of Further Education
Monarch Institute
Monash College Future Skills
National Business Institute of Australia
Nepean Industry Edge Training
Onfit Training College
Open Colleges
Original Campus
Outsource Institute
Parker Brent
Pet Stylist Academy
Phillips Institute
RMIT Online
Sero Institute
Serve It Up
The Hotel School
The Institute of Applied Psychology
Torrens University Australia
University of Adelaide
University of the Sunshine Coast
UNSW Online
UTS Online
Victoria University Online
Torrens University Australia
Torrens University Australia
University of East London
Southern Cross University