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Industrial Engineer Interview Questions

To help you prepare for your Industrial Engineer interview, here are 51 interview questions and answer examples.

Industrial Engineer was written by and updated on December 18th, 2020. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 51

How would you do a time and motion study when you have little information about how long something would take to build?

How to Answer

Industrial engineers like to drill things down to the minutia so it can sometimes be a challenge when a client wants a quote based on data that is less-than-perfect. Such is life in the real world, though. In these cases, say to the interviewer that you have often made do with less than forthcoming data and say, 'I would take the information that we do have and do a mockup simulation that reenacts the actual build or process. If we didn't have enough information, I'd reach out for any missing information at this point. For example, maybe packaging wasn't described in enough detail on the drawing or communications. Next, I would do a time and motion study on the mockup, but the client would need to understand that another one would be conducted once there is a more realistic, real-life scenario. The client would also need to understand that once production starts on the item, more realistic studies would be used for the baseline and subsequent contract.'

Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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51 Industrial Engineer Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1. How would you do a time and motion study when you have little information about how long something would take to build?

      How to Answer

      Industrial engineers like to drill things down to the minutia so it can sometimes be a challenge when a client wants a quote based on data that is less-than-perfect. Such is life in the real world, though. In these cases, say to the interviewer that you have often made do with less than forthcoming data and say, 'I would take the information that we do have and do a mockup simulation that reenacts the actual build or process. If we didn't have enough information, I'd reach out for any missing information at this point. For example, maybe packaging wasn't described in enough detail on the drawing or communications. Next, I would do a time and motion study on the mockup, but the client would need to understand that another one would be conducted once there is a more realistic, real-life scenario. The client would also need to understand that once production starts on the item, more realistic studies would be used for the baseline and subsequent contract.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

      1st Answer Example

      "I would take the information that we do have and do a mockup simulation that reenacts the actual build or process. If we didn't have enough information, I'd reach out for any missing information at this point. For example, maybe packaging wasn't described in enough detail on the drawing or communications. Next, I would do a time and motion study on the mockup, but the client would need to understand that another one would be conducted once there is a more realistic, real-life scenario. The client would also need to understand that once production starts on the item, more realistic studies would be used for the baseline and subsequent contract."

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

  • 2. How important are statistics to Industrial Engineering?

      How to Answer

      This question lets you 'strut your stuff' on essentially what is the bread and butter of industrial engineering. The discipline provides ample occasions to apply statistics. At most positions industrial engineering work in, statistics are as important to doing their jobs successfully as physics is to civil engineers doing theirs.

      Answer the question by saying, 'Statistics are one-way IEs crunch big data and interpret them for analysis. My most recent use of statistics was using samples from two years of past revenue, along with the Forecast function in Excel, to create an accurate seasonal forecast for a startup company. In other words, I fed these function values from the past into a data table and used the linear regression function in Forecast to forecast values for future points. Using statistics this way improved on the old rule of thumb method used two years' prior, allowing the company to better plan for material and labor and thereby save money.'

      However, if it is an interview for your first IE job, say, 'I know statistics are critical, and I learned through my studies to accomplish the organization's objective and help them move forward.' Then ask if they would like you to show them a specific example.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

      1st Answer Example

      "Statistics are one-way IEs crunch big data and interpret them for analysis. My most recent use of statistics was using samples from two years of past revenue, along with the Forecast function in Excel, to create an accurate seasonal forecast for a startup company. In other words, I fed these function values from the past into a data table and used the linear regression function in Forecast to forecast values for future points. Using statistics this way improved on the old rule of thumb method used two years' prior, allowing the company to better plan for material and labor and thereby save money."

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

  • 3. What is your experience preparing process flowcharts?

      How to Answer

      Flowcharting is to processes what CAD programs are to plant layout. Knowing how to do it is an excellent skill to have if you are an industrial engineer, and the interviewer knows it.
      Tell them, 'I can map the as-is process and identify areas to improve. After that, I can reorganize the flowchart steps for the to-be process you want to implement. Microsoft Visio is an excellent and easy-to-use program for flowcharting, and I have some printouts of ones I've created using it at the university and on the job. I also know that the four most common flowchart types are swim lane flowchart, process flowchart, workflow diagram and data flow diagram.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

      1st Answer Example

      "I can map the as-is process and identify areas to improve. After that, I can reorganize the flowchart steps for the to-be process you want to implement. Microsoft Visio is an excellent and easy-to-use program for flowcharting, and I have some printouts of ones I've created using it at the university and on the job. I also know that the four most common flowchart types are swim lane flowchart, process flowchart, workflow diagram and data flow diagram."

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

  • 4. Tell me about a time and motion study you have done. What did you learn from it?

      How to Answer

      It's important to note that a task taking just seconds too long can make or break a business. For instance, millions could be lost for an automobile manufacturing plant that utilizes rapid assembly lines and automation if it all doesn't fall into place in seconds. In light of that, you can see just how important time & motion studies can be to organizations. Luck has it that during college, internships, and on the job you most likely performed time & motion studies. There are probably endless things you learned from them, too.

      Here is an example of something you can say about motion studies, 'I learned through a motion study and diagram that employees on the manufacturing floor were reaching too far at a disorganized workstation. After a redesign of the workstation, the set up was much more ergonomic and made workers (76%) more productive.'

      Regarding time studies, you can say, 'Me knowing how to properly conduct a stopwatch study allowed me to identify when tasks in a process were taking too long or were inefficient. I used my findings as baseline samples to later use for continuous improvement on the current processes, thereby improving Cycle and Takt times.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 5. Can you describe projects you worked on and what you enjoyed and didn't enjoy about them?

      How to Answer

      This question is all about job fit, and telling the interviewer what you like and don't like about certain things helps them determine if you are a good fit for the job and the company. Your answer allows them to gauge if you are interested and passionate about the position, and asking you about your favorite/least favorite projects is an excellent way to get that information out of you without overtly asking.

      A good answer could concern change announcements you've handled. For the most part, people don't usually like change, and industrial engineers are change agents.
      Here, you can say, 'As part of our 'Changement team,' I had to break the news to a department that their whole physical layout and way of working would be changing. Here are the steps I took for delivering that tough message:

      1. Be Honest
      2. Be clear in communication
      3. Give space and time for responses
      4. Allow people involved to express emotion
      5. Share your own feelings

      To say the reception wasn't universally accepted, was an understatement, though. Luckily, everything transitioned to smooth sailing shortly afterward. At the wrap-up, the department largely credited the way the message was delivered helped with their acceptance of everything and said that it made the transition a lot easier. They also thought the new floor layout, workstations, and tech made things easier. Win-Win!'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 6. What is meant by the poisson process?

      How to Answer

      Questions such as these may be related to an operations research-heavy IE position. To field anything among this line of questioning, you should have a strong background in Poisson processes, Markov chains, dynamic programming, queueing systems, and inventory theory. Be mindful that they could ask you about any of those concepts and more.

      Other areas of your learning and proficiency we suggest you know are engineering economy, product design, manufacturing systems design analysis, IT, and linear programming and optimization.

      Here, you want to explain the concept of the Poisson distribution and how the process is used. For instance, you can say, 'The Poisson process is a model for a series of discrete events where the mean time between events is known, but the exact timing of the events occurs randomly. Also, the Poisson distribution function used in the Poisson process is helpful for characterizing events with very low probabilities. I've used it in modeling arrival processes in queueing theory problems on the job.'

      Or if this is an interview for your first industrial engineering job, say, 'I am infinitely qualified to use it after using the methods before graduating from college. Would you like me to work an example or show you printouts from my course work?'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 7. What is the difference between stress and pressure?

      How to Answer

      It is quite common to interview for a manufacturing engineering (ME) position when you are an industrial engineer. The position and interview here mean industrial engineering know-how is combined with other knowledge acquired from engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering. If the job requirements for the interview are structured this way, the interviewer will combine a mixture of engineering-specific questions geared to those disciplines. Your course knowledge you gleaned from mechanical engineering classes that overlapped with your industrial engineering ones will come into play here.

      Reciting the definitions for questions demonstrates your learning in mechanical engineering classes such as fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, physics, the strength of materials, heat transfer, materials science, mechanical design fundamentals.

      The best answer to this question would be, 'Although they are often mistaken for each other, they are uniquely different. When it comes to materials, the pressure is the amount of force that is exerted per its unit area. Meanwhile, stress is the quantity of force exerted per unit area of the material.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 8. Do you enjoy documentation?

      How to Answer

      Many industrial engineers find jobs at the CDC, the FDA, and other health sectors. Can you imagine not enjoying documentation and working at an organization that is extensively bureaucratic like they are, though? In short, it would be torture. Although writing documents are in some industrial engineer's repertoire, for many, math and statistics are their strong suits. When it comes to writing documents, not so much.

      You can expect an interview for a position that relies heavily on documentation to be heavy in both statistics and standardized documentation processes such as Stand Operation Procedures (SOPs). Of course, any write-up makes sense if you know how to interpret the information. Knowing how to interpret statistical information from data output such as confidence intervals and statistical sample output from charts and calculations is paramount.

      Be a documentation devotee if you want to ace this type of interview and thrive in this type of work environment. So, the answer here if you enjoy documentation is basically, 'I love it, and the more the merrier' Knowing how to make killer graphs go hand in hand with good documentation skills, so be proficient in that regard, too.

      No doubt, a more lengthy answer is going to be required by the interviewer so an example of a more in-depth answer would be, 'When I worked as a senior industrial engineer at a medical device company, I wrote many SOPs and quality documents that were key to company devices getting FDA approval. We used tools such as confidence intervals, detailed graphs, and infographics within the documents to support the approval process.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 9. Why was there a gap in your employment between these dates?

      How to Answer

      Explaining gaps in employment to the interviewer is all about knowing what reasons to share and what ones you should not. Also, be upfront with your answer. One common answer that's good in this circumstance would be, 'I was looking for a job and was being very selective in my job search.'

      That approach lets the interviewer know you were searching hard until you found the best fit, and it sounds loads better than saying, 'I've been searching everywhere for a year and could not find a single company that was interested in hiring me!'

      Other good reasons for employment gaps include:

      -Time taken off to relocate and find employment in a new state or city.
      -Caring for a sick member of the family or raising a young child.
      -Medical or health issues you encountered.
      -Taking time off to pursue further education or professional training.
      -Time off due to a layoff.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 10. Are You Willing to Travel or Relocate?

      How to Answer

      It may be a sign of the times, but travel and relocation are almost always on the table for new jobs. This is especially true in industrial engineering, where a job may require you to travel to start up a sector of the company. In this role, you may be providing training, documentation, or any other requirements to get the new business sector off the ground.

      Be honest with the interviewer, but you should probe them for more details. The office, department, or even the whole organization may be moving in the near future, and that could be the reason behind this line of questioning.

      About the travel, you could say something such as, 'Off the cuff, I'm up for about 70 percent travel in this position, but can you give me more details about how much travel is involved with the position and where I will be traveling.'

      Regarding relocation, it is a difficult decision to make if you don't have all the facts. As we mentioned previously, the entire department could be moving soon, and the position could initially or eventually wind up in another country. Relocation is a completely personal decision; however, keep in mind that a willingness to travel raises your stock. Find out more by asking the following, 'It is really hard to make an informed decision about relocation without knowing the details. Can you tell me more?'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 11. What does the standard deviation tell you?

      How to Answer

      Here, you determine how proficient you are at this all-important part of statistics by explaining, 'The standard deviation is an important quality control tool for improving business processes. It tells you how spread apart the data is by measuring how far each observed value is from the mean (average). For all distributions, about 95 percent of the values are within two standard deviations of the mean.'

      'On the Six Sigma Quality Control Curve, the line extends +/- 3 sigmas from the mean or ±3s from the centerline when it comes to a control chart and process limits, forming the basis of how Lean Six Sigma tools are used for reducing or eliminating variation and enhancing process control. Tolerance limits are set at ±6s from the centerline in a control chart.'

      Also, it can't hurt to be ready with a pen, paper, and calculator to show the formula for calculating the standard deviation, as well as the way to calculate Six Sigma for continuous and discrete data, too, if further explanation is required.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 12. What problems are involved with queuing theory?

      How to Answer

      Demonstrate your operation research mojo by answering, 'Queuing theory is a branch of operations research that focuses on problems that involve queuing (or waiting). Typical examples might be bank customers waiting for service or computers waiting for a response. Problems involve the matching of servers provided to randomly arriving customers or services, which takes a random amount of time. A queueing model is constructed so that the length of queues can be known and their waiting times predicted and thereby optimized. Knowing how to reduce queue times is a valuable skill and brings many benefits to a wide array of organizations.'

      Tip: Keep in mind that there is software that manages queue problems, but you'll need to understand sophisticated wait management systems and the six main ways to reduce queue wait times to analyze, optimize and manage these types of systems and their optimization.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 13. Can you explain Autofacturing?

      How to Answer

      Autofacturing mostly falls under manufacturing engineering, which often crosses over with industrial engineering. Therefore, you may be asked about it in an interview. Answer with the following, 'Autofacturing is defined as a production system that is made up primarily of automated equipment which is configured as multiple integrated subsystems that use computer controls and a common database and to make, test and transport specifically designed products at top and uniform quality levels, while simultaneously meeting flexible specifications at a minimum amount of employee labor. There are multiple levels of autofacturing that come from lower levels of individual cells up to complete and integrated systems. Most systems are somewhere in between, but they are progressing toward a complete system.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 14. What relevant experience do you have for the position?

      How to Answer

      Just as your college gave you a well-rounded education to be an industrial engineer, so, too, do you have your resulting preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. If you find programming to be boring, you are going to be miserable, or worse yet, a failure if you apply for an industrial engineering position where you are extensively writing C++, Python, or some other code.

      On the other hand, if you are uber-organized, then a Master Planning position might be just the thing for you. Job fit scenarios like this abound, so think carefully before you apply for the position. The responsibilities and skills sought will be outlined in the job description, so make sure you pay attention, do your research and determine that you are a good fit before showing up to the interview. That way you won't have your resume automatically added to the heap of unsuitable applicants right after a cursory screening.

      Once you know you are a good fit, tell the interviewer about your relevant experience. If your background is in Master Planning, you could say something along the lines of 'As you can see on my resume, I have three years experience as a Master Planner for GE (or whichever company you work(ed) for. I used an SAP system for material management, and I am quite proficient at it. Before that, I used an apparel ERP system for order processing at a global eCommerce apparel store for two years.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 15. Do you have to perform a task in order to understand how it works?

      How to Answer

      This question posed by the interviewer is used for determining what type of learner you are. There are three main cognitive learning styles: auditory, kinesthetic and visual. Of the three learning styles, experts agree that visual learners do the best in engineering fields. Industrial engineers must often observe a process or procedure in order to understand it. Afterward, they will analyze it and approve it. Kinesthetic learners will most likely have the most trouble in this type of job since it is tactile learning - meaning the person learns by carrying out the physical activity, rather than watching demonstrations or listening to a lecture.

      You can start out by saying, 'I'm a kinesthetic learner' if you are. As you can probably tell, there might be an issue if you don't explain that it's not a hindrance. To get around this, say, I am normally a kinesthetic type of learner, but I overcame this tendency in college. In college, I had to learn other ways of conducting my studies since you can't always learn by doing.'

      'Through my process of using industrial engineering tools, the process of observation, taking detailed notes, statistical analysis, and my experience, no one would ever know I'm a kinesthetic learner. In short, it's not a hindrance at all.'

      Also, if you feel you're not the strongest in this area, a letter of recommendation from your current or former employer or college professor, that expands upon your knowledge and/or experience in process observation and continuous improvement, can speak volumes, too.

      Then again, if you know that there will be no issue at all, simply say, 'My track record on my resume speaks for itself, and I do not need to perform a task to understand how it works.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 16. Can you explain what is meant by Takt time, Cycle Time and Lead Time?

      How to Answer

      In another interview question, we discussed how a pull system is considered by some to be superior to a push system in production. Likewise, managing a pull system isn't possible without keeping a continuous flow of work going. It is important that an industrial engineer knows how to manage these big threes of the production system since they ensure that product comes off the end of the line as often as it should - which in turn, maintains optimal product flows and the pull system.

      Takt time is sometimes called the heartbeat of production in a lean production system so you will need to understand it and know the formula behind it in an interview. The same goes for cycle time and lead time, as both are important to manage production flows and forecasting requirements.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 17. Can you explain some tools you would use for inventory management?

      How to Answer

      There is a slew of courses taught on inventory and supply chain management as a subset of industrial engineering, and there are also schools that teach both disciplines alone. Managing inventory is a large part of both, and you can discuss things like the bullwhip effect, the formulas and principles behind economic order quantities (EOQ), and warehouse visuals and organization. The sky's the limit here, so pick an area of warehousing and/or logistics and discuss what you know about inventory management in these cases.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 18. What can you tell me about a Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)?

      How to Answer

      If this is asked, the position is probably going to be a very distribution and logistics-heavy one. Knowing and having a background in the warehouse organization and warehouse layout vs. plant layout will be a leg up against the competition in this interview.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 19. What metrics would you use to drive change?

      How to Answer

      Industrial engineers, especially if they are interviewing for a management position, will need to continuously drive change and improve to stay relevant. To explain your proficiency, say, 'I use change metrics that are easily understandable at a glance to the employees, clients, and visitors walking through the organization. I also style them differently every once in a while and update them frequently so that their impact stays fresh.
      Specific charts I use for displays and baselines for future projects include Project KPI measurements, (radar charts are a great example), Benefit Realization, Return on Investment, and detailed Statistical Process Control charts.
      I would also measure change management performance through KPIs and metrics that gauged factors such as communication effectiveness, performance improvements and speed of execution and adherence to timelines.'

      Consider safety initiative metrics, also. Say, 'I use charts and visuals to track days without injury in plants that have heavy material handling traffic, high risk workstations, previous injuries, or OSHA violations. I find those give everyone a sense of pride and initiative to stay on the right track. Customized flags and banners for team achievement installed in a production area for everyone to see incentivize and sustains change.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 20. How do you handle being put on the spot in a meeting?

      How to Answer

      Calling on people in a meeting "” even if it puts you on the spot "” is essential for getting broad participation. The interviewer wants you to know their work culture has participatory meetings and wants to make sure preparedness and meeting skills are in your wheelhouse. Sometimes industrial engineers are introverts but know that as long as the people in the meeting are engaged in a topic that is meaningful and participants are attentive when others speak, safety and respect will be present.
      You can answer by letting them know the actions that will help the organization if you are ever put on the spot. Say, 'I will always prepare carefully for every meeting I'm in, have trust and have confidence in myself, decline if I have nothing to add, set up my comments so I don't ramble, and think out loud at the appropriate times.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 21. Can you explain the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards? Which one is better?

      How to Answer

      There have been many studies conducted on what motivates people to work toward achieving greatness. It's tempting to say it's always about money, but it isn't. Explain their important differences by saying, 'Extrinsic rewards are financial rewards given to employees like bonuses, benefits, and pay raises. Intrinsic rewards are psychological rewards that workers get from performing meaningful work and doing it well. Intrinsic rewards align company goals and objectives with the sum of employees' quality of life. They are better long-term since it has been proven that they foster and instill the desire for excellence, top performance and genuine engagement that advances work culture and the firm.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 22. What is the time value of money?

      How to Answer

      Here, you explain the concept saying, 'The time value of money is a demanding subset of economics in engineering economy. At its core, it means money uninvested is money lost. It recognizes that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar years from now because of its accrued interest. Money changes in value, not only because of interest rates but also because of inflation or deflation.'

      Also importantly, your professor may have told you during a lecture that if you want to be a millionaire, it's best to set aside savings early in life. That way, you can end up getting further ahead because you take advantage of the full power of compounding. Know this and other important takeaways you learned from engineering economy to knock this line of questioning out of the park.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 23. Can you explain the critical path method?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer wants to know that you are familiar with the critical path method and that you know how to keep vital projects moving in the face of adversity by using it. Explain the concept by saying, 'The critical path method is a tool used to calculate the length of your project, and it is a sequence of dependent tasks that will form the lengthiest duration. Mapping the tasks allows for tweaking and determining the most efficient timeline possible to finish a project.'

      Tip: Give the interviewer a rundown on how to calculate the critical path in a made-up project..say...with decorating your living room with a friend. You can also show them a print out from a Gantt chart in Microsoft Project you did for the living room project. Examples you did in college and on the job work, too. Explain any tweaks you made for changes in the critical path to prevent scope creep in the printouts. This is also a good place in the interview to let them know of any project management certification you have.

      That being said, certificates such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) automatically show potential employers that you have project management experience and have extra commitment. In light of that, be sure to have that skill on your resume and be prepared to discuss it.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 24. Can you tell me what the seven quality tools are for process improvement?

      How to Answer

      The basic tools of quality were first emphasized by Kaoru Ishikawa, the father of 'quality circles.' Recite his seven quality tools by saying, 'The seven quality tools are for process improvement are:
      The cause-and-effect diagram (Fishbone);
      Check sheet;
      Control chart;
      Histogram;
      Pareto chart;
      Scatter diagram; And
      Stratification.
      I'm also proficient in their use and interpreting their output.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 25. What are the 5 Whys, and why are they important?

      How to Answer

      Remember when asking your parents why over and over was a bad thing? Well, later in life, it turns out that's not so bad. Enter the 5 Whys, an important method that uses root cause analysis to determine what is causing production issues.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 26. Can you tell me about other companies you are interviewing with?

      How to Answer

      This question can mean that hiring managers are curious about other firms. Common reasons for them doing so include wanting to feel out the competition, seeing how serious you are about the industrial engineering industry, or wanting to gauge their likelihood of hiring a strong candidate.

      If you answer that you are not interviewing anywhere else, that gives the interviewer a lot more leverage than they already have. The correct answer is as follows: 'Your organization is not the only firm where I have scheduled interviews. In fact, I am actively exploring options within the industrial engineering field with other companies. That being said, I am most excited about the position within your organization.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 27. Can you tell me what total quality control (TQC) is? Also, tell me what standards are used in this practice?

      How to Answer

      This is a technical question, and the interviewer wants you to define TQC and provide the relative information. It's always best to answer technical interview questions as straightforward as you can with little to no embellishment, providing just enough information.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 28. Can you describe what you would do or have done when faced with an obstacle in an essential project?

      How to Answer

      A lot of the answer is going to depend on the type of obstacle, but pick one and describe how you overcame it. For one thing, the preceding example is a good one, since always seeking advice from your senior when you encounter this type of unresolvable resistance is a good, recognized interview answer. For another, it let's the interviewer know you aren't perfect, and you recognized that you couldn't overcome the problem on your own. In fact, by following this direction, you demonstrated to the interviewer how you can be diplomatic and a critical thinker when a crucial project needs to move forward.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 29. What do you know about our (XYZ Company)?

      How to Answer

      Always research a company before showing up for the interview. That is job interview 101, and the interviewer will usually want to confirm that you did your homework before even considering hiring you for the position. Extensive research on the organization not only helps you get the job, but it may ultimately lead to you deciding that the company you are considering interviewing with is not a good fit for you after all.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 30. Explain how you have used critical thinking previously.

      How to Answer

      The interviewer will want to see a real example of when you've used critical thinking in your work. These are those tough questions to think of an answer on the spot, so it's good to practice all of these scenario-based questions before your interview.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 31. Describe a time when you made the workplace safer?

      How to Answer

      You will probably need to familiarize yourself with the definition of the standard so be prepared. For example, the ISO website defines ISO 45001:2018 as, 'the standard that gives guidance for its use, to enable organizations to provide safe and healthy workplaces by preventing work-related injury and ill health, as well as by proactively improving its OH&S performance.' Knowing this definition will give you a sound basis for your answer and will impress your interviewer.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 32. Tell me about yourself.

      How to Answer

      Often this is the first question in an interview, this is a no-brainer, are we right? Wrong. 'Tell me about yourself' does not mean tell the interviewer everything that led to you sitting in the chair across from them. Instead, it means the interviewer wants you to discuss what you've done to prepare yourself to be the very best candidate for the job. Give an example of your background and experience, and after you're done, ask if they would like any more details or examples.

      Luckily, If you nail this question the right way, it sets a positive tone for the rest of the interview. The hiring manager will start to find out why you're the best fitting candidate for the position in terms of how you carry yourself, your hard & soft skills, and your experience. It's additionally a wonderful opportunity to show that you can articulate your meaning clearly and effectively, connect with and react to other people and present a professional presence.

      At this time, your answers should focus on the present, past, and future of your career. Talk to them about what you presently do, your role, and its scope. Perhaps you can even discuss a tidbit about a recent accomplishment you've made. When it comes to the past, tell them about how you got there, and your previous past experience that is relevant to the position. Discussing the future career you see for yourself is a great way to segue into why you are interested in the position, and why you're interested and a good fit for the gig. Next, discuss at length the toolbox of skills and knowledge you bring from college and your work experience. It is a good time to show them printouts of your accomplishments in a folder or show the interviewer any examples you have on your tablet or laptop.

      Tip: The requirements and job description for the position are a good place to start building up a portfolio of your accomplishments and skills. However, this isn't the only way to formulate your response, and, of course, you can always tweak it for your situation and as you see fit.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 33. What is your biggest weakness?

      How to Answer

      Describing your biggest weakness sounds easy, doesn't it? After all, you could answer that question by saying that sometimes you are a workaholic, something that can be viewed as a weakness and strength at the same time. And what boss doesn't love that?

      However, your interviewer will see right through this type of answer, and it actually makes you seem unprepared - or even worse - calculating. Also, the manager over the position you're applying for might want someone that values a work-life balance versus an employee that will quickly burn themselves out due to their tendency to overwork. You never know, and it's best to be safe and forthcoming with your answer.

      Luckily, Internet job sites abound with listicles regarding the right kind of answer to this question - so familiarize yourself with them if you want to do well during this part of the interview.

      A few good sample answers can include 'I focus too much on the details' or 'I have a hard time letting go of a project.'

      Then, ask the interviewer if they would like you to explain how you overcame these weaknesses. Letting them know something really concrete that you've done to improve a weakness is impressive to an interviewer, also. An example, if you feel you need some work in the communication area, you could say, 'I've joined Toastmasters to constantly improve my communication skills. My colleagues and supervisors say the difference in my communication today vs. in the past is the difference between night and day.'

      Letting them know something really concrete that you've done to improve a weakness is impressive to an interviewer, also. For example, if you feel you need some work in the communication area, you could say, 'I've joined Toastmasters to constantly improve my communication skills. My colleagues and supervisors say the difference in my communication today vs. in the past is the difference between night and day.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 34. Where do you see yourself in five years?

      How to Answer

      What the interviewer really wants to know with this question is if you gave some thought to your future at their firm. They also want to gauge how ambitious you are, and if you may be moving on quickly after working there for a while. While all your answers in an interview should be customized to the position and the organization you're applying to, it is especially important when it comes to this question. For instance, if you are applying for an industrial engineering intern or entry-level position say, 'I would like to progress my career at your firm. I have read reviews that say the company has excellent and clear progression routes such as the mentor program.'

      Furthermore, the field of industrial engineering is so multifaceted that it ensures that graduates are uniquely suited for positions such as senior management, high-level accounting positions, and more. Focus on this aspect, and let the interviewer know how you see yourself in those positions in five years. A good answer would be, 'Since I have good leadership skills and am a certified project manager, I see myself as a senior project manager over one of your departments.'

      Likewise, if you are interviewing for a more senior position, answer by saying, 'My skills and expertise can help your company move forward. Would you like to know how I've done this in the past?' If they want you to continue explaining, let them know how you can help them achieve this. Of course, you should ensure that you have had a look at their corporate objectives and business strategies pre-interview before attempting this.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 35. Why did you leave your past job?

      How to Answer

      There are many ways you can answer this question and turn it around in your favor. That being said, there are also ways to answer this incorrectly and torpedo your chances of working at the firm. The worst is to answer it with something negative about the former place you worked at or the person you worked for. That will make them wonder if you might be saying the same thing about them in the future.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 36. What are your salary expectations?

      How to Answer

      When you're preparing for an interview, always have this question in the back of your mind. Resist the temptation to sell yourself short, but be realistic with what you expect to get paid for with your level of experience and for the area of the country you live in.

      To prepare for this question, look at job sites for the range of the average salary that industrial engineers make in the state where you will be working. We say 'will' here because IEs often get interviewed to work in another state besides the one they live in. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also has collected accurate data on the salary range that industrial engineers can expect in accordance with their different experience levels.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 37. How do you manage large amounts of data and information?

      How to Answer

      This question gives insight into your organizational skills and any IT and software background you picked up in your college curriculum and/or on the job. Organizations are often struggling with large amounts of data (also known as Big Data), as most have more technologies than they can manage, store, or process. The interviewer wants to know how you can keep from exacerbating the problem by just throwing more storage at it. Instead, describe robust ways such as using virtualization technology to help them with this challenge.
      Let the interviewer know how you can assist them in finding better data management approaches by saying,

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 38. Can you tell me the way you would optimize plant layout for the best results?

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is asking specific operational questions. This is where your pre-interview research and deep understanding of the company's operations come in. Align your answers with their current processes, while diplomatically making recommendations for process improvements.

      As you no doubt know from school or experience, in order for manufacturing processes to work optimally, a proper plant layout must be in place. The right one minimizes material handling costs, reduces throughput and travel times and has contingencies in place to increase output of products and services.

      There are just so many ways to constantly improve in these areas. For the interview, narrow it down and describe the big picture of designing for overall plant layout.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 39. Can you tell me the difference between a pull system and push system? If you can, which one is better.

      How to Answer

      The interviewer is testing your knowledge and understanding of supply chain management and lean terminology.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 40. In this position, you may be asked to eliminate or cut down on waste and make processes more efficient. Tell me about your background here, and what you might do to achieve this?

      How to Answer

      Take a laptop and be prepared to show programs you've built to the interviewer. This is especially important if you are being considered for an intern or entry position. Demonstration of your knowledge may even help you score a second interview, or better yet, the job.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 41. Can you explain the main methods for calculating costs when it comes to production environments?

      How to Answer

      This question is related to accounting, and as an engineer, part of your function will be in designing processes that cut costs or analyzing current processes to give cost cutting recommendations. That being said, knowing how to calculate production costs is a massive part of being successful in this area.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 42. Can you tell me about your process of identifying and correcting flaws in production?

      How to Answer

      This question drills down on critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You want to let the interviewer know that you are capable of doing this by answering,

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 43. What do you like about being an industrial engineer?

      How to Answer

      College gives industrial engineers a well-rounded education, and the field is broad and encompasses vast aspects of the industry. There is a lot to like when you are an engineer because of it. Meanwhile, you don't need to respond with something such as, 'I like the money.' Of course, all of us like money, so don't pigeonhole yourself with a shallow answer like that.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 44. What is Productivity?

      How to Answer

      This question seems simple, but there's a twist since the correct answer to this question and similar ones mean you didn't sleep through college lectures and your studies. Be prepared to answer definitions similar to this in the interview because they are commonly asked and are typically 'weed out' questions. Fortunately, this is also an excellent way to demonstrate to the interviewer you know the foundations that are important to the position. Answering the question the right way shows you know your industrial engineering definitions, especially when it comes to the basic concepts you need for the job. When answering a knowledge based question, keep your answer precise and to the point.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 45. What was your score on your NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering Exam?

      How to Answer

      Engineers are in high demand right now, and the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam that many of them take when they are seniors in college is the first step in preparing them to be a licensed, professional engineer. This interview question is more geared for recent grads who are close to completing their engineering degree in an EAC/ABET-accredited program. Answer the question by giving the interviewer your score. Be honest, even if you didn't get the score you hoped for. If you are deceitful, those kinds of things have a way of coming out later. The NCEES FE exam is offered in seven disciplines so the best answer would be: 'I received an 85 percent score in FE Industrial and Systems.' if that is the test type you took.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 46. Do you have any questions for me?

      How to Answer

      Remarkably, interviewers say the most commonly encountered answer to this question is no. Saying no to this question that is typically asked at the end of the interview is not the answer they are looking for. Plus, you also missed an opportunity to find out more about the firm. What you definitely don't want is a pregnant pause or to not answer this question at all. It is also premature to ask about benefits, and doing so may make you seem self-centered and signal your lack of interest in the job.

      The best way to handle this question is to build on what you've read about the firm and the prior questions asked in the interview. What follows is an example of how you can seize this opportunity without appearing self-serving.

      Remember how in the previous question, you gave the interviewer your FE exam score? That's an opportunity to say, 'I was wondering how your organization will allow me to gain the valuable experience needed while preparing to become a licensed industrial engineer, which is the next step after the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering Exam.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 47. What do you do to manage your time and stay on schedule?

      How to Answer

      The answer should inform the interviewer you have project management abilities and how you developed and improved your time management skills along the way. How you answer should also reflect on your excellent ability to handle demanding projects.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 48. What resources do you utilize to keep abreast with the newest engineering tech and developments?

      How to Answer

      Like all engineering or tech-heavy disciplines, industrial engineering is constantly changing. Because of that, you should change along with the relevant updates and innovations released. New tools and software continually make their debut, and you need to explain how you hear about them and keep abreast of the new trends. By answering this question, you are letting the interviewer know that you are adaptable and eager to apply innovative tools and solutions to the newest processes.

      Staying up to date with the latest tech additionally demonstrates how you proactively improve your skills and are willing to use your learning to the benefit of their company.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 49. What project management tools do you use for remote teams?

      How to Answer

      In these uncertain times, remote tools are being used more than ever. Let the interviewer know of any project management tools you are proficient within the skill of telecommuting by saying, 'I know how to use Asana, Basecamp, Slack, and Trello to manage projects and communicate with project teams.'

      It is also a good time to mention if you have any skills at using Customer Relation Management (CRM) tools if you are a sales and marketing-based IE that manages teams and customers either in-house or remotely. There are others, but Monday.com and Zoho.com are hot ones that are growing in popularity right now. The two are reasonably priced and provide collaboration between marketing, sales, and customer service teams.

      If you have any other relevant project management tools or certifications, discuss them here, too.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 50. Can you explain how you've brought an out of control process back into control?

      How to Answer

      This question delves into your background in Statistical Process Control (SPC), 6σ (Six Sigma), and if you know how to use Key Performance Indicator (KPI) metrics. There are other gauges to use, but these are commonly utilized.

      Discuss the solutions you've done or can do. For instance, you can say something such as, 'I implemented visuals such as Lean Andon Lights on my last contract, which sped up response time to manufacturing floor issues. I also used 6σ run and control charts on my last job, generating them easily in apps such as Excel. I utilized these charts to identify and bring non-conformances back into acceptable ranges.'

      Also, explain how you know how to do it if called upon for implementation. You could tell the interviewer, 'I learned how to use a control chart in my Statistical Process Control class. On the job, I used the chart to identify and bring the specifications for car paint in an auto manufacturing plant process under control.' To impress, present a printout of a chart you've generated at school or on the job.

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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  • 51. Can you tell me who W. Edward Deming was?

      How to Answer

      Dr. W. Edward Deming is considered by a lot of people to be the master of continual improvement of quality. Many in the industrial engineering field are fans of Deming, so it's wise to know about the work he did to advance how top managers and engineers work together and more. Along the same lines is the term Toyota Production System (TPS). It's hard to imagine getting hired for an IE position without knowing extensively about both, so it doesn't hurt to familiarize yourself with them again if you are rusty.

      You may not be able to recite Dr. Deming's 14 points for management, but you can easily discuss Deming's teachings and key points about him. You can answer the question by saying that 'Dr. Deming taught by showing companies how they can increase quality and lessen production costs by reducing waste, litigation, rework, and staff attrition, while still increasing the loyalty of the customer. Deming's efficiency methods and quality philosophies were instrumental in Japan's economic recovery after WWII and beyond.'

      Use the Toyota Company's definition for TPS if you are asked about it - for which the answer would be, 'TPS is a production system based on the philosophy of achieving the complete elimination of all waste in pursuit of the most efficient methods. TPS uses lean tools such as Just-In-Time (JIT) inventory and stopping equipment immediately when a problem occurs on the line to prevent defects.'

      Written by Holly Chavez on December 18th, 2020

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