MockQuestions

Structural Engineer Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Josh Sadlock

Question 1 of 30

Describe a time when you used your engineering knowledge to solve a problem for which there appeared to be no answer.

1000s of Interview Questions

Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.

Structural Engineer Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Describe a time when you used your engineering knowledge to solve a problem for which there appeared to be no answer.

      The best engineers are able to use creative thinking to solve problems where the answer doesn't stand out immediately. This is a chance to highlight a special project from your resume that showcases your unique engineering skills. Share about a time you worked on a complicated project and describe your contribution in overcoming a challenge.

      Josh's Answer

      "While working on a renovation project for a hospital, our team had to work within the constraints of the environment, where it was still an active medical setting. The steel members and structural components we were designing had to be light and easy to maneauver and install. This led to some very creative detailing and design."

      Anonymous Answer

      "When I was working as a Structural Engineer on a project for the installation of small wind turbines on telecom towers, we purchased our first turbine to be installed. Looking at the specifications provided by the manufacturer, we realized the turbine was too big to be mounted on the tower directly. So I was tasked with coming up with a support structure as the mount. I made a preliminary design based on analysis and it was accurate."

      Marcie's Answer

      You have chosen an excellent example to include in your answer to this question. It shows that you are able to think outside the box and be resourceful when you might not initially have everything you need to resolve an issue. These are positive attributes that the interviewer will be happy you have. Nice job!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  2. 2.

    What is your overall career objective? Do you see yourself working in engineering ten years from now? If not, what do you think you will be doing?

      Most engineering firms realize that if they hire you, there's a 50-50 chance you'll still be there in ten years, but it is still important for them to know your personal career goals before they bring you on board. This is especially true for mid-level and upper-level professionals. For example, if you aspire to be a senior vice president of an engineering firm and the firm you're interviewing with doesn't envision having an opening for you, then it may not be a good long-term fit.

      Josh's Answer

      "I definitely envision myself sticking with structural engineering for the rest of my career. In ten years, I see myself working in a senior project manager role with an eye on transitioning into the executive management of a firm. I would like to learn more about the business aspect of running an engineering company."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I am sure that I will work as a structural engineer for the rest of my career. I would like to get involved in sustainability-based projects and leading community-driven projects over the next 10 years. I would also like to learn the business aspects of running a structural design consultancy as my career proceeds."

      Marcie's Answer

      Another great answer! You sound confident and dedicated to the idea of being a structural engineer for the long term. It's also good that you describe the kinds of projects you envision yourself working on. Excellent!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  3. 3.

    What area of structural engineering do you find most challenging?

      Very few structural engineers find every part of their job to be a breeze, and that's ok. Employers don't expect you to be an expert in every single subset or design application of structural engineering. What they do expect you to do is recognize what challenges you and take action to learn more or seek out help from more experienced team members. Engineering firms employ diverse staffs that all have different skills and areas of expertise.

      Josh's Answer

      "I do not have a great deal of experience designing and detailing concrete slabs. When tasked with working on a slab design problem, I have always made sure that I am proactive in seeking out help and asking someone to check over my calculations at various stages of completion, to make sure I am on the right track."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I do not have a great deal of experience in the design of bridge structures except for my capstone project. But when I am tasked with a project in Bridge design, I will be sure to learn the best I can as quickly as possible and also rely on more senior members of the team for help. I would ask them to review my calculations to make sure I was on the right track."

      Marcie's Answer

      You provide a good example of an area that you find challenging. You admit that you don't know as much about this topic; however, by mentioning your capstone project, you make the interviewer aware that you do still have some knowledge in this area, which is great. Mentioning that you are a quick learner and open to learning from others are also positives.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  4. 4.

    How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time?

      It's always a challenge deciding what needs to get done first when you have a to-do list with a dozen things or more on it. Learning how to prioritize your time correctly is a big step to being a better, more efficient engineer. The interviewer wants to see if you have a grasp on how to work on multiple tasks at once and how you handle the pressure of being involved in multiple projects with different deadlines. It's important to show that you have good time management skills and know how to be organized.

      Josh's Answer

      "When I am working on multiple projects at the same time, I keep a list of key deadlines and submission dates for each project. From there, I prioritize which tasks are on the critical path of the schedule and whether or not other team members are waiting on me to finish my task or check their work. I think it's important and helpful to also recognize other engineer's work schedules and effort, when planning my own work."

  5. 5.

    Why do you want a career as a structural engineer?

      Interviewers use questions like this to try and break the ice and get to know you. It's important for them to feel like they have an understanding of what motivates you as an engineer. Give an impassioned answer and show that you are excited about your work as a structural engineer. Offer personal anecdotes to strengthen your answer.

      Josh's Answer

      "I have always been fascinated by the buildings that humans have been able to build. It blows my mind that the Great Pyramids and Roman aqueducts and the Coliseum are still standing. These monuments to structural engineering brilliance might stand longer than anything modern humans are able to design."

  6. 6.

    What type of buildings do you have experience designing?

      Structural engineers work on a wide variety of different types of buildings. Some are more complex than others and require you to solve more challenging design problems. When answering this question, expound on specific projects from your resume, describe the types of buildings you have worked on and the different challenges you faced. Talk about several different buildings.

      Josh's Answer

      "I've worked on quite a few different types of buildings so far in my career. I've done single-story commercial retail projects, multi-story office buildings, apartments and hotels. I've also done some structural design for concrete tanks at water treatment plants and foundation design for agricultural sites. I've enjoyed the different challenges posed by each type of building."

  7. 7.

    What new engineering specialty skills have you developed during the past year?

      Engineers should always be working to learn new skills to make themselves more valuable. Being willing to learn on your own time is the mark of a truly valuable employee who will help the firm grow and bring in new clients. If you have picked up new skills, this is your chance to brag about them, and explain why you think they'll add value to a new firm. If not, don't worry -- use the time answering this question to discuss something you are interested in learning about.

      Josh's Answer

      "I am very interested in the future of solar and wind engineering as a key part of a sustainable future for the planet. Over the past year, I have spent time taking online courses related to the design and construction of rooftop solar panel installations. I believe this will be a key revenue driver for structural engineers, and I have the skills to be a key team member on solar-related projects."

  8. 8.

    What is your secret to a successful career as a structural engineer?

      You have to work hard to be a good structural engineer, but it's how you put in the work that sets the best engineers apart from the rest of the field. A strong answer to this question will show the interviewer that you know what it takes to be successful as a structural engineer and that you have worked on your own personal career goals. Show the interviewer that you have put a lot of thought into how to maximize your skills and talents as an engineer. That's the true key to being successful in this field.

      Josh's Answer

      "I think the most important thing that engineers can do to help themselves succeed is to never stop learning. I'm smart enough to realize that I don't know it all as an engineer. The best way I can help myself and my clients is by working hard to learn a few new things about this field every year and incorporate those things into my projects."

  9. 9.

    How do you best manage your team's workload as a project manager?

      Good project managers are sort of like a jockey in a horse race. They know exactly how much their team can handle, when to push the pace, and when to back off and let everyone catch their breath. Effectively managing staff workload is just as important as keeping track of the schedule and ensuring the budget remains on the contract. If you push the team too hard as a project manager, they'll get burned out, alienated, or leave the firm altogether.

      Josh's Answer

      "Each project is set up with the goal of never asking the team members to work more than 40 hours a week. They are certainly given the opportunity and freedom to work overtime when they feel driven or excited about what they're working on, but it is never expected. I find this keeps everyone fresh and motivated. If extra work is required, I do my best to funnel it to the more senior staff members first."

  10. 10.

    What did you like and dislike about your previous job?

      If you're looking for a new job, there must be a reason you're willing to leave your old company. Your interviewer will want to understand why you're interested in leaving. Being able to offer positives and negatives about your previous job is the mark of a true professional who is able to critically asses the pros and cons of a situation. Give a truthful answer to this question, but don't be overly negative about your prior employer.

      Josh's Answer

      "I really liked the people I worked with at my last job. We had a really great, small team that felt like family. Our office outings were always a blast. However, I felt like the firm was too small and could not offer me the opportunities for growth I am seeking. I'd like to be involved in larger projects and more technically-challenging structures."

  11. 11.

    Do you have experience working with building remodeling teams?

      Remodeling projects are common in the field of structural engineering. It can be a unique and fun challenge to work within the framework of an existing building to renovate it and create something new for a client. Working on remodeling projects is a great way to build your skills as a structural engineer. Describe remodeling projects you have worked on and the type of calculations or structural details that you were required to perform as an engineer.

      Josh's Answer

      "I have worked on several large remodeling projects, both residential and commercial. I have been responsible for performing calculations related to removing load bearing walls. One of the coolest projects I worked on involved a homeowner wanting to remove several walls so that he could build a tennis court for himself in a large room."

  12. 12.

    Please describe the most technically interesting building in your city.

      Here's a chance to show an interviewer that you have great observational skills as an engineer. By describing to the interviewer an interesting building in your city, you'll be showing them that you can assess structural systems just by looking at a building and without needing to look at plans or calculations. Having a good answer to this question shows that you're always trying to learn more as an engineer and can think critically on your own, without being guided to the right answer.

      Josh's Answer

      "I lived in Pittsburgh for over 10 years after college, and one of the most interesting buildings in the city is the old ALCOA headquarters. It was the first building in the world to be made entirely out of aluminum. The building has such a cool, sleek exterior finish. It looks very futuristic. Aluminum is definitely not the easiest material to build a skyscraper out of, but they made it work."

  13. 13.

    What engineering skills have you developed or improved upon during the past year?

      As an engineer, you should never stop learning and picking up new skills. This is the key to growth and becoming a successful contributor to your firm's teams. It should be a point of pride to discuss what you have worked on. Discuss specific skills you have gone out of your way to study and how they make you a more valuable asset to their firm.

      Josh's Answer

      "Over the past year, I have really worked hard to learn more about foundation design. When I'm working on big building projects as a structural engineer, I think it will really help the team out to have an engineer who is able to communicate directly with the geotechnical team and understand their language and field more fully. We need to be able to work across multiple disciplines to get the best results."

      Anonymous Answer

      "Over the past year, I have been learning to program through Python and the use of machine learning. I believe that structural engineering is multi-disciplinary, and it's important to have sufficient knowledge of the latest advancements in computational programming. Over the past couple of months, I have also been working on developing an online tool to perform the design of structural members using Java."

      Marcie's Answer

      Great answer! Any interviewer will view it as a positive that you have been honing your programming skills. Not only have you been working on improving in this area, but you mention multiple programming languages which is impressive. Nice!

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  14. 14.

    How do you get a peer or colleague to accept one of your ideas?

      Engineering debates can be contentious, especially when everyone thinks they have the best idea in the room. This is why communication skills are key. You need to be able to see the point of view of your colleagues, digest their criticism or conflicting viewpoints, and then make a strong case for your own ideas. Give concrete examples from projects you have worked on throughout your career where you had to overcome internal conflict to advance your ideas.

      Josh's Answer

      "At my previous employer, I developed an idea that would improve our team's workflows and communications while working from home during the pandemic. It was difficult at first to get buy in from older engineers at first, but I was able to get the team on board by talking to them on an individual level and understanding their concerns over the current state of our day-to-day operations."

  15. 15.

    How would your former employer describe you?

      Potential employers are curious to know how your previous employer would describe your work and performance while employed with them. Early on in the interview process, they won't be able to reach out for feedback from your provided references. So, it's up to you to offer your own honest feedback. Be candid and honest when answering this question. The interviewer will be able to tell if you are not being genuine in your answer.

      Josh's Answer

      "My previous coworkers and managers would describe me as hard working and dependable. They know that I am always willing to put in the extra effort to make sure work gets done on time. It's important that everyone pulls their own weight and recognizes that their work and effort affects everyone else on the team."

      Anonymous Answer

      "My employer would describe me as hardworking and dependable. Actually, in a recent review given by a colleague, she described me as someone who is hardworking, cheerful, and helpful. I always try to be helpful if someone approaches me with a problem that they cannot find a solution for. I am also usually the person arranging a dinner party after a stressful exam week!"

      Marcie's Answer

      It's great that others would describe you as hardworking, dependable, cheerful, and helpful. These are all wonderful attributes! You might also consider adding in the adjectives creative, collaborative, and detail-oriented since these are all other common qualities of successful structural engineers. You've also mentioned in previous answers that you are a good problem solver and a quick learner, which are other qualities the interviewer will want to hear.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  16. 16.

    What made you choose a career as a structural engineer?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  17. 17.

    What are you doing to keep current in technology?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  18. 18.

    Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  19. 19.

    What are your career goals?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  20. 20.

    What structural engineering project, outside of anything you have worked on, are you most impressed with?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  21. 21.

    What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  22. 22.

    What was the last book you read for fun?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  23. 23.

    What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a Structural Engineer?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  24. 24.

    How do you prioritize your work when juggling multiple projects?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  25. 25.

    What was your greatest accomplishment as a structural engineer?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  26. 26.

    Do you have any special experience working with engineers in different disciplines?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  27. 27.

    Do you have experience using BIM software?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  28. 28.

    Can you describe the key differences between steel and concrete as structural building materials?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  29. 29.

    Are you comfortable handling drafting tasks on your own?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.
  30. 30.

    How would you handle working with a demanding client that doesn't take no for an answer?

      View All 30 Structural Engineer Answers
      Sign up to access our library of 50,000+ Answers,
      plus coaches for one-on-one support, so you can interview more confidently.