11 Interview Questions to Help You Hire the Best Electrical Engineer
Whether you’re hiring a contract electrical engineer or searching for a permanent hire, you’ll want to make sure that the candidate you select is the best fit for your role. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bad hire can cost you up to 30% of the employee’s first year earnings. The Undercover Recruiter puts the cost at an average of $240,000 when hiring, compensation and retention are considered. Whichever is the true number, it’s a cost you should strive to avoid. Avoiding making a bad hire makes good business sense. These interview questions will help you identify the most suitable candidate for your electrical engineer position.
It’s Not Only a Talent Shortage You Must Overcome
As we discussed in our last article (Why It’s Hard to Hire the Best Electrical Engineer – and How to Hire’), there is a widening talent shortage for electrical engineers. Fewer candidates are chasing more jobs. But this isn’t your only challenge. You’ll also need to ensure that your chosen candidate:
- Has the right experience
- Has the right technical skills
- Is within budget
- Is a good fit with your team’s culture with the soft skills to be an effective team member
The following questions will help you answer these concerns.
Why did you decide to become an electrical engineer?
A great question to ask entry-level candidates for an electrical engineer job. This will help you ascertain the candidate’s education, passion and experience in engineering. If the first answer the candidate gives concerns remuneration, it is probably a hire to avoid.
Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
The answer will give you a better idea of the enthusiasm of the candidate for the industry, your company, and the role advertised. You don’t want the candidate to use your electrical engineer job as a stepping-stone in their career. Therefore, you’ll hope that the candidate describes a career progression that is tied to continuing with your organization.
How do you complete projects that are on a strict deadline?
This question explores the ability of the candidate to manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and collaborate with others. The best answer will be framed in experience, telling the story of how they have worked under time pressure and with others.
Describe your leadership style.
Especially if you are recruiting for a supervisory or senior role, you’ll want to understand how the candidate manages others. Their behavior will affect the dynamic of the team. You’ll want to ensure that they fit with your leadership culture. You might give them a scenario to discuss, to allow them to demonstrate their day-to-day management style and big-picture leadership ability.
Describe the most challenging technical aspect of your job.
This question takes you into the realm of discussing the candidate’s technical ability. You might frame this question in specific terms that relate to the work they will be undertaking with you, and ask about how they reported progress or issues to better understand their communication skills as well.
Tell me about how you managed a difficult client in the past, and what would you have done differently
This question puts the candidate in a difficult position, because you are asking that they admit a weakness. However, the willingness to admit when you are wrong is important. You don’t want to hire someone who will muddle through, but who has the confidence to ask advice when and if needed. You also wish to test the candidate’s ability to listen to clients and work collaboratively to find solutions to problems.
The candidate’s answer to the second part of this question will show their ability to learn from mistakes – an important quality for all employees at all levels.
How many tennis balls could you fit in Cadillac?
An off-the-wall question deliberately designed to catch the interviewee off guard. Do they have the flexibility, calmness, and rational thinking to tackle this question? It is more important that the candidate works through the answer logically than get the correct answer (we don’t have a clue what the correct answer is, either!).
Have you ever had to reduce costs, and how did you do this?
Cost control is always important, and you’ll want to know that the electrical engineer you hire is cost conscious. This will help if your company needs to reduce expenses, and could be an invaluable skill to hire into your team.
Have you developed any processes that improved your team’s performance?
If you are looking for an electrical engineer with the ability to think differently and create processes that produce improvements or streamline current practice without diminishing safety, then this is the question to ask. An affirmative answer demonstrates an inquisitive mind and problem-solving attitude that could be invaluable, and enhance the bottom one.
What do you find the least enjoyable aspect of electrical engineering?
You may have established that the candidate is passionate about what they do, but we all have tasks we don’t enjoy. If the candidate’s least favorite tasks are the major part of the role you wish them to do, then hiring them is unlikely to end well.
Why do you want to join our company?
You want to hire someone who is passionate about the job. You also want to hire someone who knows something about your company. Is it the field that you work in that most excites them? Perhaps it is your client base, or the fact that your company offers defined career plans. A candidate who shows a good understanding of who your company is will be more likely to stay for the longer term.
Electrical Engineer Interview Questions Summary
Interviewing candidates and selecting the very best is not easy. You must take a structured approach, be consistent, and measure each candidate against their competition. It is important that you learn as much about the candidate as possible, including if they possess the key hard and soft skills needed to do the job, and the personality to fit into your team.
Though you will wish to modify these 11 questions to fit your specific requirements, they should help you select the very best candidate for the role you need filled. With a consistent and targeted list of questions, you should hire more successfully – saving costs and improving company performance. To benefit from a streamlined hiring process for your next electrical engineer hire, contact M Force Staffing today. We specialize in sourcing and providing the people you need, as contract, contract-to-hire, or direct hire employees.