Aerotek is a subsidiary of an international talent management firm Allegis Group, specializing mostly in hiring talent for engineering and property and construction jobs. Their interview process consists of several rounds, most of them done over the phone. From the get-go they try to understand whether you are the right fit for the job, what you will have to demonstrate with your answers to some technical questions, related to your engineering expertise. Once you proved that, the core of the interview process consists mostly in behavioral questions, that means “Tell me about a time when…” type of questions.
Behavioral questions are pretty similar in each interview with Aerotek, regardless of the role you are applying for. That’s why we will focus mostly on them in this post. When it comes to technical questions, they really change from job to job, or even from interview to interview, and I think it doesn’t make much sense preparing for them in advance. If you know your field, you will give them decent answers to technical questions, regardless of the exact things they inquire about. And if you do not know it, no level of preparation will help you… Hence the key is applying for the right job, and getting ready for the behavioral questions. Let’s move to them.
Tell us about a time when you used logic to solve a problem.
If you apply for your first job, you can talk about some problem you solved at school, or even in your personal life. Just think about it for a moment–we solve some problems our entire life, from the moment we are born till the moment we die.
Your attitude matters for the interviewers, and not the particular situation you narrate. If they see that you actually used your brain when facing a problem and didn’t opt for the most immediate solution, that you considered the arguments and weighted pros and cons, and did not decide intuitively (though in certain cases it is the best way to decide), they will be happy with your answer. And it doesn’t matter whether you talk about job, relationship, or a lesson in school.
Of course, if you can pick up a problem related to your engineering experience, ideally a big problem you struggled to solve for some time (or your colleagues could not solve it), it is the best example.
Describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.
The world of big corporations is all about goals and deadlines, and engineering jobs are no exception to the rule. The key is to demonstrate that you can–in extraordinary circumstances–sacrifice something for your employer. Perhaps you stayed overtime for 10 days in a row, or even did a lot of work at home–to do your best to meet the tight deadline. Whether you eventually met it, or missed it, isn’t the most important thing for the hiring managers. What matters is that you gave it your best shot.
It is also important to avoid blaming other people for your mistakes, or your inability to meet the deadline. Sure, no engineer is an isolated unit in the workplace, and other people can make your life hard–not delivering reports on time for example. But it isn’t a good idea talking about it in your interview. If you missed the deadline, or made some mistake (they may inquire about it with another question) you should accept responsibility.
Tell us about a situation when you found it hard to communicate something technical to a manager, or someone without technical skills. How did you get your message over?
A fairly typical situation for each technician in the company, each engineer. Again, your department won’t be an isolated unit. You will participate in the meetings, talk to people from other departments of the company, etc. Some of them will have no idea of your field, and you’ll have to explain things in a simple way to make them understand.
You can talk about demonstration, practical examples, charts & pictures, changing your language according to the audience (avoiding technical terms when speaking to someone without technical language), etc. The key is to show that you did your best to get your message over, and that you can adjust your language, and speak in a simple way, when a situation demands it.
Tell us about a time when you found it difficult to work with someone.
It is completely normal to have conflicts in the workplace, to struggle to get along with someone. You do not have to be friends with everyone, however. As long as you demonstrate (with the help of the situation you narrate in the interviews) that you can get over your ego, and progress with your work, even though you may struggle to get along with one of your colleagues, hiring managers will be satisfied with your answer.
Again, you should be able to admit your part of the guilt. It would be a mistake blaming the colleague only, saying how difficult it was to cooperate with them. On the contrary, try to explain the situation from some perspective, perspective of an observer if you want…. The two of you just weren’t on a same page, from one reason to another, and though you tried to overcome the gap and build the bridges, it didn’t work (or it worked to some extent only), which is the reason why you found it difficult to get along with this or that employee.
Tell us about a time when you applied technical skills to solve a problem
Nobody likes problems, since they make us miss deadlines at work, and struggle with something instead of moving on according to the schedule. At the same time though, problems and challenges help us grow, both as technicians and as people. It is when we face the unknown and have to dig deep to solve a problem when we learn the most, and become better in our field of technical expertise. And that’s exactly the attitude you should show in the interviews.
It doesn’t matter if you talk about repairing a TV set back home, or about solving a complicated programming puzzle in your last job. Show some pride and satisfaction in the process, and ensure them that you, at least somehow, enjoy applying your technical skills to solve difficult problems. In an ideal case, you can talk about a problem closely related to the job you try to get through your application with Aerotek, meaning a problem you can realistically face in your new job.
Other behavioral (situational) questions you may face in your interview with Aerotek
- Tell us about a time when your work was criticized.
- Give an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
- Have you ever taken a calculated risk? Describe the situation.
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
- Give an example of a time when you showed initiative at work.
- Tell me about an obstacle you overcame.
- Describe a situation when you had to motivate someone in work (your colleague, your subordinate, or even your superior).
- What is the best project you’ve ever worked on?
Final thoughts on interview with Aerotek
Passing an interview with Aerotek is a not an easy task, and you can forget about getting some 6-figure engineering job without truly understanding your field of expertise. They do their job well, and the technical questions make a lot of sense. Having said that, your success in the interview does not depend on your technical skills only.
You will have to deal with other questions, mainly behavioral, and that’s something you can prepare for in advance, since such questions repeat in the interviews, regardless of the exact job you try to get with Aerotek. I hope this article helped you to do that, and wish you best of luck on the big day!
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- How to overcome interview nerves? 4 steps guide for everyone.
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