Why civil engineering?

Because you enjoy doing things that civil engineers typically do. Because you believe to have all skills and abilities, as well theoretical knowledge of the field, to do a great job as an engineer, to bring value to your employer.

Because you have passion for design and planning, and can not really imagine doing anything else for living. Because you always had this dream, and chose your education accordingly, doing your best to prepare for your future occupation.


Why our company? Why not one of our main competitors?

Because you prefer to deign roads/bridges/power plants, basically the structures the company builds. Or perhaps because they are the big player, working on big contracts, and you always wanted to work for the best only.

You can also refer to interesting job description, place of work that suits your plans, or great working environment and reputation of the company. One way or another, give them a good reason why you apply with them… You can also check 7 sample answers to this question: Why do you want to work here?


What do you want to accomplish as a civil engineer?

Try to talk about the goals of the company. That means helping them to plan and design building structures that will meet their purpose, structures that will pass the trail of time.

You can also say that you hope to bring some innovation to the company with your design work. One way or another, they should get the feeling that you do not care only about your personal achievements, but actually try to help them to make the grade.


Tell us something about your experience

Experience is pivotal for this role. Try to talk about projects that are at least somehow relevant to the building structures they work on in the company. Explain how you helped with the design, the new ideas you came with, the value you brought to the team.

In an ideal case, you should prepare a portfolio of your best works, including both original designs and pictures of building structures after final statutory approval. A good portfolio can win you a job contract, and you should definitely make one before going for this interview.


What motivates you the most in work?

You can say that you enjoy seeing your design works turn to reality, that you feel proud of leaving something behind you, something valuable for people. This is a great motivation for many civil engineers.

But you can talk also about other things, such as pure passion for design, belonging to a hard working team, or in worst case about things you want to buy for yourself and your family, with the money you will make in the job. Again, you can check 7 sample answers here: What motivates you?


What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?

It can be many things. Bureaucracy comes to my mind as number one, because that’s something I deal with a lot. Waiting for approvals, explaining things to people who lack technical knowledge, etc.

But there are also other things that people find difficult. Convincing your employer (or a client) of a right way of doing things, meeting deadlines, experiencing disappointment when your designs get rejected, staying focused and motivated in the job, keeping your knowledge of trends and law up to date, etc.


What are your salary expectations?

As a first step, try to convince them that the salary is not a deciding factor for you (if it really is not), and that you will accept the same starting salary as they pay to other civil engineers in the company.

They may want to heart a number anyway–in this case you should google for average salary for c. engineers in your country (or even in your city), and start with it.

In a case when you have a lot of experience, you probably know your price, and how much your skills are worth. But think also about the size of the construction/design company–only the big players will be ready to pay you $100,000 or more annually. Trying to get six figures with a small company, you can forget about succeeding in your interview.

How long do you want to have this job?

It is not easy to hire a good engineer. Once they have you onboard, they hope that you will stay for many years to come. And you should try to convince them that you want to stay (even if you have other plans).

Tell them that you will be more than happy to work on interesting designs in five years, working for their company.


Give me an example of a time when you had to explain something fairly complex or technical to someone who lacked the technical knowledge.

This happens all the time, and it is actually a common weakness of engineers–that they aren’t able to get their message over to managers, clients, or other stakeholders.

Describe how you went out of your comfort zone, using simple language, pictures, demonstration, and other tools, to explain the technical thing in a most simple way. You can even make up such a situation, since it is your attitude that matters for the interviews, not the exact situation you narrate.

* May also interest you: Tell us about a time when you used technical skills to solve a problem.


Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work.

Deadlines, problems, conflicts. We experience all kinds of pressure in the job. Show the interviewers that you do not crack under pressure. Say them that you take it as something that belongs to the job, and always try to prioritize your tasks and stay calm.

You can even narrate a situation when the pressure you felt helped you to come up with a great idea, or innovative design, and say that you actually work better under pressure. The choice is yours…

Want to practice your interview answers later? Download a full list of questions in a simple, one page long PDF, print it, and practice anytime you want:

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Matthew Chulaw
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