The other day I encountered an article that listed some general interview questions for Electrical Engineers. The author was simply giving you some good stuff to think about before going into an interview. The article appeared to be aimed mostly at senior students or recent graduates.
The part that frustrated and disappointed me was that in the comment/forum area of this particular article there were multiple comments saying, “Please email me the answers.”
Some even went so far as to say something like, “I have an interview next week. Please tell me the answers. It is urgent”
My dismay went beyond the fact that these people missed the point of listing these questions at all—which is that you should be able to think about the question and in a reasonably short time come up with a good answer from your own knowledge and experience. It was that they could not even be bothered to think about the questions at all. They wanted somebody to spoon-feed them a single predetermined correct answer. The notions that maybe there is more than one correct answer, or that the question is designed to spark some element of creativity in their response, had completely eluded them.
It made me wonder, if somebody asked them, “What is your favorite color?” would they be stuck until somebody told them what their answer was supposed to be?
These were not even specific technical questions. This article did not ask, “Why might it be a bad idea to hang a capacitor on the output of an operational amplifier?” No, they were simply asking things like, “Are you happy with your academic performance?” [That’s kind of a trick question, now that I think about it. Few among us should be completely happy with our academic performance.]
I have heard a lot of great interview questions in the 40+ years I have been doing electronics. I have to confess that sometimes as the interviewee, I have stumbled and failed to give good answers. It happens to everybody. Sometimes you just don’t have your head in the game. The worst and best interviews I ever experienced were with the same company, about 4 years apart. The first time I was uncomfortable and could not project any confidence in my answers. The second time I felt great and found clever answers coming out of my mouth almost before they registered in my conscious brain. I know I was the same person, but the impression I made each time was obviously very different: the second interview produced a job offer where the first had not.
For some of the coming weeks, I plan to share a few of my favorite interview questions for electrical engineers. (I offer my apologies in advance to the mechanical, civil, nuclear, industrial, and other engineers in the audience. I have to go with what I know.) I am unlikely to tell you one specific answer to any question. Hopefully, you will think of some better answers than I could ever suggest.