Red Flags in Engineering Interviews

Red Flags in Engineering Interviews

Many young job seekers feel they’re at the mercy of hiring managers, when in reality, job interviews go both ways. Interviews aren’t only about marketing your qualifications. They’re also an opportunity to see if the company you’re considering is suitable for your long term career goals.

Interview red flags that engineering job seekers should look out for

Interviews can vary greatly between fields, however common red flags shouldn’t be ignored. While you shouldn’t automatically dismiss a job opportunity, these warning signs are worth looking into.

Lack of technical questions

If an engineering interview completely bypasses technical questions, that is a bit concerning. Even fields that don’t require strong technical backgrounds should at least ask about how you’ve applied your technical skills in the past. If they seem completely unconcerned about technical skills, then this could mean a number of things:

  • job is not technical
  • technical skills can be easily learned on the job
  • company is letting in weak engineers
  • this is an entry level job

If you run into this situation, don’t dismiss the opportunity right away. Try to determine the reason why technical skills weren’t tested.

Depending on your career goals, some concerns may actually be a positive. For instance, a novice engineer wants to develop their technical skills. If technical skills are learned on the job, then that’s perfect. However, if this job is not technical and the potential colleagues are technically weak, then there will not be as much learning opportunities.

Non-technical interviewer asking technical questions

If a human resource employee starts asking technical questions, they’re likely reading off from a script that an engineer had prepared beforehand. Responding to these questions is essentially all-or-nothing since you need to say exactly what is written on their answer key. It’s pretty much playing engineering trivia.

It’s even more frustrating when their script is incorrect but there’s no way to explain your reasoning since they don’t have the technical background.

This red flag indicates that the company does not take technical skills very seriously, If that’s something you’re looking to develop, this probably isn’t the right place for you.

No engineer interviewers present

If you’ve never seen an engineer throughout your entire interview process, it may be because:

  • engineers are too busy to come to the meetings
  • you are not important enough for an engineer’s time
  • you won’t be working with other engineers
  • job is not technical
  • this is an entry level job

It’s difficult to take an engineering position seriously if they don’t even send an engineer to assess you.

Interviewers are distracted

If the interviewers are checking their emails or texts while you are talking, it’s extremely unprofessional and rude. There have also been cases of interviewers picking up phone calls during interviews. If they’re this disrespectful during the interview, imagine how bad it would be working with them.

The only time it’s acceptable to appear distracted is if they’re taking notes, either on their laptop or on paper. However if that’s the case, most interviewers will let you know at the beginning of the interview.

Claims to offer competitive compensation

Many companies will claim that they have “competitive compensation” without going into any details. Spoiler alert: That’s usually a sign that it’s not very competitive.

When a company claims to have competitive compensation, it’s usually because they:

  • know they’re low-balling you
  • are completely unaware of industry averages

If they’re intentionally low-balling you, that means they don’t truly value your skills and you would be better off taking your expertise elsewhere.

If they’re completely tone-deaf to current industry expectations, that shows that the company is falling behind with the times. It’s likely that they’re also falling behind on other aspects of the workplace.

Dealing with this red flag is relatively straightforward since you will eventually know the compensation before signing any offer letters. Sometimes, they actually offer a competitive salary! However if you find yourself rolling your eyes at their self-proclaimed “competitive compensation”, then you should consider negotiating.

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