Sample Electrical Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

Flow seamlessly with galvanized responses about electric current, power transmissions, and precision engineering.

Sample Electrical Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

Create sharp answers to electrical engineer interview questions.

The preponderance of electricity—and the trillions of kilowatt-hours consumed every year in the U.S. alone—can't be understated. And as that consumption continues to expand every year, so does the number of electrical engineers. This sub-discipline of engineering is widespread, covering everything from tiny circuits to massive power grids. Electrical engineers design, test, and oversee any aspect of electrical components within a project or products that operate on electricity. This career has a lot of potential for growth and longevity, but all electrical engineering jobs will require that you fire out some sharp answers to electrical engineer interview questions first.

Are you feeling any jitters? Is this your first job interview? Or maybe you're looking to change jobs? Don't worry—we'll help you prepare accordingly so that you can focus on what you know best: electrical engineering. Technical interview questions may run the gamut from how you can define Norton's Theorem and how you evaluate the safety of electric circuits to whether you have any specialties within the field (such as residential or industrial applications, or, say, microelectronics). We've compiled a list of some of the most common electrical engineering interview questions, with dynamic responses to help guide you before the big day.

Electrical Engineer Interview Questions

  1. What Initially Sparked Your Interest in Electrical Engineering?
  2. What Are the Main Types of Electric Current?
  3. Can You Define Inductance and Capacitance?
  4. What Kinds of Cables Are Used for Power Transmissions?
  5. How Do Maintain Precision Throughout Your Work?
  6. How Do You Deal With Discord on Your Team?

Question #1: What Initially Sparked Your Interest in Electrical Engineering?

Undoubtedly, employers want to know what brought you to the field of electrical engineering. Interview questions like this one give you an opportunity to provide some background and maybe even a personal anecdote to relay your initial interest in the industry. The trick is to avoid merely saying that you were good at math, chemistry, or physics in high school or that you knew the prospective salaries for electrical engineers would be on the higher end. Instead, think about:

  • Is there an impetus you can recall that motivated you?
  • Why did you choose engineering versus becoming an electrician?

How You Could Answer

"At a young age, I became mesmerized by electricity and wanted to learn how it all works. Its incredible speed and power potential had me daydreaming every morning on my way to school, so I knew early on what I'd study in college. There, I discovered Nikola Tesla and the phenomenal breakthroughs he had made with electric power. I wanted to go beyond just installing wiring or making repairs—I needed to go further than what an electrician might do, as I wanted to be able to create pioneering products that run on electricity, or design complex electrical control systems that are at the vanguard of the industry, or equipment that efficiently distributes electrical energy for various purposes. In short, I knew I had to be an engineer working with electricity."

Question #2: What Are the Main Types of Electric Current?

In this career, it's crucial that you understand key concepts and theories—especially since safety is always a major factor. Even if the electrical engineer interview questions seem simple enough, employers want to assess how well you comprehend the concept, and how you're able to thoughtfully express what it means in your own words. Before responding, you should consider:

  • How can you show that you have a strong grasp of the underlying concept?
  • How can you add value to your response by extending it beyond an elementary definition?

How You Could Answer

"Electric current can be defined as charged particles flowing through a conducting medium. There are two main types of current being used today: Direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). In direct current, electrons flow in one direction (and there's no return wire or cable). DC is often used for long-distance transmissions. On the other hand, alternating current flows within a circuit, and hence it's safer (which is one of the reasons it's used for residences and businesses). In an AC power circuit or system, the flow of electric charge reverses directions at regular intervals. Going back to Tesla, it's interesting to point out that he first developed (with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation) the induction motor needed to produce an alternative current. The electricity created by its spinning rotor changes direction once and back again with each cycle. It's amazing!"

Question #3: Can You Define Inductance and Capacitance?

Your interviewer may jump off something you mention in a previous answer to your electrical engineer interview questions or ask you to elaborate further, such as in this case. Induction and inductance are not exactly the same, so you should begin your response by clarifying that difference, and then also take into consideration:

  • How can you most clearly define these concepts?
  • How are these concepts used to design electric circuits?

How You Could Answer

"Simply put, inductance is when a coil resists changes in electric current. Induction refers to the process of generating current in a conductor by putting it in a changing magnetic field. So when induction happens within an electric circuit and affects the flow of electricity, it's called inductance. Now, capacitance is a capacitor's ability to store an electric charge for any given voltage, and that charge can be released when needed or when the capacitor has reached its limit. Capacitors and inductors are also two of the main passive components in many circuit designs, in addition to resistors.

Question #4: What Kinds of Cables Are Used for Power Transmissions?

Again, employers will want to measure your expertise. Showcasing your knowledge—without the help of a manual—is favorable for any electrical engineer. Interview questions like this one are part of that appraisal. So brush up on the following:

  • How are cable types categorized?
  • What are the different voltage capacities?

How You Could Answer

"Long-distance cables, such as overhead power lines, are classified according to their size and thermal capacity. So we have low-tension cables, which can transmit voltage up to 1,000 volts or one kilovolt (1 kV). Then there are high-tension cables, which transmit between 1 kV and 23,000 volts (23 kV). And, finally, super-tension cables, which carry between 66,000 volts (66 kV) and 132,000 volts (132 kV)."

Question #5: How Do You Maintain Precision Throughout Your Work?

Any project involving electricity demands utmost rigor, accuracy, and precision, whether it's when you're working on generators or a highly intricate navigation system. It just goes with the territory for any electrical engineer. Interview questions like this one need you to answer:

  • What skills do you have that facilitate exactness in your work?
  • What are some concrete, precision-based procedures that you habitually engage in?

How You Could Answer

"I'm a perfectionist by nature, so that's always helped me in my work. I triple-check everything I do for both safety and efficiency. When I'm designing and testing, I'm very methodical, always meticulous. I keep an extremely detailed notebook that has everything from my earliest research to multiple design drafts and various comments at every single step of my process. And once I complete a project, I'll also include a comprehensive electrical performance report."

Question #6: How Do You Deal With Discord on Your Team?

On certain projects, you may be collaborating with several other engineers, and employers may ask this or similar behavioral electrical engineering questions to determine how well you work with others, and what your perspective may be when it comes to interacting with your fellow peers and industry professionals. Before you answer, make sure to reflect on:

  • Where do bones of contention stem from?
  • How do you mitigate potential disagreements?

How You Could Answer

"Undoubtedly, I enjoy the solitary factor when designing a new circuit or figuring out a solution to an electrical problem. That's just part of the self-sufficient pleasure of being an engineer. But I also love collaborating with team members and learning from other engineers. And disagreements will happen, of course. But when we're all creating drafts for designs, I think it's best to have sensible expectations. That means coming to the table knowing that not everyone will agree with your approach."

"So when I join a new team, I always try to get to know my colleagues as well as possible—their backgrounds, their past work experiences, and their design preferences. And I share my own viewpoints from the get-go too. Once we all know each other better, it's easier to have a purposeful conversation about our work—weighing out the advantages and disadvantages of one approach over another so that we can reach a harmonious and meaningful conclusion."

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