Chemical engineering is one of the most sophisticated disciplines of engineering. Chemical engineers apply several principles of Biology, Physics and Mathematics to solve issues surrounding large-scale production.
Most chemical engineers work in labs, refineries and industrial plants. They are charged with an array of tasks such as equipment design and overseeing the processes undertaken in large scale manufacturing.
In this article, we will look at some of the questions you should expect when appearing before a chemical engineering interview panel. We will show you how to tackle them and leave the panel impressed. Let us take a look at the following:
1. Why Are You Interested in This Position?
The interviewer wants to know why you rendered your application. Did you apply for the money or because you enjoy what you do? Sell yourself and tell him/ her everything you can do for the company, while avoiding material reasons.
I am a passionate chemical engineer with lots of experience in your company’s processes. I believe that my services can b better utilized here.
2. What Are the Roles of a Chemical Engineer?
Do you know what is expected from someone in your profession? Your answer will tell the interviewer if you will add value to the company or not. You can either mention some of the roles you were mandated with in your former workplace or use the job description.
A chemical engineer uses the existing processes to check whether the products are safe to the environment and general public; comes up with an estimated cost of production; designs safety procedures for handling dangerous chemicals, develops new manufacturing ways and offers onsite consultation and troubleshooting services.
3. What Are the Qualities That a Chemical Engineer Needs to Be Effective?
Every profession has its requisite skills and traits. Your answer will convince the interviewer whether you have what it takes to be perfect at this job. Ensure that all the qualities mentioned are role related.
A chemical engineer should be able to adhere to strict safety standards, possess excellent problem-solving skills and be an exceptional communicator. He/ she should be ready to learn at all times and bring together knowledge and skills from a number of fields to tackle complex issues.
4. What Do You Understand by Wet Bulb Globe Temperature? How Is It Used?
This is an operational question asked to determine if you are competent enough. Ensure that you tailor your answer to reflect the business requirements of the firm.
It is an international standard invented years ago when Scientists found out that the dry bulb temperature was insufficient. It measures the sultriness of the environment based on airspeed, humidity and radiant temperature. All these factors can significantly affect chemical processes.
5. What Do You Understand by an Angle of Repose?
This is an operational question seeking to find out whether you are knowledgeable on specific processes pertaining to chemical engineering. Answer this question confidently and with conviction.
Th whole concept refers occurs from the formation of a conical pipe whenever any solid material is poured on a flat surface. It is the angle between the side of the pile and the receiving surface. It is affected by factors such as surface area, material density and its coefficient to friction.
6. Suppose You Were Working on a Piping System for Transferring Slurries, what are Some of The Considerations That You Would Have in Mind?
This is an operational question. However, it is specific to the business and processes used. If your employer uses slurries, ensure that you get this right.
The main factors to be considered are capacity, surface tension and the piping materials. The piping systems must be able to self-drain given that slurries are denser than several liquids. Also, to prevent blockages from occurring, the amount of pressure required to blow out the line should be considered.
7. There Are Three Classes of Organic Solvents. Can You Tell Us About Them?
This is a basic question that is normally asked to test your knowledge in this field. You have to get the answer right and show the interviewer that you understand chemical engineering concepts.
The three classes are hydrocarbon, oxygenated and halogenated. Examples of oxygenated solvents are alcohol, ketones and esters. Hydrocarbon solvents include aromatics and aliphatic whereas halogenated solvents are chlorinated agents. All these are used for specific purposes given that they react with specific materials.
8. What is a Solvent?
This is a technical question that should be answered using your experience and knowledge of chemical engineering. Give a concise but clear answer.
A solvent is a liquid that can dissolve, remove or suspend components of a material without making it undergo any chemical change. These are used as cleaners, carriers and separation means for a number of materials. Some of the common solvents are water, alcohol and reactive liquids.
9. What Do You Understand by Material Requirement Planning?
This is an operational question aimed at assessing a specific process used in your job. You should define the term and if possible, offer an example of how it is used.
It is the estimation process of raw materials needed for a finished product. It takes note of the components and creates room for expected losses and waste during production. There are a number of software applications for performing such calculations, which form part of a company’s MRP system.
10. What is The Difference Between Unit Operation and Unit Process?
The interviewer wants to know your approach in this job and some of the processes and procedures you use. Ensure that you walk him/ her through your answer.
A unit operation is the changes in the mass and concentration of a material when energy from an external source is provided. No chemical change occurs. A good example is in boiling water. A unit process is the change of reactants caused by a chemical reaction when energy is provided to the materials. A good example is in baking.
11. What is The Third Law of Thermodynamics?
This technical question seeks your understanding of some concepts of chemical engineering. You need to define the term and desist from offering additional information.
It states that whenever a system reaches absolute zero, the entropy of the system reaches a minimum value. In layman’s terms, one can reduce a system to a static state where zero activity occurs by simply moving it to its relative value of absolute zero.
12. Please Define Flow Control
This is a technical question. Convince the interviewer that you have a wide grasp of chemical engineering concepts and will make a good addition to the company.
It is the process of managing the movement of a material through the production and distribution process. It optimizes the material, equipment and the different processes. For example, one cannot specify a piece of equipment with a capacity of 800 units per hour when the projected volume is only 400 units per hour. This process is managed through sensors and monitoring equipment found at critical points in the production process.
13. Can You Work with a Team or You Prefer Working Alone?
The interviewer wants to know your preferred working style. Your answer should bring out the versatility in you. Convince him/ her that you can work with both.
Part of this job involves teaming up with different people to solve problems. I have been in many teams and understand what is needed in such environments. However, I am a versatile person who can also work alone when duty calls. I have all it takes to fit in teams and work alone.
14. You Definitely Know That Part of Your Job in This Field Is to Deal with Efficiencies. What Do You Understand by ‘Just in Time”?
As a chemical engineer, you are expected to do your job well and look for means of making processes more efficient and reduce on waste. This is a philosophy that helps you gauge your efficiencies and make improvements where necessary. Show that you understand what this philosophy is and that you are willing to make changes.
This philosophy aims at managing both the time and resources used in a process to increase the bottom line. I normally apply a range of lean manufacturing techniques in my work.
15. What are Some of the Best Mindsets and Strategies That One Can Use in This Role?
The interviewer is trying to tell whether you are a good fit through the mindset and strategy that you use to approach this job. Make sure that your answer is role specific.
One of the strategies that I use in this job is collaboration. I have found out that bringing together different skilled people makes work easier and more accurate. As for the right mindset, one needs to be result oriented and focused given the complexity of this field.
16. What Are Some of The Common Chemical Engineering Equipment That You Have Used?
The interviewer is testing your knowledge of some of the common types of equipment used in this field. You should clearly express that you understand how and when these pieces of equipment should be used.
In my career, I interact with separators which help me prevent individual chemicals from reacting with each other. I also use absorbers to help analyze different chemical gases, an important procedure in my field of work.
17. How Would You Deal with Professional Conflicts in The Lab?
Th interviewer is testing your interpersonal skills. You should show him/ her that you are good at conflict resolution and can come up with creative ways of doing so. Also, show that you are interested in good relationships in the workplace.
Even though I spend most of my time in the lab, I make sure that I interact with my colleagues. If there is a conflict, I will give the other party time to explain their side and observations before telling them my side and why I believe it should be done that way. We will then weigh both ideas and arrive at a mutual solution.
18. Suppose a Process That Worked Perfectly Starts Misbehaving, What Would You Do?
The interviewer is testing your troubleshooting and problem-solving ability. He/ she wants to know just how knowledgeable you are in the industry best practices and whether you can apply that in real life.
I will check for any changes in the machine and the environment that could have led to the problem. I would then question those responsible for production in the given floor to shed more light into the problem. Lastly, I would look for changes in factors such as humidity, temperature and external factors to find the defect and then fix it.
19. Mention One Strength That Makes You Qualified for This Role
Like some of the questions that we have looked at, the interviewer is trying to gauge whether you will be a good fit for the organization. Make sure that you mention a strength that relates to the job.
I always ensure that I am accurate in whatever I do. I focus on what is at hand until I get the results I envisioned. This line of work requires someone who is highly accurate since it deals with essential processes. I believe that this trait sets me apart from the rest.
20. Mention a Weakness That We Should Know.
Your potential employer needs to know your weaknesses and their impact to the job. Do not throw yourself under the bus. You do not want to lose the job at the final stage.
I am a perfectionist. I always believe that things should turn out the way I envisioned them. I am hard on myself at times. However, ever since I started meditating, I have been going slow on myself and acknowledging that things do not necessarily have to turn out perfectly.
These are some of the commonest questions in chemical engineering interviews. Please make sure that you craft your answers in a way that makes the interviewer pleased. All the best!