Your work as a controls engineer is to design and develop systems that can better manufacturing operations. These may be the layout, machine placement, or information flow. This article will look at some of the questions you should expect in a Controls engineer interview to increase your chances of landing the job.
1. Why are You Interested in this Role?
This is usually the first question in interviews. The potential employer wants to know your motives. Explain why you submitted your application and also highlight some of the contributions you intend to make to the organization if given a chance.
I love working with companies that make things I use and believe in. Being a huge fan of your hair products, I have always wanted a chance to serve here as a controls engineer. I, therefore, submitted my application when I saw that my experience matched whatever was required in the job listing. I am willing to apply the vast experience I have gathered in this field to better your organization if given a chance.
2. What are the Roles of a Controls Engineer?
There is only one way to answer this question-mention the roles you have been performing in your work. You definitely know your mandates and what will be expected of you in your new workplace. It is time to tell that to the interviewer.
A controls engineer mainly designs and develops systems that drive manufacturing operations. They, therefore, ensure that their plants can efficiently create high-quality products. Through their work, firms run smoothly and meet the desired quality and safety standards. ( This is just an overview. You can delve deeper if you wish)
3. Mention the Qualities that a Controls Engineer Needs to be Effective?
Most of these opening questions will test your understanding of the job. Here, the interviewer wants to know if you understand what makes one excel in this job. You can mention some of the qualities you have if you consider yourself an excellent controls engineer. These can be abilities, skills, attributes, or behaviors.
A controls engineer should be naturally curious, self-organized, detail-oriented, and highly creative. He/she should also possess strong mathematical and analytical skills, good communication skills, and a deep understanding of automatic control. Other qualities include troubleshooting skills, flexibility, and the ability to work on complex projects.
4. Mention a Challenge that You Faced in your Former Workplace. How Did You Manage It?
The interviewer is testing how good you are at solving problems. Will you find solutions to some of the challenges you will face in this role? However, make sure that you do not mention something that makes you look incompetent. Also, it should not be a result of your undoing.
I was in charge of a project team at my former workplace, an experience I do not usually love to talk about. I prided myself in being a liberal team leader who allowed members to express themselves freely, provided that they worked well. However, I soon found out that some were undermining me and deliberately stalling the project. I intervened fast, called a meeting, and decided to change my style of doing things. I re-arranged the team, reassigned work, and created new ground rules that made the team members know just how serious I was. It escalated, and I had to kick some out of the team and remain with only focused individuals. The project was a success eventually.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine
Can you describe a day in the life of a controls engineer? What are some of the duties you perform daily in your workplace? This is a chance to show the interviewer that you have a deep understanding of your job. Pick a busy day in your life and narrate it to the hiring manager.
I have a flash briefing in the morning before getting to my scheduled activities. I then spend the rest of my day on prints, programming, and doing installations. I may also visit a customer’s site and write smarts scripts to populate control databases testing, commission, and loop tune. ( You can go on and on provided that you capture the right things)
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
You can approach this question from many angles and mention some of the notable roles you have performed in this field, the positions you have served in, what you are skilled in, or just an overview of your career. However, you should also feel free to point out if you have no experience.
I have no tangible experience in this field, given that I haven’t worked anywhere before. However, I am a first learner ready for any challenge this profession will throw at me. I am also an excellent programmer who represented my college in different fairs and won. I, therefore, believe that I will make an excellent addition to the team of employees here.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required for This Role
This is yet another common question that you should answer based on your experience. We all have different ways of approaching our duties which are valid provided that they work. Therefore mention a means that has always worked for you in your career. For the mindset, think about a perspective that guides you whenever you attend to your roles.
A strategy that has helped me be good at whatever I do is to think out of the box when designing and developing systems. Tapping into my creative side has seen me come up with models that shock other engineers. As for the right mindset, I believe that being attentive to details is something that every controls engineer should emulate.
8. Mention the Main Challenge That You Foresee in this Job
Jobs have challenging aspects that you need to know before you officially start working. Some are institution-specific, while others cut across. Do some research about the organization and identify areas that may prove challenging. If possible, go ahead and even suggest an approach for tackling it.
I love your policies, environment, and office layout. However, even though I am a flexible person, I may not be able to come to work on Saturdays, given that it is my family time and rest day. I am ready to substitute step in on Sunday if called upon. I am optimistic that we will find a way around it.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated in this Role?
How do you manage to overcome all the challenges that seek to demotivate you in your line of work? The interviewer wants to know where you draw your motivation. This is a chance to mention something that inspires you and pushes you to be better at your job.
My desire to create a difference in my place of work motivates me to push harder. I love succeeding in my work and cannot, therefore, stop at anything until I have achieved my goals. I also turned to Yoga and meditation, which have helped me build my stress resistance levels and put me in a better place to achieve my goals.
10. Mention a Time You Failed in This Role and the Lesson You Learned.
We are not judged by our failures but by what happens next. Are you able to pick a valuable lesson from a negative experience and improve your career? Give an experience that highlights the failure and a lesson learned.
I once failed to submit a project on time, which messed the firm’s timelines. I had a lot on my plate and was convinced that I would handle them all on time. I learned the importance of proper organization and prioritization of work, which I have adhered to date.
11. Why Do You Feel that You are the Most Suited for this Role?
What makes you think that you are the most deserving out of all the candidates? If you were looking for the perfect time to sell yourself, then this is it. Talk about your skills, experience, and anything that sets you apart from the competition. Remember, do not base your answer on the other candidates but talk about what you will offer.
I am a highly experienced controls engineer with over 15 years of service. I have been contracted to work for some of the best manufacturing plants in Asia over the years and learned many lessons that I can apply here in your company. I am particularly passionate about the sector your company focuses on and would therefore be motivated to give my all.
12. Share with Us Your Greatest Achievement
The interviewer wants you to mention your most rewarding experience in this field. Given that this is not specified, you can mention a personal experience or one that relates to the job at hand. However, we urge you to stick to the latter just to be safe.
I was once contracted to develop and design systems for a company that had been performing poorly over the years. It was laying off workers year in year out this claiming livelihoods. I noticed the problem, came up with new designs, made significant improvements, and within a year, the company was back to its feet. It absorbed back those it had laid off and even provided better pay. I haven’t been so fulfilled in my life.
13. What is Your Least Successful Engineering Experience?
Now that you have talked about your most outstanding achievement in this field, it is time to talk about when you failed in your work. Mention a project that did not turn out as you expected. You may also go ahead and tell the interviewer how it helped shaped your career.
I once decided to be imaginative and tried something new, hoping it would turn out as great as I had envisioned. However, the changes I made further complicated the manufacturing process, making my adjustment a total flop. This experience made me better at my job since I got to know what boundaries I should not overstretch.
14. Share with Us Your Knowledge of Quality and Safety Production Standards
The interviewers want you to tell them something you know regarding safety standards and regulations. The best approach to this question is to refer to your past experiences and mention how you upheld these standards. However, if this is your first engineering job, ensure that you conduct prior research and learn about these standards.
Most quality and productions safety standards call upon manufacturers to review all the activities that go into the production process, right from sourcing the raw materials to the final delivery of goods… ( You can go on and on provided that you are explaining the right thing)
15. How Have Your Ideas Increased Efficiency or Product Quality?
The interviewer is testing your ability to get things done. Remember, part of your work is to increase the efficiency of the plant through your designs, plans, or ideas. You can therefore mention a specific experience or just provide a general answer.
I have advised most of the firms I have worked in to increase their technology usage in driving processes and even suggested some of the best options, which significantly improved their efficiency. ( You can be specific and mention some of these technologies you are talking about)
16. How Would You Convince the Management to allow You Implement Something New for a Particular Software Product?
The interviewer is testing your convincing and negotiation skills. Remember, you may experience specific challenges in getting a go-ahead to implement some of the things you may have in mind. You will have to bring the management on board, especially where funding is required.
I have been in such situations before, and therefore I know just how to go about them. I will table the idea to the management and pit it against the existing model or version. I will then slowly compare these two and help them understand what we can achieve by implementing the new idea. I will even bring some of my team members to vouch for me and convince them that it is a viable idea.
17. How Will You Better Our Processes In Your First Week at Work?
The interviewer wants to know if you will immediately get to work and strive to make a positive difference. It would be best if you mentioned some of the things you plan to do in your first week in the office that will better the organization’s processes, making them more efficient.
Given that I am applying for an internal promotion, I already have intensive knowledge of the company and our manufacturing processes. I will therefore look into X, Y, and Z parts of the production cycles that need our attention and processes B that we should improve. ( You know your company better. You can mention these processes)
18. Why Do You Consider the Most Rewarding thing in Your Line of Work?
The interviewers want you to tell them what fulfills you most in your work. Remember, this is a job-specific question, and you cannot draw from other positions, jobs, or careers. Mention something that excites you most about controls engineering.
Helping firms create quality products that are safe for consumption is the most fulfilling thing about this work. Being at the forefront of ensuring that consumers get value for their money makes this job highly rewarding. ( Also, remember that your answer can differ since this is a question that should be answered based on experience)
19. What do You Understand by Process Improvement?
This is a technical question that seeks to understand if you know what your entire job revolves around. Your work as a controls engineer is to help improve your plant’s processes for better results, high efficiency, and quality products. Therefore, show the interviewer that you know what that is all about.
Process improvement is the proactive identification, analysis, and improvement of processes within an organization or plant for purposes of optimization and meeting set standards of quality. It, therefore, mainly entails bettering a company’s processes for efficiency purposes.
20. Mention an Example of Process Improvement that You Have Undertaken in Your Line of Work
This is a follow-up question based on your answer above. Mention a time that you helped improved a plant’s processes a d the results you obtained.
Together with other engineers, we identified and alienated waste areas within the different processes of a plant which helped us save time and produce higher quality products. We decided to rely on lean principles, which worked. ( You can give any other experience not related to waste, even though it is the commonest process improvement example)
We have come to the end of our article. I hope that the questions we have covered will give you a good foundation when preparing for your interview. We wish you all the best!