Plants should always be protected from asset reliability risks that may negatively affect their operation. Your role as a reliability engineer is to identify and manage these reliability risks.
This article will look at a few questions you should be ready to answer when eyeing a reliability engineer job. We have picked the most common, and therefore sparing some time to go through our article will definitely improve your chances of landing the job.
Here are the 20 questions:
1. Why are You Interested in this Job?
The interviewer wants to know why you want this job. Your answer should clearly depict what irked your interest. However, ensure that is not a material reason.
Also, remember that this is an opening question. Therefore, the interviewer may seek clarifications on your answer, which you should always be ready to give.
I have lots of experience and expertise dealing with asset risks that will be utilized better in your company. I also love working with startups and seeing them grow, especially those dealing with products and services I believe in. Your company falling in this category, therefore, informed my decision to submit my application. I want to be part of the team that makes this institution a powerhouse.
2. What are the Roles of a Reliability Engineer?
An interviewer will ask you such a question to determine if you understand your mandates in this job. What are some of your duties and responsibilities? You can either draw from the job description or your experience.
A reliability engineer mainly identifies and manages asset reliability risks that may threaten a plant’s operation. They also work with the project engineer to ensure that new or modified installations are reliable and maintainable and participate in the development of design and installation specifications. Other roles include defining, designing and developing the asset maintenance plan and working with product teams to perform several analyses.
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3. What are the Qualities that a Reliability Engineer Should Possess to be Effective?
Do you know the attributes, skills and abilities that one needs to be good at this job? This is a chance to show the interviewer that you understand what it takes to be a good reliability engineer. You can mention some of the qualities you possess, but make sure that these are job-related.
A reliability engineer should have logical thinking and organizational skills to achieve professional and systematic asset operation and risk management plans. Other qualities are communication and computer literacy, leadership skills, flexibility, multitasking ability and a formal reliability engineering certification or a supporting background.
4. Mention a Challenge that You Encountered in Your Former Role. How Did You Manage It?
This is a common competency-based question that seeks to reveal if you are a problem solver, which is a requisite skill in this job. The challenge you mention should not be a result of your incompetence if you want to be safe. All in all, make sure that your experience paints you as a good problem solver.
I found a disgruntled and non-united team when I took over from the outgoing reliability engineer in my former workplace. Some constant wrangles and disagreements threatened team efforts, and therefore, I had to step in. I reshuffled the team, ensuring that the roles of the conflicting members did not crash. I also urged them to solve their problems or avoid affecting our team operations, lest I would be forced to report them to the top management. I managed to solve the problems, and everyone was on their best behavior.
5. Describe Your Daily Routine
What do you do on a day-to-day basis? This question seeks to understand just how much you know about your job. Make sure that you describe a fully packed day that will convince the interviewer that you are hardworking. You can either mention a day in your former workplace or what you envision your day to look like in this new workplace.
My day revolves around improving processes and creating tools to better the workplace and plant’s processes. However, it first starts with a series of meetings since I act as a bridge between the different stakeholders, ensuring that the projects develop and proceed smoothly. I also supervise my team, communicate their progress with stakeholders and take up projects too.
6. Briefly Describe Your Experience
Give an overview of your career. What are some of your achievements, outstanding positions and roles you have performed and held? Remember to keep your answer short since most of this information is captured in your CV and work resume.
I am a qualified reliability engineer with ten years of experience. I have vast experience in maintenance, plant automation, as well as asset risk and project management. I have worked in factories, IT companies and warehouses… ( You can go on and on. However, do not go into details. The interviewer wants a brief answer)
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required for This Role
You must have noticed that most of these questions are pretty straightforward. Here, you need to mention a working method that has proven to be effective in your line of work. Also, make sure that your mindset is role-related
One strategy that has kept me going is being thorough and having quick responses. I understand how important my job is. I usually give my all and constantly monitor and improve processes. As for the right mindset, I have discovered that being always prepared and staying result-oriented is necessary.
8. Mention the Main Challenge that You Foresee in this Role
Even the interviewer knows that you may/will run into challenges once you start working. Therefore, be honest and admit areas that may prove to be challenging later on. Just make sure that they are out of your control, or one may perceive you as incompetent.
I have gone through your company’s work culture and policies, and they look impressive. You also have updated packages and installations, which solve the main problems I faced in my former workplaces. I cannot, therefore, pinpoint a problem at the moment. However, I will be ready to share if one pops up and requires your attention.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In this Role?
What keeps you going? This job may be demanding, which has pushed lots of people to quit or start new ventures. However, since you have managed to stand your ground, it is only right for the interviewer to know your motivation or inspiration source.
I love challenges. Facing and overcoming them gives me the motivation I need. I love exploring new ventures and testing my abilities. However, I also look back at my past successes whenever I am demotivated. ( You can mention anything sensible. Just make sure that it is not material in nature)
10. Mention a Time that You Failed in This Job and the Lesson You Learnt
We are expected to learn from our mistakes. These lessons make us better at our jobs, allowing us to create more value by avoiding making the same mistakes. Here, give an experience that taught you something valuable. However, we advise that you use an example from your first years in this job.
I do not always have the liberty to make mistakes, given the integral nature of this job. However, during my first years in this field, I forgot to update the asset maintenance plan, which almost cost the company. This experience taught me the importance of regular updates and documentation. It made me better at my job.
11. What is Flow Control?
This is a technical question that seeks to reveal if you know a specific concept. You will soon realize that most reliability engineer interview questions take this form. How good are you with some of the concepts in this field? The best way to answer such a question is to be objective and concise. Go straight to the point.
Also called optimized production technology, flow control focuses on efficient material flow throughout the entire production process. It is mainly concerned with bottlenecks. A reliability engineer will examine systems and areas with low flow and rectify them to full capacity.
12. What Do You Understand by Materials Requirement Planning?
This is yet another technical question that the interviewer may ask to ascertain if you know a given concept in this field. Like the previous one, make sure that your answer is concise. The first few sentences of your response should answer the question. You can then introduce any supporting information afterward.
Materials requirement planning is the allocation of a given quantity of raw materials for the production of a given number of finished goods. It is made possible by material requirement planning systems, which are computerized tools that manage the order and supply of these materials. ( You can clearly see that we have captured the answer to this question in the first few sentences of our response. Any other information comes second, as illustrated.)
13. What Do You Understand by Just-In-Time?
The interviewer is testing your knowledge on production management philosophies that are essential in your line of work. Your answer should show that you are knowledgeable and fully understand different aspects and concepts in this field. Please give a detailed explanation of what this is and its relevance in your line of work.
Also known as lean manufacturing, it is a production management philosophy driven by continuous waste reduction. It is mainly used by businesses that value efficiency above everything else. Under this philosophy, waste is anything that interferes with productivity and is therefore declared an enemy. Some of the supporting techniques are reducing inbound inventory, minimizing outbound stock and regular work in-house hours, minimizing scrap materials. ( You can also mention the aims of these techniques, which are improving cash flows and maximizing sales margins)
14. Why Should We Hire You?
This is perhaps the greatest chance you will ever get to sell yourself and tell the interviewer what you are capable of. The best approach to take when answering this question is to think of yourself as the product. You can highlight your skills, strengths and competencies or even your professional ambitions. Remember to tell the interviewer what you can offer or what the company will get from your services.
I have vast experience in plant automation and system maintenance (thanks to the thirteen years I have spent in this field) that I am ready to use for the benefit of this organization if given a chance. I am also a passionate and dedicated worker who can collaborate on projects and deliver exceptional results. I pride myself on my integrity and ability to deliver.
15. You Must Have Heard of Service Level Objective (SLO). Could You Please Explain What It is
This is another technical question that seeks to determine just how good you are at this job. Do you understand what a service level objective is? Explain it to the interviewer and even mention its importance in reliability engineering, if any. Your answer should be detailed but straight to the point. Avoid being unnecessarily verbose.
SLO is a critical element of a service level agreement between a service provider and a client and whose main purpose is to measure a service provider’s performance and prevent disputes between the parties. The service level objective can be a measurable trait such as availability, response times, frequency or throughput. It thus offers a quantitative means of defining the service level that a customer can expect from a service provider.
16. How Does Dextrous Planning Help in Reliability Engineering?
The interviewer wants to know if you understand the importance of skillful planning in your line of work. This is a reliability engineering best practice that you should adhere to in your work. Offer a good explanation.
It helps prepare for any upcoming or unseen event. This is normally done by regularly testing the efficiency of an application or software, which helps avoid sudden failure and customer disappointment if the system is required to take more load than it usually does.
17. Can You Mention 5 Best Practices in Reliability Engineering
There are a number of practices in reliability engineering that ensures your system’s consistency and flawless operation. The interviewer will definitely want to know if you are aware of some that you can employ in your work. Make sure that you get this question right and offer a brief explanation of these practices .
Here are 5 best practices:
- Scrutinizing errors and accessibility, which helps detect performance issues and maintain the service availability. This also calls for close scrutiny on any upgrade made on the system to understand its impact on customers.
- Having an error budget for smooth functioning and achievement if the system’s goals.
- Defining the service level objectives which define how good a service is.
- Monitoring management changes to avoid unexpected downfall of the system.
- Eliminating toil to reduce workload on the team and help members focus more energy on innovation.
18. What Do You Understand by Error Budgets?
This is yet another technical question on a specific concept in your line of work. It would help if you offered a detailed explanation of an error budget and its use. However, remember to go straight to the point and keep your answer concise.
The error budget is the maximum times that a technical system can fail without any contractual consequences. It motivates the team to tune down real incidents and instead maximizer innovation through risk-taking but within acceptable limits.
19. How Do You Measure Equipment Reliability?
This is a technical question that seeks to determine how good you are or how much you know about your job. The best approach is to offer a step by step response and avoid beating around the bush. Convince the interviewer that you are highly knowledgeable. You can also draw from your experience.
The best way of measuring an asset’s reliability is finding the mean time between failure, commonly known as the MTBF. It is obtained by dividing the total operating time of the asset by its number of failures over a certain period. Therefore, if the total operating time of an equipment is 4000 hours and it has failed only 5 times, the MTBF will be 800.
20. How Can You Improve an Organization’s System Observability?
What the interviewer means by observability is a conversation around the measurement and instrument of the organization. Outline some of the ways that you can improve that. Remember, observability will always indicate an organization’s maturity level.
There are several ways of improving an organization’s system observability. One needs to understand the types of data flow from the environment and how they are useful to the observability goals, have a clear vision of what the team holds dear and figure out the impact of the strategy on the data.
We have looked at some of the most common interview questions for reliability engineers. We hope that you have learned a thing or two about answering similar interview questions. Remember to also work on your posture, presentation and other interview skills. We wish you all the best!