The internet is rife with jokes about how engineers are different from regular people in the way they think, act, and communicate. You might brush some of these memes and parodies of advice off as lighthearted fun, but as is the case with most contemporary humor, there’s a little truth in jest.
When it comes to how they behave and think, engineers are unique. They’re puzzle solvers and solution finders. They don’t ask “can I fix this problem,” they ask “how will I fix this problem.” And that’s exactly why they’re so valuable in the professional realm. We need intelligent minds that see opportunities where others see obstacles.
But there’s another side to the uber-practical-coin that is the engineer’s mind; they also don’t usually interview like an officer worker, executive, or other people-focused employees. So the question becomes, what’s the best way to interview an engineer?
WHEN YOU INTERVIEW AN ENGINEER:
- Don’t Skim over the Technical Details of the Job
- Leave Marketing Lingo Out of It
- Don’t Waste Time on Nuance and Fluff
Don’t Skim over the Technical Details of the Job
The number one rule for engaging an engineer and making sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to what your company is looking for and whether or not the engineer being interviewed is the right person for the job is don’t skim over the technical details of the position.
Candidates in other areas may thrive on touchy, feely language and artful descriptions that could double as an advertisement, but engineers are practical people. They need detailed technical information and specs to evaluate the job at hand and whether or not they’re qualified to meet your demands for the position.
Leave Marketing Lingo Out of It
Second, don’t fill the interview with marketing lingo. Industry jargon as it relates to the job is fine, but those fancy words that the marketing team has created to sell the end service to users or communicate with the public at large have no place in an engineer’s interview. Stick with industry terminology and layman’s terms that everyone will recognize. That will help keep communication clear and avoid potential confusion.
Don’t Waste Time on Nuance and Fluff
Lastly, every candidate deserves a warm welcome. With engineers, it’s best to be brief (but still sincere) and then spend the bulk of your time together describing the job, discussing technical specifications, and your expectations for the work. Of course, engineers are people, not machines, but you only have so much time allocated for interviews. Spending too much time on social nuance and fluff to the detriment of detailed, job-specific requirements is an inefficient use of your initial meeting.