As a quality engineer, you play a critical role in ensuring that your company delivers products of the highest standards. You help catch defects, satisfy stringent quality requirements and keep people safe.
In a job interview, though, it can be hard to convey how your day-to-day job tasks translate into value for your employer. What’s more, you also need to convince your interviewer why you’re a better fit for the job than the next guy.
Here, we’ll walk you through some of the most common quality engineer interview questions and share suggestions for framing your responses to ace your upcoming interview.
This basic question gauges your knowledge of the core quality engineering job duties. Show your interviewer your proficiency at what you do by succinctly summing up the main tools and skills you use to do your job. You’ll want to tailor your answer to the specifics of the industry in which you’re applying (manufacturing, software, etc.).
Help your interviewer get a feel for your critical thinking and problem solving skills by walking them through how you responded to a real-world challenge step by step. Outline the information you gathered to help you determine the next steps and the factors you weighed when making decisions. Cite any procedures and protocols that came into play with your response. It’s also a good chance to highlight how you remained calm and cool-headed during a stressful situation.
This answer might take a two-part approach. First, it’s your chance to share a bit of your broader ideology about the work you do, and second, it’s an opportunity to talk through the practical side of how you set and maintain procedures that will be effective for the organization.
Being able to delegate work effectively is a key part of a quality engineering role. Here, your interviewer wants to see that you understand this and can do it effectively. Explain how you choose the right person for each delegated task and what steps you take to make sure your instructions to them are clear, understood and carried out efficiently.
Depending on the organization, training may or may not make up a large chunk of your job duties. Demonstrate your proficiency as an instructor by talking about not only how you plan and run training sessions, but how you gauge their effectiveness and provide ongoing support to the colleagues you’ve trained.
When tough situations like these come up, your employer needs to feel confident that you’ll handle them with poise. This is a chance to show your understanding of the importance of supplier relationships and how you would leverage them to make this situation right. Point out the value of having policies and procedures to deal with insufficient materials and explain how they would come into play in this scenario.
Your interviewer wants to know if you’ve done your homework. You should be able to speak knowledgeably about the applicable audits and inspections your company routinely faces as well as any paperwork or regulatory code that you’ll need to know to do your job.
Conflicting opinions are part of the workplace, and in most cases it will be up to you to resolve them in a way that doesn’t interfere with your work. Share how you approach disagreements in a practical, level-headed manner by weighing the pros and cons of each approach to arrive at the best solution. If it’s an issue you’re having trouble resolving on your own, cite how you’d use the proper chain of command to seek resolution from the appropriate superior.
Your success as a quality engineer depends on how well you can communicate with others. Your interviewer is testing your ability to clearly convey the nuances of your job in way that’s accurate yet at the same time understandable to someone who might not share your level of expertise. Think about how you might describe your job to a family member–you wouldn’t use jargon or technical terms they’re unfamiliar with. Instead, you’d break it down in a way that communicates the fundamentals of your job, for example, “I make sure our products meet our customers’ expectations and put systems in place to correct any problems if they come up.”
Your work doesn’t exist in a silo–it’s one part of the company’s overall successful operation. Use this question to show your familiarity with the company’s broader business landscape. For example, you might suggest ongoing research and development, the implementation of new technology or continuous feedback collection as ways to improve the product in addition to quality control.
This is a tough call to make for any quality engineer. Though it may be necessary, it has a residual effect on costs, timelines, labor and more. Demonstrate your understanding of the various factors at play and how you’d weigh them against quality and safety to make the right judgement call. Note what evidence you’d gather to aid in your recommendation and how you would present it to any necessary stakeholders involved in the decision.
Quality planning influences schedules, customer deliverables, and perhaps most importantly to your employer, costs. Talk through your approach to quality planning, citing SMART benchmarks and other strategies you use when creating a project quality plan.
Your interviewer isn’t just assessing your skills; they’re also working to determine whether you as an individual are a good fit for the organization. The best quality engineer in the industry isn’t going to perform their best if it’s a mismatched culture fit.
Do you do your best work when you’re walking the floor of the facility or when you’re behind a desk in a quiet office? Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a collaborative team? While you want to tailor your answers to any intel you have about the position, you also want to be honest. After all, you’re looking for a job environment where you’ll be able to consistently do your best work, not one that you’re constantly at odds with.
Now’s your chance to dive into the specifics of the quality protocols and procedures that are so important to the job. What does it look like to take this issue from a complaint to a resolution? How will you determine whether it’s an isolated incident or a larger problem? Based on what you determine, what do the next steps look like in each scenario? If you have a previous real-world example of a time when you resolved a quality issue successfully, now would be an excellent chance to talk about it.
On the surface it’s a simple question, but it can trip you up if you haven’t thought it through. Instead of focusing on what you stand to gain from the job (like “I’m attracted to the high salary”), focus on how you’ll bring value to your prospective employer (like “Company X has a strong reputation for its quality and innovation, and I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to that with my ten years of experience in quality control.”)
Here’s your chance to make your elevator pitch about why you’re the best person for the job. You should have a concise statement handy that sums up your skills, experience and knowledge and ties them directly to the value you’d provide to the company.
For example: “Based on the job description and our conversation today, it seems like you’re looking for someone who’s analytical, detail oriented and skilled at managing diverse groups of people. In my last job I optimized the quality control procedures to increase our output by 15%. I managed a team of more than a dozen people and earned passing scores on all of our annual state inspections.”
The more you can incorporate specific examples rather than vague statements, the better.
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