As a welding engineer, it’s your job to create the standards and procedures that will ensure your organization’s welding projects are completed safely and precisely. In addition to being able to apply various welding techniques to a variety of materials, you need to be able to read and implement complex welding codes, train teams of subordinates and create thorough documentation of your department’s work.
When you’re interviewing for a welding engineer job, you should be prepared to discuss in detail the tools, processes and concepts you use to do your job. You should also be ready to talk through hypothetical welding scenarios that you’d deal with in the role.
To help you prepare, we’ve compiled the most common welding engineer interview questions along with practical answers that will help you demonstrate your expertise in the field and aptitude for the job.
Your answer to this question should demonstrate your expertise specifically as it applies to the types of metals you’d be working with in the role you’re applying for. For example, let’s say you’re interviewing for an outdoor furniture manufacturing company and you’d be working primarily with aluminum.
Example answer: “The bulk of my expertise is in MIG and TIG welding. Because aluminum is a soft metal and doesn’t hold up well under high heat, these would be the two viable weld options. Of the two, I prefer TIG welding because it’s much more precise and results in a cleaner looking weld, which is preferable for the end product.”
You should be prepared to describe the most common welding processes, like SMAW or stick welding. If you can, it’s a great idea to describe the process in layman’s terms, which will showcase not only your knowledge of the technique but your ability to clearly communicate complex topics with ease.
Example answer: “SMAW stands for shielded metal arc welding. It uses an electric current to form an arc between an electrode and the metals that are being welded. The workpiece and the electrode melt, forming a pool of molten metal that cools and forms a sturdy joint. Because it’s both simple and versatile, this is one of the most popular welding processes.”
Your job will require you to make determinations on the best welding processes to use on different materials and in different scenarios. This question can be used to show how you’d tap your expertise to make critical project decisions, like which method to use in a certain situation.
Example answer: “Both welding and brazing are techniques that can be used to join metals, but brazing is done at a significantly lower temperature and does not melt the base metal. In welding, the metallic structures of the two metal pieces are fused together, often with a filler material, to become one stronger joint. In brazing, a filler metal is added to the space between the base metals and forms a joint between them as it cools. I would use welding in a scenario where the two base metals were of similar composition, but brazing would be the method of choice if I had the need to join two entirely different metals.”
Dealing with and preventing product failures is going to be one of the biggest challenges of your job. Profits, infrastructure and even lives can depend on your ability to do this part of the job well. Here, describe some of the likely failure scenarios that might come up in this particular company’s operation and share how you’d prevent them.
There are also common weld defects such as undercut, lack of fusion, and incomplete penetration, which are hopefully caught during NDT. These are also important to bring up in an interview scenario.
Example answer: “One of the biggest causes of weld failure is the improper following of welding procedure. This can happen when welders assume they know the procedure but fail to confirm it, or when the weld procedure is not properly outlined in the first place. To prevent this, I’d ensure appropriate weld procedures are written out to include adequate preheat and interpass temperature, filler metal parameters, proper welding polarity and shielding gas.”
If a weld failure does occur, your superiors need to feel confident they can rely on your ability to identify the cause of the failure and take measures to ensure that it isn’t repeated.
Example answer: “I’d thoroughly analyze the involved materials and welds, conducting mechanical tests and metallographic examinations,where necessary. I’d examine fractures as well as taking into consideration any corrosion effects, mechanical effects and thermal effects in play during the failure scenario. I’d consult with industry standards for weld failure follow up and document the incident with written and photographic analysis. If necessary, I’d seek expert input from a third party to assist in drawing conclusions about the root cause of the failure.”
You probably understand the concept of lean manufacturing in the generic sense of eliminating waste and doing more with less. But can you speak specifically about how you’d apply it to your work with this company?
Example answer: “Lean manufacturing requires that all steps in a sequence are done as efficiently as possible. The efficiency of a welder, though, depends largely on the steps that come before him or her in the process, like the fit and variance of the materials he has to work with. So, I’d focus on improving the precision of all the prior steps that influence welding time and quality so that we can do our job most effectively.”
The success of a welding engineer depends on the skills and effectiveness of his team. Show your leadership abilities and knowledge of industry gold standards by citing the resources you regularly rely on and how you’d disseminate them among your team.
Example answer: “I would introduce policies to ensure my staff are familiar with ASME Section IX as it pertains to their specific job duties, like annual training. I’d also encourage my staff to pursue continued education opportunities like the American Welding Society’s seminars for CWI, CWS and Economics of Welding.”
Robotic welding is a growing segment of the manufacturing industry. Whether or not you’ve worked at an organization that uses it in the past, you should be armed with at least a basic understanding of its functions and requirements.
Example answer: “I’d establish protocols for periodic recalibration and reprogramming to proactively reduce downtime. I’d ensure a checklist of regular preventative maintenance was followed, like weekly replacement of welding liners and daily inspection/replacement of welding gun tips to keep the machines functioning smoothly. I would also utilize NDT to help ensure that robotic produced welds maintained their quality on a regular basis.”
Enlisting a third party for weld testing and weld failure analysis can help accelerate a company’s operations and prevent costly mistakes–that is, if you’re able to find a testing provider that offers the right mix of skills, expertise and value.
Example answer: “I’d do due diligence on any third-party testing provider to find out about their certifications and capabilities. We’d need to make sure they were accredited for the appropriate scope and standards our work entails. I’d want to hear them walk us through their testing procedures and see a proven track record of success with clients similar to us.”
If you’ve worked in any sort of manufacturing environment, there are likely no shortage of safety measures you can name here. Pick a few and cite how they play a role in the overall soundness of your workplace.
Example answer: “First and foremost, all welders need to have eye protection that complies with OSHA standards for the specific type of welding. I’d mandate that respirators be worn to protect against fumes and oxides and that the work area has adequate ventilation. Finally, because fire is a primary concern in welding operations, I’d ensure that work is only conducted in an environment that has been made fire safe. If space limitations prevent work from being done in a fire safe area, I’d ensure combustible materials were moved outside of a safe berth of the welding work area.”
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