37 Hardware Engineer Interview Questions with Sample Answers
Updated 5 May 2023
A computer hardware engineer develops and designs hardware components for electrical products and computer systems. When applying for a position as a hardware engineer, you're likely to go through one or more interviews to determine whether you're the right candidate for the job. Understanding what types of questions a recruiter might ask you and preparing responses can help you make a good impression. In this article, we discuss common hardware engineer interview questions, look at the reasons companies may ask them and provide examples of suitable responses.
Hardware engineer interview questions about background and experience
Hardware engineer interview questions relating to your background help give potential employers an idea of how your previous work experience may be relevant to the vacant position. Background and experience questions that may come up in a hardware engineer interview can include:
What made you leave your current position?
What made you decide on a career as a hardware engineer?
Which project have you worked on that you feel went well?
Tell me about a time you felt that a manager could have chosen a different course of action. What did you do?
Have you integrated new technology into your employer's system? How did you go about the process?
Describe a challenge you faced in a previous position and how you managed it.
Why would you say you're a suitable candidate for this position? What experiences from previous positions do you think would be useful in the new role?
Have you had to explain how to use new technology or software to someone with limited technical ability? Give an example of this.
Give an example of something you've learned from a previous supervisor.
Describe a time when a colleague made what could have been a significant error of judgement. How did you respond?
Share an experience in your previous positions where, with hindsight, you may have taken a different course of action.
Technical hardware engineer questions
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Technical questions about hardware engineering during an interview provide an opportunity for you to show your technical expertise in topics related to the position. Common interview questions may include:
What do you think the most important responsibilities of a hardware engineer are?
What do you do on a typical day in your current position?
What is ASCII?
How do you go about troubleshooting a problem with a piece of hardware?
Describe how you might mitigate architectural risk in a hardware infrastructure?
How do you manage the process of scaling up an organisation's system?
Describe a complex hardware system you've built.
What do you do to try to keep up to date with the latest industry trends?
What do you know about our company's current hardware setup? What changes would you recommend and why?
What are the essential elements for determining the speed of a microprocessor?
What factors do you consider when integrating new hardware that you haven't worked with before?
General interview questions for hardware engineers
Most interviews include some questions that aren't directly related to the hardware engineer role you're applying for. These general questions help the recruiter get to know you better and give them an idea of what sort of employee you might be. Commonly asked general interview questions may include:
Do you prefer working in an office environment or remotely?
How do you prefer receiving instructions and feedback from a manager?
Why are you interested in this position? What made you apply?
If you had to choose a career change, what would like to do?
What hobbies do you have?
Do you prefer working alone or as part of a team?
Would you relocate to take this position?
Describe what you see as your strengths and areas you'd like to improve.
Where did you find out about this position?
Do you have anything you'd like to ask?
5 hardware engineering interview questions with sample answers
Before answering a question during your interview, it may help if you consider why the employer is asking the question. This allows you to adapt your answer to match what the interviewer is looking for. These sample questions and answers explain some of the reasoning behind why an employer may ask a particular question, then provide an example of how to answer it:
1. Do you have experience in a leadership role?
This is a popular question interviewers ask when hiring for an engineering position. Employees with leadership experience can take on projects as a leader of a small team. It may also show the potential for future internal promotions and career progression. Sharing any leadership experience, whether through taking the initiative or as the designated leader, can show your potential value to the employer.
Example: ‘While I have never previously acted as a section leader, I aim to take any opportunities to lead projects when appropriate. Recently, my employer gave a presentation on a computer system upgrade to a potentially lucrative client and assigned my team to develop a plan for a hardware solution. I led the brainstorming sessions and delegated the team tasks to prepare the presentation. My employer chose our solution to present to the client, and they accepted it.’
2. Have you faced a situation where a manager requested a hardware solution in a time frame that you didn't feel you could complete while maintaining your usual standards? What did you do?
A potential employer may want to understand how you react in situations that aren't ideal. Being asked this question allows you to highlight your problem-solving skills and adaptability. Choose a situation where you feel you produced a positive result in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Example: ‘On a recent project, my team was working on installing new digital infrastructure for a client. The customer requested a reduced time frame, giving us three fewer days to complete the project. When management gave our team the new deadline, I proposed two solutions, one that reduced the scope of the project and the other authorising overtime for team members. Management opted to pay overtime, and the team met the revised deadline.’
3. How do you define fault tolerance, and why does it matter?
An interviewer is likely to ask questions about industry terminology to test how much you know and understand the industry you're working in. Respond to terminology questions by showing your understanding of the term and why it's relevant to a hardware engineer. This shows the interviewer that you know the standard industry terminology that peers may use in the workplace.
Example: ‘Fault tolerance is the ability of an operating system to keep working and remain responsive, even after software or hardware failure. Designing hardware with fault tolerance in mind helps create a stable and dependable product. Higher fault tolerance minimises the potential for critical failure, allowing the systems you design to operate more effectively.’
4. How does multiprocessing differ from multitasking?
Another area for questioning may centre on the processes a piece of hardware completes. Questions like this provide an opportunity for you to show your understanding of how computer devices work. In response, you could explain the definition of the terms and give a practical example.
Example: ‘While the two concepts are similar, there are key differences. In multiprocessing, a device has multiple CPU units running simultaneously, allowing several tasks, or a single task, to complete at a higher speed. Multitasking is when a CPU executes multiple tasks simultaneously, allowing you to run concurrent tasks and switch between them.’
5. What is a heat sink, and why are they important?
The interviewer may ask you some technical questions to give them an insight into the depth of your knowledge. When answering a question regarding the purpose of a type of component, it's a good idea to explain what it is and its uses. This helps show your technical and practical knowledge.
Example: ‘A heat sink is a thermal component that helps regulate the temperature of a piece of hardware. It does this by increasing the surface area of a component, exposing the surface to more liquid or air, cooling and dropping the temperatures to the desired range. As overheating can lead to malfunctions, it's important to consider temperature and cooling when designing hardware.’
Explore more articles
- 15 Jobs for Introverts: Job Duties and Salaries
- 30 Types of Outdoor Jobs (with Salary Information)
- How to Become a University Lecturer (With Skills And Salary)
- 15 Jobs for Stay-At-Home Mums
- What Does a Butler Do? (With Duties, Skills and Salary)
- 7 Recovery Nurse Responsibilities (With 5 Nurse Qualities)
- What is Administrative Work? (With Examples)
- 14 Highest-Paying Psychology Jobs in Australia (with Salaries)
- How to Become a Corporate Pilot (With Skills and Tips)
- How to Become a Professor in 5 Steps (Plus Skills)
- Career Opportunities in the Beauty Industry (with Salaries)
- How to Become an Endorsed Enrolled Nurse (Including Skills)