Preparing for Your Civil Engineering Intern Interview: The Top Questions and How to Answer Them

Check out this article to learn about the technical questions and practice tests that a civil or structural engineering employer might give you, along with some important tips on how to prepare for them.

They will probably test your technical knowledge if you go to an interview for a job as a civil or structural engineer after college. Whether the interview is held in person or over live video link, you may face:

The topics you will be asked about will be appropriate for the entry-level position youre applying for. A lot of civil and structural engineers who have graduated say that their questions were very similar to the basic ideas they learned in their first year or two of school.

As a civil engineering student looking to take the first step into the professional world, securing an internship is often the ideal way to gain practical experience while still finishing your degree An internship allows you to work alongside experienced engineers, contribute to real-world projects, and determine if a career as a civil engineer is right for you

However, before you can begin that journey, you must first ace the internship interview This critical step allows companies to evaluate your potential contributions, passion for the field, and ability to thrive in their work environment. The thought of sitting across from hiring managers and fielding difficult questions can seem intimidating Fortunately, being proactive and preparing responses for common civil engineering intern interview questions will give you the confidence boost you need to make a winning impression.

This guide has a lot of information about common interview questions for civil engineering interns of all levels of experience. If you know what each question is trying to test and write thoughtful, professional answers, you’ll be able to show off your skills, show that you’re motivated, and start your career as a civil engineer.

General Questions

Civil engineering intern interviews often start with common questions aimed at getting to know you and your interest in the role. Be ready to speak about yourself professionally while highlighting the traits that make you an ideal candidate.

How did you hear about this internship position?

This introductory question allows you to explain what drew you to this particular position and company. Be specific about how you came across the job posting and why you felt it would be a good fit based on the internship description and your own experience, interests and career goals.

Tell me about yourself.

When answering this open-ended prompt, focus on highlights that pertain specifically to the civil engineering internship. Share details about your academic program, course projects, prior internship experience, and involvement with student organizations. Emphasize the knowledge and skills you’ve developed that make you well-suited for this opportunity.

What do you already know about our company?

Hiring managers want to see that you’ve taken the time to research the company and understand their work. Discuss recent projects, reputation, company culture, and any practices or values that resonate with you personally. This shows genuine interest in the organization.

What are your career goals?

Even as an intern, companies want to see that you have vision for your future in civil engineering. Share your short and long term goals, explaining how you feel this internship can help build the skills and experience to advance your career in the field.

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

As you talk about your strengths, make sure you focus on the hard and soft skills that are directly related to civil engineering. For example, technical knowledge, attention to detail, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. As for your weaknesses, pick a skill you’ve gotten better at and explain how you worked to improve it.

What interests you about civil engineering?

This question lets you show how much you want to work in this field and how passionate you are about it. Tell us about when you became interested, what about the project interests you, and how you think you can help make a difference in communities.

Technical Questions

The technical questions will dive deeper into your hands-on experience and ability to apply engineering concepts. Use these questions as an opportunity to prove your technical know-how.

Can you describe your experience with design software like AutoCAD?

Employers want to see you have capabilities working with CAD and other design programs commonly used in the industry. Discuss class projects or previous internships where you actively used these software tools to design systems and solve problems similar to those faced on the job.

Have you worked on any civil engineering projects as part of your coursework?

This allows you to demonstrate hands-on experience and skills applying engineering principles through academic projects. Choose an example that highlights valuable abilities like team collaboration, design, technical analysis, and communication.

How familiar are you with different types of soils and their properties?

Understanding soil mechanics is key for site design and analysis. Discuss soil characteristics like plasticity, permeability, compressibility and shear strength. Share any experience with soil testing and how properties impact foundations, retaining walls and other structures.

Can you explain load bearing capacity and its role in civil engineering?

This question gauges your grasp of fundamental engineering concepts. Discuss how load capacity helps determine the safe loading for structural components like beams and columns. Highlight factors that influence capacity like material strength and reinforcement.

What do you know about stormwater management systems?

Showcase your knowledge of stormwater collection, conveyance, detention and green infrastructure techniques. Share how these systems aim to control runoff, reduce flooding and pollution and promote groundwater recharge.

Are you familiar with environmental regulations impacting civil engineering?

Show your awareness of key regulations like NEPA, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Discuss how adhering to these regulations ensures projects limit impacts to surrounding ecosystems and communities.

What is the role of geotechnical engineering in civil projects?

Highlight how geotechnical analysis of subsurface soil and rock conditions informs foundation, excavation, and slope stability design for infrastructure projects. This knowledge ensures structures interact safely with the ground beneath them.

How are reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete different?

Reinforced uses steel rebar to withstand tensile stresses, while prestressed concrete is pre-compressed before loading to counteract tension. The ability to compare structural materials shows foundational engineering knowledge.

What experience do you have with construction materials like steel, concrete and asphalt?

Share class projects or internships where you worked with these primary construction materials. Discuss tasks like strength testing, quality control inspection, and monitoring proper material installation.

Behavioral Questions

Personality and work ethic are just as important as technical skills. Use behavioral questions as a chance to show you have the soft skills to thrive in the team and positively represent the organization.

Have you worked in groups on an engineering project before? How did you contribute?

Share an example of a team project, whether through class, internship or extracurriculars. Discuss your specific role and how you helped the team collaborate seamlessly to achieve success.

How do you prioritize when working on multiple projects with pressing deadlines?

Show you can utilize time management, scheduling, delegation and communication skills to complete high-quality work efficiently even when juggling competing priorities. Emphasize being organized and proactive.

Tell me about a time you made a mistake on an engineering project. How did you handle it?

Everyone makes mistakes, but how you respond says a lot about your character. Share an example of an engineering error, then discuss how you took accountability, quickly made corrections, and learned from it.

How do you stay motivated when facing challenges on long or difficult projects?

Display maturity by emphasizing perseverance, a positive attitude, and a willingness to ask questions and seek guidance when facing roadblocks. Show you are committed to overcoming obstacles.

Why do you feel you would thrive in a team environment?

Discuss the value you place on collaboration, your ability to listen and communicate effectively, and your experience working through differences of opinion diplomatically to achieve unified goals.

How do you stay up-to-date on the latest civil engineering best practices and technologies?

Show your dedication to continuous learning. Share resources that help you stay current, like industry publications, online courses, seminars, and involvement with professional organizations like ASCE.

Situational Questions

Situational questions present hypothetical scenarios you may encounter on the internship and assess your problem-solving skills and engineering judgement.

If you noticed a safety concern during a site visit, how would you handle it?

Emphasize that addressing safety issues promptly is the top priority. Discuss reporting the concern to your supervisor and making sure proper precautions are implemented before work continues.

How would you communicate design changes to construction crews in the field?

Highlight the importance of clear, concise and considerate communication when coordinating design updates with field staff. Discuss confirming understanding and welcoming feedback from crews to facilitate collaboration.

If you are assigned a task you don’t fully understand, what steps would you take?

Share that you would first re-review reference materials related to the task to solidify your knowledge. Then emphasize promptly asking your supervisor questions to clarify anything still uncertain before moving forward.

How would you respond if a colleague questioned your engineering calculations during a project?

Focus on remaining professional and receptive to constructive feedback. State you would walk through your work methodically to understand their concerns, verify accuracy, and make any corrections.

If you noticed a project falling behind schedule, what would you do?

Discuss bringing the issue to your supervisor’s attention immediately and volunteering to take on additional responsibilities if needed to help get back on track, even if that means working extra hours.

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

The interviews will likely wrap up with the opportunity for you to ask questions. Prepare several thoughtful questions ahead of time to show your engagement.

  • How are interns integrated into the team and project work?
  • What training opportunities are available to interns?
  • What does a typical day look like for an intern?
  • What kinds

civil engineer intern interview questions

Civil and structural engineering technical interview tips

Before you attend a civil engineering or structural engineering assessment day or interview:

  • Learn about what the company has done in the division you want to work in and look over any college notes you have on technical subjects that may come up in the interview.
  • Ready to talk about what you did? Read through your project work, coursework, or dissertation.
  • Work on talking about technical problems, your schoolwork, and any technical skills you’ve learned at internships. You could ask someone who isn’t technical to help you figure out how clear your explanations of technical topics are.
  • Practise sketching diagrams.
  • Make a portfolio of your project work to bring to the interview. A lot of people will ask you about it, and it will be easier to talk about if you have it in front of you. Joshua McGregor, a graduate bridge engineer, told the UK 300 in a previous issue, “I’d recommend taking your work because you will always be asked technical questions. If they are about a project you worked on, you are likely to know the answers!”

When answering technical interview questions:

  • Remember that the people interviewing you aren’t always looking for simple answers; they’re more interested in how you think than in whether you give the right answer. Since engineering projects don’t usually involve textbook problems, your future boss wants to see how you solve them. The final answer is often less important.
  • If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.
  • If you don’t know the answer or don’t know much about a subject, tell the interviewer what you do know and then show them how you would solve the problem. Most of the time, the interviewer will walk you through the situation to see how you think.
  • If you need to draw a picture to help you explain something, dona€™t be shy about asking for paper and pen.
  • You don’t need to rush in to answering. Give yourself time to think. Taking a sip of water or telling the interviewers that you’d like time to think can help you avoid a long pause.
  • If you feel like you didn’t answer a question well enough at the end of an interview, you can ask to go back and change your answer. Emma Hale is a chartered civil engineer at Mott MacDonald and now talks to college graduates. One time, she told the UK 300, “I’d be impressed if someone wanted to go back to a question they were asked before to add more information or make a point clearer.” ’ .

Example technical exercises and assessment day tasks for graduate civils jobs

People on the same internet forums say they did the following technical tasks during their graduate job interview or assessment day:

  • Being interviewed and being asked the following: a) You are going to build the bridge that was given to you this morning as a case study What steps do you need to take to do a ground investigation? What kinds of tests will you do?
  • After an interview, you were given some beam sketches and asked to make a shear force diagram and a bending moment diagram.
  • It was asked of you to draw a strip foundation and explain how you would build a suspended slab.
  • Being asked what things you should think about if you want to build a railroad station



What questions should I ask an engineer intern?

What do you appreciate most and least about engineering? What are the hard and soft skills that help you accomplish your work? What strategies do you use to keep yourself organized? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

What is expected of a civil engineering intern?

Along with networking and gaining mentorship, civil engineering interns will spend time working on skills great for later in their career journeys. Civil engineering interns will learn how to plan and execute technical production, communicate their visions effectively, and collaborate with a team on a shared goal.

What are civil engineering internship interview questions & answers?

For those just starting their career through internships, civil engineering internship interview questions and answers provide targeted preparation for roles that combine learning with professional development. These questions often explore a candidate’s motivation, learning goals, and how they plan to contribute to projects.

What is a civil engineering interview questions & answers PDF?

The civil engineering interview questions and answers PDF is a broader resource that covers a wide spectrum of topics within civil engineering, from basic principles to complex project management queries. This resource is invaluable for candidates looking to review and consolidate their knowledge before an interview.

How many questions are in a civil engineering interview?

A Comprehensive Civil Engineering Job Interview Guide with 300 Interview Questions and Answers PDF eBook. Why did you pursue civil engineering? I pursued civil engineering because of my passion for building and designing infrastructure that benefits society.

What do employers look for in a civil engineering internship?

Employers look for interns who are reliable, well-organized, and have strong problem-solving skills. In this guide, you’ll find several samples questions and responses, including civil engineering internship interview questions and answers. Are you comfortable working in a team environment?

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