Tips for Interview

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Sparky49, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Sparky49

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    Hi guys.

    Hope you are all well. :)

    As part of my application, a couple of universities want me to attend an interview.

    I really want to make a good impression. Electronics and engineering is giga-important to me. If I'm not doing homework, I'm reading up on electronics, or electricity, or systems, or whatever. I do experiments and make projects and I'm nearly always thinking about what to investigate/learn about/build next. At what point does a hobby become an obsession? :D

    However, I'm really nervous about it. As I said, I want to make the right impression. Show them I'm a low risk candidate, ie I won't drop out or not revise. That sort of thing.

    Can anyone offer some good advice for interviews? I was thinking it might be worth taking a small project to show them. What do you think of that?

    Might it be worth taking one of the books I use for doing exercises from books?

    Eeek. :( I just so badly want to look like a good candidate.

    I look forward to your replies guys. Thanks for your time.

  2. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
    I think the important thing is to be yourself, if you are truly dedicated(judging from your posts here, I'd say you are), it will show. When they ask you what you do in your free-time, tell them you learn about electronics, to the point that you can(and have) create working projects(able to grasp abstract ideas and put them into practice).

    Tell them one of your goals in life is to become an engineer(shows you are goal oriented), and that you have been learning for a while(self-motivated).

    I think taking a project might overdo it, but I never interviewed for a university, they might enjoy it. Plus, I'm in the US, so my advice may be culturally/regionally based.

    Bottom line is: be truthful and be able to word things to highlight good qualities about yourself, without saying it explicitly.
    Sparky49 likes this.
  3. SPQR


    Nov 4, 2011
    Hmmm...Cambridgeshire...lots of possibilities there!:)
    I'm not sure how an interview would be different in the UK, so I'll just comment from a US perspective.
    I've done/given hundreds of interviews, but in a different field, so I can only give you general comments.
    I fully agree with tshuck - the most important thing is to "be yourself" - don't put on a facade, don't try to overly impress the interviewer.
    Let them guide the interview.
    The interviewer will most-likely have seen all of your paperwork so they just need to answer the question "do you drool?" (are you a real human being).

    Specific questions:
    be specific - don't "over-answer" (give too much information)

    General questions:
    Let them know, in subtle ways, how committed you are, how electronics has become so important to you.

    Bring along some "extra" things, but only bring them out if asked.
    Don't say "would you like to see the new CPU I've designed?".

    If you're relaxed, you'll be able to joke with the interviewer, unless the interviewer is a stodgy old fart, then stay stodgy.:D

    If you can, learn something about the interviewer - don't use that information overtly, but perhaps additional information might allow you to direct an answer in a particular way.

    Relax - it'll be a learning experience.
    And most importantly, I'm sure we ALL wish you the best of luck!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
    tshuck likes this.
  4. justtrying

    Active Member

    Mar 9, 2011
    In addition to what has been said already, be prepared to clearly answer the question why you choose their university and what you plan to do after you graduate. In Canada it is usually a plus to talk about projects at interviews if the opportunity presents itself - what do you do in your spare time? you reply that you work on electronics projects, and the follow up question may be to expand on that, but it is important to know who you are meeting with (admission people or actual faculty members).
  5. WBahn


    Mar 31, 2012
    I imagine that the interviewers are used to seeing "kids" that really don't have any idea why they want to pursue a particular degree. They hear lots of things about "finding myself". Many people that start on an engineering degree don't have any idea what engineering is beyond the fact that someone, somewhere, convinced them that if they get a degree in engineering that some company will throw lots of money at them.

    But you are in a position to talk about wanting to pursue an engineering degree (if that is what we are talking about, adjust as necessary if not) because your hobby interest in electronics has already showed you that you enjoy it, that you want to become good at it, and that you already understand that engineering is about problem solving and that you are enthusiastic about going to school there in order to learn about engineering problem solving and how to apply it to real world problems both big and small.
  6. nerdegutta


    Dec 15, 2009
    Good firm handshake.
    Eye contact while answering questions, but don't stare.
    Dress well.
    Don't forget to talk about the bagpipes.

    Good luck, and keep us updated. :)
  7. Jaguarjoe

    Active Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    Do not lie!
  8. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
    Agreed! And if you do not know something, please recognize that you don't.

    Buena suerte.
  9. toffee_pie

    Senior Member

    Oct 31, 2009
    not sure about bagpipes :p, but all that nerd said take it wisely.
  10. DenzilPenberthy

    New Member

    May 28, 2012
    I think if you demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in the subject, do it as a hobby and want to do it for a living afterwards you won't have any problems at all.

    Of the 80 or so people on my course I'd say about 10 went into engineering afterwards and probably 4 of us are still engineers. I think most lecturers are a bit fed up of teaching people with no real interest in the subject who are just studying engineering as a route into the City.

    When I was applying, the interviewers I had all seemed genuinely delighted that I had been doing electronics as a hobby for years and they all seemed really interested in the projects I'd done. Take some photos of stuff you've designed or if it's something small that fits in your pocket, take the real thing. Of the six unis I applied to I got six offers and my grades were by no means top of the pile!

    Which unis are you applying to?
  11. crutschow


    Mar 14, 2008
    Mathematics is central to studying electronics and engineering. It's important that you have demonstrated an aptitude for that, even if it's not a passion.

    Perhaps it's obvious, but in your interview avoid any slang or made-up words such as "giga-important". ;)
  12. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
    And probably is better not to mention that you are fan of any particular team, just in case the guy in front of you doesn't like that one much!!
  13. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
    Do a lot of listening and paying careful attention!

    The interviewer won't expect you to be a refined professional, but they need to determine if you are one of those young people that doesn't pay attention because you are always thnking about something else while they are talking... OR if you are one of those exceptional young people who listens very carefully and concentrates 100% on what the other person is saying.

    Likewise, a completed long term project you have done will help, as it shows you can stick with something through many different stages of research and work and get a result. Rather than just give up on something the instant it becomes "work" or "boring".
    SPQR likes this.
  14. Sparky49

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    Well, it's been a few weeks and I've had a couple of contrasting experiences. The first was a disaster (for them).

    Told to meet at 2pm for a general talk, lecturer was 10 minutes late. Then we split up into smaller groups to have more specific talks. Both talks had information which was wrong. For example, one person said that Hertz in a sine wave was the number of samples a second!

    Then we looked around the labs, which were pretty poorly kitted out. I wasn't expecting high end HP oscilloscopes, etc, but it was like a decade resistance box from the 60s shoved on a window ledge and an old oscilloscope on it's side. :/

    Then we had the individual interview. The guy sat me down, and asked why I wanted to do electronics. I explained that I've been interested in how things work for ages, but it wasn't until a few years ago at GCSE that I became passionate about electronics. I explained that I read through the GCSE syllabus in a few weeks and then started reading other books. However, he didn't seem that impressed.

    Then he asked if I had built anything interesting, to which I said had had built a simple Time Domain Reflectometer. He asked me to explain how a TDR works and that was that.

    Finally, he wanted me to expand sin(A+B). I said that I didn't know how to do that - we'd never covered it in maths before, and I didn't expect it to be as simple as sinA+sinB. So he huffed and then told me that it was cosAcosB-sinAsinB. It turns out that he got this wrong! That's the expansion of cos(A+B). My maths teacher was not impressed that he asked me to do this.

    The rest of the interview was a total drag. He didn't ever ask things like "what do you see yourself doing after uni?". He hadn't even bothered to read my personal statement. It wasn't like he didn't have a hundred people to interview, I was the first of three!

    Ah well. At least I found out before actually going there. Which I won't.