How To Prepare for a Hardware Engineer Interview


As a hardware engineer, you’ll be responsible for the physical design, construction, and testing of computer hardware. This may include the circuit boards, microprocessors, and other wiring and equipment that makes up a computer system. Hardware engineers usually work closely with software engineers to ensure that the hardware they’re developing can support the software that needs to run on it. The following guide will go over what a typical hardware engineer interview entails and how you can best prepare to do well.

What to expect in a hardware engineer interview

Hardware engineer interviews may be divided into two types: technical interviews and culture-fit interviews. We’ll focus on the technical interview process since that’s the most important one for hardware engineers. Technical interviews for hardware engineers usually involve a fair amount of behavioral questions to assess how you think through problems as well as some whiteboarding exercises to test your engineering knowledge. The questions will likely test your knowledge of circuits, electronics, and how to apply that knowledge to real-world scenarios. The whiteboarding exercises may involve designing a circuit, analyzing a given circuit, or solving an electronics problem. The goal of the interviewers is to understand how you think through problems and whether you have the fundamental knowledge required to be a successful hardware engineer. In addition to the questions and exercises, your interviewer will also be assessing your ability to communicate your thoughts clearly and work through problems collaboratively.

What to practice before a hardware engineer interview

To be best prepared for your hardware engineer interview, you’ll want to review and practice electronics, circuits, and digital logic. This will involve understanding how to design, build, and test circuits as well as being able to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. A good resource to prepare for the interview is The Hardware Hacker by Andrew Huang. In addition to reviewing the technical concepts, it’s always a great idea to practice your verbal communication and critical thinking. The best way to do this is to practice through an interview with a friend by riffing on technical problems or even by simply speaking your thoughts out loud to ensure clarity.

What questions to ask in a hardware engineer interview

You should ask many questions throughout your interviews. Any time a problem is described to you, make sure to clarify the constraints of the solution that the interviewer is looking for. What is the end goal of the circuit or design? What are the specific requirements that need to be met? Once you have a clear idea of the problem, you can begin to design a solution. During the interview, suggesting alternatives and asking about specific needs will help you design a complete solution based on the constraints. After an interview, ask about additional use cases and request feedback on your design.

What are hiring managers looking for in a hardware engineer

Hiring managers are looking for clear thinkers, problem solvers, and people who are able to autonomously operate as a successful hardware engineer. They’re looking for technical aptitude and a good fit for the requirements of their team. As much weight as your technical knowledge carries, a hiring manager is also assessing your ability to work in a team. How quickly do you learn? Can you adapt to a dynamic environment? Are you proactive and forward-looking when designing your solutions or do you stick within the confines of the problem at hand?

How to stand out in a hardware engineer interview

To excel in your technical interviews, you should always start by solving the problem they give you. Once you’ve solved the problem, you can go above and beyond by addressing potential tradeoffs you could make by implementing different solutions. You can also discuss how you may scale your solution for a larger version of the problem. Or what you may do to ensure that your solution can gracefully handle failure. If you end early, you can also ask your interviewer if there’s a more optimal solution that is possible and try to discuss how you may make your solution better and more efficient.

What sort of salaries can I expect as a hardware engineer

Hardware engineers are paid quite well due to the high demand for the job. You can expect to receive a combination of base salary, a stock grant, and various bonuses for the role. While pay still largely depends on location, many professionals are able to work remotely as well.

You can view salaries and filter by different locations, companies, and more over on our Hardware Engineer salary page.

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