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Interview tips and Important topics for Fresh Structural Engineers

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

As we all know that there is a huge gap between college and industry. what I have observed in the past five years is that college student who is about to pass out lack real industrial knowledge. It has become a difficult task to crack interviews due to high competition Hence I am writing this article keeping in mind, the freshers who are going to crack the structural engineering interview. I will be sharing a few important tips and possible topics which may ask during the interview

For fresh structural engineers, the question doesn’t come whether you like structural engineering or not. That is because it's obvious that you chose structural engineering because you have a passion for it, or you believe that structural engineering will lead to an office job. Before beginning the tips. I would suggest if the above two criteria don’t apply to you, you should either stop reading this article or choose some other field that interests you because if you are not interested then pursuing structural engineering doesn’t make sense.

I believe the below few important tips will definitely help you in cracking the interview.

  • Start your day with exercise: In a day you should exercise for at least 30 mins to 45 mins. It can be of any form, outdoor games, yoga, gym, meditation, or anything. But it should be done daily without a break. Being consistent in exercise will help you to keep motivated in your goals.

  • In case your main motive is to crack an interview, I believe that preparing for an interview should be on your daily checklist. Minimum of 2 hours you should prepare for an interview.

  • List out companies: List down all possible companies where you would like to work. It's better to research the company and the kind of work they are doing. This will help you in the initial screening of the companies.

  • Excellent Resume: A resume is an important thing for any job hunt. Keep your resume very short. The resume should be a maximum of 2 pages, which should cover your objective, experience, education, skills, extracurricular activities, your address and phone number, and email id, adding your photo (passport size with white background) would be added advantage. Try to avoid hobbies and family details in your resume. Keep your resume updated every 2 or 3 months. I personally prefer a simple resume that conveys a message directly. I don’t like fancy colorful resumes, I don’t know about recruiters how they prefer but I believe if your skills match company's requirements, then there is no need for a fancy resume, which lately I m seeing a lot on social networking platforms.

  • Strong Network: High chances of getting a job in the modern world is through networking, definitely merit matters, but along with it networking also counts. A person with good merit and good networking will have a high chance of getting a job. Hence don’t hesitate to send requests to professionals on networking sites like LinkedIn. And also drop your resume with a proper cover letter to all possible HRs and Engineers of the structural engineering companies. Sending your resume to Engineers will be more effective than sending it to HRs. What I have observed is that HR usually doesn’t check your resumes in most cases. They prefer internal references which helps them to reduce screening time. My last two jobs were through LinkedIn

  • Small companies: If you get a chance to work with small local companies, then don’t hesitate to join them. In fact, you will get a lot of exposure in terms of knowledge in small companies. Something is better than nothing. I started my design career at a small local design firm.

  • Salary: Before negotiating salary with the company always take guidance from your know contacts or seniors. Don’t end up getting below industry-level salary.

  • Choosing the right specialization: Don’t think that there is only one specialization called building design or bridge design. In structural engineering, there are a lot of sub-departments. Never hesitate to join them. There are different departments like buildings, bridges, power, telecom, water structures, rail structures, ports and marine, nuclear, etc. Please explore. In MNC, what I have observed is noncommon specialization pays you more than common specialization like buildings and bridges.

Now I am going to share a few important topics which were asked to me in the interviews

  • Tell me about yourself: Please be prepared for this question and practice accordingly so that you can divert the interviewer to the questions which you want to be asked. Along with your qualifications talk about your interests, your favorite subject, college projects, and about internships.

  • Software: The interviewer may ask you questions about the software. They may ask how you will do a project from start to end using designing software.

  • Basics of structural engineering

  1. SFD and BMD for beams and portal frames.

  2. Free body diagram

  3. Footing, beam, column & slab design.

  4. Question on IS 456: the minimum or maximum percentage of reinforcement, how to calculate shear force, etc.

  5. Detailing of the structural elements

  6. Questions on IS 875 part 3: how to calculate wind loading using code, basic wind speed, wind zones, etc.

  7. Question on IS 1893: calculation of base shear, the difference between static and dynamic analysis. Response spectrum analysis, Time history analysis. Horizontal and vertical irregularities, calculation of time period. No. of earthquake zones., response reduction factor, and its importance, etc.

  8. Question on IS 13920: ductile detailing, definition, and understanding of concept ductility, etc.

  9. Retaining wall: design, detailing, and stability of retaining wall, active, passive, and rest lateral pressure. Behavior and load transfer of the retaining wall in basements, etc.

  10. Steel design, connection design, anchorage, shear stud, base plate design, insert plate design, bond stress. questions on IS 800, etc.

  11. Stability checks for building, retaining walls, or any structures

  12. Behavior of the structure due to earthquake and wind loadings.

There are many more technical topics which might be asked to you, I will add them, once I remember more topics. But these were the main question which I faced in the past 5 years

Above article, I have written believing it will help freshers, who are preparing to join structural design firm. These are the topics and observations which I made in the past 5 years, and these are my perspective. You should always take guidance from seniors and known contacts to get a wider perspective. Hope my article will help, if you have any doubts or suggestions please comment below. Also, you can comment on the interview topics below.

All the best.

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