Hard interview questions for IE jobs

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  • #4841
    Bhurin Pisitthakarn

    What are some difficult interview questions for industrial engineering related positions?

    Kyle Raddatz


    I have been through many interviews, and very few of them asked technical questions about industrial engineering. Most interviewers aren’t trying to trick you, they just want to learn more about you and your industrial engineering experience. The hardest question I have had to answer was, “if we spoke to your past managers, what would they each say you need to improve upon?” It was tricky because it requires self-reflection, but it is essentially just a variation of “what are your biggest weaknesses?” The best way to answer those is to be honest and finish your response with the steps you have taken to improve upon those weaknesses.

    Ashley Hellenbrand

    I agree with Kyle as I have interviewed multiple times and have never been asked a super technical question about IE. What I have found most influential in interviews is talking about your IE experience as it naturally fits into conversation. When answering an interview question, I try to connect it to an academic project I’ve completed. Talking about specifics such as what you designed, how you completed the project, and things you learned from the project are great points. Overall, if you can connect what you’ve done in school, projects, and other work experiences to the company you’re interviewing with, that is a great way to show you are qualified and excited about the job.

    Hannah Nguyen

    One of the hardest question I got so far is not really about technical but about your people skill. I was asked how to ask operators/supervisors to change their method and convince them to do so even when they are stubborn and refuse to change?

    Ryan Yan

    As previous replies all mentioned, it is not necessarily the technical or academic part of you that they are trying to test— you made it to the interview and that means you already passed those tests— what the company wants to know now is how you deal with people and how you react in different situations (one of my professor even told us at this point  what company really want is to make sure they are hiring someone ‘who would not embarrass them’. A little wild of an interpretation but I think it makes some sense). Self-reflection questions are usually hard as you’ll have to answer them in a way that both show you know your weaknesses AND turn that weakness into something that can ‘sell’ you to the company HR.

    J Weigandt

    “Tell me about a time when you solved a really difficult problem.”

    This is a question that I had not prepared for. Most of the other “Tell me about a time when…” questions I had already pre-thought out answers for, but this one really made me think, as it will also qualify what you consider a “really difficult” problem.



    One of the hardest questions I was asked during my interview for an entry level IE role was “tell me about a time you failed…”. When preparing for the interview I was in the habit of talking about my experiences in a positive light so this question threw me for a loop. I think what the interviewers were looking for by asking this question is how the candidate corrected for their mistakes and learned from them. Putting a positive spin on a negative toned question can show that you have a good attitude!

    Katherine Schroeer

    One difficult question I’ve faced during an interview is “tell me about a decision you regret”. Here, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of your character. They are looking for the perfect candidate, not the perfect person. Therefore, you should be honest and professional in your response and really emphasize what you learned in the process!

    Timothy Healy

    Reply to Bhurin Pisitthakarn of #4841:

    There are many difficult technical questions listed on this forum. However, I thought it would be good to share my most difficult question even though it does not only apply to Industrial Engineering positions:

    “Name your 3 greatest strengths followed by your 3 greatest weaknesses”

    It may sound easy, but naming one weakness without twisting it to be a strength is already difficult! Now to add two more on the spot without planning the answer ahead of time was very difficult. Hopefully this will help you be prepared in case you are asked the same question!


    Hardest for me were questions in which you cannot prepare, Case study questions. They give you a scenario at the company relating to some IE skill, and you have to go step by step through the process of figuring out a solution. Really puts you on the spot.


    Most questions I have received were behavioral questions. The most awkward one that was asked which I needed a little bit to figure out my response to was “Tell me about a time when you heard surprising news.”

    Ethan Gudmundsson

    When an interviewer asks you any kind of logic question or something that requires a process to be solved such as how many trees are in this forest?(I interviewed at a company who was surrounded by a forest), what they really want to see is for you to talk them through your thought processes and logic to see if how you think would work in their office environment.


    One of the hardest questions I received during an interview was to describe the internet to someone who has zero knowledge about technology. They were really looking for you to be able to explain something complex into simple terms, which is a valuable skill.

    Kristin Serwin

    I haven’t had many technical questions, but one of the more unique questions I was asked was whether I prefer the problem solving or problem identification aspect of my schooling better. This was really tough for me to answer because I had never considered them separately, only together.

    Alexander Hallquist

    I was asked to design a factorial experiment for a certain aspect of a tool breaking on the spot. The interviewer had some previous knowledge of the basics of it but not the whole process, so trying to go step by step and explain it to someone was challenging to say the least.

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