What do you know about the role of a director of engineering?
The job of a Director of Engineering is to help the company and its engineering team ensure the success of its products. The Director will be responsible for leading and overseeing key aspects such as project management, budgeting, engineering management, recruiting, training and development. It is also important for a director to keep in touch with industrial trends by researching new developments in technology as well as industry news. Ultimately it is a role that requires an individual to be flexible and consultative with the professional needs of different teams within the department. The director must be knowledgeable in the latest industry trends to ensure that the company is staying current with the latest technology and best practices.
There are several steps to becoming a director of engineering such as:
Mechanical engineers have traditionally been the most sought after area to direct. They have the skills that they need to run the department effectively. They will also be aware of all of the latest industry trends and how they can be applied in their specific areas. The director will be able to interact with other teams having them understand the directors view point and why they want certain things done their way. There are some key skills that all directors must have in order to succeed in their position. Some of those skills include:
Why are you interested in this position specifically?
Here is an example from a similar position I had in the past. We were a small, Regional Sales office and we had a very high level of service demands on our Account Executive who was also the chief technical engineer for the company. I liked this role because of its challenges and that it had a lot of free time and flexibility in where I worked. I did a lot of work out of my apartment and I travelled sometimes to the regional office, but oftentimes it was just me by myself supporting all of the technical needs for our entire region. I also enjoyed the fact that as a support person it was really important for me to provide a high level of technical knowledge on the products we were selling and I could make a name for myself if there was any need to find someone to fill in for me in my absence. This position also gave me the opportunity to learn about the value of different types of services, so that was a big plus!
I think this role is probably one of the more difficult roles to fill because you need someone who has a strong background in engineering. Many engineers do not have strong communication skills; they fail during interviews in that regard. Other engineers may have great communication skills, but they might not be willing to take on a super technical role like this. In this case, you have to make sure that the candidate is willing to accept any type of workload and be able to defend their ability to do a great job in the job interview.
What are your skills and strengths that make you a good fit for this job?
When they asked this question, be ready to talk about your experience, both technical and interpersonal. Give an example of a time when you helped resolve a problem by working with others to investigate the issue and come up with a solution. Make it relevant to the job you are applying for. Your experience and skills will speak for themselves if you show how you’ve used them to resolve problems in the workplace.
For example, if you are applying for a job as senior engineer at a major corporation, you might talk about how you’ve worked on projects dealing with time management, prioritizing the tasks to be done that day, and overcoming issues. It doesn’t matter if your company doesn’t actually use the tools or techniques that you’ve developed — in fact, it’s better if you don’t mention your specific experience. Focus on your ability to learn new things and solve problems. Show that you can work well with others to achieve a common goal.
Describe a time when you had to manage a difficult or challenging project.
While working at a technical sales position, I was in charge of the account where we sold to a major airline. It was a challenging project because it involved getting the “figure heads” that were high up in management to buy into the technology. If you remember, this company was known for traditional computers which were considered out of date equipment for many of its customers. We had to convince them in the value of the new technology that we were working on.
My role was to develop a business plan for the company, then present it to the CEO. In addition, I had to convince him that our new equipment could be an asset and he would enjoy using it. From what I knew about this executive, he might not even want to listen to me, let alone be convinced. He was a successful executive and did good things for this company so the stakes were high.
Tell me about a time when you had to give constructive feedback to an employee or team member.
I had a great experience when I worked at a large telecommunications firm. For example, I was the lead technical engineer for a large project that went on to cost over $10 million dollars. The training and guidance I received from my boss was incredible. He helped me through the process of building that project and he would ask me how things were progressing on a regular basis. If an issue came up he would always tell me that it was okay to talk about it and there was nothing wrong with him hearing about the challenges I was facing. He would also give me tips on how to approach difficult situations with my team members.
(I worked on such a project as well as others too, so I could discuss these better)
This boss was an amazing instructional leader. He also had a great grasp on the technical aspects of the work I was doing. However, he never told me what to do or how to do something; he trusted that I knew how to do my job. If I ran into an issue with the software or hardware, he encouraged me to contact him first before bringing issues up with other team members.
Another great experience I had was working with a talented team of engineers. Everyone on that team had good skills and we could hold productive meetings to discuss upcoming tasks and issues.