40 chemical engineer interview questions (With answers)

Updated 9 August 2023

Chemical engineers use raw chemical ingredients to design and create new products and equipment. They work in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, food production and manufacturing. When you go for a chemical engineer interview, the interviewer asks various questions to understand your aptitude and experience in developing and improving processes and products. In this article, we look at some of the most common chemical engineer interview questions, alongside some sample answers to help you prepare.

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12 general chemical engineer interview questions

An interviewer asks general chemical engineer interview questions to learn more about you, such as your personality, pastimes and interests. They also want to see if you're the right fit for their organisation. Some of these questions include:

  1. What are your long-term goals?

  2. What are your strengths?

  3. What are your weaknesses?

  4. Why do you want to work in this industry?

  5. What's your biggest accomplishment?

  6. How might you describe your work style?

  7. What are you passionate about?

  8. What do you know about our organisation?

  9. How well do you work under pressure?

  10. What kind of projects are you looking to work on?

  11. What do you like about this industry?

  12. What do you like to do for fun?

Related: What is a chemical engineer? (With qualifications and jobs)

12 experience-based and background questions

Experience-based interview questions tend to look more into why you chose a career as a chemical engineer. The interviewer wants to learn more about your previous experience in this field and any relevant background information from any previous job. Some of these questions include:

  1. Tell us about your experience in chemical engineering.

  2. What do you like most about working in this field?

  3. What are some of the most important skills you've learned while working as a chemical engineer?

  4. Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team.

  5. Tell us about your experience with chemical engineering labs.

  6. How do you approach a problem?

  7. When you were at your previous job, what did you do?

  8. What was your favourite part of that job?

  9. What was your least favourite part of that job?

  10. How did you start in this industry?

  11. What are some of the most successful projects you've worked on?

  12. How much experience do you have working with data analytics and machine learning?

Related: How to become a chemical engineer (With salary info)

12 in-depth questions

This type of question delves deeper into why you became a chemical engineer, with specific references to the field and its work. The interviewer may use this type of question to assess your skill set and understanding of the role. These questions tend to be more scenario-based, so aim to describe how you might react in specific situations. Some of these questions include:

  1. How does chemistry affect the world around us? Why is it important for us to understand chemistry?

  2. What are some of the problems with our current systems for creating energy and power, and how might you improve them?

  3. What's your favourite chemical engineering concept?

  4. What are the main differences between a chemical engineer and an industrial engineer?

  5. Why are there so few women in the field of chemical engineering?

  6. What do you think of the current state of the chemical engineering industry?

  7. If you had to design a chemical plant from scratch, what might be your first step?

  8. How do you plan on contributing to this organisation?

  9. What kind of projects have you worked on in the past? Which was the most challenging and why? Why did you choose it over another project with less difficulty?

  10. Describe a previous project that required teamwork or a problem that required collaboration. How did you get everyone involved, and how did the final product turn out?

  11. Tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure. How did this affect the outcome of your project, and how did you overcome this challenge?

  12. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult colleague.

Related: How much does a chemical engineer make? (With steps)

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4 common interview questions with sample answers for chemical engineers

Here are four common chemical engineer questions with some sample answers:

1. What is the most important part of being successful in this role?

This question asks for your opinion on what you think makes a successful chemical engineer. Discuss all the aspects you think are important to you, as it asks for your opinion on how you perceive the job and its work. Discuss examples of aspects that made any previous project successful in previous jobs.

Example: 'I think the most important quality for success in this role is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. It's necessary that we communicate our ideas to each other and our clients, and I believe that my experience as a chemical engineer makes me uniquely qualified in that regard. I've spent years developing my ability to communicate complex technical information in a way that's understandable to everyone involved. My engineering background also gives me an excellent knowledge base on which to draw when learning new subjects, which means I quickly learn what's required to do the job well.'

Related: Your guide to securing a chemical engineer internship

2. How do you prioritise tasks?

This question helps the interviewer determine how you prioritise tasks and manage your time. It allows them to assess your time management skills and see how organised you might be. When giving your answer, be honest and give clear examples of how you approach time management.

Example: 'I always prioritise my tasks according to urgency, length of time and complexity. The first thing I do when faced with multiple tasks is to list everything that needs doing. From there, I look at each item and determine whether I might break them down into multiple parts. For example, if one task requires me to go into the lab and take measurements, I do that first. If the next task requires me to run tests on those measurements, I do that second.

I track which tasks require more time or resources than others to ensure I complete them promptly. For instance, I commit small portions of time to large, long-term projects regularly, so I'm not overwhelmed. This also lets me spot any anomalies or errors early on.'

Related: Interview question: 'how do you prioritise your work?'

3. What tools and software have you used in your previous jobs?

This question asks you to identify and explain any tools or software you used in previous jobs. By asking this question, the interviewer forms an idea of your experience with specific software and tools. This helps them determine whether you require any extra training if you're successful in your interview.

Example: 'I've used many tools and software in my previous jobs. At my last job, I used two different programs to help me with design work. First, I used the proprietary version of a CAD/CAM program that the company provided. I also used another program to design printed circuit boards. Both programs create 3D models and other designs for industrial applications. I put aside time after work to improve my understanding and skills using these applications.

I also used a maths program to create models and simulations of chemical reactions. This was extremely useful for developing new products because it allowed me to test formulas before building them.'

Related: Engineer requirements, plus degrees, certificates and skills

4. How do you think chemical engineers might help solve environmental problems?

This question is more open-ended and gives you a chance to discuss the impact of chemical engineering on wider environmental problems. Discuss any ways you think you might help solve environmental issues, as this demonstrates your professional knowledge and your ability to apply it to an important sector. You might also discuss how you've thought about environmental solutions before in previous jobs.

Example: 'Chemical engineers are uniquely positioned to help solve environmental problems because their training helps them understand the relationship between chemicals and their impact on the environment. Whether it's mining, food manufacturing or biotechnology, each industry has its own unique set of environmental challenges. I believe chemical engineers may provide the solutions to these.

Chemical engineers also understand how to manipulate those interactions to make them more effective at solving specific problems. For example, if you want to clean up a toxic waste site, it helps to know what chemicals work together and how they mix to remove pollutants from soil or water.'

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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