27 thermodynamics engineer interview questions and answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you're looking for work as a thermodynamics engineer, the application process has a lot of different steps to ensure that companies hire suitable talent. This includes sending in a CV and cover letter, an assessment and, finally, the interview process. Knowing more about the most common thermodynamics engineer interview questions is beneficial for anyone interviewing for a role since you have more time to prepare for all of the questions. In this article, we discuss the most common thermodynamics engineer interview questions and some of the most effective ways of answering them in an interview setting.

Specific thermodynamics engineer interview questions

Here are some specific thermodynamics engineer interview questions:

  • How do you define thermodynamics and what does thermodynamics affect?

  • Can you define what a closed system, open system and an isolated system are? Why do these differences matter?

  • How does the concept of entropy affect thermodynamics issues in any open system?

  • What are the basic laws of thermodynamics?

  • What is absolute zero, and is the existence of 'absolute zero' a paradox?

  • In what fields do you think thermodynamics are important and why do thermodynamic issues require resolutions?

  • Why is the conservation of energy necessary to the success of a thermodynamic engineer and their work?

  • In your opinion, what is the most important concept in physics?

  • Are there any scientific concepts that fascinate you more than others? Why is this the most interesting part of physics for you?

  • What sort of system is a boiler and why is this vital?

Related: 44 maintenance engineer interview questions (with examples)

General interview questions

Here are some more general interview questions:

  • How did you hear about this position at the company?

  • Do you prefer to work from home, in an office environment or through a hybrid arrangement?

  • Do you thrive when working independently or in a much wider team of employees?

  • How did you improve your knowledge in the last few years and how do you apply this to develop in the workplace?

  • How many jobs are you applying for at the moment and how much interest do you have in this position?

  • Can you give me an example of a time you disagreed with a supervisor, why you disagreed and how you resolved the issue?

  • What do you enjoy doing outside a workplace environment in your free time?

  • Where do you see your career in the next five years? Does this vary when you look at the next 20 years?

  • How did you first hear about this vacancy?

  • Why do you want to be a thermodynamics engineer?

  • What do you know about the company?

  • How does your time in education relate to your interest in filling this role?

  • Do you have experience in similar engineering roles and how does it relate to thermodynamics engineering work?

Related: What to expect in an interview (in-depth guide with tips)

Detailed thermodynamics engineer interview answers

Learn more about some of the detailed thermodynamic engineer questions you receive, why interviewers ask these questions and example answers that are ideal for securing the role:

Which physics concepts are more interesting to you and why?

Interviewers ask this question because thermodynamics is a field with clear roots in the world of physics. Engineering, in a way that combines an understanding of mechanics and thermodynamics, is essential for an employee, ensuring the job achieves completion as coherently as possible. An employer also gets an understanding of how much of a curious person you are, as a clear interest in physics concepts demonstrates you are open to learning and developing your skill set over time.

When answering this question, think about some of the areas of thermodynamics and physics that grasp you more than others. Whilst thermodynamic concepts are ideal for this question, focusing on any other physics concept has the same effect of presenting your interest in the subject. Talking passionately on a subject you have a personal interest in at this stage is vital, as this engages an interviewer more than answering in a relatively plain manner. Speak in as much detail as possible, demonstrating that you have a detail-oriented personality to the employer.

Example: 'One of the most interesting physics concepts for me is the idea of entropy in a closed system. Entropy is a universal concept, which means it effectively applies to everything, so the very concept of a closed system is paradoxical. The fact that the best we can do is to attempt to insulate systems from entropy when 'closing' them is fascinating, and this impact on energy inefficiency is an important part of thermodynamic engineering.'

Related: What does a physicist do? (Responsibilities and skills)

Can you describe a challenge you experienced in the workplace and how you reached a solution?

This is a common question in any interviewing environment but provides significant insight for the interviewer into your work experience and workplace mentality. Thermodynamics engineers deal with complex problems all the time in the workplace, so having a strong problem-solving mentality is a necessity for more productive outcomes. Employers having evidence of the ability to solve problems is ideal, informing their decision on who they prefer to hire for the role.

When answering this question, consider two factors. The first is the severity of the challenge. The more difficult the circumstances, the more impressive an adequate response is. Consider the success of the response as a second factor. If you have evidence of success when problem-solving, this is a better advertisement of your skills than a failure. Clearly setting out the context of the problem and the steps you take is ideal for informing interviewers fully of the situation and having a greater degree of clarity in your response.

Example: 'In my last workplace, we had an issue in which the design department required a specific aspect of the product to be in place. The placement of the component led to heat transfer issues that damaged the product. I was a key part of reaching an agreement between the design department and the fabrication team, creating a heatsink surrounding the component that reduced wear and tear across the rest of the product.'

Related: Q&A: describe a challenge you faced and how you overcame it

Do you have any questions for us?

This is a question present in the majority of interview situations in which a thermodynamics candidate has the opportunity to find out more about the company they have an interest in. Companies ask this as a means of both informing the candidate more about the company and the position, whilst establishing whether the candidate has a level of natural curiosity. Curiosity and asking questions are ideal traits for someone seeking a career as a thermodynamics engineer.

Come into an interview prepared for this question. When you research a company you apply for, there are always some parts of the company you know less about than others. Focus on some of the important aspects that directly impact the way you work on thermodynamic projects. This includes having a better understanding of the facilities available, the nature of the team's structure and the type of project the company takes part in.

Example: 'One of my main questions was surrounding the way thermodynamics engineers work in your company. Is it a collaborative team environment or is there an emphasis on individual work? I was also wondering about the facilities available for thermodynamics engineers. Having a better understanding of the machinery and modelling software available for your staff is an important part of working to the best of my potential.'

Related: The differences between open-ended questions vs. closed

What do you know about the company?

Employers ask this question for a very simple reason. The more a candidate researches the company and the role, the more they invest themselves in the process. This indicates to employers they are a good hire, as people with an active interest in the company strive to make the most of their opportunities in the business.

When answering this question, think about all of your research. Primarily focus on current information about the business, such as the company's ethics and existing clients. This not only shows you have researched the company but provides you with enough information to get started in an effective manner and benefit from working with a head start.

Example: 'Fangar Manufacturing is a key company in the thermodynamics sector. Your recent clients include the Ministry of Defence and other state sector clients. People choose Fangar Manufacturing for a few reasons, but primarily because the company has a good reputation of putting the customer first whilst working with top-of-the-line technology.'

Explore more articles