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Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Hello everyone,

I was wondering if some of you could help me with an interview I will be attending next month. The position is for an entry level HVAC/R engineering position. Now I am very interested in entering the field of HVAC/energy efficient building design, and wanted to know what type of interview questions I can expect of a technical nature for a position in HVAC/R engineering. I am currently reviewing my ASHRAE handbook and am trying to read up on everything HVAC/R related online. Thank you for your help.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Study Psychrometrics .... thats the ABC of HVAC.

Get a software ... preferabblay HAP (Hourly Analysis Program) try to familirize yourself to it ...

For Entry Level interview, general questions are asked.
One of the thing is they ask weather you can use any software??

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

For entry level positions I assume that the candidate knows nothing, so I ask questions designed to see if the candidate can think, and has an understanding of fundamentals.

For example, I might ask you:  "If you were looking for the types of questions that might be asked during an interview and found a useful looking web site what phrase would you use in the site's search feature?"

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

in interviews often are people that have nothing to do with the actual position (HR, anti-discrimination guy, union etc.). Most questions will be about your actual team work, general smartness etc. How you follow directions, etc. what you plan to do in 5 years (i.e. become a PE, go to graduate school).

Tell them what useful software you can use (not just MS Office) and ask what is their standard software. they won't expect you to be proficient in any software, but a general knowledge is good.

Of course they want to know what you learned what will help the job. there may be some token easy questions about technology, maybe some questions where they just want to see how you think and how creative you are.

You should learn about the company to show some interest.

Ask some questions that show you are interested in the company and the work. DON'T ask what benefits they have and how much vacation they offer etc. Ask if they give tuition assistance or any other training opportunities if they somehow come up to talk about benefits. Ask how they will train you (but without looking stupid like you need so much training). If you have multiple interviews you want to know which job to pick if you get offered multiple ones.

Don't lie. Obviously everyone makes himself look good, but don't make up things. They will figure it out. There is some wiggle room in describing how well you can use CAD etc. they are interested in someone being able to learn quickly. they also want you to be conform with their way of doing things. Sometimes it is better to train someone from the ground up the right way, than to deal with someone who is stubbornly doing it differently than being told because he learned it wrong some time ago.

In today's economy they probably get a good deal of applications from experienced engineers with years of experience. Your strength is the ability to learn they way better, to work for less money, and to be willing to work hard (apparently the ones that were laid off first, were the bad ones, so your competition might have an edge on experience, but you don't have that bad mark of being laid off)

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Thanks so far for the helpful (and not so helpful) information. Yes I know "interview" and "questions" are very pertinent search terms, which I did, but unfortunately I was looking for something a little more focused than "what is your biggest weakness?" type questions.

I have done quite a lot of research into the companies that I applied to, I actually have some experience engineering (a couple of years) but none doing HVAC/R work. I targeted my applications to companies that I was interested in, most without any positions listed currently on their websites, so I do have good reason as to why I would like to work for them, and some knowledge as to what they do in general.

If anyone has any further technical type of interview questions, the kind I know I will not receive from HR or management, I would really like to hear them. What would you, as an engineer, ask a fresh graduate (or not so fresh in my case) who came in for an HVAC engineering position at your company?

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

I had a few interviews and I can remember only one that was purely technical. But you do not need to be perfect, be honest. One of my answers was "I do not know" looks better than him thinking he does not know.
Of all the interviews I had there was not a single one the same. In some cases I had the job already before I entered thier building.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

It might be good to remember that they are looking for someone who can do HVAC-engineering, not someone who can give the right answers/impression during a job-interview.

In most interviews there's the head of the department you would be working for and someone from the personnel-department. In my experience it's more about fitting in with the rest of the team and so connecting with the head of the department is more important. (Ask questions yourself about the rest of the team you'll be part of: old/young/mixed)

Also ask questions about the type of projects they have. If they have "low-level" projects the company might not be right for you as a learning-on-the-job company/start of a career in HVAC.

Oh, and when asked about a weakness or some "negative" aspect about yourself, try naming a negative thing and then turn it into something positive.
For instance, you can name not being very emotional as a weakness because it makes it harder for your collegues to asses your attitude towards something. But you can turn this into a positive thing by saying that this also means that you remain calm and composed when stressful situations arise.

Good luck!

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

One of the questions I got asked for my entry level HVAC job was how the airconditioning system in an airplane works.A few things worth preparing for:

general awareness  about different types of HVAC systems ie chilled water,DX,VRV etc

Where they are applied to for eg Chilled water systems in large buildings and DX systems in small buildings

Type of compressors,boilers,heat exchangers,cooling towers, pumps etc

sizing of pipes

Last but not the least why the interest in HVAC engineering


RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Also be prepared to answer what skills(technical/soft) you can tranfer from your current job for eg experience on PLCs in a factory can be helpful in understanding  how a building automation system controls the HVAC system

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Something that has not been mentioned but which might be pertinent is how much experience/exposure to drafting/design software do you have.

Another would be how much experience/exposure to building construction do you have.

For someone fresh out of school or someone who may have experience - but not in HVAC, I would say most of your initial tasks are not going to be engineering (at least at first) but could be taking the design of another and putting it into AutoCad or into the 3D model via Revit (or whatever software they use).

Part of designing a HVAC system is knowing how it fits into the building when there is structure to miss and other piping/conduit to avoid.

These are not things that you must have, but depending on the company, the amount that you do have could determine whether they want to take the time/effort to train you and it could also determine how much they will pay you starting out.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position


I gave your post a star - Why? Because a friend of mine was asked (for a mechanical position) by the head engineer, "describe your procedure in detail for making a cup of coffee as quickly and efficiently as possible"

These types of questions show a lot about your character/personality/thinking strategies.

Will you answer in detail (next, I lift the spoon to chest height...) or in general (chuck some coffee in that there mug!)

These 'silly', 'irrelevant' or 'psychological' type questions will not only be asked by HR people and they are often the means to set yourself apart from others, because, lets be honest, anyone can memorize lots of facts regarding HVAC but not everyone knows exactly where they want to be in 5 years...

I am an Engineer/part time student (Mechatronics) from South Africa.
Advice from lecturer: "Be warned - when you go into industry your boss will give you a thousand things to do and he wants them done yesterday!" So far he is right...

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

What happens if you don't drink coffee?  Does that mean you don't get the job?

Everybody is different from others.  Questions to see who sets themselves apart are often used not to find the special people, but to weed out those who will not fit into the company's culture.

I watch out for questions that don't deal with professional/technical issues.  They tell me the company may be a little too preoccupied with things that are particular to their "culture" than to the rest of industry.

I once had a series of interviews for a company that I eventually worked for.

First interview was an hour long phone interview with the HR director.
Second interview was a face to face interview with the HR director.
Third interview was a face to face interview with the technical manager (my to be boss).
Fourth interview was a face to face over dinner interview with Engineering manager (my to be boss' boss).
Fifth "interview" was with a business psychologist, where I took tests which were required for all potential new hires.
Sixth interview was a face to face interview with the president of the company.

Only the interview with the technical manager had anything to do with technical expertise.  Every other interview was to feel me out and to inform me of the type of business/office culture the company represented.

About a year later the company let me go because I didn't fit in with their culture.

Now, either I am a very good con artist or the company was not interested in me as a technical contributor but wanted another square peg to fit into their square cubicals.

Be prepared to answer questions, but also realize that the question may tell you that you don't want to work for the company.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position


This is exactly the type of information I was looking for. I realize that this information can be very obvious to someone with any experience with HVAC systems, and of course I already know some of this, but I will make sure to go over the different systems that are applicable to this position.


I do know some about building design, but will make sure to put in a day or two to looking into how that relates to HVAC installation and maintenance. Thanks for the great tip!

Thanks everyone for all of the help (even when it is slightly sarcastic, I should always look at how it pertains to my situation and humble myself and not act so offended). I think that I will be much better prepared for my interview thanks to everyone here.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

One of the simpler questions that I ask:

I give the candidate a pen type tire pressure gage
and ask "draw me a sketch of how it works."

An astonishingly small percentage are able to do so.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

Well, HVAC industries are always very difficult to get into. You know how I got into this really big HVAC/R company in Hong Kong? Simple, I am sure you know about the Emerson Cup, since it is the biggest awards of our industry right now.

I gave in an application in the last years cup, wrote a student paper and sent it off. My paper got selected int he final few, and I was noticed by this awesome panel of judges that were attending. Karan Grover was in it!!! And Hiru Jhangiani! I was contacted by this company and things fell into place! Now I work with them! I wish I could tell you the name of the company I work for but it would be unfair to reveal it.

What I am saying is, write a paper about anything to do with the HVAC industry. The new market trends, reducing carbon footprints, anything at all. And take it with you in your CV. This will show an extra effort from your side.

If you need help, take a look at these slideshows.. http://www.slideshare.net/TheEmersonCup Maybe they will help you? Also, follow all these big corporations on twitter.. they post a lot of information there!

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

I understand that your interview is for an entry level HVAC engineering position.  A few years ago, we were looking for the same thing, but decided that we would hire a young engineer with some knowledge of HVAC over someone that doesn't know anything about HVAC.  So we threw in a few basic HVAC questions.  Take it for what it's worth....

- When designing HVAC and plumbing systems for an office building, to which codes would you typically refer?

- Name the different types of backflow prevention.

- What general types of information will you use to do a load calculation?

- What computer programs would you use to prepare drawings and perform load calculations?

- What is an air side economizer?

- You are assigned to prepare construction documents for an HVAC renovation of an office building.  You have existing plans for the building.  You decide to replace the existing rooftop unit with a new rooftop unit.  Describe what steps you would take to design the project.

Good luck with your interview.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

VoDich makes a good point in referencing plumbing.

You will need to ask if plumbing design is part of the expected responsibilities.  Some companies want their HVAC designers to do plumbing design as well.  This probably works ok if all you will be designing will be office buildings or something simple (from a plumbing perspective).

I have no doubt that someone qualified to do HVAC design can become qualified to do plumbing design as well - but if the buildings are more complex than an office they will need to get some additional education/training/mentoring.

You may be asked to design a kitchen system, compressed gases which could include natural gas, compressed air, medical gases, etc.  The list goes on.

And the companies that I have seen where the tasks are combined - the plumbing usually is left to the last minute, and the quality suffers.

So be careful.

RE: Interview help for HVAC engineering position

I beleive your people skills will carry the day in the interview

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