Hiring managers often ask this interview question, which can serve as a gauge of how resourceful you are as a system engineer.
To help you come out victorious, here are some tips to remember:
Write down all the projects you’ve worked on that were difficult to accomplish. Making a list will give you a visual overview of what you have achieved. (As a guideline, you can keep the list narrowed to just the past couple of years — but extend the list as needed.) Do create a list — don’t skip this step. Simply keeping mental notes of those projects in your head will make it difficult for you to scrutinize them.
Analyze what you did to solve the most complex problems within those projects. How did you fix the issue(s)? Did you take it upon yourself to learn and use new software that you were completely unfamiliar with? How did you adapt? How did you manage time and other obstacles? Considering the overall arc and process of the project(s), how resourceful would you say you were?
Don’t leave out any key points, and make sure to share each of them with your hiring manager. What you tell him or her will help determine if you are truly right for the job. Include other applications and new technology you have used, and share how you were able to get the hang of it all.
Practice. Once you know your answers to all of these questions, say them to yourself (or out loud when appropriate) over and over until you feel comfortable. Practice like this helps you shake off nerves on the day of the interview.
Be confident, not cocky. Show just enough confidence without being arrogant. Say that you’re able to learn new technology easily; don’t sound as if you know everything. Knowing how to be proud of something without sounding overconfident is a gift.
Listen. If your hiring manager has to say something about your work ethic or your qualities, keep your ears open. Some applicants forget to listen, especially if they worry and want to portray themselves in a good light. Knowing how to listen is a skill (and a virtue) that everyone needs to learn in order to be successful.
To achieve excellence in your field, you must anticipate any and all challenges that await you. Keep in mind that success comes with hard work and determination. If you are asked this interview question, do not hesitate to share your thoughts and feelings — the recruiter should feel your passion and sense how much you love the work you do.