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Getting the Job - Interviewing Process

The career opportunities for professional engineers in Canada vary according to your area of practice, the industries in which you wish to work, and the province where you plan to settle.

We have prepared a Pre-Arrival Checklist of valuable information that will make arriving in Canada as smooth a process as possible.
The Canadian job market is very competitive and jobs are difficult to find. You cannot work as an engineer if you are not licensed. However, during the licensing process, you can work with a licensed professional engineer if they take responsibility for your work.

You may possess strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterward. You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially regarding your soft skills.

You do not need a license to work in the many different professions within the field of engineering or applied science technology. While your license application is processed, you may wish to register as an engineer-in-training to receive advice and guidance from the provincial or territorial association.

Immigrant settlement agencies

Most settlement agencies and other immigrant-serving organizations offer help with finding job vacancies, updating your resume, writing cover letters, preparing for interviews and understanding what Canadian employers are looking for.

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Resume writing

The engineering industry includes many different disciplines and cannot be described in a few words. Some of these branches include chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical.

If you are an engineer, your resume must demonstrate excellent knowledge in drafting, including the ability to interpret data to develop and design models. It should also demonstrate your ability to think laterally to provide solutions, exercising independent judgment and decision-making in the diagnosis and resolution of problems.

For example, if you are a Processing Engineer, your resume needs to cover all aspects of engineering and construction, with solid knowledge of the project development process. Your background should be showcased, including designing and budgeting projects; negotiating contracts and assigning responsibility; ensuring projects remain within budget and purchasing equipment and necessary materials.

 For information on writing a Canadian style resume, click here.


Mahdi Zangeneh - Engineering success storySuccess Story: Although he was a professor at Sharif University of Technology, one of the most prestigious universities in Iran, and had a prosperous private consulting firm in Tehran, Mahdi Zangeneh decided to move to Canada. He was attracted by the peace and quality of life found in the North American country, so in 2009 he came to Toronto. Read more.


Interview techniques

Engineers work in dozens of fields, including aeronautics, biomedicine, manufacturing, chemicals, computers, nuclear power and agriculture. How you prepare for an engineering job interview will depend in part on what type of position you are pursuing.
One way you can separate yourself from the pack is by creating a work portfolio. It expresses what you may not be able to put into words. In addition to taking it to the interview, send your portfolio or a link to your online portfolio to the interviewer ahead of time. This way, they can review the portfolio and you can discuss it during the interview.

Some meetings are mere screening or information interviews where the employer tries to know more about you. A third type is the “audition” interview, in which you are asked to perform tasks that would be required of you on the job.
When you are called to an interview, make sure to ask questions: it shows that you are genuinely interested in the job. Your questions can include the following:

  • What products are in the development stage?
  • How do you feel about creativity and individuality?
  • Is there a lot of team or project work?

Below are some sample questions you might be asked during an engineering interview:

  • In your last engineering position, what were some of the things that you spent the most time on, and how much time did you spend on each?
  • What do you enjoy most/least about engineering?
  • What new engineering specialty skills have you developed during the past year?
  • Do you have any patents? If so, tell me about them. If not, is it something you see yourself pursuing and why or why not?
  • Think of a specific engineering project when you answer this question. What could you have done to be more successful in achieving your goal(s)?
  • Describe a time when you confronted a problem that really tested your engineering know-how.
  • What is your overall career objective? Do you see yourself working in engineering ten years from now? If not, what do you think you will be doing?
  • Tell me about your greatest success in using the principles of logic to solve an engineering problem in your last job.
  • To what extent has your engineering background required you to be skilled in the analysis of technical reports or information?
  • Describe a time when you used your engineering knowledge to solve a problem for which there appeared to be no answer.

Of course, there are many other questions that you need to prepare for. Consider as well familiarizing yourself with recent news or research about the industry of your prospective employer.


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Information Interviews

An information interview is a brief (20–30-minute) meeting that you schedule with a person who is currently working in your target field and geographic location to learn more about that particular sector.

You should not try to get a job during an informational interview but rather find out whether or not a particular position or industry might be a good fit for your interests and your personality. An informational interview with a contact from your network can be an excellent source of career information because, in addition to basic information about a particular type of industry (such as you might find on an organization’s website), it also offers you the benefit of a professional’s first-hand experiences and impressions.

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Networking is an essential tool that may give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry that can strengthen your resume, cover letter, and interview skills. It can also introduce you to others so that you can expand your network. As many job vacancies are not advertised, you must make connections with working professional engineers and others within your field.
Good places to network are gatherings such as conferences, association luncheons, and chamber mixers for their convenience in meeting people, building relationships, and sharing information.

LinkedIn is another important professional tool for networking. It is great for reconnecting with your ex-colleagues and employers, search by company or jobs, and get introductions and recommendations.

You can also mingle with people in the engineering sector and join some related professional groups.

Note that it’s not appropriate to ask a networking contact for a job, but if they know of any job leads, they may share them.

Remember, that you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight and therefore, you need to be patient.