The Irish semiconductor industry is one where the future certainly looks bright. As one of the leading markets in the sector, there are scores of opportunities at semiconductor companies based in Ireland. But that also means that competition for the best roles can be fierce. Sure, we may be on the cusp of a major global talent shortage, but even so, you can’t simply walk into your next semiconductor role.
What you need, aside from an in-depth knowledge of the best companies in the industry, is a plan of action before you even think about clicking a Zoom link or setting foot inside an interview room. And one of the first things that plan should include is interview preparation. What can you expect? What questions will the interviewer ask you? And how on Earth do you prepare for surprise questions?
As you may have guessed, the team here at Software Placements have spent a lot of time both interviewing and coaching candidates for interviews in the semiconductor industry. So you could say that we have more than our fair share of experience in this particular aspect of the job hunting process. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a list of the most common questions that get asked in the vast majority of semiconductor interviews.
Trust us, if you have an interview lined up any time in the near future, then this is something you’ll want to read.
Common semiconductor interview questions
We’ve listed some of the most common questions, but we’re not giving you the answers. Instead we explain why these questions are important to an interviewer and what they may be on the lookout for.
What is so important about semiconductors?
This is often a question that is asked of candidates interviewing for any industry and it’s particularly common for those who are new to the business. The idea here is to weed out the candidates that may be winging it and that are probably just looking at salaries and benefits. To be perfectly honest, this is a very basic question that everyone should be able to answer.
Why did you decide to work in the semiconductor industry?
Another classic question that interviewers all over the world like to ask and one that you really should have an answer prepared for. Remember that honesty is always a good look so if the semiconductor industry is something that you sort of ‘fell into’ then be upfront and say just that. The idea behind this question is just to see how passionate you are about the industry right now and not necessarily about how you dreamed of making a difference in semiconductor roles throughout your childhood. Has anyone ever dreamed that?
What would be your process for learning a new technology?
The semiconductor industry and tech industries in general are ever evolving landscapes where new technologies and processes are a seemingly weekly occurrence. In fact, depending on the role, you yourself may be responsible for those changes that could affect the entire industry. So before you go into an interview, think about your process for learning and try to put it into words. Or better yet, make it a step-by-step process that you can easily explain in short sentences.
If you noticed a mistake in your work, what would you do?
Your answer to this question can be interpreted in so many ways from various perspectives. Are you the type of person to own up to mistakes and tackle them head on? Are you overly confident? — “I never make mistakes.” The interviewer may also be looking to see how you would ensure that the mistake would not happen again. So, think carefully about this answer and be honest with yourself and the interviewer.
What is your approach to teamwork when tackling complex issues?
Complex issues may not require complex solutions, but finding those solutions is often easier with the help of your team. While many candidates see this question as one where the interviewer wants to see how you would work as part of a team, there’s a little more to it than that. The interviewer may also use your answer to gauge your ability to take the lead. Your answer will depend on which role you prefer to take within a team — leader or team member.
Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?
This is a tough one as there is no correct answer, right? After all, it all depends on the role and the typical projects involved. However, while that may be true to a certain extent, most employers like to hear that a candidate is equally comfortable working in both environments.
How would you go about designing a new….?
Of course, this is only relevant to roles such as R&D or engineering where you will actually play a part in the design or creation side of a project. If that’s the case then this is where it gets technical and where your skills and experience really come into play. The interviewer will be looking for a comprehensive response that outlines your processes for working on new designs or projects. Often, we find that engineers have a process that they always follow, but when asked to put that into words, they struggle. So as with all your responses so far, it might be a good idea to sit down and write out what your general process would look like.
The surprise question
The last thing we’re going to talk about is the surprise question that comes right out of leftfield. These can range from “What colour marker would you be and why?” to “How many pineapples can fit in this room?”
They don’t always come up, but if one does, don’t let it phase you and don’t be afraid to tell the interviewer that you need to think about it. Interviewers will have all kinds of reasons for asking questions such as these. In some cases, they may want to see how you handle something unexpected while other times they might want to see if you get flustered. Whatever their reasons, stay calm and try to answer the question to the best of your ability.
If you’re interested in working in the semiconductor industry but lacking confidence in your interview skills, then get in touch with Software Placements. Whether you’re fresh out of college, looking for a career change, or considering relocating to Ireland, we’d be more than happy to help you find your interview mojo and get you that role you want.