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Chemical Engineer Interview Questions

Last Updated on:

23 November 2022
Chemical Engineer Interview Questions

Are you interested in the chemical engineering sector? Do you want to build a career as a chemical engineer? Then you are in the right place. Because here, you will get a brief idea of the chemical engineering sector and your work as a chemical engineer. So, let’s begin.

What is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that involves producing and manufacturing products through chemical processes. Chemical engineering includes designing chemical equipment plants, managing systems, and controlling procedures for refining raw materials and mixing. 

Chemical engineers work with processes developed in the lab and put them into practical applications for the commercial production of products. They maintain and improve those processes with the knowledge of fundamental engineering in chemistry, math, physics, and sometimes biology.

What Does a Chemical Engineer Do?

Chemical engineers and chemical engineering are primarily concerned with developing new and improving existing methods of a chemical process. This covers many other industries, such as food and beverage production, plastics, medicine, and more!

Chemical engineers perform both chemist and engineer duties. They have an understanding of processes and innovation, like engineers, and knowledge of substances and how they interact, like chemists. Furthermore, depending on their field of work, they also understand biology and organic and inorganic matter. 

Chemical engineers play a vital role in the creation, development, and production of almost everything we see around us. Starting from the cement and concrete used in the construction of our houses to the food we consume daily, they are involved with anything and everything that has chemicals involved. For example: medicine, food, fuel, agriculture, and even the technology we use.

Chemical engineers have an impact on practically every aspect of the creation of a product that is created on an industrial scale. Any sort of large-scale production requires the expertise of chemical engineers, as they not only find the most efficient method but also help minimize costs and develop solutions to whatever problems and drawbacks the production may face.

Chemical engineers mainly control the chemical processes and devise the overall system to manufacture these products. They work by following the basic principles of science and engineering while ensuring the safety and protection of health and the environment. 

This sector has two parts: 

  • The design, management, and operation process of chemical equipment.
  • The development and invention of new substances and materials.

In most cases, a chemical engineer has to work with one of these two groups.

Responsibilities and Duties of a Chemical Engineer

The main focus of a chemical engineer is to work on the process of manufacturing products. To run the operation, chemical engineers need to apply their ideas of science and technology and chemical or biochemical science into action. While working on the process, a chemical engineer's job is to ensure the processes' management and operation of the overall system. 

To ensure a safe and efficient working environment, a chemical engineer has to perform some duties and responsibilities. These duties and responsibilities are:

  • Working with chemist experts and engineers to get the maximum production from a plant.
  • Designing the equipment plant appropriately with proper technological support, such as environmental and economical technical support, so that the production process can run efficiently.
  • Designing and configuring equipment plants with scale-up and scale-down processes to make proper changes. 
  • Developing a simulation model with assessments of options for plant expansion.
  • Testing simulation process for reconfiguration. 
  • Designing new equipment plants for production, taking necessary steps to install plants properly, monitoring processes, and troubleshooting.
  • Developing the production by analyzing processes.
  • Introducing new technology.
  • Checking new products before commercializing them and improving the product line.
  • Ensuring potential safety from the beginning to the end of having the final product. 

Basic Skills Needed for a Chemical Engineering Job

You need good expertise in math and science to work in the chemical engineering sector. Chemistry and chemical knowledge are not enough to work in this sector. It would help if you were an expert in math, physics, and science to work correctly with the chemical engineering process. The chemical engineering industry requires basic skills.

1. Chemical Engineer Skills (Must-Haves)

  • Knowledge of mathematics and engineering principles
  • Project management skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Resource management skills
  • Communication skills in both written and verbal form
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Team player skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong IT skills
  • Report-making skills
  • Design skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Commercial and business development and relationship skills
  • Creativity and innovation skills

2. Educational Qualification

Educational qualification is also considered a skill for working in the chemical engineering industry. As a result, completing a four-year B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in chemical engineering is the minimum qualification requirement for working in this sector.

You will need a chemical or biochemical engineering degree from a reputed university to become a chemical engineer. As your career gradually develops, you must focus on becoming a chartered engineer. To become a chartered engineer in this field, you will need a degree from an institution of chemical engineering.  

3. Bonus Skill

Most industries give priority to work experience for recruitment. So, if you already have working experience in the chemical engineering industry, you are likely to be preferred for recruitment. Besides, some industries require educational certificates for their hiring position. So, you must be completely aware of the requirements of the recruiting positions before applying. 

Common Questions Asked in the Interview for a Chemical Engineer Job

You must face interviews to get a job in the industry. An interview board is a place where employers will judge your knowledge, skill, and ability, whether you are perfect or not, to work in the relevant field. Employers will ask a few questions about you based on your qualifications and skills.

So, before facing interviews, you must ensure that you are prepared enough to get the job. Here are some sample questions and tips relevant to the chemical engineering field that are generally asked on job interview boards and may lead you to a job as a chemical engineer.

Question#1: If we hire you, you may need to work in the unit process and operation. Can you tell the difference between these two processes? 

(With this question, interviewers are looking for an answer about the difference between two fundamental aspects of chemical engineering. So, if you have minimum knowledge of the subject, you will give your answer focusing on mass, concentration, energy, and the reactions of chemicals and chemical processes.) 

Sample Answer: Unit operation occurs through physical changes such as crystallization, evaporation, separation, and filtration. On the other hand, unit processes involve chemical changes such as the oxidation or reduction of a substance. 

Question#2: As a chemical engineer, you may need to deal with some responsibilities efficiently. So, can you explain what you understand by the term “just in time?”  

(This question indicates that companies search for those chemical engineers who work more efficiently on a process and reduce unnecessary waste. Many chemical engineers follow their way of working efficiently and take actions to improve when it is needed. Here, employers look for an answer which shows you have a proper understanding of the “just in time” term and a willingness to make changes in lean manufacturing.) 

Sample Answer: I think there is a linear relationship between working efficiently and the term "just in time." In my view, "just in time" means that a person should complete a task within the allocated time by managing the resources. 

I focus mainly on time management and resource management to work efficiently on a task. I devise a method for making the best use of my time and resources. I carefully follow the lean manufacturing process and change actions accordingly. 

Question#3: I think you must have heard about the material requirement planning process. Can you tell me what we need to do in this process in short? 

(Chemical engineers have to work with chemicals and raw materials. So to answer this question, you have to describe the process's chemical reactions briefly. How a substance forms by a chemical reaction or how it reacts, all these pieces of information should remain in your answer.) 

Sample answer: In the material requirement planning process, we need to calculate the material’s total amount to manufacture a product. We create a chemical reaction with raw materials to manufacture a new product. 

While working on this process, we must remember to use minimum amounts of chemical products to form a response. Also, in the material requirement planning process, we must focus on how much raw material we need for production. 

Question#4: As a chemical engineer, you should know about different types of chemical equipment in your working field. Can you share some ideas about some potential chemical engineering equipment for working in this sector? 

(As a chemical engineer, it is normal to have a basic knowledge of some chemical engineering equipment. Employers ask this question to test your basic understanding of the chemical engineering sector. So, you have to answer the question in a way that shows you are ready for any entry-level position. In your answer, you will name a few basic equipment and tools, how do they process, and what significant role that equipment plays in the whole manufacturing process of chemical engineering) 

Sample Answer: Some of the most commonly used equipment in chemical engineering are heat exchangers, evaporators, dryers, a temperature and heat control unit, still towers, columns, reactors, filters, centrifuges, mixers, fluid beds, and blenders. Generally, we use specific chemical equipment for particular purposes. 

We need heat exchangers, evaporators, dryers, and temperature and heat control units to control the heat transfer of a process. In addition, we need filters and centrifuges to separate components from a material or chemical process. Lastly, we use mixers, blenders, and fluid beds for mixing and agitating purposes.

Question#5: What approach would you take if a process that used to work perfectly started having defects?

(Employers want to test a candidate’s research skills and problem-solving skills with this question. They want to know your troubleshooting and problem-solving abilities by asking this question. So you have to give a specific answer with a  proper example so that interviewers get interested in hiring you.)

Sample Answer: First, I would check if there are any potential changes to equipment and tools in the process. Also, I will discuss with my team to understand the nature of the descent. Finally, I'd look into changes in temperature, humidity, light exposure, and other external factors.

Interviewers may ask you questions other than the ones we discussed earlier. You have to be fully prepared for all types of questions that may be asked on an interview board.

Here are some more questions you may encounter in an interview:

Question#6: We're curious about your social abilities. I was wondering if you could tell us how you handle professional issues in the lab and how you get them resolved quickly.

Sample Answer: Although I spend most of my time at work in the lab, I always make sure to stop by the break room to catch up with my coworkers. If there is a disagreement, I will try to understand the other person's position and explain how I arrived at my conclusion. We'll come to a decision after carefully considering all of the proposals.

Question#7: What will be your actions to ensure a safe environment for all involved in the work process?

Sample Answer: Since my job requires me to handle a wide range of potentially dangerous substances, I set a goal to study and implement all relevant safety protocols. In addition, I always double-check my protective gear and stay prepared for any sort of safety incident before handling potentially hazardous materials. 

It is my duty to brief my coworkers on our safety procedures before beginning a new task or assignment to ensure that everyone is on the same page with regard to the necessary precautions and that no one gets hurt.

Question#8: Explain how you can dispose of unnecessary waste generated from a chemical reaction.

Sample Answer: Most of the processes I use in my line of work as a chemical engineer result in waste, and some of it is rather hazardous. I make sure I'm disposing of hazardous material properly by, for example, keeping up-to-date knowledge of proper disposal processes and doing routine inspections of all hazardous waste disposal locations.

Question#9: How frequently do you face potentially dangerous situations at work, such as volatile chemical reactions or hazardous spills? And How did you deal with any dangerous situations?

Sample Answer: The chance of an emergency occurring is reduced in part by my diligent attention to managing all chemicals and carrying out all processes in line with the established protocols. One instance of an unanticipated spill of a potentially harmful material occurred in the lab. First, I locked down my station to stop any further spills; I later cleaned up the mess according to the established procedures.

Question#10: What is flow control, and how do you determine the production capacity of each step in the manufacturing process to optimize productivity?

Sample Answer: Flow control is a technique used to regulate the flow of a substance during manufacturing or distribution. To accomplish flow control, it is necessary to optimize the material, the machinery, and the processes. Sensors and other monitoring equipment are carefully placed at key points in the manufacturing process to ensure constant flow management.

There are many other questions as well. But often, you will face these sorts of questions and similar patterns of questions when giving an interview for a chemical engineer position. So, practicing these questions will help you prepare well for a job in the chemical engineering sector.

Career Path of a Chemical Engineer

Choosing chemical engineering as a career can open up many employment avenues. The first job can be in any sector for a graduate. Industries like energy, water, food, construction, and pharmaceuticals hire many fresh graduates for training. You can work in any of these sectors after graduating from chemical engineering. By developing your personal and career skills with time, you can apply for jobs in the chemical engineering industry within a few years.

1. Junior or Graduate Process Engineer

The first job you get in this industry is as a junior or graduate process engineer. As a junior process engineer, your duties include product development, plant design, risk analysis, and using simulation tools. 

2. Project Manager

With some experience, you will get the position of working as a project manager. As a project manager, your responsibilities will be controlling project management in different areas and sectors.  Also, project management duties include risk assessment or consultancy and safety or environmental regulation.

3. Chartered Engineer

Most chemical engineers aim to obtain the status of chartered engineers. Chartered engineer is a widely known and respectable position in the chemical engineering industry. Therefore, most senior posts in the sector consider chartered status a prerequisite.

Current and Future Market Demand for a Chemical Engineer

In recent years, statistics show that chemical engineers' employment growth is faster than the average of all occupations. The reason for this employment growth is that the rising demand for chemical engineers' services and the high need for manufacturing products increase simultaneously. However, to uphold the position of employment growth, the chemical industry's engineers must show their ability with modern evolution.

Most chemical engineers work in those industries whose products have high demand in the manufacturing market. For example, they work in plastic resin manufacturing processes, which are used in automobiles to increase fuel efficiency. In addition, industries hire chemical engineers to ensure that naturally produced domestic gas has increased manufacturing capacity to meet increased demand.

Moreover, there is immense potential in the dynamic fields of chemical engineering. For example, chemical engineers are now showing their potential in nanotechnology, alternative energies, and biotechnology. Therefore, chemical engineering helps to sustain the demand for engineering services in any manufacturing process. 

Salary Range of a Chemical Engineer

Salaries vary according to factors such as your work experience, skills, and expertise, and work demand. Other factors influencing salary levels are your work sector and the industry's nature and size. Also, your salary range will depend on whether you have chartered status. 

From the institution of Chemical Engineers, a fresh graduate earns approximately $32000. After a year or more of experience, an engineer under 25 can get paid $33500 in a year. After that, the salary gradually increases. So after becoming an experienced engineer, you can get a salary of around $60000 a year. 

Chartered engineers usually get paid higher than others. For example, a chartered engineer with an undergraduate degree receives a salary of around $88000 in a year. Moreover, industries like finance, insurance, the risk sector, oil, and construction offer attractive and high wages for chemical engineers.

Josh Evan

Written by:

Josh Evan

Josh Evan is the professional career counselor and career development writer at When Work Works. He loves to see people from this field succeed through initiating the right thing in the right way. He never tells; he shows the way. We appointed John not because of his impressive CV. It was his counseling charisma which stood out of everything. He can implant idea, confidence and productive thoughts into mind almost effortlessly. His pen and mouth both speak for the greater good.

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