Interview with VP of Engineering

What are some things to consider when interviewing for a design position with the VP of Engineering? as opposed to talking with another designer?

Off the top of my head, design for manufacturability, understanding of and experiencing designing for various manufacturing processes, skill with the transfer of CAD data (if applicable) from ID to engineering.

design for manufacturability, understanding of and experiencing designing for various manufacturing processes, skill with the transfer of CAD data (if applicable) from ID to engineering.

great suggestions, hit those topics as well.

I would suggest treating the interview as if you were speaking with the Design Director or the company’s Senior Designer.
VP of Engineering knows about engineering, you can’t impress him with your limited engineering skill set.
They are looking to hire a designer. Use your fancy (but true) design methods, terminology, strategies, skills, talents, plans, processes, etc- that he may or may not know anything about. Show a broad range of your value through your varying facets of design, but keep them all as fact, rather than get all blue sky on the guy/lady.

Thats my two.

good luck

I think in any job interview it’s important to remember that it’s a two way street. Yes, the employer is interviewing you for the job, but you should also be interviewing the employer to see if you feel that you could be happy working there. Better to be a happy barista at Starbuck’s than a designer at a place that makes you miserable.

Especially when interviewing with engineers, try to (discreetly) determine their level of acceptance of ID as a vital part of product development. It’s not uncommon for engineering to feel that they do the important work and that we are fluff. You want to know going in whether engineering has a real commitment to the value of ID, or whether it’s being shoved down their throat by top management. Turf wars between design and engineering are bad enough, but when the designers report to engineering, it can be impossible. It’s dangerous to generalize, and there are certainly enlightened engineers, but it’s something to consider.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is coming from a consultant. The best work I (and my firm) have done has been done when working for marketing rather than engineering. We all have to play on the team, but it’s nice to have a sympathetic advocate in the process. The whole team may never get to see your best work if engineering is filtering it out because it could make life more challenging for them.

I’m juggling posting with phone calls and was interrupted while composing my reply, so I didn’t see Taylor’s post before submitting mine. His post brings up a thought.

If this is their first experience hiring a designer, it’s going to be a very different interview than if the company already has designers on staff. You don’t want it to sound like you’re talking down to the VP if he/she already has experience with ID. In that case, as Taylor suggests, show them that you’re the designer they should hire.

Thanks for those tips, I’m excited about this place, and hopefully the guy consideres Industrial Designers an importing part of his team. From what I’ve heard so far, I’m pleased to find out that its not just another glorified drafter job, which I see a lot of lately.

Yeah, I asked my contact about whether or not they had other designers working there, and she couldn’t answer in either direction. So I was thinking I would be sliding that into the conversation early on, and then acting accordingly.

This is the posting,

Job / Title: Designer/Drafter
Description: Working within a fact paced environment on New Product Dvlp. Candidates will be working on multiple projects at any one given time.
· 2000hrs of Solidworks
· Background in Consumer products
· Background with Stamping/Die Casting/Injection Molding
Candidates must be able to change gears quickly and have a drive/initiative to learning, create, contribute to the Engineering and Product Development Dept.
Education
2yr Degree or equivalent work experience

I don’t like the 2yr, or drafter part of it, but from what I am told the position swings more towards the designer end, and they are apparently very excited about my ID degree, so I’m at least interested in talking to them.

I figure if I don’t go talk to them I’ll never know if it was a step in the direction I am trying to go.

2000 hours of Solidworks??? Unless that’s a typo, that’s something that would have me worried about the 2 yr. degree and being a glorified drafter. In my experience, if someone’s primarily a designer it would be likely to take at least a few years to have 2000 hours using any solid modeling programs, even if they’re also used for photorealistic rendering. I use a guideline of about 1600 hours/year of billable time for an employee: 52 weeks x 40 hours – 120 hours vacation and personal x .80 (80% of time being billable, and that’s optimistic). Deduct time for research, sketching, renderings, mockups, presentations etc. and it’s going to take quite awhile to get to 2000 hours if you aren’t a full-time drafter.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that they may have so little experience with ID, and so much with drafting, that they’re overweighting the CAD time and underestimating the time spent in other design activities.

In any event, your interview will clear up a lot of these issues. Good luck, and let us know how it works out. Your experience could help others

Yeah, I told my contact that my 3d experience was in Rhino and that I had been using it in an academic setting for a couple years, but I had just graduated this year, and they still want to talk to me so I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

They still want to see my portfolio, so thats something…

Hmm, based upon the job description, I think they are really looking for a Mechanical Designer/Drafter, not an Industrial Designer.

In the traditional Mechanical Engineering world, there are 3 levels of employees/job functions. Highest: Mechanical Engineer, 4 year or Master’s degree, conceptualizes and analyzes the product. Middle: Mechanical Designer, 2 year degree, designs the details of the product based upon the Mechanical Engineer’s concept. Lowest: Drafter, sometimes 2 year degree, sometimes not even that, creates drawings and documentation of the Mechanical Designer’s design. Every engineering organization I have been involved with in the past (including aerospace, semiconductors, medical, and military eletronics) had these 3 levels, although the Drafter is pretty much a dying breed in most modern organizations.

The tip-off that this is a Mechanical Designer job (as another poster noted) is the 2,000 hours of Solidworks required. So make sure you understand what the job is really about, because if you are expecting an Industrial Designer role I think you are going to be disappointed.

your descriptions of the engineering power structure are very accurate, and thats what I thought when I saw the 2000 hour line in the description.

I am not in a position to turn a deaf ear to any position though, so after talking to the guy, I have a pretty good idea of what they are looking for. And from what he says they arent really doing mechanical design, more accurately they are designing cookware, and have been doing so for a while apparently.

I was surprised, but prepared, when he asked to see my sketchbook almost immediately, and that set the interview in what I thought was a good direction.

I am pretty confident that this particular position is looking for someone with an id background. but I would agree that sfpd was correct in that assumption, as in my limited experience that would ring true as well.

I guess well see, youll know I got it if I add cookware to the what are you designing forum

Drafting is pretty dead. The last great drafters have morphed into managers.

To say drafting today, is mostly a misnomer. I have worked with a few great drafters and checkers. Those guys were WWII guys.

On the lighter side of things, A significant number of managers have no clue when most GD&T things are incorrect.

I would be less concerned on 2000 hours and more concerned about being able to keep files managed within the latest CAD program.