How to prepare for a technical graduate interview at AECOM

You are likely to be asked to explain the general principles behind your project work.

AECOM asks some pretty testing technical questions to gauge how much you know about the role and whether you’ll be any good at it. Sadly, there isn’t a ready-made list of the technical questions and answers for you somewhere online. But there are a few things you can do ahead of your big day to prepare.

Understand the business area you’re applying to

Some questions are likely to focus on what you understand about your chosen business area. Past candidates report being asked what a particular job role (not necessarily the one they’re applying to, but one in the same field) would do as part of the team at AECOM. For example, an applicant to a graduate bridge engineer post – part of the transportation division – was asked: ‘What is the role of a CDM coordinator?’

If you have work experience related to the business area, it will help you prepare. Think about the job you had and your individual responsibilities, as well as those of the more experienced professionals in your team. Think back to the technical decisions they’d made.

If your work experience was in a different business area, or you haven’t got any related experience, you’ll have to research the role in more detail.

Prepare examples from your degree

Your university project work will be a common topic for discussion as this will help to show your interviewer that you have technical knowledge about your subject area. You will be asked in-depth questions relating to your practical experience. Questions will be specific and you are highly likely to be asked to explain the general principles behind the project work. Adam Phillips, graduate recruitment lead at AECOM, says: ‘Referring back to your university notes is key.’ Bring examples of previous work or university projects if you think it’d be advantageous to do so.

AECOM recruiters also want to get a sense of how you’ve gone about tackling challenges. The projects you have worked on during your degree will give them a good sense of this. It will help you to prepare if you can think of an example of a project where you had to use technical knowledge or skills to overcome a difficulty or obstacle.

Be prepared to be unprepared

As Adam Phillips says: ‘You will be tested technically so you need to be able to think on your feet.’ For example, a past candidate was asked:

  • ‘Name all types of energy a building uses during build and post-occupancy’
  • ‘A factory thinking of a CHP system currently has gas and electricity supply. Sketch the flow diagram before and after the proposed CHP and calculate the cost of gas and electric before and after CHP calculate the payback period of the CHP’
  • ‘Name common ways a building can be made more energy efficient.’

Familiarise yourself with AECOM’s projects

Research a few projects related to your chosen role in which AECOM has been involved; this could be in the UK or further afield. London’s Olympic Park, Liverpool ONE and Crossrail are among those in the UK. Having examples will strengthen your interview in two ways. First, it’ll demonstrate your genuine interest in the industry and AECOM specifically. And, second, it’ll also enable you to incorporate them as examples in your own responses to technical questions.

For example, if asked to ‘Name common ways a building can be made more energy efficient,’ you could support your answer with AECOM’s work in 2011 on Renji Hospital’s East Campus in Pudong, Shanghai, China. The company was selected to complete an energy-efficiency master plan for the hospital and explored several initiatives, including heating and cooling system evaluations, energy management control, and development of an aggregate energy-efficiency program plan.

Ask technical questions

You will be given time at the end of your interview to ask your interviewer questions. Prepare these in advance, and do draft some technical ones. Perhaps you’ve applied for a graduate engineer role in AECOM’s energy division and would like to know more about the technical preparation that precedes wind farm development or the challenges faced by the division in trying to communicate complex technical information to regular members of the public, and how this is overcome.

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