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The top skills employers look for in engineers

  • Publish Date: Posted almost 2 years ago

​Whether it’s Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering or even Automation & Robotics, most engineering and manufacturing companies want to see candidates show both hard and soft skills.

And while engineering candidates are in demand more than ever—with around 200,000 needed by 2024—they still need to put the work in to show they’re the best fit for the job.

In a 2021 report by City and Guilds, over 50% of employers said they faced difficulties identifying the right skills in candidates during the recruitment process. And in an Engineering UK report, over 60% said they weren’t confident they could find staff with the skills they needed for the future.

So, if you’re looking for a new engineering job, you’ll need to provide evidence of both soft skills and hard skills. And to help, here is our list of the hard skills you’ll want to highlight.

Technical Engineering Skills

Engineering is a technical discipline. And throughout your education, you would’ve acquired some technical skills. So, while you should check the job description to see what’s required, here are some examples of the technical skills you may want to highlight.

Engineering Processes

Showing that you have a sound understanding of engineering processes will impress your potential employers. And these could range from manufacturing processes like machining, coating and assembling to chemical engineering processes like disinfection and pyro processing.

Project Management

Project management is a specialist technical skill. It ensures timely project delivery that meets specifications and stays within budget. Some project management skills you may need to highlight at the interview include:

• Planning

• Communication

• Goal-setting

• Adaptability

Software Systems, Programming and Robotics

Most engineering roles require some level of computer-based skills. This may include C++ programming or designing blueprints of mechanical components with AutoCAD. But even basic skills in AI and robotics can show you’re up to date with modern systems.

Quality Control Systems

All engineers should carry a good understanding of quality control or quality assurance processes and show this during the interview.

Sector Knowledge

Showcasing sector knowledge lets employers assess how you might integrate into the company. And employers want to take on candidates who have a solid understanding of their sectors.

Commercial Awareness

Showing business acumen or commercial knowledge will be an asset during an interview. By talking up your knowledge, it will show that you could be good with commercial discussions. Or convincing investors to engage with a project. But it will also show your degree of adaptability to different working environments.

Environmental Awareness

Every engineer needs to assess the environmental impact of their work. And that could be ensuring low-carbon emissions from plant machinery or limiting any impact on nature, you’ll impress the panel if you know your stuff.

Compliance and safety awareness

The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) suggests that 10-15% of accidents involve the use of machinery. But even if you’re not working with manufacturing tools, engineers in every field must carry a basic level of awareness around health and safety.

Analytical Skills

All engineers need some level of analytical skills to succeed. But what exactly should they focus on during an interview?

Data Analysis

All successful engineers need to be comfortable with analysing data. And they’ll need to use it to come to logical conclusions that support their decision-making. So, even if you’re a genius with Excel, it’s worth highlighting your skills.

Basic Accounting and Finances

Accounting and finance skills can help many aspects of effective project management. In particular, cost accounting is essential for making commercial judgements, running feasibility studies or assessing cost-benefit ratios.

Creativity and Innovation

Engineers need great vision to create new projects, processes and machinery. And they need to engage these creative skills in a design process that leads to solving a problem. So, what are some examples of the creative skills interview panels are looking for?

Design Skills

Many engineering disciplines position design skills as a central requirement of a job. For instance, Design Engineers very much need to have a range of design skills. But also, since every type of engineer will, at some point, engage with the engineering design process, showing your understanding of design will help.

Troubleshooting and Equipment Diagnosis

Creative problem-solving lies at the heart of all engineering roles. So, you’ll need to demonstrate how you might use those creative skills to spot faults in design processes or errors in equipment assembly.

Planning Skills

It’s not only Planning Engineers who need good planning skills. Several engineering disciplines require you to be a good planner.

Time Management

How do you manage your time? Do you keep meetings brief and run things to schedule? Whichever your preference, you’ll need to demonstrate you can plan your work and your projects.


Any project you work on as an engineer will need good budgeting skills. And planning any type of engineering project involves complex financial decision making. So, it’s worth talking up your skills.

Monitoring and tracking

Once you’ve set a project in motion, you’ll need to review the progress you’re making. Continuous evaluation of projects helps you to understand what’s working and what isn’t. So show hiring managers that you can use your analytical skills to monitor activity and make changes when they’re needed.

Finding the perfect engineering role comes easier when you’ve taken the time to understand your core skills and abilities. And highlighting both your hard and soft skills will help to impress the hiring panel. By identifying your technical and analytical skills, your knowledge of the sector and your creativity and planning, you’ll do all the work for the hiring managers so that they don’t have to.

If you need any help or advice on how to plan for your next engineering role, get in touch with the team at Metalis. We’d love to hear from you.