A career in the aerospace and defense industry is an exciting opportunity for your work to have a lasting impact—not just on your company but on the lives of the people your work will protect. If you’re considering a job in this area, you might be wondering what to expect from the interview and how to set yourself up for success. There are a range of aerospace and defense career paths you can take, from working in engineering to quality assurance to maintaining and repairing aircraft electrical systems, and each of these will come with its own unique set of interview questions. That said, the following questions will likely come up in some form during your interview.
Why do you want to work at this company?
Whether you’re interviewing for a job in quality assurance, mechanical engineering, or any other job within the aerospace and defense industry, your interviewer will want to know that you’re serious about the position and passionate about contributing to the next generation of air and space innovation. To prepare for this question, make sure to research the company, including its past achievements. Highlighting specific details about the company’s work and tying that work into your own interests and experience is a great way to demonstrate that you will thrive in the role.
Tell me about a time you were in a stressful work situation. How did you handle it?
This question is designed to test your problem-solving skills under pressure. Any job within the aerospace and defense industry requires a lot of responsibility, and your interviewer will want to make sure you’re up for the challenge and can keep cool even when the stakes are high. When answering this question, it’s important to be as specific as possible. Describe the stressful situation and talk through the steps you took to get your work done quickly and effectively. How did you decide what to do? What was the outcome of the project?
Tell me about a project that didn’t work out. What did you learn?
In the aerospace and defense industry, you’ll likely encounter your fair share of challenges as you and your team test out new tools, technologies and processes. Your interviewer won’t just want to hear about your past successes—they will also want to know how you respond to failure. No one likes talking about this, but being able to show your interviewer what you’ve learned from a project that didn’t go according to plan is extremely important. In a fast-paced, ever-changing field like this, you’ll need to be adaptable. Often, you’ll be working on brand-new projects, which means there will be a lot of testing and learning along the way. When answering this question, focus on a project that didn’t go smoothly but still had a big impact on your work.
Tell me about a time you challenged popular opinion.
The most important advances in any field often happen when someone doesn’t accept that “we’ve always done it that way”. This question is used to understand how you react when the opinion of your peers conflicts with how you think things should be done. It isn’t easy to stand up and state your opposing opinion—especially when you’re the only one in the room that has it. However, your interviewer is likely looking for someone who is confident enough in their research and understanding of technical topics to speak up in these situations. To answer this question, clearly explain why you challenged popular opinion, how you communicated your perspective, and how you were ultimately able to show others the benefits of your suggestions.
What are your biggest career goals?
Lockheed Martin believes that even entry-level employees are an essential part of building game-changing aerospace and defense technologies. This question is designed to test how motivated you are to pursue a long-lasting career in this field versus working in this industry for a short time. This is important, since jobs in the aerospace and defense industry often come with high stakes and a lot of pressure. Those who are most successful have a clear sense of where they want to take their career.
Interviewing for a job in the aerospace and defense industry might seem a bit intimidating at first, but by knowing what to expect and how to prepare your answers, you’ll be sure to impress whomever you speak with and get one step closer to landing the job.