Embedded Software Engineer Interview Questions


Embedded Software Engineer Interview Questions

An Embedded Software Engineer is responsible for designing, developing, producing and deploying embedded systems on both low- and high-level electronics. Their knowledge of both hardware and software enables them to provide in-depth, complex troubleshooting services, make repairs, program solutions and improve existing technologies.

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The right Embedded Software Engineer has a strong knowledge of both software development and electronics. Their multifaceted skill set is defined by logical thinking and analytical abilities, programming skills in languages like C++ and strong organizational and writing abilities. Combined with their education and work experience, the ideal hire for this role has strong communication skills and is apt at providing support and helping people resolve issues.

General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests, and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.

Below are Embedded Software Engineer interview questions to help you get started:


1. How do you define embedded systems?

What you want to hear: Embedded systems are the union between computer technology and software. In addition to understanding the technical components of the term, a good Embedded Systems Engineer should also be able to explain its functionality and purpose.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: A vague description or lack of detail can indicate a candidate is not prepared for the role they’re applying for. It’s crucial for the person you hire to understand the breadth of a computer system and all of its components beyond software.

2. What are the main differences between analytical and computational modeling?

What you want to hear: Knowing how to distinguish different modeling types shows flexibility, which is an important part of developing fluid software solutions. Listen for comparisons that focus on constraints, non-deterministic abstraction and the equation-based model of analytical modeling.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: If an Embedded Systems Engineer is not familiar with different types of modeling, they are likely inexperienced. Candidates need to be able to explain the various methods they can use to develop solutions.

3. Can you list and briefly describe the four different types of inheritance relationships?

What you want to hear: The candidate should explain what single, multiple, multi-level and hybrid inheritance relationships are and how they help establish a hierarchy in programming languages.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: An inability to understand basic organizational principles in programming may indicate a candidate is not well-informed on the best practices of their industry. Even if they cannot easily articulate each individual relationship’s meaning, they should be able to touch upon their importance.

4. You’re on the job and suddenly, the system goes blank. What do you do?

What you want to hear: Every engineer has their own way of approaching a problem; embedded systems solutions require an arsenal of debugging tools and skills such as writing a debug source code, checking data monitors and utilizing tools such as in-circuit emulators (ICE) and JTAG debuggers.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Embedded development requires extensive problem-solving abilities that range from technical to abstract. A candidate who doesn’t know how to respond to a blank system could prove to be more of a liability than an asset to the company.

5. What types of projects have been most memorable for you in your career so far?

What you want to hear: An Embedded Engineer should know every stage of software development and implementation. Answers will vary based on candidates’ unique experience, but they should provide a description of projects they have helped develop, note any challenges they overcame during the process and express what they learned from the experience.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Candidates who are passionate about their job will be able to relay experiences they enjoyed the most. Those who appear indifferent or cannot recall any noteworthy experiences from their past are unlikely to become invested in their work at your company if hired.

6. How do you ensure that customers’ needs are translated into effective results?

What you want to hear: A skilled Embedded Engineer is used to working with a variety of skills and tools; interacting with customers and turning their requests and needs into real deliverables is an essential part of their role.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Limited experience or a lack of interest in working with customers can indicate poor communication skills. A good engineer, regardless of their profession, must be adaptable and know how to work with fellow professionals and the consumers of their final products.

7. How do you measure an AC versus DC current?

What you want to hear: Direct currents (DC) flow in one direction while alternating currents (AC) flow in multiple; using a multimeter can measure voltage, but a non-contact tester is safer to measure AC voltage.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Safety stems from knowledge, which means your Embedded Systems Engineer should understand the differences between DC and AC electric currents and how to work with them properly. Ignorance in electrical work can result in life-threatening injuries or total loss of hardware and any systems stored on it.

8. What is an ISR?

What you want to hear: An interrupt service router is a block of code that enables an operating system to prioritize various actions and input. IRS handling must prevent infinite looping. Interrupts arise via hardware or systems input, software exclusions and when installing device drivers.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Without a proper ISR installed, your systems are prone to malfunctions and repeated errors. Interrupt handlers must be as fast as possible to keep a system running smoothly.

9. How do you handle communication challenges when you’re collaborating with designers and developers?

What you want to hear: Embedded Systems Engineers have to be comfortable working in a cross-disciplinary environment. The supervisory nature of their role requires strong leadership skills that include bridging any communication barriers that may arise between various divisions. Possible responses may include holding regular meetings and breaking down projects into measurable goals.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: Limited experience as a manager can indicate a candidate is not ready to handle the entire production and development process. Even if they are applying for a junior role, a good candidate will be able to demonstrate their communication skills by clearly explaining their process and how they go about resolving any confusion.

10. What software do you use every day?

What you want to hear: Answers will vary, but this question gives candidates an opportunity to reveal some of their personality or interests and connect them to their job in a meaningful way.

Red Flag Icon Red flag: An Embedded Engineer is a consumer just like anyone else; they should be able to list software that makes their job or life easier in some way.

Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Embedded Software Engineer position.

Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who: 

  • Demonstrate a strong understanding of computer science and current programming languages
  • Are equally proficient in software development as they are in hardware engineering
  • Stay up-to-date on technology trends and are always innovating 
  • Understand top-down structure of embedded systems design and are comfortable working on multiple projects at once 
  • Show a hands-on approach to their job and enthusiasm toward the embedded design process

Screen your next resumes with one-way video interviews

  • Get information missing from resumes
  • Compare video responses side by side
  • Screen candidates with confidence
  • Build a better candidate pool

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