20 Common Architect Job Interview Questions
One of my most popular articles to date is the "Top 5 Architecture Job Interview Questions". It has been read hundreds of thousands of times and republished in ArchDaily. Currently it is the number one Google search result for anything related to architecture interviews.
Since that post garnered so much attention, I thought I would would try to outdo myself and add to the list of questions that are commonly asked in architect job interviews. Don't worry about memorizing your answers, as long as you have a rough idea of your response it will sound more natural.
Architect Job Interview Questions
To help you ace your upcoming interview, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes even more architecture interview questions along with resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents.
1. Why should we hire you?
This is an opportunity to highlight your strengths and skills you can bring to the office.
“I am a self motivated person that works extremely hard to meet deadlines and ensure the final product is as good as it can possibly be. There are very few cities in the US that support the type of large scale projects that match my experience, New York being one of them. I think my high rise, complex international project experience along with my LEED and BREEAM expertise would be a good fit for this new role.”
2. Why do you want to work here?
This is often more of a test to see if you have done your research on the office and if you are really interested. This is a very common question so be prepared for it. Have a few bullet points in mind that are the key reasons for you wanting to join.
These should only be positive reasons about the office, not selfish reasons such as, “I want better experience”. Don’t mention anything negative about you or your previous employer, “they were always complaining I was coming in late”.
Keep it positive about the office and how it fits with your skill set:
“I think my high rise, complex international project experience along with my LEED expertise would be a good fit for this new role. Sustainable design is very important to the mission statement of this firm, which matches my passion and recent work experience. Also the weather is much better here.”
It is okay to joke around a little too...
3. What is your greatest strength(s)?
Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself, for example:
"My time management skills are excellent and I’m organized, efficient, and take pride in my work. I am very familiar with the processes and procedures of taking large projects from conceptual design to construction administration.
I have a strong attention to detail and bring a rigorous design ethic to all the projects I work on. I am also very skilled in the use of 2D and 3D computer software for both drafting and rendering for presentation materials and detailed construction documents."
4. What was your greatest accomplishment(s)?
This isn’t an opportunity to share your online gaming skills.
Keep it relevant to the role you are applying or use it to bring up a qualification such as:
“Completing my architecture license was my greatest accomplishment, it was the culmination of years of education, work experience and 30+ hours of exams.”
5. What things do you not enjoy doing?
This is a dangerous question. You certainly don’t want to mention something you will be expected to do nor do you want to speak poorly of your previous company.
Try to keep it somewhat vague:
“Often with a large team there can be overlaps with work, so the same work may end up being done twice. This is obviously a waste of time. So it is important that everyone on the team is communicating”
A statement like this can show your concern for the bottom line and team dynamics.
6. Who do you manage?
If this applies to your situation describe the staff that you supervise and their roles. An effective way to communicate this is to describe a “typical day” for you on how you manage others.
7. Are you LEED Accredited or planning to be?
This is becoming an increasingly asked for qualification.
I recommend anyone in the architecture profession become LEED Accredited. At best it will help your career and open doors, at worst you will learn a new skill and not look uninformed when it comes up in a meeting.
8. What are your Revit / AutoCAD / Sketchup skills on a scale of 1-10?
Whatever your skill level just make sure you are honest. Many firms complain that staff say they are experts just to get their foot in the door but it soon becomes evident they don’t know the software. Offices are now conducting CAD tests to address this.
9. Are you licensed? Do you plan to be? If so, when?
Most firms like to see as large a percentage as possible of licensed staff. This can help to give clients confidence in the quality of work.
Do not complain about the cost or amount of work it takes to becoming licensed. Projecting laziness is not a desirable trait for new staff.
10. What do you like about your present job?
Try to relate it to something that would still apply to the new job. Don’t have them think, “we will never be able to provide that so she will never be happy here”.
“I have the opportunity to work with the top architects, engineers and consultants in the world and an extremely diverse group of individuals. To learn new and exciting building techniques and methods I might not have otherwise been able.”
11. What would your ideal job be?
A vague response is usually the best approach for a question like this. You don’t want to unintentionally describe a role that is drastically different than the role you are applying. Keep your research in mind and go off of the job description if available.
“The important thing for me is a good team dynamic. The project team and the people and projects I interact with on a daily basis is very important for my ideal job. A challenging and at times stressful environment is when I am the most productive.”
12. What do you dislike about your present job?
Much like the “greatest weakness” question this can be a dangerous if you are not prepared. Try to think of the complete polar opposite of the firm you are applying and wrap it in the reason you are looking for a new position.
For example if you are moving from a large architecture office to a small firm:
“Due to large company size and structure decisions can take a long time to filter through the chain. That’s why I am looking to move to a smaller office where I can have more “hands on” experience and a chance to move projects along in a more timely manner.”
13. Are you happy with your career to date?
Whatever your response, the key is to stay positive.
“Yes, I am very happy with my career to date. From receiving my bachelors and masters degrees to becoming a LEED Accredited Professional and getting my Architecture license while working on a diverse portfolio of projects all over the world.”
14. How do you handle stress and pressure?
You should always address this positively. Dealing with stress in architecture is essential to meeting deadlines, dealing with clients and consultants.
“I think when I am under stress I actually do some of my best work. I think it is important for me to make sure I have the correct balance between good stress and bad stress. For the most part I find that good stress is a great way stay motivated and productive.”
15. What are you currently earning?
This could be one of the most difficult questions asked.
As with any question, the rule is to be honest, don’t inflate your current salary to try to get more. Often firms will check with the previous office so you could be caught in a lie. Not where you want to be.
If they do ask you will need to provide a number, however you can justify it if you are earning less than you feel you are worth.
“Although my current salary is less than the salary range of this position I believe there is good reason for the increase. While I am excited at the prospect of this position I feel would be taking on a bigger risk with this opportunity than with my position now because [insert your reason why].”
Avoid bringing up irrelevant issues such as your personal finances or the cost of living. The firm is more than aware of the cost of living. The key is to explain what unique and valuable skills you are bringing that perhaps were overlooked at your previous employer.
16. What are your salary expectations? What’s minimum salary you’d consider right now?
As a general rule you should avoid any conversation regarding compensation until after you have the job offer.
“I’m pretty flexible and open. I’m sure you will make me a fair offer. Also, it really depends on the value of the entire package--the job fit, benefits, 401K and bonuses, vacation. I’m not really sure at this point. I’m sure your offer will be reasonable.”
17. Will you relocate?
Obviously is important if the firm is in another city to where you currently live.
You can even choose to get personal if you wish:
“I don’t have a spouse or children to move, so it is a very quick and easy process.”
You could inquire about the possibility of starting off telecommuting (working from a remote computer at home or out of town) while you prepare to move. Telecommuting is becoming more popular but it hasn’t been readily adopted by the architecture community.
18. Will you travel? What percent of overnight travel?
Travel is somewhat rare in an architecture office unless you are upper management. This factor is important if you have a family and don’t want to be gone all the time. Find out what the average away time is, this will help you decide if this is the place for you.
“I love flying!”
Traveling all the time may sound fun but as someone who has traveled a lot for work it can be very draining. Keep in mind that flying for vacation and work are completely different animals.
Example of a positive response:
“I have very few commitments that would prevent me from traveling for long periods of time. I am aware this may be expected and it is not a problem for me.”
19. When could you start working here?
If they don’t ask this make sure you find out when they want you to start. Have a definite date in mind that you can provide in the interview. If you are currently employed find out what your required notice period is before the interview (standard is two weeks).
I can’t emphasize this enough, you need to have an exact date ready. Don’t be flaky with this comes up.
“I am required by my current employer to give two week’s notice. Taking that into account and given moving time, I could start on November 2nd or potentially faster if necessary.”
20. What is something NOT in your resume or portfolio?
This is a technique to get to know you a little better. Try to keep it related to architecture but try to make it fun. Like how you studied abroad or sketch churches on the weekend.
Download The 82 Architecture Interview Question and Answer Flashcards
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Bonus Question: Do you have any questions?
YES, you do have questions! Check out my other post on the topic: Questions To Ask In Your Architecture Job Interview.
I hope these architect job interview questions have been helpful, good luck!
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To help you with your upcoming interview, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes, even more architecture interview questions along with resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download.
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Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
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