77 Replies Latest reply on Nov 2, 2018 1:58 PM by Greg Hertvik

    Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview

    Daniel Herzberg

      Hi All,

       

      On Monday, I'll be helping my company interview a new Project Engineer candidate, specifically to determine their SolidWorks skills. I doubt I'll have more than 30 minutes with the candidate, so what should my game plan be? Do I give him a drawing and tell him to model the part, or give him a part and ask for the drawing? Or do I find an object around the office and a pair of calipers and tell him to go nuts?

       

      What's the best way to test for proficiency in the shortest amount of time, and what have you had success (or failure) with?

        • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
          Walter Fetsch

          Give the candidates a complicated drawing and tell them to do their best to model it.  The test is not to make a perfect part, but to determine whether or not they can read a drawing and if they are competent to make a model.  Minor mistakes don't mean much, but an orderly model in a reasonable amount of time does.

          • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
            Deepak Gupta

            You can give him a typical object to model (pick something from the old CSWP exam or model mania) and then ask him/her to make some changes to it. Throw in bunch of questions to check if he/she knows in-out of SOLIDWORKS (for e.g. how to convert sketch segments into polyline/spline?). Finally give him stuff related to configurations, top down, and some drawing things. This way you can gauge him/her overall checking his/her design intent, clever use of features/options, etc. I really find it bad when you give some a random object to model/draw.

             

            Here is another good article to read: What to Look for When Hiring a SOLIDWORKS Engineer or Designer

             

            Also Dan Bovinich can throw in more stuff/ideas as he has been doing these things a lot!!

            • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
              Chris Saller

              I would have him/her make models/drawing pertaining to the job at hand. Don't over do it.

              For example, if you don't do molds/surfaces/etc at your company, don't touch them.

              • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                Tony Tieuli

                Daniel Herzberg wrote:

                 

                Hi All,

                 

                On Monday, I'll be helping my company interview a new Project Engineer candidate, specifically to determine their SolidWorks skills. I doubt I'll have more than 30 minutes with the candidate, so what should my game plan be? Do I give him a drawing and tell him to model the part, or give him a part and ask for the drawing? Or do I find an object around the office and a pair of calipers and tell him to go nuts?

                 

                What's the best way to test for proficiency in the shortest amount of time, and what have you had success (or failure) with?

                I think in order to answer that question we need to know what he will be doing. I he going to be designing large assemblies? Project Engineer sounds like he'll be handling fairly complex jobs. What kind of work is it?

                • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                  Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                  If him is a Engineer must made FEA math by hand I think , give him after to design it the projet.

                  • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                    John Stoltzfus

                    Daniel Herzberg

                     

                    Can you find an old model that has issues or a lot of bad modeling or errors, give them 20 minutes to view it and fix it and 10 minutes to write a report. 

                     

                    Being able to model is one thing, being able to diagnose is the next level...

                     

                    Another way is to have them do a small project like a picnic bench and ask them to do the parts, assemblies and drawings.. See what it looks like when they're done, if you go down that road.

                     

                    Something I have done before, is people would send me a copy of his/her model and I send back a report, you could send it to a few people here..

                    • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                      Dan Golthing

                      First, you have to know what you're doing in order to properly evaluate someone.

                       

                      Second, why the rush.  If this is an important position, a decent proficiency test is in order.  You can probably have a good evaluation in about an hour.

                       

                      Also, have them bring in examples of past work and talk you through it, some of the issues, challenges, and accomplishments, etc.  You will quickly get a feel for their capabilities.

                      • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                        Alex Burnett

                        We developed an aptitude test here that has the user create a model from a print as well as re-create the print. This requires quite a bit of time though so that isn't realistic in a 30 minute interview.

                         

                        Instead, I would focus on things that they should be able to state to you if they are familiar with the software.

                        • What does it mean to fully define a sketch and why is it needed?
                        • Can you give me an example of a sketch relation and when that could be used?
                        • How many features would it take you to model a flat washer and what feature(s) would you use?
                        • How would you handle an aluminum tube that requires 10+ configurations of different diameters, wall thicknesses and length in a part file? (Have the candidate volunteer the method to use a Design Table without letting them know what you're looking for)
                        • What tool(s) would you use to place a quantity of 6 M5 thru holes in a sheet metal plate? (Have them volunteer Hole Wizard without letting them know what answer you're looking for. Bonus points for them describing a pattern driven component pattern mate of a bolt in the assembly that uses the hole wizard feature)
                        • In an assembly, what would it take to fully constrain a screw to a plate with a hole in it? (Have them describe the process using mates)

                         

                        I know there's a lot more but you should get a good sense of whether or not they have good practices based on their answers to these questions or similar ones that you or others may come up with.

                          • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                            Anna Wood

                            Alex Burnett wrote:

                             

                            We developed an aptitude test here that has the user create a model from a print as well as re-create the print. This requires quite a bit of time though so that isn't realistic in a 30 minute interview.

                             

                            Instead, I would focus on things that they should be able to state to you if they are familiar with the software.

                            • What does it mean to fully define a sketch and why is it needed?
                            • Can you give me an example of a sketch relation and when that could be used?
                            • How many features would it take you to model a flat washer and what feature(s) would you use?
                            • How would you handle an aluminum tube that requires 10+ configurations of different diameters, wall thicknesses and length in a part file? (Have the candidate volunteer the method to use a Design Table without letting them know what you're looking for)
                            • What tool(s) would you use to place a quantity of 6 M5 thru holes in a sheet metal plate? (Have them volunteer Hole Wizard without letting them know what answer you're looking for. Bonus points for them describing a pattern driven component pattern mate of a bolt in the assembly that uses the hole wizard feature)
                            • In an assembly, what would it take to fully constrain a screw to a plate with a hole in it? (Have them describe the process using mates)

                             

                            I know there's a lot more but you should get a good sense of whether or not they have good practices based on their answers to these questions or similar ones that you or others may come up with.

                             

                            I agree with Alex...  Being able to verbally explain answers to questions, about the software, will go a long way to gauging their true understanding of the software.

                            • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                              Josh Brady

                              Alex Burnett wrote:

                               

                              We developed an aptitude test here that has the user create a model from a print as well as re-create the print. This requires quite a bit of time though so that isn't realistic in a 30 minute interview.

                               

                               

                              Ya gotta be careful about aptitude tests that have not been independently certified as non-discriminatory.  It can cost a ridiculous amount of money to defend a discrimination accusation.  At a previous job, my boss was told by legal and HR that he could no longer give the aptitude test he had made up.  You should be OK with the verbal questions though.

                                • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                  Alex Burnett

                                  Josh Brady wrote:

                                  Ya gotta be careful about aptitude tests that have not been independently certified as non-discriminatory. It can cost a ridiculous amount of money to defend a discrimination accusation. At a previous job, my boss was told by legal and HR that he could no longer give the aptitude test he had made up. You should be OK with the verbal questions though.

                                  I do see where you're coming from. I am having a hard time trying to figure out how a CAD drawing interpretation test could be discriminatory though. I know that doesn't matter but if you could give an example of what you mean then that would help.

                                    • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                      Josh Brady

                                      Alex Burnett wrote:

                                       

                                      Josh Brady wrote:

                                      Ya gotta be careful about aptitude tests that have not been independently certified as non-discriminatory. It can cost a ridiculous amount of money to defend a discrimination accusation. At a previous job, my boss was told by legal and HR that he could no longer give the aptitude test he had made up. You should be OK with the verbal questions though.

                                      I do see where you're coming from. I am having a hard time trying to figure out how a CAD drawing interpretation test could be discriminatory though. I know that doesn't matter but if you could give an example of what you mean then that would help.

                                      Wow, if you can't see how it's discriminatory, then you're so deeply mired in your own privilege it just makes me sick.

                                       

                                      NOT!

                                       

                                      I'm definitely not saying that it could possibly be discriminatory... I think it's really fricking stupid that our legal system is like this, but it doesn't actually have to be discriminatory in order for you to get sued. Just the accusation and then having to defend yourself costs a buttload of money, time, etc.   Having your test independently checked doesn't actually prevent someone from suing or whatever, but it greatly reduces the likelihood that a lawyer would take the case against you.

                                       

                                      Check this out for an example of someone who has to spend money defending an accusation of bias in a test... Engineers refute allegations of gender bias in licensing exam

                                        • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                          Alex Burnett

                                          I suppose I misunderstood your initial point. Thank you for clarifying. That article certainly makes me scratch my head.

                                            • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                              Josh Brady

                                              Alex Burnett wrote:

                                               

                                              I suppose I misunderstood your initial point. Thank you for clarifying. That article certainly makes me scratch my head.

                                              Yeah, sorry, looking at it again it wasn't super clear... any and all sarcasm/scorn/etc is directed toward the current climate.  I can't imagine how one would even create a CAD/Engineering/etc test that is really discriminatory without it being awkwardly obvious, but all someone has to do is make the accusation in order to cause a huge headache.

                                                • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                  Matt Peneguy

                                                  Josh Brady wrote:

                                                   

                                                  Alex Burnett wrote:

                                                   

                                                  I suppose I misunderstood your initial point. Thank you for clarifying. That article certainly makes me scratch my head.

                                                  Yeah, sorry, looking at it again it wasn't super clear... any and all sarcasm/scorn/etc is directed toward the current climate. I can't imagine how one would even create a CAD/Engineering/etc test that is really discriminatory without it being awkwardly obvious, but all someone has to do is make the accusation in order to cause a huge headache.

                                                  I really liked the this from the first post to that article:

                                                   

                                                  " Still puzzled as to how an engineering question can be gendered biased, plus I thought gender was a social construct which would mean even if it was biased it wouldn't matter."

                                                   

                                                  I took that exam and those problems were similar to problems in school...So, maybe Engineering is discriminatory?
                                      • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                        Jim Moses

                                        Hi,

                                         

                                        I have been on a few interviews that required this, and most were copy a existing drawing, with a few changes, makes this longer or shorter type thing.

                                         

                                        In reality, time is the last thing you should judge, as I like many of you have our own personal settings that make us that more efficient, that during an interview you are not going to go thru the trouble to load on a potential employers machine, so they are going to be slower just trying to remember the out of the box way commands and drop downs. I know I have gone over on time because of this, and will in the future, as I like you, have the commands set to muscle memory on where they are and what key strokes get you what commands.

                                         

                                        Most companies project engineering positions usually don't have them doing a lot of big complex modeling, that usually seems to be the responsibility of a senior designer or engineer, so maybe ask your current project engineers for what they feel would be a good example of what they are required to do on a day to day basis.

                                         

                                        Just my opinion, good luck with finding the new candidate.

                                         

                                        Regards,

                                        • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                          Tom Gagnon

                                          Admittedly half-assed advice, just to add something new. I'm taking very seriously the restriction you are given of only 30 minutes with the individual.

                                           

                                          Or, do what management typically does. Take their word for it. Do they ask what GPA was at the college they attended? Do they contact the college or university to confirm that they indeed earned the claimed degree?

                                           

                                          As it applies to SWx, accept applicable Certifications. There's even a page online to verify those claims. (Unfamiliar where, sorry.)

                                           

                                          In some fields, a portfolio of previous work and quality examples is appropriate. I'd think it should apply wider than just Architecture and Graphic / Industrial Design, but then I don't think that Engineers are exposed to this concept at all. Previous work should imply competence. Then again, you're taking the applicant's word that this is indeed his work.

                                           

                                          Hiring new people is a broad exercise in trust.

                                          Depending on organizational complexity, you could also hire them conditionally where they have to prove themselves within the first N days of probationary period before earning full employment.

                                           

                                          Personally, I'd quiz them deeply, ignoring the shallow concepts. I'd ask them what customizations they prefer to impose upon the defaults. I'd ask them what macros they use, or have written, or such. I'd ask them if they prefer categorical subassemblies within the scope of a large assembly. I'd ask them how many drawings a thing requires. I'd ask them what their preferred layers are. I'd ask about drafting standards. I'd ask them what weldment structural member profiles they have customized or added beyond the stock SWx content. I'd make them navigate with a 3D mouse. Any or all of these items are below the surface, yet will be easily answerable to anyone who has spent significant professional time in SWx.

                                          • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                            David Matula

                                            have a talk with the person.  Throw out some wrong terminology from another cad system and see if they know the difference. 

                                            get them to tell you about a project or see some projects that have been done in solidworks.  I always have a pdf if not a print or two of some projects that I have worked on, down to some screen shots of some.  Usually stuff like steps of some exterior of some major component.  then you can ask about what kind of features and creatures that they used to get the model to look like that.

                                            • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                              Dwight Livingston

                                              Daniel

                                               

                                              I do agree that Alex's questions will probably reveal good Solidworks habits. I've been in on hiring interviews, and for me it's hard to come up with good questions. I also wonder about some of the questions in Alex's list. Though they are diagnostic, many are things you can teach in twenty minutes. More open questions might be better:

                                               

                                              What characteristics make a good Solidworks model and why?

                                              What characteristics make a good Solidworks drawing and why?

                                               

                                              Dwight

                                              • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                Daniel Herzberg

                                                Thanks everyone for your input. Thought I'd give you an update on how the interview went, and answer a couple questions for your clarification.

                                                 

                                                This was one of those all-day marathon interviews, where the candidate presents to the entire company in the morning, then spends the next several hours in brief 30-minute on-on-one or two-on-one interviews with key stakeholders. It's an exhausting process which seems to be becoming more and more common in the industry. I'm basically the only SolidWorks stakeholder in the office, so my session was the only one where he'd be tested for SW skills (other sessions focused on client interaction, technical knowledge, etc.). SolidWorks technically isn't the main focus of the position, but definitely required. It's technically the same position I hold, but since I'm the only SolidWorks user in the office, it's become 80% of my job at least, and we need someone to balance the load.

                                                 

                                                I ended up avoiding a live test of SW skills, and instead showed him a simple model mania part, and some of our most complex 2D drawings to get a read. When asked how he would model this part, he took the long way around, using only cuts and extrudes.

                                                I then showed him a very complex 5-sheet set of A1 size drawings (a 7m diameter polypropylene purge vessel, used for stripping hydrocarbons from plastic pellets). I asked if he could tell how some of the views and features were created (explode, partial section cut, sectioned model config, etc.) and it was obvious he wasn't very familiar with drawing tools or large assembly models for that matter.

                                                 

                                                I had put together even more little test ideas, pulling from various sources and coming up with a couple on my own. I figured I'd hit him with whichever tests made the most sense after the initial chat, but we really didn't have to go that deep to determine that the knowledge gap was too great. But if anyone wants to see what I'd put together for testing, let me know.

                                                • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                  Keith Carter

                                                  Daniel,

                                                  A few years ago I was in a similar situation where we had made a couple poor hires. I decided to put together a simple test to weed out the candidates that claimed they knew SW but really didn't.

                                                   

                                                  Good candidates can complete this test in 12 -15 min. I would set them in front of a computer and leave them alone for the first 10 min, then check on their process. At that point you will have a good idea where they would finish up. I would usually cut it off at 25 min. You can then extend the interview or invite them back for a second conversation if they have performed well.

                                                   

                                                  Attached is the test. It lets me know if the candidate can do a simple model, a simple drawing, a model with configurations and an assembly with mates and configurations. During a follow up interview I would get into much more specific questions.

                                                  • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                    S. Leacox

                                                    Besides knowing about the software that you can asses verbally. You also want to check there ability to type and use a mouse. Just a few min of seeing them use the program goes a long way.

                                                     

                                                    There are also area's of the software that are specific to what you do. I do sheet metal, I would not be a good choice for Mold design. The other way around would also be true.

                                                     

                                                    I am a steel designer, If you are making everything out of wood or plastic, I would not be a good choice. Knowing your materials and beaing able to imagine the fabrication process of your tools relative your products is important.

                                                      • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                        David Nelson

                                                        S. Leacox wrote:

                                                         

                                                        Besides knowing about the software that you can asses verbally. You also want to check there ability to type and use a mouse. Just a few min of seeing them use the program goes a long way.

                                                         

                                                        There are also area's of the software that are specific to what you do. I do sheet metal, I would not be a good choice for Mold design. The other way around would also be true.

                                                         

                                                        I am a steel designer, If you are making everything out of wood or plastic, I would not be a good choice. Knowing your materials and beaing able to imagine the fabrication process of your tools relative your products is important.

                                                        Knowing Materials  here is very important.  Being that we make agricultural fittings some knowledge would be great.  But we make fitting that allow folks to use many different manufactures together.  I was lucky and worked at the place I now work many years ago making these very same fittings.  But still to feel comfortable  making something new took me two years.

                                                         

                                                          That is why I keep trying to have them get Somebody else working with me so I can teach them our products.  Cause in a little more than 3 years I will be gone.  Its getting time to Retire.  The real problem is the guys I've been learning from will be gone before then too.

                                                      • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                        S. Casale

                                                        Would you feel a portfolio of a candidates work be sufficient - perhaps in lieu of an exam like Q&A? That's the direction I would go when I was interviewing.

                                                        • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                          Roland Schwarz

                                                          I designed a test where the user only had to change things. No new features and no features deleted if done decently.

                                                           

                                                          Anyone can can make a model. Changing someone else’s model without going keflooey says much more about a user.

                                                          • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                            John Stoltzfus

                                                            The times that I went for a Designer Interview, I brought stuff to show them, pictures and a jump drive with models.  That works.........

                                                            • Re: Checking for SolidWorks skills in an interview
                                                              Stephen Donelson

                                                              I did this at my current job last year, and will be doing more in a couple months.  I have a physical part that we commonly build, along with a paper drawing of the part, and a folder on the computer with the parts to build that same assembly.  I have them work through putting the SW assembly together, then ask them questions on how to move and modify the parts. This shows how thoroughly they understand all the possibilities and gives you a feel for how they think.