Navigating the professional world of architecture requires not just a keen understanding of design principles, but also the ability to articulate your ideas, philosophy, and experience convincingly.
The process of landing your dream job or acquiring a coveted project usually involves one critical step – acing an interview. This stage often serves as a platform where you can demonstrate your technical skills, creative acumen, and an array of other qualities that make you the ideal candidate.
However, knowing what to expect and how to prepare for an architecture interview can often be a challenge, especially for those new to the industry.
This article aims to alleviate some of that uncertainty by providing a comprehensive guide to potential architecture interview questions.
Architecture interview questions
Interview questions can vary on a range of topics such as reasons of interest in the position, experience in the workforce, and work ethic. With so much at stake, comprehending the true reason behind asking each question and how to respond can greatly help you land that dream job.
01 – What makes you a good fit for this firm?
Applicants commonly receive this question to express how much they know about the company they are applying to and how their work experience qualifies them for joining the firm. As a result, it’s important to do some research prior to the job interview, such as the office’s values, particular style, and work environment.
To answer the interview question, mention certain points about the firm and how your experience relates to them. One example would be to say that you appreciate the office’s use of parametric design and that you have years of experience with computational software.
02 – Why do you feel you are most suited for this position?
By asking this question, the interviewer wants to know why you view yourself as the best candidate for the job. Furthermore, make sure to highlight how your traits, skills, and experience prepare you for the role.
03 – How much do you expect as a minimum salary?
An interviewer may ask this question to get a sense of what you expect to be paid as an employee. However, it is best to discuss this topic after receiving an offer letter to ensure that your answer doesn’t hinder your chances of gaining acceptance.
If the interviewer asks this question before you get the job, then it is most optimal to say that you are flexible, subject to the additional benefits they provide. Another possible response is that you trust the firm to offer a salary.
Additionally, remember to not come off as too desperate, and that you can state why you believe your skillset warrants a higher starting amount.
04 – Are you interviewing anywhere else?
This may be asked so interviewers know if you are considering any other job offers. Make sure to not brag about the number of firms you are interviewing at or have been accepted to work at.
Rather, give an honest response. If you don’t have any other job offers, say that you are being selective about choosing a job and not applying to many firms.
In the case you do have other job opportunities, mention that you are currently interviewing at other firms to ensure you make an informed decision for the long term.
Questions about your experience & background
01 – Describe briefly about your experience
An interviewer needs to know where you worked in the past. This will help them evaluate if you are right for the position, your specialties, and your level of experience.
A good way to answer is by mentioning each place you were employed, the duration of your work, and what experience you gained.
02 – What significant challenges did you face during your last role? How did you manage?
An interviewer may ask you this question to understand how you typically deal with obstacles in a work environment.
To answer, talk about difficulties you experienced in your last job, such as having demanding clients. Then, describe how you were able to overcome the issue; in this case, sitting down with the client and contractor to ensure the client’s desires for the project could be met.
03 – Why are you leaving your job?
Interviews may be curious as to what led you to apply for another job. Since the person interviewing you may become your employer, it’s best to not speak negatively about your previous one.
Also, don’t revolve your response around yourself. Rather, mention how you are interested in working on a project that the firm just started developing.
Another possibility is to say you’ve mostly worked on one particular part of the design process, and hope to use this experience to inform you in a new work setting.
04 – Are you LEED accredited?
LEED is a rating system and framework by the U.S. Green Building Council for environmentally-friendly buildings. Additionally, it serves as a certification for architects that represents achievement and leadership in sustainability.
In recent years, the question of LEED accreditation has become more prevalent to know an applicant’s experience with sustainable design.
The response should be straightforward; answer yes or no if you are LEED-certified or plan on being. Also, if you are, you can describe how you received LEED accreditation.
05 – Have you worked remotely in the past?
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become much more prevalent for companies. Therefore, an interviewer may want to know your proficiency with meeting online and work ethic when operating remotely.
To answer, you can talk about your experience with working from home at your past job or in university. Also, mention your ability to use communication programs like Zoom and how you stay attentive in and out of the office environment.
01 – Tell me about yourself
Interviewers usually say this to get to know their applicants better. While it’s a short question, people often provide lengthy responses about their entire lives.
Rather, interviewers would like a brief answer that relates to your profession. Additionally, you shouldn’t include excessive details, but details that hint at how you would be suited for the job.
For example, past experiences, skills acquired, and achievements.
02 – Why do (or did) you want to be an architect?
This question allows applicants to explain their passion for architecture, as well as providing a sense of where their interests lie.
Moreover, you should take a moment to reflect on what motivated you to pursue architecture, whether it be a childhood experience, a family member that’s an architect, a building that inspired you, etc.
03 – What architect has been most influential on your work or work style?
Interviewers may ask this to assess your knowledge of influential architects and understand where your design values align. For example, saying that Zaha Hadid has influenced your style may convey that you believe in modern architecture, organic structures, and using parametric modeling software.
To prepare for this question, think of or research an architect that’s had the greatest impact on your work and be ready to explain why.
04 – What are your weaknesses?
This particular question is commonly asked to get a sense of what the applicant struggles with, and what to expect if hiring him/her. The best way to answer is to be honest about something you find challenging, such as communicating efficiently through email.
However, you should suggest that you are attempting to overcome this obstacle to ensure that it will not interfere with your work.
05 – Where do you see yourself in five years?
By asking this question, the interviewer is interested in hearing your level of commitment to their firm. Therefore, answering that you aspire to open your own firm by that time isn’t an attractive response.
The best way to answer this question is by stating something related to the firm, suggesting that you hope to grow with the company.
Some possible answers include obtaining your architecture license, broadening your knowledge or skill set, or leading the development of a project.
01 – How do you stay motivated in your work?
An interviewer’s motive for asking this question is to find out what keeps an applicant engaged and animated to continue their work.
Furthermore, some possible responses include highlighting what you love about practicing as an architect, a goal you are working towards in your career, or past successes that energize you about completing new projects.
02 – How well can you handle pressure?
Architecture is known to be a stressful field. Consequently, interviewers want to know how you manage things like a heavy workload, long hours, meeting deadlines, etc.
To stand out from other applicants, talk about demanding projects you have worked on prior, and how you managed to get through the pressure.
Some solutions may include managing your time, efficiently working with coworkers to achieve the task, listening to music, taking a nap, going on a walk, etc.
03 – Describe a time when you showed initiative at work.
The question aims to understand the applicant’s ability to take charge. Not only that, an interviewer may want to know if they can rely on the applicant to perform well in challenging situations.
To answer, describe an action you took in your previous job that was not necessarily required. For example, completing a colleague’s work on a project while he/she was out sick.
04 – How would you handle a client who doesn’t want to take your advice?
It is common for the opinions of architects and their clients to clash. As a result, an interviewer may ask you how you would manage disagreements with potential clients.
One effective response is stating that you would listen to the client’s concerns, and then advise them on achieving what they want and what you think is the right solution.
For example, if the firm designs a house but the client wants less expensive flooring, you may present them with alternative materials.
Questions about your technical ability
01 – What skill has served you best in your architecture career?
This question is important for understanding how an applicant ranks his/her skill set as well as knowing if the person is qualified for the job.
To answer, talk about the skills you are most experienced in. Additionally, make sure to include skills that are needed for the position in your response so the interviewer knows you meet the job requirements.
02 – What tools are necessary for your work?
This may be asked in an architecture interview for the applicant to highlight what tools they regularly work with, hence, conveying what they are most comfortable in using.
Likewise, it can be a plus if your go-to software, such as Rhino, is the same as the firm’s. Mentioning specialized programs, such as Grasshopper for Rhino or Vray, is also beneficial.
Architecture interview questions for university and college candidates
Often universities and colleges require their applicants to undergo an interview as part of the admissions process. These meetings are generally conducted by a representative on the campus or by an alumnus in your area.
Additionally, many institutions that have a school of architecture will offer an architecture-specific interview.
Preparing for the meeting can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’re hoping to make a good impression. To help alleviate some of this stress, we’ve outlined some common interview questions and adequate responses.
01 – Why have you chosen Architecture?
This question is frequently brought up in an interview to get a sense of what made the student want to pursue architecture. More than that, the interviewer can learn more about the applicant and his/her background.
To answer, make sure to think about what sparked your interest in architecture. For example, watching your grandfather design homes, seeing the inspiring buildings in your city, playing with LEGO as a kid, etc.
02 – Why have you chosen xxxx?
Interviewers ask this question to learn why you are interested in the particular architecture program. Furthermore, interviewers want to ensure that you are interested in attending the university if admitted.
To prepare for this question, research the program you are applying to. The best way to answer is to state a feature of the school that made you want to attend, such as a course you would like to take, a professor whose work resigns with you, the student projects, a study abroad opportunity, etc.
03 – What do you hope to do when you graduate?
After college, there is a multitude of possibilities with an architecture degree. Therefore, this question allows the applicant to convey his/her particular interest in the field.
While you don’t need to have a definitive answer about the future, talk about ideas you have thus far.
Remember that having an ambitious response will make you seem more deserving of a spot in obtaining the degree. For example, working at various firms to one day open your own, obtaining your license, or even studying for a Master’s degree or Ph.D.
04 – How do you feel your current skills and experiences have helped to prepare you for university?
This commonly asked question is really asking applicants why they believe they are ready to study at the university. Likewise, you should describe how your experiences indicate that you will do well as a student at their school.
If your interview is for an undergraduate program, answer by highlighting significant projects or experiences that made you grow, and how what you’ve learned compels you to study architecture at the university.
For those applying to graduate school, a good response is stating how your certain classes, a study abroad semester, and/or competition advanced your understanding of architecture.
05 – What is your favorite building?
While you don’t need to be an expert on architecture when applying to university, this question is usually asked to understand an applicant’s style. It is also common for the interviewer to ask why the building is your favorite.
To answer, choose a building and describe something you like about its architecture or mention a story that coincides with it. A response could sound like “I admire the Sydney Opera House because of the way it looks in the skyline.”
Another possibility is “Ever since I listened to the orchestra play in the beautiful interior of the Sydney Opera house, it’s become my favorite building.”
06 – Who is your favorite architect?
Similar to the favorite building question, this one aims to investigate the particular interests of a student looking to enter the field of architecture. While some architecture schools advocate for a particular style, the architect that you choose does not have to adhere to it.
The best way to answer is by being honest and mentioning an architect that’s had the greatest impact on you and your work. When explaining the reason behind your choice, try to reveal something about yourself.
For example, saying that Frank Lloyd Wright is your favorite because you both care deeply about nature.
07 – Questions about the portfolio submitted.
During the university interview, you may be asked about your architecture portfolio. This can include your favorite project to work on and why, describe a project you won an award for, or discuss the different mediums you’ve explored.
To make the most out of speaking about your portfolio, answer the interviewer’s specific question, but also connect your response to what you hope to accomplish at the university. As a result, you are telling the school why they should have you as a student.
08 – Have you had a chance to look around our campus during your visit? What buildings stood out?
Whether you’ve visited the college or not, it’s a good idea to get a sense of the campus before the interview. That way, when asked about what you like about the school, you sound engaged in what is happening at the university.
Many applicants will say that the architecture building is their favorite. While this is understandable, one way to elevate your response is by describing specific features of a building.
For example, you might like the architecture building’s modern aesthetic, but the engineering building stood out because of its virtual reality room. Moreover, this type of response always allows you to share how you intend to utilize the school’s facilities if admitted.
Architecture internship interview questions
Between students and recent graduates, landing an architecture internship is a competitive experience. Luckily, you can prepare for the interview by reviewing these questions.
01 – Why do you want this internship?
This question focuses on why the employer should give the (often limited) intern position to that applicant. As a result, you should discuss what you aim to learn from the opportunity and how it will contribute to your career as an architect.
02 – What do you hope to gain from this internship?
This question helps employers know what you are hoping to learn from the experience. Moreover, your response could help them better understand what tasks to give you if hired.
You should seem enthusiastic about the opportunity to intern and convey your desire to contribute to the firm. Then, go on to talk about what specific experiences you hope to gain.
03 – Where do you see yourself in five (or ten) years?
For an internship interview, this question is aimed at understanding the applicant’s aspirations and how they relate to this work experience.
Moreover, you should mention where you hope to be at that time, such as obtaining your license, opening your own studio, or having a large role in the firm you are interning at. Next, describe how the internship experience would contribute to achieving that goal.
04 – Describe your work ethic.
Interns, especially in architecture, are notorious for having an immense amount of work.
Meanwhile, they may not be given tasks that they find interesting. As a result, an interviewer will want to know how you perform in a work environment, and if you’ll be up to the challenge.
To provide an answer, mention your ability to follow instructions, meet deadlines, and stay motivated.
05 – Are you able to work overtime?
Due to the overworked nature of the architecture field, professionals often practice overtime. As an intern, you may also have to work late hours.
If you cannot make an exception to stay in the office past working hours, make sure to inform your interviewer. Also, do not seem too desperate in your answer to ensure the employer doesn’t exploit your labor by having you stay later every day.
06 – Do you have any questions for me?
At the end of the interview, the employer may ask this daunting question.
While many will have nothing to ask, you can use this question as an opportunity to show even more interest in interning at the company. For example, asking what software they use, what the work culture is like, or how you can have a positive impact on the company.
How do I prepare for an architecture interview?
Aside from the questions themselves, there are various measures you can take to get ready for the actual meeting. For more insight on being prepared for an architecture interview, check out What to Take to an Architecture Interview.
What to do before interviewing an architect
Before interviewing an architect, there are several steps you should take to ensure the interview process is effective and useful. Here’s a general guide:
Research the employer: According to Archipreneur, learning about the architecture firm is a useful strategy for landing a job. Take time to thoroughly read through the job description, look at the firm’s previous work, and reflect on how your experience relates to the company.
More than that, an interviewer may notice your knowledge of the studio’s projects, which indicates that you have a keen interest in being part of their team.
Dress appropriately: As a part of researching the firm, make sure you understand the dress code of the office before the interview. Life of an Architect says that showing up in clothes that are too casual may present you as a non-serious candidate. Therefore, arriving overdressed is not as bad as being underdressed.
Depending on the firm, it may be common to wear a full suit, slacks with a button-down shirt, or sweaters. Also, in many offices, architects mostly wear black. Dressing in black for the interview may present yourself as sharing the firm’s aesthetic values.
Be on time: First in Architecture suggests that arriving at the interview on time is essential, as being late will create a bad first impression. Additionally, don’t come too early, as this can annoy the busy interviewer if he/she finds out that you are waiting for them at their office.
Practice your responses: Preparing answers in advance for common interview questions can boost your confidence throughout the meeting. Keep in mind what past experiences, achievements, and skills you want to highlight in your responses.
At the same time, rehearse natural responses rather than memorize a script.
Make sure you bring everything: For the job interview, bring a printed copy of your resume, CV, and references. Some applicants also have a booklet of their portfolio to leave with employers. Also, make sure you carry a pen in case you need to write something down during the interview.
What to expect…
An architectural interview can be a comprehensive process as it aims to evaluate multiple aspects of your skills, knowledge, and personality. Here’s what you can generally expect:
- Portfolio Review: This is often the starting point of an architectural interview. You’ll be asked to present and discuss your portfolio, which showcases your design skills, creativity, and experience. Be prepared to talk in detail about the projects you’ve worked on, your design process, challenges faced, and how you overcame them.
- Technical Questions: These questions will evaluate your technical knowledge and practical skills. You may be asked about design principles, architectural styles, construction methodologies, or building codes and regulations.
- Software Proficiency: In today’s digital age, proficiency in architectural software is vital. Interviewers will likely ask about your experience with CAD software, Building Information Modelling (BIM), 3D modeling tools, and other relevant architectural software.
- Scenario-based Questions: These questions are designed to evaluate your problem-solving skills. You might be given a hypothetical situation related to project management, client relationships, or design challenges, and asked to explain how you would handle it.
- Behavioral Questions: To assess your interpersonal skills and cultural fit, you may be asked questions about teamwork, leadership, handling criticism, meeting deadlines, and managing stress.
- Design Philosophy: Interviewers often want to understand your approach to architecture. You may be asked to describe your architectural philosophy, your design influences, and how you incorporate sustainability or other current trends into your work.
- Questions You Ask: The questions you ask the interviewer can also provide insights into your enthusiasm for the role and the company. It’s a good idea to research the firm’s projects and culture, and ask thoughtful questions related to them.
- Practical Test or Exercise (sometimes): In some interviews, you may be given a design exercise or a test to assess your skills in real time. This could involve solving a design problem or creating a quick sketch.
Remember, every interview is unique, and the format and questions can vary depending on the company and the specific role. Being well-prepared will help you handle whatever comes your way.
How to introduce yourself in an architecture interview
Introducing yourself in an architecture interview is your first opportunity to make a strong impression. Your introduction should be concise, professional, and tailored to the role you’re applying for. It should cover your education, work experience, specific skills, and brief mention of your design philosophy or passion for architecture.
Here’s an example:
“Hello, my name is [Your Name]. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from [Your University] and I am a licensed architect with [Number of Years] of experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, including residential, commercial, and public buildings, focusing mainly on sustainable design solutions.
My experience with [Specific Software or Technique] and my passion for creating spaces that blend aesthetics with functionality have been vital in these projects. I’m particularly drawn to your firm because of your focus on [something specific about the firm]. I believe my skills and values align well with your team and the innovative work you do.”
Remember, your introduction should be authentic and resonate with your true experience and passion. It should also show that you have researched the company and are genuinely interested in contributing to their work.
Architecture interviews for a job, university, or internship can be competitive and troublesome.
However, reviewing the common questions that are asked and practicing these tips for the actual meeting can help you get that spot.
…Unfortunately interview rejections do happen, and so for when it occurs, we’ve written an article dedicated to this topic.
FAQ’s about architecture interview questions
What is the best answer for Tell me about yourself?
Answering the “Tell me about yourself” question effectively requires careful thought and preparation. You should aim to provide a concise and engaging summary of your professional background, key skills, accomplishments, and why you’re interested in the role you’re interviewing for. While the answer can be personalized based on your experiences, here’s a general structure you might follow:
- Introduction and Professional Overview: Start with a brief introduction that includes your current role or professional status. For example, “Hello, my name is [Your Name], I’m currently a [Your Current Role] at [Your Current or Most Recent Company]…”
- Education and Experience: Touch on your educational background related to architecture, then give an overview of your career trajectory, focusing on roles or projects that align with the position you’re applying for. For example, “I earned my degree in architecture from [University] and have spent the past [Number of Years] working in both residential and commercial design…”
- Skills and Accomplishments: Highlight the key skills you’ve developed and notable accomplishments. These should align with the job description. For example, “During my time at [Company], I was involved in a project where I used [Specific Skills] to achieve [Specific Result]…”
- Interest in the Role: Lastly, express why you’re interested in the role and the company. For example, “I’ve always admired [Company] for its innovative designs and commitment to sustainability. I believe this role would be a great fit because…”
Remember, this isn’t the time to go into extensive detail about your entire career history, personal life, or unrelated experiences. Keep it professional, relevant, and engaging.
How do I sell myself as an architect in an interview?
Selling yourself effectively in an architecture interview involves showcasing your skills, experiences, and personal attributes that make you the best candidate for the job. Here are some strategies to help you stand out:
1. Be Prepared: Know the role you’re applying for, the company’s profile, and the type of projects they handle. Research their design philosophy, mission, and values. Tailor your responses and portfolio presentation to demonstrate how you can contribute to their specific needs and goals.
2. Showcase Your Skills and Knowledge: Be ready to discuss your technical expertise, design philosophies, knowledge of software, and understanding of architectural principles. Speak confidently about your skills but avoid being overly technical, especially if you’re talking to non-technical people.
3. Highlight Relevant Experience: Discuss the projects you’ve worked on that align closely with the role or the work of the company. Describe your role, the challenges you faced, how you overcame them, and the outcomes. This will show your problem-solving skills and ability to deliver results.
4. Present an Impressive Portfolio: Your portfolio is a visual representation of your skills and creativity. Ensure it is well-organized, diverse, and includes your best work. Be prepared to discuss each project in detail.
5. Show Enthusiasm and Passion: Enthusiasm for architecture and passion for your work can set you apart. Communicate why you love what you do and why you’re excited about the role you’re applying for.
6. Demonstrate Soft Skills: Highlight your communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. Show that you can collaborate effectively with different teams, handle feedback, and manage stress.
7. Ask Thoughtful Questions: The questions you ask can demonstrate your interest in the role and your initiative. Ask about the company’s projects, their design philosophy, or recent industry trends.
8. Be Authentic: Authenticity creates a lasting impression. Be true to your values, acknowledge your weaknesses, and show how you’re working on them.