Firmware Engineer Interview Questions (Plus Answers)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published November 24, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Firmware engineers integrate, develop and install both software and hardware. A firmware engineer may work at any company that relies on industry-specific software, including chemical engineering, imaging, manufacturing, technology, and electric companies. If you're preparing for an upcoming firmware engineer interview, reviewing sample questions to potential firmware questions can help you practise and become more effective. In this article, we list general, experience, and in-depth firmware engineer interview questions, and provide helpful sample answers to questions you might encounter in your own interview.
15 general firmware engineer interview questions
General firmware engineer interview questions help the hiring team learn more about you and your career goals. These are some questions you may encounter during an interview for this profession:
How did you learn about this position?
What's your greatest strength?
Tell me about your biggest weakness.
Would you consider yourself to be a leader?
What traits do you like in your manager?
Tell me about your process for problem-solving.
Do you enjoy working with others?
How do you think your friends might describe you?
Tell me about yourself.
Can you walk me through your resume?
What three words would your colleagues choose to describe you?
Why are you leaving your current position?
What are your expectations for compensation?
Tell me about your ideal work environment.
Why are you applying for a position with this company?
Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview
12 questions about experience and background
The hiring team may ask you questions about your background and experience to determine if you're qualified for the role. These are some experience-related questions you may answer during a firmware engineer interview:
Tell me about your educational history.
What was your biggest achievement in your previous role?
How long have you been working with firmware?
Do you have any experience leading a team?
How long have you been working in the tech industry?
Tell me about the last firmware project you completed.
What did you like most about your previous position?
Tell me about a time you showed leadership skills.
What did you like least about your previous position?
Can you tell me about a time you used problem-solving in the workplace?
What was your biggest failure in your last position?
Tell me about the programming languages you've used.
10 in-depth firmware engineer questions
In-depth firmware questions help the hiring team measure your knowledge and assess your skills. These are some specific questions about firmware engineering:
What can you tell me about techniques for lowering power utilization within embedded systems?
Tell me about the purpose of performing middleware testing.
Which programming languages can you use to write firmware?
Explain what RISC architecture is to me.
In embedded systems, how do you scale down requirements for memory?
Detail how you can debug a blank system.
What are some methods you've used to identify hardware errors?
What's the process for troubleshooting embedded targets?
When considering single-threading or multi-thread, which would you recommend?
Define static keyword.
6 firmware engineer questions with sample answers
These are some example answers to firmware engineer interview questions you can use as inspiration when preparing your own:
1. Why did you choose to become a firmware engineer?
The hiring team may ask this question to learn more about your motivations and passions. If you're interested and engaged in the work you do, you may be more likely to stay in the role. To answer, be truthful about your reasons for choosing the career while focusing on positivity.
Example: "I've always been passionate about technology, and I don't back away from a challenge. To me, firmware engineering is a great blend of problem-solving, engineering, and innovation. I chose this career because I knew it would keep me engaged and offer new challenges every day."
2. What data structures would you use to store data from a serial receiver line?
Hiring teams may assess your knowledge of firmware and technology to ensure you have the knowledge necessary to succeed in the role. Basic questions about data storage can help them assess your articulation and knowledge. When answering, be clear and specific so you can show your understanding of the subject.
Example: "When I want to store data from a serial receiver line, I first tell the transmitter side to stop performing. You might use X/ON and X/OFF or RTS and CTS commands to accomplish this. I then would use a queue system. You might also call this a FIFO, or a first in and first out approach. Other methods might include a ring-buffer. This also acts very similar to a queue and is easy to implement."
3. Can you describe two different uses of volatile key work in the programming language C?
This is another question the hiring team may ask to further test your technical knowledge. You can take a moment to consider this question before forming your answer to ensure it's clear and accurately shows your understanding. Be sure to describe the two uses and when they each are useful.
Example: "One option for volatile key work is to inform the compiler that other procedures or processes can alter variables during runtime. This can be quite useful during your debugging actions. You might use it to change any volatile variables. You can use the new values during execution instructions. A second option is to turn off the compiler optimizations that remove loops containing global variables."
4. How do you test your firmware before installing it?
Firmware testing is important because it allows you to ensure it meets system requirements. This can reduce the risk of a crash and help improve operational performance. The hiring manager may ask this question to ensure you understand why testing is important. To answer, detail the steps you can take to test firmware prior to installation.
Example: "You can test firmware using an emulation process before installing it. This means you would reproduce the functions of the firmware on a different computer or software system before installing it. This might mean reproducing specific commands, debugging, or using keywords to replicate actions before we commit to installation."
5. How does firmware speak to electronic devices when executing operations?
Hiring managers ask questions like this one to assess your knowledge and how you can detail complex topics. The ability to describe a complicated transaction can show your understanding of the process. To answer this, focus on being specific and clear when detailing how firmware and devices communicate.
Example: "Most present-day hardware has a program stored in their read-only memory, or ROM, and their central processing unit, or CPU, that accomplish this task. The CPU can read information from the ROM. A similar type of operation occurs when you want the hardware to execute a task. The CPU can send a signal telling the hardware to write. The device recognizes this code and responds to the signal by performing the task. Each CPU has its own particular assembly language, which it uses. Some popular languages include Atmel or code 6052. Bigger devices can have their firmware written in C or type of C dialect, but the largest machines run on C++ compiled firmware."
6. Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult technical situation. How did you solve the problem?
Problem-solving is an important skill for firmware engineers, and the hiring manager may ask you this question to learn more about your critical thinking abilities. How resilient you are and how you approach difficult situations can be an indicator of how successful you may be in the role. To answer, briefly describe a difficult situation you've experienced, then focus on the steps you took to resolve the issue.
Example: "My team was working with new software, and we realized it required more speed. Its purpose was to collect and process raw data, and we needed to take advantage of the hardware to increase speed and lower the power the software required. It took us a few weeks, but by assessing the situation and brainstorming, we optimized the software so it could run in the background without disrupting the rest of the system."
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