Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Process

The work of embedded systems engineers is to design, develop, produce, test, and maintain embedded systems. An embedded systems engineer may work for a systems company, a semiconductor company, or an EDA company. We know that the interview processes for tech roles are getting more and more competitive these days, and the role of an embedded systems engineer is no exception.

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To help you put your best foot forward for an embedded systems engineer interview, we’ll discuss the Embedded Systems Engineer interview process and some more relevant topics in this article.

We’ll cover:

  • What does an embedded systems engineer do?
  • Who is best suited for an embedded systems engineer role?
  • Skills needed to succeed at embedded systems engineer role
  • Embedded systems engineer vs. software engineer
  • Key topics for an embedded systems engineer interview
  • Embedded systems engineer interview process
  • FAQs on the embedded systems engineer interview process

What Does an Embedded Systems Engineer Do?

As an embedded systems engineer, you would need to:

  • Read datasheets of different hardware components
  • Design and develop code using resources like memory and execution time optimally
  • Design and develop software so it can withstand hardware failures
  • Program in C, C++, assembly language
  • Use external systems to debug and analyze embedded systems
  • Optimize code
  • Develop device drivers and other kernel modules

Who Is Best Suited for an Embedded Systems Engineer Role?

You are best suited for an embedded systems engineer role if:

  • You currently work as an embedded software engineer or a software engineer for a systems company like Cisco, Philips, etc., that makes complete solutions -- both hardware and software.
  • You currently work as a software engineer for a semiconductor company like Qualcomm, Nvidia, etc., that makes ICs, including SoCs.
  • You currently work as a design engineer working on EDA, CAD, or CAM for an EDA company like Synopsis, Cadence, Mentor Graphics, etc.
  • You currently work as a systems software engineer or software engineer for a company like Oracle, IBM, etc., and want to become an embedded software engineer.

Skills Needed to Succeed at an Embedded Systems Engineer Role

As an embedded systems engineer, you should:

  • Be able to code in C, C++, assembly 
  • Know low-level programming to develop device drivers and other kernel modules
  • Know MCUs and other crucial hardware components
  • Be familiar with the CPU instruction set

Embedded Systems Engineer vs. Software Engineer

Key Topics for an Embedded Systems Engineer Interview

Key areas you should focus on when preparing for your embedded systems engineer interview are:

  • Problem-solving
  • Algorithms
  • Common data structures for embedded systems
  • Writing structured code
  • Designing an embedded system keeping the following in mind;
  • Keeping h/w, application s/w, and customers in mind
  • Modularity and clear interfaces
  • Speed
  • Concurrency
  • Reducing memcpy
  • Handling endianness
  • Managing memory constraints
  • Queuing requests
  • Tradeoffs for RPC/IPC calls
  • The experience mentioned in the resume
  • Topics specific to your role at the company
  • Embedded systems
  • Design and architecture considerations
  • Embedded OS features
  • Writing optimized C and assembly language code
  • Debugging code 
  • Team-work

Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Process

The key points mentioned below will help you understand the interview process for an embedded systems engineer:   


Online assignment: The interview process may start with an online assessment or a 30-minute phone interview depending on the company. This online assessment may or may not be optional.

Onsite: Next, there’ll be 4 to 6 largely independent onsite rounds. Almost all of these rounds will be technical, except for those about cultural fit. 

  • All the onsite rounds together, including lunch break, would roughly take up a working day. You can expect each onsite interview round to take 45 to 60 minutes.
  • The number of rounds in some cases might extend to 7 or 8 in some companies like Apple. 
  • These onsite rounds may occur on the same day as the telephonic interview in some companies like Microsoft.

Coding rounds: You can look at the coding rounds as divided into two categories, where the first category deals with general coding, data structures, and algorithms, and the second category deals with programming in C, C++, and assembly.

You can ask any appropriate questions you might have at the end of the interview.

FAQs on the Embedded Systems Engineer Interview Process

Q. What is the salary range for embedded systems engineers?
The salary for an embedded systems engineer can vary between $150k to $1M depending on the level they’re at in their current company, their education, experience, and location.

Q.What should I keep in mind during the coding rounds?
During the coding rounds, it’ll serve you well to check if: 

  • You’re using compiler optimizations judiciously
  • You’re frugal with the time and space requirements of your code
  • You’re aware of the underlying hardware, including MCUs and I/O devices
  • Your code is resilient 
  • You’ve appropriately used bit manipulation, data size optimization, and efficient memory/hardware references

Are You Ready to Nail Your Next Coding Interview?

Whether you’re a coding engineer gunning for software developer or software engineer roles, a tech lead, or if you’re targeting management positions at top companies, join Interview Kickstart. We offer courses specifically designed for your needs to help you with your technical interview preparation!

Like our Embedded Software Engineering Interview Course, tailormade to help embedded software engineers nail the most challenging interviews.

If you’re looking for guidance and help with getting started, sign up for our free webinar. As pioneers in the field of technical interview prep, we have trained thousands of software engineers to crack the most challenging coding interviews and land jobs at their dream companies, such as Google, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and more!

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