17 Air Quality Engineer Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an air quality engineer, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Air quality engineers play an important role in maintaining the quality of the air we breathe. They work to identify and mitigate air pollution, which can cause a variety of health problems.

If you’re looking for a job in this field, you’ll need to be prepared to answer some questions about your experience and expertise. We’ve put together a list of common air quality engineer interview questions and answers to help you get started.

Are you familiar with the EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal agency that regulates air quality. The EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) are standards that regulate hazardous pollutants released into the air by industrial facilities. Your interviewer may ask you this question to see if you have experience working with these regulations and how you would apply them in your role as an air quality engineer. In your answer, try to explain what NESHAP is and why it’s important to follow these guidelines.

Example: “I am familiar with the EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. These standards help protect human health and the environment from emissions of hazardous air pollutants. I worked on several projects where we had to adhere to these standards. For example, at my last job, we were tasked with reducing our facility’s emissions of mercury by 90%. We used best practices outlined in the EPA’s standards to reduce our facility’s mercury emissions by 95% within six months.”

What are the differences between stack scrubbers and baghouses?

Stack scrubbers and baghouses are two different methods of air quality control. Stack scrubbers remove pollutants from the exhaust gases, while baghouses collect particulates in bags that need to be disposed of later. Your answer should show your interviewer that you know how these systems work and can apply them correctly.

Example: “Stack scrubbers use water sprays or steam to clean emissions before they leave the stack. Baghouses have a large surface area where dust particles settle out of the gas stream. They’re more efficient than stack scrubbers because they don’t require as much water or steam for cleaning. However, they also produce waste material that needs to be collected and disposed of.”

How would you determine the proper size of a dust collector for a specific area?

The interviewer may ask you a question like this to assess your technical skills and ability to apply them in the workplace. Use examples from your experience to highlight your expertise with air quality engineering projects.

Example: “Dust collectors are important components of an air filtration system because they remove dust particles from the air before it enters the rest of the facility. In my last role, I worked with a client who needed help determining the right size for their dust collector. We used several factors to determine the proper size including the amount of space we had available for the unit, the number of employees working in the facility and the type of equipment that would be running inside.”

What is your process for testing the quality of air in a specific area?

This question can help the interviewer understand your testing process and how you apply it to a specific area. Use examples from previous projects or describe what you would do if you were starting a new project.

Example: “I first conduct an initial test of the air quality in the surrounding area, which I usually do with a handheld device that measures particulate matter and other pollutants. Then, I use this data to determine whether there are any areas where the air quality is poor. If so, I will then perform more detailed tests on these areas using larger equipment like stationary monitors and mobile units. This helps me identify the sources of pollution and develop solutions for improving air quality.”

Provide an example of a time when you identified a problem with an emission control system and how you resolved it.

An interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your problem-solving skills and how you apply them in the workplace. When answering, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation where you used your technical knowledge to identify an issue with a system and then fixed it.

Example: “At my previous job, I was working on a project that required me to analyze air quality emissions from different types of fuel sources. After analyzing the data, I noticed that there were some discrepancies between what we expected and what we actually measured. I decided to investigate further by looking at the equipment we used for testing. I discovered that one of our sensors had been damaged during shipping, which caused inaccurate readings.”

If you had to choose one type of emission control system to focus on, what would it be and why?

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of air quality systems and how they work. It also allows you to show the interviewer that you have an opinion on which system is most important, as well as why it’s so vital. When answering this question, try to be specific about what makes each system unique and beneficial.

Example: “I would choose catalytic converters because I believe they are one of the best ways to reduce emissions from vehicles. They’re able to break down harmful gases before they leave the vehicle, making them more environmentally friendly than other methods. Plus, they can help reduce fuel consumption by up to 30%.”

What would you do if you noticed a discrepancy between the amount of pollutants being emitted and the amount being reported?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would handle a situation that could occur in your role as an air quality engineer. Use examples from past experiences to highlight your problem-solving skills and ability to work independently.

Example: “If I noticed a discrepancy between the amount of pollutants being emitted and the amount being reported, I would first try to find out why there was a difference. If it’s due to human error, I would speak with my supervisor about what happened and make sure they know I’m taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If it’s due to equipment malfunctioning or other factors beyond our control, I would report the issue to my supervisor so we can take action to fix the problem.”

How well do you think you can work in a team environment to implement air quality solutions?

Working in a team environment is an important part of being an air quality engineer. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand how your personality and skills can contribute to the success of their company’s projects. In your answer, explain that you are willing to collaborate with other members of the team. Explain that you enjoy working with others who have different skill sets than yourself.

Example: “I think I am quite good at collaborating with my colleagues on projects. When I was studying for my degree, I took several teamwork classes where we had to work together to solve problems. I find it easier to learn from others when I’m trying to figure out solutions to complex problems. I also like learning new things from people who have more experience than me.”

Do you have any experience using HVAC systems?

HVAC systems are a common part of air quality engineering. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the necessary experience using HVAC systems and can apply that knowledge in your new role. If you do not have any experience with HVAC systems, consider asking an engineer or supervisor about what they expect from their employees. You can also research online how HVAC systems work.

Example: “I’ve worked on several projects where we used HVAC systems. I understand how these systems function and know how to use them effectively. However, I would like to learn more about HVAC systems so I can be even more effective at my job.”

When would you use a scrubber over a baghouse?

Scrubbers and baghouses are two different air quality control methods. Scrubbers use water to remove pollutants from the air, while baghouses use filters to do so. Your answer should show that you know how each method works and when it’s best to use one over the other.

Example: “Scrubbers are more effective than baghouses in removing particulate matter from the air because they can handle higher temperatures. However, scrubbers require a lot of energy to operate, which is why I would only use them if there was no other option. For example, if I needed to reduce emissions at a facility with high heat levels, like a steel mill, then I would use a scrubber.”

We want to reduce our reliance on natural gas. What would be your strategy for switching to an electric-based heating system?

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of the industry and how you would apply it in real-world situations. Your answer should include an example of how you would approach this situation, including what steps you would take to ensure its success.

Example: “I would first conduct research on the current heating system at the facility. I would then determine if there are any other options for switching from natural gas to electric heating systems. If so, I would evaluate each option based on cost, efficiency and safety. If not, I would recommend that the company wait until they can switch to an electric heating system.”

Describe your process for testing the efficiency of a new piece of equipment.

The interviewer may ask you this question to understand how you apply your knowledge of air quality and engineering principles to test equipment. Use examples from previous projects to explain the steps you take when testing new equipment, including how you use data to evaluate its efficiency.

Example: “I first analyze the specifications of the equipment I’m testing to determine what kind of results I should expect. Then, I run a series of tests on the equipment to measure its performance against my expectations. If the equipment performs as expected, then I can install it in the facility. However, if the equipment doesn’t perform as well as expected, then I’ll need to make adjustments before installing it.”

What makes you a good fit for this role?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you feel about the job. Before your interview, make a list of reasons why you are qualified for this role. Consider including any certifications or education you have that relate to air quality engineering. You can also include personal traits like attention to detail or communication skills.

Example: “I am passionate about protecting the environment and helping people. I know that my background in environmental science makes me a good fit for this role. I also have experience working with large data sets, which is important for this position. My ability to communicate clearly with others will help me work well with other team members.”

Which industries have you worked with in the past?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your experience and how it relates to the position you’re applying for. Before your interview, make a list of industries you’ve worked with in the past. Choose two or three that are most relevant to the job description. When answering this question, explain which industries you’ve worked with and why they relate to the open position.

Example: “I have worked with both private and public sectors throughout my career. I find that working with different types of companies has helped me develop skills that can be applied to any industry. For example, when working with the government, I learned how to create reports that were easy to understand and implement. This skill is something I could use at any company.”

What do you think is the most important thing air quality engineers can do to protect the environment?

This question can help interviewers understand your commitment to the environment and how you might approach air quality engineering projects. In your answer, try to highlight a specific action or two that you think is important for protecting the environment.

Example: “I believe it’s crucial for air quality engineers to consider all of the environmental impacts of their projects. For example, I worked on an air quality project where we were tasked with finding ways to reduce pollution in a city. We found that one way to do this was by implementing more public transportation options. This helped reduce traffic congestion and emissions from cars, which improved the overall air quality in the city.”

How often should you replace air filters in a facility?

Air filters are an important part of the air quality engineer’s job. The interviewer may ask you this question to see if you know how often to replace them and why. Use your answer to highlight your knowledge of when it’s necessary to change out air filters and what factors influence that decision.

Example: “I recommend changing air filters every six months in most facilities, but there are a few things I consider before making that decision. First, I look at the size of the filter and the type of facility. For example, larger filters need to be changed more frequently than smaller ones because they have more surface area for dust and other contaminants to collect on. Second, I check the level of contamination in the facility. If the levels are high, then I’ll change the filters sooner.”

There is a chemical leak in the ventilation system. What is your immediate response?

This question is designed to test your knowledge of safety procedures and how you would respond in an emergency situation. Your answer should include the steps you would take to ensure the safety of yourself and others, as well as the actions you would take to contain the leak.

Example: “First, I would immediately evacuate everyone from the building. Then, I would isolate the ventilation system so that no one else could enter the area. Next, I would call for a hazmat team to clean up the spill and dispose of it safely. Finally, I would make sure all employees were accounted for and safe.”


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