Nanosolar Interview Questions & Reviews in San Jose, CA
Getting an Interview
- Popular Job Titles:
- Module Tech (1)
- Senior Software Engineer (1)
- Machine Operator (1)
- Test Engineer (1)
- Engineer (1)
- Equipment Engineer (1)
- Engineering (1)
- R&D Tech (1)
- R&D Technician (1)
- Member of Technical Staff (1)
- Mechanical Engineer (1)
- Intern In Manufacturing (1)
- Process Engineering Position (1)
R&D Technician Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Nanosolar in November 2012.
Interview Details – I first met a Nanosolar representative at an Energy and Environment Job Fair. They seem like they're doing great things in the field of utility and commercial solar energy and it's nice to see American innovation when the market is being flooded by cheap Chinese solar. I gave the rep my resume and she said she'd be in contact. Less than a week later, the rep called to set up a phone interview.
The interview process was rigorous. It began with a one hour phone interview during which time the interviewer (my prospective supervisor) asked me to explain in detail different parts of my resume. The conversation only turned to solar cells when I steered it in that direction. It seemed like he was more interested in hearing that I had a working understanding of concepts in my own field (I'm a biological field technician and geneticist). So he asked me to name the DNA base pairs, the formula for pH, salmon migration patterns and stuff like that. The phone interview seemed to go well, so the rep from the job fair called and set up an in-person interview at the office for the following week.
Upon entering the office, I was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement because they have proprietary combinations of CIGS solar components in their R&D department. I was then given an ID badge, offered water, and ushered into an interview room to the side of the front lobby. The supervisor with whom I had my phone interview met me there and we picked up the interview where we had left off. Fifteen minutes later, he left and a second interviewer came in the room, thus starting a cascade of fifteen minute interviews with various members of the R&D team for the next two hours. Again, no prior knowledge in solar cell manufacturing was expected of me. More questions were asked about my resume, the interviewers described the job to me, and at the end of the fifteen minutes, each interviewer asked if I had any questions for him. Complete this process ad nauseam for two hours, and you eventually run out of questions.
I guess the interview(s) went well because I received another call from the rep requesting that I come back for yet another round of interviews the following week. At this point in time, she asked me what I'd like to be paid for the job. I told her that industry standard appeared to be $21-25/hr (thank you glassdoor.com). She said they'd pay $22 plus benefits for the swing shift, which added up to about a $50,000 salary. This was acceptable.
The following week, I had my final round of interviews which had the same flow of the first in-person interview, except the interviewers were higher level management and the two staff scientists. At this point I was informed that the interview pool came down to me and two others and that they'd get back to me.
A week later, when I hadn't heard anything, I called the rep with whom I started this odyssey and she informed me that they offered the job to someone else. What can ya do? All in all, a very long and involved process. You will need to be able to take at least five hours off work over a month's span to complete the process, but isn't that just the way of it these days? The company itself seems pretty cool though, and if you have the time and patience, it may all be worth it.
Interview Question – You will be asked trivia type questions about concepts you should know based upon your prior job and research experience. Answer Question
Mechanical Engineer Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 5 days - interviewed at Nanosolar in June 2009.
Interview Details – I applied for a mechanical design engineer position, however the manager in the web handling manufacturing team liked my resume and asked me to interview for his team. The interview was on the whole cordial but I unfortunately they seemed to want someone with more direct web handling experience. While the manager and his team wanted to hire me, the engineers from other teams voted not to hire me.
Interview Question – I was asked to state the equation of how to calculate friction between a metal foil and a roller. I learnt that equation 6 years ago so I couldn't remember it. Answer Question
R&D Tech Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Nanosolar in October 2012.
Interview Details – 2 phone interviews
2 on site interviews
interviewed by a total of 15 people - ranging from Technicians, Engineer, Scientists, VP (4 to 5 - 1 on 1 interviews or 1 on 2 interviews - 30mins each)
Mostly Technical and Behavioral questions
Know your resume well, cause they might ask you on machines or tools you used before
Interview Question – Explain and draw out IV-Curve Answer Question
Senior Software Engineer Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through other source and the process took 2 months - interviewed at Nanosolar in April 2011.
Interview Details – It was a long period of wait.
Interview Question – Stocks or Salary ??? Answer Question
Negotiation Details – One Sided. Stocks are definitely a plus, but valuable only if company is focused on track to be a success. Think twice.
Equipment Engineer Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
The process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Nanosolar in August 2011.
Interview Details – Applied through LinkedIn. I received am email from the hiring manager. We set up a brief phone interview. From there, I had three other phone interviews with the Director of Front-End Process Engineering, a Process Engineer, and the Director of Equipment Engineering. I was then contacted by their HR to discuss salary expectations and to arrange an onsite interview. The onsite interview was from 9am to 3pm.
9:00 - 9:30 -- Equipment Engineering Manager
9:30 - 10:00 -- Director of Front End Engineering
10:00 - 10:30 -- Equipment Owners Manager
10:30 - 11:00 -- Equipment Engineering Manager
11:00 - 11:30 -- Maintenance Engineer
11:30 - 12:00 -- Process Engineer
12:00 - 1:00 -- Lunch
1:00 - 2:00 -- VP HR
2:00 - 2:30 -- VP Cell Ops
2:30 - 3:00 -- Director of Equipment Engineering
The interviews was very technical like drawing designs or processes on the white board. Not to many situational questions. It has been just over a week and still waiting for a decision from the company.
Interview Question – Tell me how you implement a design change into a process? Answer Question
Process Engineering Position Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Nanosolar in November 2009.
Interview Details – After sending my resume to Nanosolar several times, I got a call from a director of engineering one day. He did some screening over the telephone for about 30 minutes. The screening was friendly and asked me to come in for a face to face interview.
The day of the interview I arrived to the building and was helped by the receptionist. She took me to a room were two interviewers joined me soon after. I was interviewed by two or three interviewers simultaneously for a total of 7 or 8 people. Some were very arrogant and disrespectful, specially a person from a European country. They would look away or do other things while I was explaining or answering questions. At some point I had to ask them what was going on…
Another interviewer just walked out of the room leaving his colleague behind without even saying goodbye. Finally, the director that contacted me did not even take the time to receive me, introduce himself in person or simply shake hands.
My experience with this company was horrible. They were impolite, rude, arrogant and unprofessional. I left that company convinced I did not wanted to work with that kind of people.
Intern In Manufacturing Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Nanosolar in December 2009.
Interview Details – I just graduated from grad school and Nanosolar was the first place I interviewed at.
My experience was similar to a previous reviewers'--from 10 AM to 4 PM I saw about 15 different engineers and managers. Around 1 PM, I was served lunch. The interviewers ranged from young new hires all the way up to the company CEO. Typically, I was double-teamed by two interviewers at once.
About the interviewers:
Martin Roscheisen (Chairman, CEO, founder) -- very enthusiastic attitude. He asked very little, and seemed content to talk about how great the company was doing and how great and important the job that I was interviewing for was. Overall, I had a positive impression of him.
Werner Dumanski (Executive VP of Operations) -- aggressive attitude. I was surprised by the prevalence of behavioral questions, such as "If we talked to your former boss, what would he say your negative traits are?" or "What dismotivates you?" I've only been through a few interviews in my life, and had never been asked questions like these (only learning about the whole concept of behavioral questions afterwards). Needless to say, they threw me for a loop. He also asked general questions about solar cells and panels at the system level, such as the definitions of shunt and series resistances, and fill factor. Also there were some questions about how p-n junctions work. He didn't require specifics about any single topic. When I started talking and it seemed like I had some knowledge about the subject he would immediately change topics. The only time he wanted a detailed response was when he asked me to draw the Nanosolar CIGS cell in detail. His reasoning was that if I was truly committed to the job, I would have found and read the white paper on their website.
Ravi Nandan (VP of Operations) -- also quite aggressive. He spent a lot of time arguing that the job wasn't a good fit for me and that I shouldn't be interested in it, almost daring me to contradict him.
Younger employees -- by and large they were relaxed and friendly. They spent a good deal of time asking about my thesis work from school. Some of them asked behavioral questions as well, possibly because they couldn't think of any relevant technical questions.
The senior scientist who found my resume and initially brought me in asked specific questions about how I would solve the problem they were hiring me for (laser machining).
My impression of the company was that the work space was large and wide open. There were few offices and no cubicle walls, just rows of desks and benches. Sharing knowledge and collaboration seemed to be part of the company culture. People seemed upbeat and happy.
Hopefully, someone reading this will go into his interview better prepared for the behavioral questions. The key I feel is to have canned answers that you can roll smoothly off your tongue.
Interview Question – What are your negative traits? Answer Question
Test Engineer Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
The process took 4 weeks - interviewed at Nanosolar in July 2009.
Interview Details – I found out about their position from a posting at my university and upon contacting the personnel in charge of the posting found out it was an old acquaintance of mine. I was surprised at the fact that this specific position wasn't on their website but I was reassured that their positions are flexible. I was scheduled a phone interview where I was asked some general questions about my background and performance in school and spoke about some of the projects I had worked on. I then went through another phone interview with some other engineers where they asked me again some general technical questions. About 2-3 weeks later I went in for a 1:1 interview which lasted all day long and was conducted with about 9-10 engineers and one of the directors. Many of the employees had huge chips on their shoulders, were very unorganized and not even sure about what they were looking for in the position. After asking them if they could see me as being a good fit one of the interviewers told me that they could see me in many different areas that they were looking for help. All around I got positive feedback from the people that interviewed me, and was served a lunch cooked by their in-house chef. After receiving affirmation that I did well on my interview and that I would be hearing from their upper level manager soon I waited for about 3-4 weeks after my 1:1 interview with no response (crickets). After contacting them again I was notified that they had not closed down the position altogether because the upper level managers were concerned about company size. I was quite shocked, but should have realized that I was dealing with a highly unorganized company that wasn't even sure what they needed at the moment. I asked them again if they would consider me for any of the other positions posted on their website (for which I actually qualified) with no response. The staff was highly arrogant, difficult to please, and had no shame in wasting 6 weeks of my time for a position they ultimately didn't fill.
Interview Question – Although they mostly asked me to speak about myself and discuss the projects I had worked on, they also asked about simple P-N junctions, and my knowledge on photovoltaics. Answer Question
Module Tech Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Nanosolar in November 2008.
Interview Details – Company culture is relaxed, secretive.
Age range of engineers is 20 - 30.
Interview consisted of 1 on 1 with hiring manager folowed by 2 panel interviews. Panels seemed unprepared. Technical questions were few, and easy to answer.
Entire interview lasted ~2 hours.
Engineers worked very hard, and each had a lot on his plate.
Morale seemed neutral to positive.
Interview Question – Can you describe the I-V Characteristics of a PV panel? Demonstrate good experimental methodology (e.g. scientific method). Are you willing to climb around solar panel arrays? build fixturing using power tools? take lots of data? work independently? Are you easygoing? View Answer