Exponent Interview Questions in Menlo Park, CA | Glassdoor

Exponent Interview Questions in Menlo Park, CA

Updated Feb 20, 2017
20 Interview Reviews

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  1.  

    Associate Scientist Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Menlo Park, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA) in February 2017.

    Interview

    The process started with a phone call from a senior associate and then a second one a few days later with the senior manager that I'd be working under. Both conversations were just an introduction to see if you are interested in consulting work as well as a bit of poking into your background. Afterwards, I was scheduled for an onsite interview which consisted of a 40-45 minute presentation on a previous project of my choice in front of a group of 10-12 engineers/scientists, one-on-one interviews with 7 of them throughout the day, and a casual lunch on campus where they get to know you as a person a bit more.

    All the interviewers were extremely friendly from the associates to the principle engineers/scientists. They are pretty open to answering any questions I had from the job to the company culture and they are very honest about their answers. The big thing they all stress is that consulting isn't for everyone as not all engineers and scientists are good communicators. The way the company is structured, your total pay heavily depends on the number of billable hours you accrue for the company. The great thing is the opportunity to earn more as they also pay overtime equivalent to the hourly rate you would charge the company your consulting for. The benefits are top notch for all full time employees (the best I've ever seen during this job search).

    However, this also means you are competing for more projects against your peers so your people skills are used not only to communicate with the customer but also to entice other managers to trust you and give you more work. This is encouraged (as it should be) but the environment can be very competitive amongst your peers. Also, they were very honest with me that there would be times where there wasn't a large volume of work coming in and thus opportunity to get more hours goes down sharply. In lamest terms, when there's work there's alot of it, when there's not you're scrambling to get a chance to help the other groups who do have a project so that you can be recognized by their hiring manager. There are many of pros and cons to this.

    These are the pros and cons I went through when I considered this position that I hope will help you:

    PROS:
    1) Great pay if you add end of the year bonus and overtime.
    2) Excellent employee benefits (401K, stock options, health/dental insurance)
    3) The ability to control your own work schedule (to a point). Work normal hours, get normal pay, work hard and long hours, get rewarded.
    4) Interacting with some of the top companies across many industries (especially in Silicon Valley). This could land you a job at your dream company if you happen to work on a project with them, meet some of their higher ups, and do a good job for them.

    CONS:
    1) Not always a team environment. When your not working with your main group, its a competition with other associates to participate in extra projects. So if you like unity this may not be the ideal place for you.
    2) Living in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area. Let's be real, it's VERY expensive to live here even on this salary.
    3) Can have high turnover. People find better opportunities all the time because of all the companies that one can work with while with Exponent. If you value consistency, this might be a concern for you.
    4) Opportunities to move up. Based on my conversations with the interviewers, I sense that while they would love for you to move up and be a principle engineer one day, the availability of positions can be scarce. If your thinking of staying here long term, keep this in mind.

    Ultimately, I accepted because the team that I interviewed with is a great group. I think the pros outweigh the cons here if you are willing to work diligently and earn every dollar. In my opinion it is one of the best options for young professionals looking to expand their network and get that dream job one day.

    Interview Questions

    • Why do you think the firm values Ph.Ds and P.E.s so much?   Answer Question
    • Now that you know the outcome of your project how would you change the way you approached it?   Answer Question
  2.  

    Scientist Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Menlo Park, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 4 weeks. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA).

    Interview

    I was recruited by a university recruiter. They had me in for an informal (although I was asked to wear a suit) lunch with other recruited PhD students. At the lunch we got a tour and talked casually with consultants over sandwiches. After expressing interest in an interview, I was called by a upper management type to vet me. A week later I was told they wanted to formally interview me. The formal interview was a series of 30-minute chats with consultants sandwiching a 45-minute presentation on my PhD work. Two of the consultants gave me small problems to solve regarding work they were currently working on.

    Interview Questions

    • Here is a defective product I recently worked on. What would be your first steps to diagnose the problem?   1 Answer
  3.  

    Scientist Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Menlo Park, CA
    Declined Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA) in September 2016.

    Interview

    A series of phone/Skype interviews with Principals then invited for a full day interview at the Menlo Park office. Interviewed with 10 principals/associates and was given an hour to present my research. Somewhat challenging interview process..Turned them down since their business model sounded too cut throat for my personality (I respect that they were very honest about their work culture & expectations).

    Interview Questions

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  5. Helpful (3)  

    Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Menlo Park, CA
    Declined Offer
    Negative Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 2 days. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA) in June 2016.

    Interview

    Applied through an employee referral.

    I was invited to the office to meet a group of employees in an informal setting. This happened in the form of a lunch meeting with 2 principals, 2 senior engineers and 1 managing engineer. There was no agenda for this meeting, just a lunch and discussion on my research work at Stanford. The meeting went extremely well and I learned from my referee that exponent was very interested and there would a more detailed and structured interview session with senior and junior members of the firm. Since the lunch meeting was pleasant enough, I agreed to a job interview.

    As a European Non-American citizen PhD student, I asked whether they would apply for an H1-B the following year and the HR representative said that they would "evaluate it". I asked her what that meant, since this was a somewhat important detail that they hadn't mentioned previously and probably would not have mentioned at all if I hadn't asked. She said that the company invests serious resources in it's employees, so they had to make sure that the employee was good enough to merit this. Ok, but the H1B visa is unrelated to company or employee performance, it's required if you want to work in this country. It's not a bonus, raise, negotiation, etc ... it's a prerequisite. So that was puzzling. I told the HR lady that I already had other interviews and I would only consider Exponent if they filed for a work visa. She said that "they would discuss". Very well.

    The interview with the current employees was straightforward. The "technical" questions that they asked were so simple, any undergrad at Stanford could have answered it. Questions were based on the following topics, but involved minimal thinking and very just ridiculously simple:

    1. Fracture and stress intensity factors in cylindrical thick-walled vessels.

    2. Fracture in rods.

    3. Trusses and force and displacements at nodes.

    4. Buckling of columns.

    5. Tensile stresses and strains.

    6. Design of fluid valve.

    The overriding aspect of the interview was this:

    "Can you work long hours, work on weekends, work through holidays, work whenever needed irrespective of personal plans".

    I was amused by the fact that every single employee asked a version of this question and warned me that everyone worked extremely long hours at Exponent, almost as a sort of subliminal "RUN AND DON'T LOOK BACK".

    When it was my turn to ask questions, I asked: "Why should I work here?" and nobody could give me a satisfactory answer. The answers took the form of "we do interesting work", "you will have lot's of variety", "we provide career growth", but nothing substantial. If you interviewed at the local Whole Foods, they would give you the same exact answer.

    I asked "What if I can complete the assigned work in 30 hours instead of 40 hours"?
    Answer: We work on a billable hour schedule, so if you complete the work quicker than promised, we lose money. However, you can always complete the work earlier and carry out career development activities but charge the client for 40 hours.

    Apart from the ethical implications of this practice and the obvious dishonesty of charging someone for personal work, I was struck that employees HAD to bill more than 80% of their non-overtime work-week to get ahead. This means that you had to bill more than 35 hours a week out of a non-overtime work-week of 40 hours. However, since this is impossible unless you know everything about everything, you end up working 60 hours a week and bill 35, for a net efficiency of just over 50%.

    The salary offered for this job was $97,000 base salary with a bonus based on overtime. Umm ... that's not bonus, that's overtime. When I pointed that out, the HR lady said "Well, it's more than your base salary so that's a bonus." Excellent reasoning! Total salary after putting in 50 hour work-week every single week = $121,250.

    This is a fairly average number for the bay area, but at what cost? You are working late every night, putting in at least one day every weekend to earn a dishonestly termed "bonus".

    Evaluation criteria were remarkably murky for a technology company ... no straight answer on how they evaluated employees. Essentially based on how much you could get the senior employees to like you.

    For the wrap-up interview with HR, I made it clear that I would not be able to consider this offer, unless they applied for an H1-B right away and had the possibility to apply for a green-card in the near future.

    Overall, I did not think that I was a good fit for this white-collar slavery like, non-performance based, unnecessarily elitist company with a reputation for high turnover and limited growth prospects.

    Interview Questions

    • 1. Fracture and stress intensity factors in cylindrical thick-walled vessels.

      2. Fracture in rods.

      3. Trusses and force and displacements at nodes.

      4. Buckling of columns.

      5. Tensile and shear stresses and strains.

      6. Design of fluid valve.

      7. Experience with design software and coding/programming skills.  
      3 Answers

    Exponent Response

    Sep 27, 2016 – VP Human Resources

    At Exponent we take the interview process very seriously, and thus we are concerned that you came away from your interview with incorrect impressions related to the Company’s recruiting and billing ... More

  6. Helpful (11)  

    Scientist Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Menlo Park, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Neutral Experience

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 3+ months. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA) in March 2015.

    Interview

    So I was referred by an employee and the hiring manager called me for a phone interview. And then the office manager that I applied to called again for another phone interview. Then I was guaranteed for an onsite interview, which took more than a month to be scheduled. The actual onsite interview was nerve-racking because of the length. There were 9 separate interviews with each 30 min plus an one hour presentation. Most of the time, they just ask you to raise questions so get prepared with quality questions. I think dumb questions will not make you look good and of course if you are not able to raise questions, that might be something they would consider too. The process after the onsite interview was a bit frustrating. I was told to get the result in one or two weeks. But after about three weeks, I got contacted by HR for an additional presentation because the hiring manager, who actually located in a different office wasn't present during my onsite interview presentation. And after another two weeks, I got the offer. So overall, the process took me more than three months and we all know waiting is the worst part during job application. Everyone seems very nice and polite during the process and I think they just took a lot of time to decide different candidates.

    Interview Questions

    • How do you market yourself internally?
      If you are going to meet a client and you are not familiar with the client and what he actually works on, what are the process for you to prepare for the meeting if you only have half an hour now?
      Why do you want to join Exponent but quit doing academia?  
      Answer Question
  7. Helpful (6)  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Menlo Park, CA
    Declined Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through college or university. The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA).

    Interview

    An HR rep came from Exponent (along with some associates) to give a presentation to our department in my university. I talked to the HR rep afterwards, we exchanged emails and set up a phone interview. The phone interview was straight forward, they are just trying to see if you are a good fit to be a consultant. Because of my background, they sent me out to the Menlo Park office for an on-site interview.

    The on-site interview lasted the day (early morning to ~ 4pm). Started with an interview with HR, discussed comp etc. Then I gave a seminar on my research, the questions were fairly easy since they were not experts in the work I do. Then I had a number of meetings with various associates. Some higher level managers gave me questions on past projects and asked me to think of a way to come up with a solution. At times, this was challenging but they gave hints. It really wasn't that difficult though if you can think a problem through and also think on your feet. A lot of associates asked why I wanted to be a consultant. Fairly easy to BS that answer, just tell them you are done with research and looking for ways to apply your background to areas outside of academia. Also, tell them you are interested in high-pace projects, multi-tasking, working with a lot of people, etc. Interview ended, I got an offer in the mail within a few days.

    Interview Questions

    • Eh, nothing really that difficult. They told me to analyze why a part failed. Was kinda weird at first but the manager helped me along.   Answer Question

    Reasons for Declining

    Was an interesting position, but it felt really 'sales'-y. I would suck as a salesman (don't think I'd enjoy it either) so I said no. They came back with a higher offer but it wasn't worth it to me.

  8. Helpful (4)  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Menlo Park, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through college or university. The process took 2+ months. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA).

    Interview

    After expressing interest in the company I was invited to lunch at the Menlo Park office. Talked to several people from the group I was interested in working. Though these lunches are considered informal, you ARE being evaluated and it pays off to be well prepared and research the people you'll be meeting.
    I then had a phone interview with a senior manager - this is a great opportunity to get your questions answered and to show genuine interest in the position.
    After the phone conversation, was invited for a full day interview, which included a technical presentation. The presentation is extremely important: make it as broad as possible while emphasizing your ability to work with others and solve problems. If you've gotten this far in the process they know you have good technical skills, now you have to prove that you have the ability to communicate effectively ("give me a 3min summary of your research" was a popular question) and answer questions on the fly.

    Interview Questions

    • The most "interview-y" type questions were asked by the HR representative. They're not difficult, but they expect concise answers:
      how do you plan to market yourself?
      what do you think Exponent does?
      what do consultants do?
      how much of your project was team-based?
      how did you hear about us?  
      Answer Question

    Negotiation

    Asked for signing bonus,, was told it wasn't available, signed my contract a few days later.

  9.  

    Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Menlo Park, CA
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through college or university. The process took 4+ weeks. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA) in September 2013.

    Interview

    After informal two phone interview, they invite me for the onsight interview. Onsight interview was quite professional, meeting with 6 engineeris and presenting my research for an hour. They were very gentle and nice and looks professional. The interview took for around 6 hours.

    Interview Questions

    • How do you market yourself? Why do you want the consulting work?   Answer Question
  10. Helpful (7)  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Menlo Park, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through college or university. The process took 2+ weeks. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA) in August 2013.

    Interview

    If you can get an interview, you have the academic credentials. What Exponent is interested in mostly is a fit of personality and a fit of culture.

    First, you must be a dynamic, flexible, confident, and socially capable human being. This is definitely not true in many other 'technical' jobs, but it's true here.

    Second, you must be a generalist. People who are focused on their own tiny area of research would not do well with the diversity of work Exponent performs, and are not hired.

    Third, keep an open and fresh mind- your interviewers will probably begin by saying "So your background is in electronic thin films, right? Alright, I have a corroded shovel problem here for you to solve."

    Finally, you must know how to communicate technical concepts clearly and concisely, without getting bogged down by details. Interviewers are not looking for technical mastery- they are looking for creative associations, problem-solving toolsets, and professional honesty.

    Also...don't screw up the presentation. Prepare. Seriously.

    Interview Questions

    • This is not a research job, nor an engineer position. If you're unsure of what is involved with consulting and characterizes the daily life, don't bother applying until you've done some research.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    I didn't negotiate- didn't want to start on the wrong foot, and the compensation is enough for the lifestyle requirements.

  11.  

    Scientist Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Menlo Park, CA
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through college or university. The process took 2 weeks. I interviewed at Exponent (Menlo Park, CA) in May 2013.

    Interview

    The formal interview process involved a full-day commitment. I had to give a 45-minute presentation and was scheduled to attend 10 30-minute one-on-one interviews. While the agenda seemed scary, the employees were very friendly.

    Interview Questions

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