When I was about 6 years old, my father (an EE) asked me to write a description of how a flashlight works. (This was decades before LEDs-- just a tungsten lamp, dry cells, and switch.) He would then ask candidates the same question, and use my paper as the standard by which their replys were graded. Of course, any engineer knows how a flashlight works. But surprisingly few are capable of explaining it coherently and simply, and their ability to do so tells a lot about their engineering skills, of which communication is one of the most important. It proved a quite effective test.
I once interviewed at a company who gave a test with some really basic analog and digital stuff on it. They apologized for insulting my intelligence and said that originally it was their technician test, but they started using it as an engineer weed-out test. I said it was really easy, but I didn't have a clue about the C programming language part (I'm a hardware guy). Proves the assertion that very competent engineers may not know anything about stuff outside their area of specialty. They didn't offer me a job, and later I found out it was a lousy place to work, and I was glad they didn't!
I once interviewed for a job where one of the questions was "what's two to the twelfth power?" I answered so fast and so matter-of-fact that the interviewer did a double take and paused a second to comprehend what had just happened. Heck, I knew the answer to that as well as I knew my own name. But I'll grant that's a "niche" test, not a universal one.
More generally, I think engineers NOTICE things in their environment: odd mechanical noises, a wobbly chair, a clock that's stopped.
I once was walking across an unfamiliar college campus and a professor happened to walk by in the opposite direction. He stopped and introduced himself - very much the "people person" - and immediately said "you're an engineer, aren't you." I don't know all the clues he used, but I wish I did.
Should we consider the extra stirring required due to the change in solubility at the lower temperature or is the "correct" answer based solely on the conjecture that the problem is 100% bounded by a simple thermodynamics model? If the candidate does approach the problem outside the bounds of your conjectured correct answer, is he then deemed incompetent?
you can even ask these question which is better than your one:
resistor, color, red green yellow and gold.
capacitor, 104, 101, how much?
How much is this chip's fun out.....
what is fuzzy control:)
here you are.
in the "glory days" of DIP ICs, we would take an unmarked IC, place it on a table, ask the person to look at it, and then close his or her eyes for a few seconds. We'd rotate the package 180°, then ask them to open their eyes and tell us if they saw anything different about it. If they said "no", we knew they weren't a real EE
I actually think about the answer to this when making coffee :) However, I can't think of an EE or CE job where Newton's Law of Cooling would predispose a candidate to be a better engineer.
On the other hand, engineers with physics degrees aren't too shabby. And I confess bias on this statement!