Typical standard questions you may be asked in a face to face (or formal telephone) interview are –

  • Career overview and key achievements
  • Safety — if it is a mining/resources/oil & gas company they will always ask this.
  • Technical questions related to the key responsibilities of the role
  • Behavioural/soft skills questions related to the key criteria of the role
  • Company values
  • Role motivation and career aspirations

The career overview (although seemingly the easiest) can often be where most people fall down. It is generally the first question asked, so it is likely that you are going to be nervous when responding. To overcome your nerves consider the below points;

  • Go over your career in chronological order (either starting with your current or most recent position and working back or working from past to present — either way is appropriate)
  • Focus on your relevant experience in line with the position
  • Keep your overview to 5/10 mins — You will have many other questions to answer in order to get your experience and skills across
  • Do not read from your resume, you should be able to highlight your experience and tell the interviewers more than what they can read on paper
  • Describe a relevant career achievement

Your career overview is your chance to make a good first impression on the interviewers. So practice providing a brief career overview that is RELEVANT to that SPECIFIC role. Remember that the interviewers have read your resume, so they do not need you to walk them through all of what you have already included on there.

They do however want to get an idea of the career journey you have been on but delve more into the roles that you feel are relevant. Explain why you think they are relevant (using words such as “transferable skills include”, “synergies with this position would be “etc.), then talk through what your responsibilities were in each particular position. If you were involved in a project do not forget to give the context such as; size, budget/scope, timescales etc. (as long as it is not confidential). The Interviewers will generally ask for a particular career highlight or key achievement, have a relevant one in mind and keep it short and specific.

It is important that you do not go any longer than this, as you may not be given enough time to answer all of the remaining questions, leaving you at a disadvantage.

If you are applying for a role within a mining/resources or oil & gas company then you can guarantee that there will be a question based on safety. A lot of people stumble here if they have only been in corporate/office based positions as they feel that safety is not as prominent. In the mining/ resources and oil & gas industry organisations take office safety as seriously as field safety, so make sure you do not show/demonstrate your indifference to it. Office safety examples could relate to; ergonomics, being a fire warden, trip hazards, kitchen hazards, heavy lifting and safe work initiatives. Often these companies will also want to know about your personal safety, think; driving (speed limits/seat belts/no drink driving etc.), DIY, gardening, hobbies/sports, home safety gear and children safety/swimming etc. They are assessing your attitude towards safety and that you care, they do not expect you to be a HES professional (unless you are one) but they will want to know you take it seriously.

Another common question which is used traditionally to close out the interview (but also has been known to start the interview after the career overview) is about your motivations for applying for the role you are interviewing for, why you want to work for the company and what your longer term career aspirations are. Seems straight forward enough, but this question can have the largest impact on the outcome of your interview. This question tells the interviewers more about you, your drivers and your attitude, than any other question, so be careful how you answer it. The simple rule is, do not be negative or problem focused, instead be positive and solution focused. The question is NOT “Why do you not want to work where you currently are?” Do not waste the interviewer’s time by telling them why you do not want to work for your current company and no time talking about why you want their role with their company. So in addressing the true intention of the question make sure you cover;

  • Why you want the job (not the company, not any job, THAT specific job)
  • What do you think you can bring to the role and how can you add value
  • Talk about the company and why personally you are driven to work for them (this could be because of their reputation within the market or your interests in the projects they are involved in etc.)
  • What you want to do longer term, do you have a set career goal you are working towards? Talk about your shorter term goals to achieve this. At the same time if you do not know which direction you want to take be honest about that. Explain that you are driven and want to progress but just not sure which path you want to take yet, that you would be open to seeing what opportunities in the future and where you can add the most value to that organisation.

In that question they want to get a real feel of you and what drives you but also they want to hear what you think you will bring to the role. It is a two-way street, it not all about what the company can do for you but what you can do for the company, so recap how you would be of value to them.

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Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on April 24, 2015.