July 31, 2017
A career in sustainability is an exciting opportunity for your work to have a real-world impact on the environment. If you’re considering a job in this area, you might be wondering what to expect from the interview and how to set yourself up for success. There are a wide range of sustainability career paths you can take, from politics and policy to journalism and business, and each of these will come with its own unique set of interview questions. That said, these questions will likely come up in most of your interviews.
Why did you decide to go into the field of sustainability?
This is a broad question with no right or wrong answer, but it’s also a great chance to tell a personal story about why working in sustainability is important to you. To prepare, think about what inspired you to pursue this field of study and any memorable experiences from your classes or internships that made you certain you chose the right career path. Think of this question as a more targeted version of “tell me about yourself”.
Tell me what interests you most about this specific role.
This question is a great opportunity to highlight what you learned as a sustainability studies major and during any internships you had. It’s generally targeted toward getting a sense of what motivates you and how passionate you are about the potential job. To answer this question effectively, make sure you’ve done your research on the company so you can personalize your answers to the specific role you’re interviewing for. Emphasizing why your interest matches their job description is a great way to show you’re qualified.
How would you describe your work process?
Sustainability jobs often require a mix of creative and analytical skills. They can be research-heavy, but also rely on effective communication with team members. This question is designed to understand how your process will fit into a company’s work environment. To answer it, consider how you take a project from initial planning stages to execution? Think carefully about your process for gathering information, forming opinions and checking your work before presenting.
Tell me about a recent challenge you faced while working on a sustainability project. How did you overcome it?
This question is designed to test your critical thinking and problem-solving skills by asking you about the path you took to solve a specific challenge. When answering this question, it’s important to be specific and outline the steps you took along with your reasons for taking them. For example, what alternative approaches did you consider when making those decisions and why did you ultimately decide on your final approach? This will show the hiring manager that you’re thoughtful about your decisions, you account for any possible drawbacks, and that you take calculated risks when necessary.
Tell me about a project that didn’t work out. What did you learn?
It’s not fun to talk about your failures, but being able to show what you’ve learned from them is extremely important. In an ever-changing field like sustainability studies, you’ll need to constantly adapt to changing research and new scientific studies. Many times, you’ll be working in areas that don’t have much prior research, which means you’ll need to be comfortable with testing things and learning from them when projects don’t go according to plan. To answer this question, think about a project that didn’t go smoothly but still positively impacted you work in a big way.
Interviewing for a job in sustainability might seem a bit intimidating at first, but by knowing what to expect and how to prepare your answers, you’ll be sure to impress the hiring manager and get one step closer to landing the job.
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