Ten Great Questions to Ask Candidates and Answers to Watch Out For

Interviewing is a skill, one that adapts to the candidate and position involved in the interview. Hiring managers who interview candidates for oil, gas, or nuclear engineering positions keep both the candidate and the position in mind when they interview, and tailor their questions accordingly.

Here are ten great questions to ask engineering candidates in the energy industry – along with answers that should raise “red flags.”

  1. “Describe a challenge you faced on the job. How did you overcome it?”

This question provides a glimpse into the employee’s past work, as well as his or her ability to face challenges and to assess the results.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I have faced many challenges in my career, but I’ve always overcome them.” Vagueness tells you the candidate doesn’t have a ready example available – perhaps because he or she never tackled a challenge.

  1. “Tell us about [a recent project]. How did you approach this one?”

Choose a project from the candidate’s resume to plumb their planning and execution skills and to test whether their role in the project is as described.

Answer to Watch Out For: Any response that doesn’t match what is on the resume or is vague as to details and specifics. Candidates who have no listed projects you can ask about should also raise concerns.

  1. “What new engineering specialty or skill have you developed in the past year?”

Engineering is a constantly evolving field. Passionate engineers enjoy the chance to keep learning new things.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I’m always learning new things.” Candidates who resort to vagueness instead of describing an exciting new concept or skill are probably letting learning take a backseat.

  1. “Do you have any patents? If so, tell me about them. If not, do you see yourself pursuing this? Why or why not?”

Engineers enthusiastic about their patents or about landing a patent will describe their work and plans in detail. Those who have chosen not to go this route should provide a rational, detailed explanation of their alternative goals.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I haven’t really thought about it.” This shows a lack of planning, which implies a lack of dedication.

  1. “When have you had to teach others about what you do? How did you approach this?”

Engineers don’t merely apply technical knowledge. They are also called on to explain their projects to non-engineers, a skill that requires patience and thorough communication abilities.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I often talk about my work with others.” Few people keep their work a complete secret, but what you want to know is how effectively the candidate explains his or her work.

  1. “When have you failed?”

Engineers who can recover from failure and learn from their mistakes will eventually succeed in their fields, and have the commitment to learning needed to succeed in the long term.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I have made many mistakes in my career, but I have always bounced back.” This answer tells you only that the candidate hasn’t analyzed any of his or her past mistakes – not a sign of commitment to growth.

  1. “How would you deal with an awkward situation involving another team member?”

Engineers focus on technical skill – but they need people skills as well. Ask this question to assess their interpersonal abilities.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I get along with everybody.” Candidates who say this have either failed to deal with team members constructively or haven’t worked long enough to have encountered awkwardness.

  1. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Engineers with a career plan will be able to give details about their goals and strategy for rising in the ranks of your company.

Answer to Watch Out For: “Where I am now,” or any vague response. Strategy and goals are key here.

  1. “What would you like to ask us?”

Enthusiastic candidates will probably have more questions than they have time to ask. They’ll want details about the job, how they can improve, and what the hiring manager likes about the company.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I don’t have any questions,” or “When can I take vacation?” Promising candidates want to know about the job, not getting away from it.

  1. “Why should we hire you?”

Enthusiastic candidates will give specific reasons that fit the job description and may ask for the job outright.

Answer to Watch Out For: “I have the qualifications you’re looking for.” You already know this, or you would not have invited the candidate to interview.

At Footbridge Energy Services, our recruiters specialize in placing top talent in the energy industry. Contact us to learn more or browse our job opportunities today!

Marcellus Shale Production Grows – and With it, New Jobs

Natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale region hit an all-time high recently. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, production from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia climbed to about 15 billion cubic feet per day in July 2014 – more than seven times the amounts produced in 2010.

The Marcellus Shale continues to be the most productive natural gas field in the United States, and right now, production is booming, bringing with it a number of new professional jobs in energy.

What Does Marcellus Shale Production Mean for Professionals?

According to a survey conducted by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, about one in every four new jobs created by the Marcellus Shale production required the skills of an engineering or construction professional. About 83 percent of new hires came from the states that cover the Marcellus Shale, with Pennsylvania-based hires leading the pack.

Rather than leveling off, hiring has continued to grow and is expected to keep growing. Companies working on the Marcellus Shale estimate that they’ll need more than 2,000 new employees in 2014 alone. This means that more than five hundred new openings for engineers and other professionals will appear alongside jobs in construction, maintenance, and operations.

How to Turn Marcellus Shale Production Into a Productive Career Move

If you’re an engineer or other professional seeking a new position in the energy industry, the Marcellus Shale offers unprecedented options. Most of the newly created job openings are located in southwestern Pennsylvania, making them readily available to professionals who already live in the area and offering a great place to live for those who are planning to raise a family as well as to find a great career.

How can you land a great job in Marcellus Shale production? Start by connecting with a recruiter who specializes in placing professionals in the energy industry. The team at Footbridge Energy Services can connect you with employers who are looking for top talent to help them make the most of this exciting energy production opportunity. Your recruiter can help you polish your resume, target and fix weaknesses in your interviewing style, and find a company whose culture and technical needs are the right “fit” for you.