Demand for workers within the Renewable Energy sector is growing. You may be one of the many people interested in working within this area – whether it’s as a Project Manager, Construction Manager, Site Engineer, or any of the other roles available.
Hopefully you’ve found some of our previous advice around things like CV writing useful, and have got yourself an interview. At Carbon60, we’ve been placing candidates within Renewables for over a decade, so I thought I’d share some best practice for interviews. Take a look at the tips below, as well as the short video I’ve recorded.
Use prep time wisely
You’re probably aware that preparation is the name of the game for any interview, and that certainly rings true within Renewables. Look at the company’s website and familiarise yourself with their work. Pick a couple of specific projects they’ve worked on to really drill down into. These can be referenced during the interview, which will impress the hiring manager.
Go over each element of the job description and work out how you’re going to match yourself up to their requirements (more on this later). Use websites like Glassdoor to do a bit more research on the company, and even potential interview questions you could be asked. Don’t be afraid to speak with your recruiter as well – this is exactly what they are there for.
There’s one other key bit of advice for your preparation. What you want to do is spend the bulk of your time researching the company, the role and practising your answers to role-related questions. What you don’t want to do is spend time preparing for questions like salary or length of contract (if applying for a contract role). Therefore, it’s important you’ve already gone through this discussion at the outset with your recruiter – they should be fully briefed on what you’re looking for and should have made the client aware of this before they submitted you.
Treat virtual interviews like a face-to-face
Generally, a lot of clients are doing interviews virtually and will probably continue to do so. The last couple of years has shown that this is the way forward – in terms of ease, speed, time and commuting costs. It’s also better for the environment, which clients in Renewable Energy particularly like!
However, it’s important not to slip into a comfort zone if your interview is virtual. Treat it in the same way you would a face-to-face, as I can guarantee you that the hiring manager will.
Be on time and dress professionally. This doesn’t mean a three-piece suit, but equally, I wouldn’t advise wearing the same tracksuit you’ve just been out for a jog in either!
Ensure you’ve done a tech check well beforehand, so things run smoothly. I would also pay attention to your background – you don’t want things too busy or distracting.
Once the interview begins, do what you’d do if you were in the same room as the interviewer. Make good eye contact, answer questions calmly, while also showing your passion for the role. Renewable Energy is such an exciting sector to work in – you get to work with incredible technology, whilst shaping the future energy systems. This should come across in your body language.
Connect your experience to the job requirements
As mentioned, you should match your own skills and experience to what’s on the job description. Highlight specific projects and achievements related to this. For example, you may be going for a Site Engineer role (whether it’s Civil, Mechanical or Electrical). The likelihood is you’ll be managing the site operations for a particular Renewable Energy project. Look back at your previous projects – was there an occasion where you identified significant energy saving opportunities? What impact did it have?
Similarly, this role will probably see you supervising a number of subcontractors. How many did you supervise previously, and how well did they eventually implement the construction drawings?
These are just some examples I am giving. The ultimate point is to link previous successes with the job you’re interviewing for.
Ask the right questions
Another way to show how keen you are is by asking questions yourself. This shows that you’re not just going through the motions and are genuinely interested in the opportunity.
The obvious questions are about the role and the specific Renewables projects you’ll be working on. But I also advise my candidates to dig a little deeper into the company itself. Ask your interviewer why they joined. What is it that made them move from their previous company to this one?
What do they enjoy most about working there? What’s the culture like? These are the types of things you can’t glean from a job advert – it’s somebody’s first-hand experience which is pretty priceless information.
Remember an interview is a two-way street. You’re selling yourself, but they should also take the time to sell the benefits of working there. If you ask the right questions, then they’ll be able to do exactly that.
As well as the positives, it’s a good idea to find out about some of the challenges as well. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer what these are or would be for you if you got the role. We all work at companies that, whilst we may love them, aren’t always perfect. There will be challenges you face on a day-to-day or weekly basis and it’s important you understand those.
Ask about progression opportunities. For example, if all went well over the next few years, where and how do they see you moving? Going back to the Site Engineer example from earlier – the next step up is Lead Engineer or Senior Site Engineer. Maybe you could ask about the people in those roles currently, and whether they were external hires or internal promotions? Don’t push this too far, as you want to strike the right balance. Show ambition, but not arrogance.
Finish with a flourish
You may also want to finish off with a question like:
“Are there any concerns that I haven’t addressed for you during this interview that I can address for you now?”
This shows you’re engaged and keen on the position, and also gives you the peace of mind that you’ve got all of your key points across. There may have been something you prepared but forgot to mention – by asking this question, it could give you another opportunity if the interviewer brings it up.
I’ll give you an example. One of my candidates went for a Project Manager role and had planned to showcase his knowledge of Solar PV, which he’d enhanced through training courses he’d been on. While he hadn’t mentioned it during the interview, that final question led the interviewer to ask whether he was someone who could constantly keep up to date with the latest developments. This allowed him to talk about some of the courses he’d done during his spare time.
It's bold, but it can be very effective.
Getting to the interview stage means you’ve already done well, as it’s such a competitive field. Hopefully, these tips will help you during the next stage, and help you land a job in what is such an important sector worldwide.
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