Sustainability Interview Coaching: Interviewing Guide for Aspiring Green ProfessionalsMay 16, 2023
Interviews can feel like one of the most daunting parts of a job hunt. But that needn’t be the case. By taking the right steps beforehand you can show up to any interview feeling relaxed and ready to showcase your skills to a hiring manager. Here’s how.
So, you’ve spent weeks trawling through recruitment platforms to spot your dream job.
You’ve taken hours crafting the perfect application, researching the organization and quietly connecting with its employees on LinkedIn.
And now you’ve done it. You’ve had the call asking you to come in for an interview.
Well, sort of. For many people the idea of a job interview brings with it a bunch of anxieties.
How can I make sure I don’t mess up my answers? How can I give the right impression? What if the interview doesn’t like me? What if my answers are too long winded?
If that sounds a little like you then don’t panic.
Even if you aren’t naturally quick on your feet there are all sorts of practical steps you can take to ensure you feel confident and sell yourself during any job interview, giving you the best chance of success when it comes to landing that final offer.
Do your homework
You may have applied to multiple jobs or only a handful of carefully selected roles. But regardless, just as it’s critical to have a resumé and cover letter tailored to each application, you need to arm yourself with all the information you can about the role, its requirements and the wider organization before heading into a job interview.
Sustainability / ESG is a highly competitive sector, with some vacancies attracting as many as 200+ applications. It’ll be those candidates that come in well-prepared for the specific role, rather than those with a broad sense of the wider industry, that will make it through to the final rounds.
In short, research your potential employer to death.
- The people that will be interviewing you (if possible) and their background
- The organization’s peers, competitors and most recent developments. Check out their corporate website for the latest press releases and type their name into Google.
- Latest accounts and annual reports if it’s a publicly traded company
- Its pain points. What are its biggest problems or challenges for them when it comes to sustainability?
- What their market trends are and where the organization is going, or should go, in the future in relation to ESG.
Prep your answers
No, you can’t plan for every single question that may come up in a job interview. But you can reasonably predict a few areas any hiring manager is likely to cover. Ensure you come into the room equipped with outlined answers, examples and explanations.
As a starting point, here are five questions you might encounter in a sustainability job interview.
- Can you walk me through your resume?
- Tell me about a time you had to gain buy-in from senior management and how did you do it?
- What’s one example of how you’ve been able to deliver and measure tangible impact in a global or local context?
- When you feel uncomfortable in a situation what do you do? Give an example.
For each question, prep an answer using the SARs framework – situation, action, result.
Briefly describe the situation (team, context, problem), describe the action that you took (skills, tasks, solutions) and share the result that was achieved for the organization, being as specific as possible.
This approach keeps your answers concise, targeted, tangible, and memorable.
Now, practice, practice, practice.
First try in front of a mirror but then be brave and ask a friend or family member to act as interviewer and pose the questions to you face-to-face. Or if this isn’t possible, make a video of yourself and watch the recording. It might feel cringeworthy but it’s the best way to spot if you’re rambling, fidgeting or chucking in far too many umms and aaahs.
Remember it’s a two-way process
A job interview isn’t only a chance for an organization to see if you’d be the right fit for the role. It’s also a valuable chance for you to get a proper feel for the culture you’d be working in, the type of people you’d be working with and the general energy fit you feel with the team.
So don’t waste this opportunity to find out as much as you can. And when the hiring manager asks - have you got any questions for us? - make sure you’ve come prepared with a decent list. But remember that the first few interviews are for you to impress them. So choose your questions wisely.
Here are just a few suggestions of great questions to ask an interviewer:
- What is your onboarding process?
- What would you expect me to achieve in the first six months?
- What is your vision for the team in the coming year?
- What would your team say when describing your management style?
- What is the best and worst aspect to your company culture?
Make a great first impression
Put in all this preparation and, by the time the big day rolls around, you should be feeling relaxed, ready and even excited to showcase yourself and your skills to an interviewer.
So don’t fall at the final hurdle.
Arrive in the right place at the right time. It’s a good idea to reconfirm these details a couple of days beforehand, and build in a decent buffer of time to allow for transport delays or getting lost. Aim to be in reception and ready to go around 10 minutes before your scheduled slot.
Show up looking clean and professional. Avoid alcohol the night before to minimize eye bags, cut and clean fingernails and always dress up, not down if you’re unsure of the dress code.
Bring along a bottle of water, an unmarked copy of your resumé, and a pen and paper. These can and should include a few notes on your prepared answers, but make sure you’re not reading off the page at any point. Use them for reference only.
Finally, relax and be yourself. Yes, it’s easier said than done but take deep breaths before answering questions, don’t rush your responses, and always keep eye contact with the interviewer.
Now, it’s time to wait…
By all means send a polite email or thank you letter the next day. You could use this as an opportunity to reiterate why you think you’d make such a great fit for the role and to send them the My Career Journey tool that I share in our Shift Careers + Land the Job program. This always impresses them!
Other than that though, now comes the really hard part. The wait to see if you’ve been successful.
However it turns out though, if you’ve followed the steps above then you know that you’ve given 100% to the interview process and the best shot at being offered the role.
If you’re successful, brilliant.
If you’re not this time then view the interview as great practise and move onto the next one with even more confidence.
If you think you’d benefit from more tailored coaching advice to support you through every stage of the job application process, then Walk of Life can help. From initial applications and interviews, to networking and personal branding, Shannon can use her years of experience coaching sustainability professionals to help give you the edge when it comes to landing your dream job in sustainability. To find out more, click here.