How to be well prepared for interviews in the mining industry, and how to best answer the different types of questions you will be asked.
Interviews for mining roles most commonly contain a series of questions that are looking for specific examples of situations you have been in or things you have achieved.
The questions will not be asking for how you would theoretically handle situations, or what you might do when faced with a certain challenge. They will be looking for you to give examples from your past experience (at work or outside of work), which demonstrate that you already have the qualities and attributes which the interviewers are looking for.
Some of the questions you can expect to hear in a job interview for a mining supervisor, coordinator, superintendent or manager might include:
- Tell us about a time when you faced a particularly difficult team member? How did you handle the situation, and what was the outcome?
- Has there been a time when you saw someone doing something unsafe? What did you do?
- Tell us about a time when you had to work alone on a project? How did you manage your time to stay on track? What we the outcome of the project?
- Tell us about a time when you had to make a change? How did you go about it and what was the result?
- Have you ever had to deal with conflicting deadlines? How did you decide what to prioritize?
Note the consistent question format:
- Tell us about…
- What did you do…
- What was the outcome…
Sometimes each of these elements will not specifically be asked, but this is always what they are looking for.
The STAR Approach
We tackle these questions using the STAR approach – situation, task, action, result. When you answer the question, go through each of these in turn and you will be sure to have covered everything:
Situation – What was the role you were in and the job you were doing? A couple of sentences to set the context and the situation you were in.
Task – What was the specific challenge, task or job that you faced?
Action – What did you do? Note: you always need to say what you did. The interviewers are much less interested in what the team or group did. They want to hear about your actions.
Result – What was the outcome? What was the situation like after you took action? This step is often missed, but is the most important in showing what you achieved through your actions. And even if what you did didn’t entirely work, this is the place to describe what you learnt.
For example, I might get asked – “Tell us about a time when you found it difficult to work with someone else in a team?”
I would form my answer in line with the STAR approach:
“When I started working as production superintendent at Deep Mine (Situation),
I found I got a bit of a cold shoulder from the maintenance superintendent. I think it was a hangover from the previous person in my role, but none the less it was now my problem (Task).
So I decided to arrange a meeting to talk one-on-one with the maintenance superintendent. I didn’t approach the problem head on. I was more interested in developing the relationship and finding out where he was coming from (Action).
It turned out that he was getting a lot of pressure from above, and felt that production didn’t care about his team or their priorities. We agreed to meet every Monday morning, where he would share his maintenance plans for the week, and I would share our production goals. We ended up developing a good working relationship. (Result)”
Tips for Preparation
Before your interview, try to think of situations which fit the points below:
- Achievements you are particularly proud of
- Situations where you felt you handled yourself well
- Situations where you were uncomfortable or challenged
- Situations when you had conflict with a peer, report, or manager
- Work challenges where you thought outside the box or were innovative
- Situations where you were pressed for time or stretched in your abilities
- Times when you went above and beyond your role requirements
The more useful examples you can recall and run through in your head in the days and hours before the interview, the more likely you are to remember a good one when you are put on the spot.
You should also do as much research as possible on the company, division, and if possible the role that you will be interviewed for. Not only does this arm you with knowledge in case they ask what you know about the company (which they probably will), but it also shows that you have a genuine interest in the company and the role.
Finally, there are a few other common questions you will encounter that don’t require the STAR approach, but that you should put some thought and preparation into:
- Tell us about yourself.
- What do you consider your strengths / weaknesses?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Why do you want to work at this company / in this role?
- What would you do in your first three months in this role?
- How long do you see yourself staying in this role?
- What are your career goals?
- How much would you like to get paid?
- Do you have any questions for us?
Good luck in your next interview, whether it is with a new company or just a new role. The more preparation and thought you can put in before-hand, the more relaxed and confident you will be in the interview, and this will show through to your advantage