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Driven By Impact: Which Interview Questions are the Best to Ask?

Your weekly recap + climate job resources!

Driven By Impact 🌱

Edition 43: February 15, 2024

Best Interview Questions for Vetting Candidates

Interviewing prospective candidates is a fine art. Hiring decisions are nuanced, considering a blend of experience, expertise, and the elusive qualities that can make or break a team. We delve into a suite of interview techniques that reveal a candidate's true colors, particularly their work ethic, reliability, and accountability -- the pillars of any successful professional.

The Probing Power of Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interview questions have a way of slicing through the polished façade and revealing a person’s true tendencies. By asking individuals to recount specific instances from their past, such as times when they exceeded expectations or owned up to mistakes, we uncover a treasure trove of information. Not merely based on how they claim to act but how they've actually operated in the past.

  • "Can you tell me about a time when you went above and beyond to meet a work deadline?"

  • "Describe a situation where you took responsibility for a mistake you made at work and how you addressed it."

References & Background Checks: The Authenticator's Tools

References and background checks remain stalwarts in the hiring process. Though the power of direct inquiry may vary, talking to a former supervisor can provide invaluable insights into a candidate's past performance, punctuality, and team dynamics. Furthermore, rigorous background checks can corroborate employment history and serve prompt notice if there is any red flags.

Testing the Waters with Work Samples and Simulations

A traditional interview and a resume aren't enough. That's where simulated tasks and work samples come in. Custom-tailored to mimic real job challenges, these exercises separate the talkers from the doers. Whether it’s managing a multifaceted project or handling customer interactions, these tests highlight a candidate's ability to perform under pressure and remain accountable. Read more about the best practices for conducting a take-home test. You need to be respectful of the job seeker’s time — it’s not their job to do free work.

  • Role-specific questions:

    • For a Project Manager Role: "You're overseeing a project with multiple stakeholders and tight deadlines. How would you prioritize tasks and allocate resources to ensure the project stays on track?"

    • For a Customer Service Role: "A customer calls in with a complex issue that requires escalation to a higher level of support. How would you handle this situation while maintaining the customer's satisfaction?"

  • Task-Based Questions

    • "Here's a sample project brief. Can you walk me through how you would approach this project, including your initial steps, timeline, and key deliverables?"

    • "Please review this mock dataset and provide an analysis of the trends and insights you observe. How would you present this information to stakeholders?"

  • Problem-solving Scenarios:

    • "Imagine you're faced with a technical issue on a deadline, and your usual troubleshooting methods are not working. How would you approach this situation to find a solution quickly?"

    • "You've been tasked with improving a process within the company to increase efficiency. Can you outline your approach to identifying areas for improvement and implementing changes?"

Consistency is Key 

Throughout the hiring process, consistency is not just about how a candidate maintains interest but also about the alignment of their narrative across various platforms. An inconsistency in their story, whether in a practical test or an answer to a question, can be a tattle-tale sign of a lack of accountability.

Uncovering Core Values in the Interview Setting

Personal values aren't just buzzwords to be thrown around; they underpin our every decision and action. By posing queries that dig into a candidate's work motivation, commitment to quality, and moral compass, we bring those said values to the surface.

  • "What motivates you to work hard and consistently?"

  • "How do you prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively?"

  • "Can you describe a situation where you had to make a tough decision at work, and how did you handle it?"

Peering into the Past with Work History Questions 

Dive deeper into the candidate's work history by asking about their reasons for leaving previous positions, their career progression, and any gaps in employment. Look for patterns that may indicate a strong work ethic and accountability, such as long tenures at previous jobs or consistent career advancement.

  • "How did you progress in your career from your earliest roles to your most recent position?"

  • "Can you walk me through the reasons for leaving your previous positions?"

  • "How have you typically received feedback in your previous roles, and how did you use it to improve?"

Situational Judgment Tests: 

Utilize situational judgment tests or scenarios relevant to the role to assess how candidates would handle various work-related situations. Look for responses that demonstrate accountability, problem-solving skills, and ethical decision-making.

  • "You're part of a project team, and there is a disagreement between team members about the best approach to a project task. How would you facilitate a constructive discussion to resolve the disagreement?"

  • "You're part of a project team, and there is a disagreement between team members about the best approach to a project task. How would you facilitate a constructive discussion to resolve the disagreement?"

It’s not always just about how well they can do the job. The goal is to vet how they will perform and how they will mesh with your team. As an interviewer, you’re trying to gauge:

  • How well do they understand the role

  • Their understanding of the company

  • Will their personality mesh with the culture

  • Can they think on their feet and get the job done

  • Will they need a lot of hand-holding

You’ve likely interviewed dozens of candidates, they sometimes can blend together. How do you differentiate who is going to do the job well? When evaluating candidates' answers to these questions, it's important to look for several key factors that can indicate their suitability for the role and the organization:

1. Communication and Storytelling: Assess how clearly the candidate articulates their response and whether they effectively communicate their thought process and rationale behind their actions.

2. Problem-Solving Approach: Look for candidates who demonstrate a logical and methodical approach to problem-solving, including the ability to identify relevant information, weigh options, and develop actionable solutions.

3. Decision-Making Skills: Evaluate the candidate's decision-making abilities by assessing whether they consider the potential consequences of their actions, make well-informed decisions based on available information, and demonstrate sound judgment.

4. Adaptability and Flexibility: Assess how candidates respond to changing or challenging situations, including their willingness to adapt their approach, remain flexible in their thinking, and adjust their plans as needed.

5. Teamwork and Collaboration: Look for candidates who demonstrate an understanding of the importance of collaboration and teamwork, including their ability to work effectively with others, resolve conflicts constructively, and foster a positive team dynamic.

6. Ethical and Values Alignment: Evaluate whether candidates demonstrate an understanding of ethical considerations and adhere to company values and policies in their responses to ethical dilemmas and situations involving integrity.

7. Customer Focus (if applicable): For roles involving customer interaction, assess candidates' focus on customer satisfaction and their ability to handle customer inquiries, complaints, or requests with empathy, professionalism, and a customer-centric approach.

8. Leadership Potential (if applicable): For leadership roles or positions requiring leadership qualities, assess candidates' ability to take initiative, demonstrate leadership skills, and inspire and motivate others through their responses to leadership-related scenarios.

9. Resilience and Confidence: Look for candidates who demonstrate resilience and confidence in their responses, including their ability to remain calm under pressure, navigate challenging situations with composure, and express confidence in their decisions and actions.

10. Alignment with Company Culture: Evaluate candidates' responses to assess their fit with the organization's culture, values, and work environment, including whether their attitudes, behaviors, and approaches align with the company's mission and goals.

By considering these factors when evaluating candidates' answers, you can gain valuable insights into their suitability for the role and their potential to contribute positively to the organization.

🌎 WHAT: ​Climate Transitions Workshop: Making the Most in Career Shifts
🗓️ WHEN: 2/23 @ 12 pm EST
📍WHERE: https://lu.ma/ClimateCareerTransition

🌎 WHAT: Climate Job Seeker LinkedIn Live Q&A
🗓️ WHEN: 2/22 @ 3 pm EST
📍WHERE: https://bit.ly/LILFEB22

🌎 WHAT: ​The Climate Job Search: How to Break in and Stand Out
🗓️ WHEN: 2/20 @12 pm EST
📍WHERE: https://lu.ma/climatejobs

🌎 WHAT: Playing Through Your Career Change: Networking Advice: Session 2
WHEN: 2/27 @ 12 pm EST
🗓️ WHERE: https://lu.ma/climatenetworking101

→ Climate People’s Natalie Lavery will be speaking to OPF’s upcoming cohort on climate jobs! Learn more about their program here.

→ One of our friends, Felix, landed a job in climate (with a little help from Climate People). Here’s how they did it!

→ What is a thermal battery, and how is it going to help us power hard-to-decarbonize industrial processes? Read more in last week’s 1-Minute Climate Snippet!

→ Missed last week’s edition? It was a jam-packed one! Check it out here.

**We do not accept sponsors for this newsletter. All of these external promos are our genuine recommendations 💚**

→ Which sustainability certifications are right for you? GreenBiz outlines the top options!

→ Steven Zhang from Climate Tech List outlines a better way to job search that doesn’t involve applying for jobs. Read his tips here!

→ Earlier this week, Climate People and MCJ Collective hosted our monthly “Climate Career Accelerator” workshop. We had Kat Jellicorse on to talk about resume best practices. Catch the recording here.

CLIMATE ROBOTICS

Climate Robotics, an emerging field within Climate Tech, aims to develop robotic solutions that can efficiently respond to climate change challenges. This includes tasks like the regeneration of coral reefs and the operation of wind turbines. The acceleration of automation and mechanization in industries worldwide has contributed to a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Current climate solutions, while numerous, are inefficient when deployed manually and lack scalability. For example, manual tree planting to offset carbon emissions is labor-intensive and time-consuming.

To address these issues, Climate Robotics leverages AI-powered robotics to automate the deployment of climate solutions, thereby accelerating the implementation of climate response strategies. Applications of Climate Robotics include planting and monitoring mangroves, collecting stratospheric data, operating wind turbines, regenerating corals, collecting ocean data, and managing waste. Companies such as Mission Robotics, ReefGen, Botlink, Drone Amplified, Mast Reforestation, NearSpace, TreeSwift, Luminious, Tortuga, Bluewhite Robotics, and Bedrock Ocean Exploration are pioneering innovative work in this field. As Climate Robotics continues to grow, it holds the promise of more groundbreaking solutions to combat climate change.

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🪴 HEAD OF MARKETING
➵ A leading global technology and climate impact organization specializing in quantifying greenhouse gas emissions related to land management is seeking a Head of Marketing. The candidate will oversee integrated marketing plans, perform market research, manage website content, create press releases, and coordinate events and partnerships. The ideal candidate should have over 5 years of experience in marketing content and social media, a passion for climate/sustainability or nature-based solutions, and a working knowledge of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use sectors. They should also be a self-starter, able to work independently and collaboratively, possessing a strong sense of ownership, integrity, and respect, with a willingness to adapt, learn, and take calculated risks.

🪴 DATA ENGINEER
A fully remote climate tech startup is seeking a Data Engineer with over 3 years of experience, proficiency in Python and Pandas, and familiarity with the utility industry or electric transmission and distribution data. The successful candidate will build new data pipelines for products, take ownership of greenfield projects, and collaborate closely with product managers, transmission engineers, and full-stack engineers. The role requires the ability to operate in ambiguity, take ownership, and apply best practices, infrastructure, and tooling to build an effective data organization.

🪴 BACK END ENGINEER
➵ Join a thriving, fully remote climate tech startup that is transforming the renewable energy sector with its innovative software platform. As a Backend Engineer, you'll have the opportunity to build backend services for new products and work closely with the CTO. Ideal candidates will have at least 3 years of experience, a product-focused mindset, and a strong track record of continuous learning and product development. Proficiency in Python and GraphQL, as well as familiarity with Heroku and Hasura, is strongly preferred. Experience in the utility industry or related projects would be a significant advantage. This role offers the chance to operate in an exciting, ambiguous environment where you can take ownership and make a real impact on our climate's future.

🪴 FULL STACK ENGINEER
This job opportunity is with a fully remote and profitable climate tech startup that has developed a software platform to assist renewable energy developers. They are seeking a Full-Stack Engineer who will lead new product work, interact with users, ideate on features, give feedback on designs, and build out those features. This role will involve working directly with the CTO on scoping new features and engineering plans and launching new features and markets in the US. The ideal candidate is a product-minded Engineer with 2+ years of experience, proficient in React, TypeScript and Python, and has a history of continuous learning and operating in ambiguity. Experience in the utility industry or projects supporting electric transmission, distribution, and substation design is a plus.

🪴 SALES DEVELOPMENT REPRESENTATIVE
Our client, a pioneering global technology and climate impact organization, is seeking a Sales Development Representative (SDR) to join their ambitious team. This role entails working with the Head of Business Development on strategic prospect identification and conversion, being the first point of contact for potential customers, and overseeing customer development using data-driven methods. The SDR will build pipelines across key customer segments, establish the brand in new markets, communicate expertly on climate and product matters, and constantly experiment with outbound strategies. Ideal candidates should have 1-3+ years of experience in sales or sales development, a passion for climate and sustainability issues, an ability to take extreme ownership of first impressions, operate with integrity, be diligent and focused, thrive in a team environment, adapt and learn, and bring a growth mindset every day.

That's all for this edition! Thanks for doing your part in mobilizing a workforce transition to work on climate!