How to Ace Your Clean Energy Job Interview

As natural resources diminish, more people are paying more attention to the impacts of climate change – and more companies are looking for ways to make a difference. They’re hiring professionals to help reduce carbon emissions, develop clean energy technologies, improve energy efficiency and promote sustainable transportation.

At the same time, more Americans are looking for meaningful, rewarding work. The clean energy industry offers just this. With more than 3.26 million Americans employed in this sector – and a 6 percent growth predicted for 2019 – it’s no surprise that the demand for these jobs will continue to rise.

But how do you land that perfect job in clean energy? Whether you’re just getting started with your career, or you’re looking to make a change, here are some tips to help you ace the interview and land the job you deserve.

Prepare to Discuss Your Transferrable Skills

Many people who want to start working in this field have never worked in clean energy before. So how do you position yourself as a qualified applicant, even if you lack experience? By highlighting your skills and experience that would easily transfer to the clean energy industry.

Start by showcasing your successes. Your accomplishments in another role have likely prepared you for the clean energy field, even if you don’t realize it. If you worked in sales, the same tactics you used to close a deal would be utilized if you’re selling solar panels or a hybrid vehicle. If you built houses, the ability to read blueprints, adhere to building codes, and calculate angles would come into play on the site of a new renewable energy facility.

Consider some of your other skills such as:   

  • Negotiation skills: highlight a time when you had to navigate a problematic deal or negotiate a contract, lease or legal contract. If you don’t have any direct experience, talk about any training you’ve undergone in sales and negotiation – and divulge your takeaways. Negotiation skills are important, as you may have to negotiate with a power company, partner or landowner.

  • Research skills: discuss your process for finding new clients, how you perform due diligence on a prospective vendor, what sources you use to create content, how you perform market research and what steps you take to evaluate product performance. Research skills are invaluable when it comes to clean energy.

  • Organizational skills: talk about ways in which you’ve created and kept deadlines, managed projects from start to finish, communicated with multiple departments to achieve a goal, delegated tasks efficiently or planned an event with success. Well-developed organizational skills will help you thrive in virtually any area of clean energy – from renewables to energy efficiency to clean transportation.  

  • Leadership skills: highlight a time you’ve taken the lead on a project, acted with honesty and integrity, led your team by example, displayed your commitment to the job, stood up for what you believed was best, delegated with grace and prowess, and solved problems by thinking outside the box. Leadership skills are of utmost importance in clean energy, as industry leaders work to change the public perception and continue the fight against dirty fossil fuels.


Demonstrate Problem Solving in Real and Hypothetical Situations

Interviewers will often ask situational questions that help them gain insight into how you’ll react in different circumstances. Questions that focus on real-life scenarios give them a better understanding of your thought process and self-management skills, while giving you an opportunity to highlight your strengths and experience.

Think about situations where you’ve taken action, or hypothetical scenarios where you outline the steps you would take.

A few examples:

  • Discuss a time when you made the wrong decision. How did you correct this misstep? What did you learn?
  • When have you been asked to perform a function or complete a task in which you had little or no experience in doing?
  • How do you handle a situation where your supervisor does not properly communicate information to you?
  • Describe a time when you motivated yourself to complete an assignment or task that you did not feel like doing.
  • What accomplishment do you believe was the most difficult for you, and how did you achieve it?
  • What do you do when you suffered a setback? How did this affect you emotionally how did it impact the quality of your work?

Situational interview questions can be daunting, especially if your professional experience is limited. Just remember to be honest. If you haven’t encountered a given scenario, tell the interviewer so – and then talk about how you would handle it, based on your current skills and real-life experience. Having a few examples prepared will help ensure that your answers best highlight your abilities and problem-solving skills.

Relay Your Passion with Authenticity and Grace

If you’re interviewing for a position in clean energy, you’re clearly passionate about the environment and creating a better world for future generations. Before your interview, think about any defining moments that sparked your interest in this field. Consider the actions you’ve taken in your personal life to help reduce your own carbon impact, and what you’ve done to inspire others – whether it be family members, strangers, children or those with opposing views about the environment.

Also, think about how climate change has affected you personally. The more specific you can be, the more enticing your answers will be – and it’ll help you stand out from other candidates. As you review the specific role for which you’re applying, think about what you hope to accomplish in that position, and also in the long-term. Your intended contributions will help relay your understanding of the industry and authentic desire to create change.

Here are some tips when it comes to relaying your passion about clean energy, and the specific role you’re interviewing for:

  • Express interest, but don’t be so over-eager that you sound desperate.
  • Maintain a balanced focus on what you can do for the company, and how the company can benefit you.
  • Keep your answers succinct, and don’t ramble excessively on any one topic.
  • Do enough preparation so that you understand the company and its competitors, as well as industry trends and challenges.
  • Ask meaningful and compelling questions (it’s a good idea to jot a few down as you’re conducting pre-interview research).

While it’s important to showcase your hard skills and technical expertise, conveying that you were an effective employee in past roles is perhaps the most important message to communicate. Hiring managers what to know how your unique capabilities set you apart from other applicants. If you’re well prepared, it will show – and you’ll be one step closer to landing the job of your dreams in clean energy.

Haven’t found that perfect opportunity yet? Try creating a free professional profile on Clean Energy Jobs List. You can connect with hiring managers and discover trusted companies in your area. 


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