5 Unexpected Environmental Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

covid interviews Nov 15, 2021

By: Neha Bhalla

It’s no secret that the past 18 months have caused an  upheaval in the hiring process, from Zoom interviews to increased turnover. With that, the questions that recruiters are asking have changed too.

In the environmental industry especially, recruiters not only care about your technical skills, but also your reaction to COVID-19, your personal opinions on climate change, and how much you value diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); so don’t get caught off guard if you get asked a situational question about how to handle a workplace conflict or how COVID has affected your perspective on work-life balance. 

Here are some questions you might get about COVID or DEI at your next interview: 


  1. Would you be willing to work in person for this role?

There are a few variations on this type of logistical question that you might receive, depending on if the company is working remotely, in person, or adopting a hybrid system. Answer this question honestly, and feel free to ask follow-ups about the company’s mask or vaccination policies before you commit to working in person. 


  1. How has COVID-19 affected your career?

Everyone’s career has been affected by COVID — whether it meant you were juggling work with homeschooling your children or it delayed your ability to find a job after graduation. Although you can spend time on that, focus your answer on how the new role matches your career goals. The formula to answer this should be: “COVID affected my career in [this way], which made me realize I want [this] in my next role. I believe this new role offers what I want because…” 


  1. How have you promoted diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) in the workplace?

There are a few ways that you could go about answering this question, but essentially the hiring manager is trying to assess if you embrace diversity in the workplace and if you understand the importance of practicing self-awareness and inclusivity. Here are some situations you can discuss: 

  • A time where having diverse perspectives enhanced a project or came into play when making a decision
  • A time where you led a team or worked within a team of diverse people
  • How you advocated for more diversity to your colleagues or higher-ups
  • How you addressed a diversity-related conflict
  • The importance of looking beyond your own needs and bringing other people to the table and even putting others before you


You don’t need to have a dramatic story about diversity where you saved the day — all you need to do is demonstrate that you are capable of working in a diverse environment and excited to integrate diverse perspectives (in terms of ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender, or disability) into your work. 


  1. How do you prefer to communicate in a remote working environment?

Depending on the company, or even your team within the company, you may constantly be in Zoom meetings or your work might be fully asynchronous, communicating only via email or programs like Microsoft Teams. 

This is a great time to mention all of the different technologies that you’re familiar with (Slack, Zoom, Skype, etc.) and how you have managed to communicate with your team members in your previous hybrid roles. Here’s an example of how to answer:

“I generally prefer to use email/text/Slack/etc. to ask a quick question or make confirmations. However, if I have to address a larger problem with the team, I prefer working through it on a Zoom or Skype call. I’ve used [these technologies] to communicate in my previous roles; however, I am open to learning new ones if this company uses a different system.” 


  1. What do you do outside of work to promote sustainability?

Working in the environmental industry goes beyond what you do in the office — hiring managers are interested in seeing that you carry those values outside of your job.

You can answer this question by describing a switch you’ve made in your own life or by going into detail about non-work related experiences you have. Here are some example topics:

  • Shopping sustainably
  • Going vegetarian/vegan or drastically reducing meat consumption 
  • Reducing/eliminating personal plastic use  
  • Implementing a recycling system in your home 
  • Educating others about sustainability 
  • Volunteer projects you’re involved with 
  • For students: clubs/extracurriculars you’re involved with 

This question is a great opportunity to express that you are truly passionate about environmental issues, and bonus points if you can relate the switch you’ve made to the role you’re applying for. 


Questions to ask your interviewer about COVID, remote working, or diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI): 

Not only has COVID-19 changed the hiring process for employers, but employees also care about remote working issues and DEI more than ever. Here are some questions to ask the interviewer when it's your turn: 

  • How does this company promote diversity and inclusion? 
  • What training does this company offer to educate employees about DEI issues?
  • How does the team stay connected in a remote/hybrid environment? 
  • (If the job is remote) Do you have a timeline for transitioning the company back to in-person work? 
  • What opportunities are there to get involved in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) projects? 


Check out these articles on the ENVIROlocity blog if you’re interested in more COVID information, interview resources, or information specific to environmental roles


Have you ever been asked a COVID, DEI, or remote working question that you did not know how to answer and want us to write about? Contact us!


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