Wastewater treatment operations require technical and transferable skills to be successful in the career field. During a job interview for a water treatment position, interviewers are likely to assess your technical, operational and professional background. Your soft skills in communication, critical thinking and collaboration are also important to highlight during an interview. In this article, we discuss example wastewater treatment interview questions with example responses to help you practice your answers in advance so that you can make a great impression.
10 example wastewater treatment interview questions and answers
Use the following example questions and answers to prepare for your interview:
1. Share some examples of your prior responsibilities.
This question helps interviewers understand your experience and practical skills when operating treatment equipment and overseeing plant processes. Provide examples of previous duties that are similar to the job requirements so the interviewer knows your experience fits the role.
Example: "In my previous role, I monitored all equipment and treatment processes and directed primary operations. I also have experience in mixing and integrating treatment chemicals to dissolve and neutralize solid materials. I also helped train new team members in the operation and maintenance of our facility's equipment, which resulted in a strong team of qualified individuals."
2. What qualifies you for the wastewater treatment role?
The interviewer may also ask about your educational background, specific credentials and skills that tell them how you qualify for the job. Discuss your education and training, certifications or additional credentials that support your experience in the role.
Example: "I received both my Wastewater Treatment Operator Class 1 and Water Treatment Operator Class 1 licenses last year, and continue to renew my OSHA Safety Certificate. I understand your company requires a Water and Wastewater Plants Level 1 license, which I am currently pursuing. I'll be taking the exam in two months, and I'm excited to demonstrate what I've learned in the industry."
3. Describe your technical capabilities in the operation of treatment equipment control systems.
Wastewater treatment operations occur through the control of technical systems and equipment. The interviewer is likely to ask about your experience working with these types of systems and how your technical skills fulfill the job requirements. Use your answer to describe your experience with using and monitoring these technical aspects of treatment procedures.
Example: “I am currently working toward my certification in SCADA operations, which I understand is the same system your facility uses for sequence and speed control of the filtration and water transfer pumps. In my last role, I started maintaining the operational logs for scheduling system and equipment maintenance and inspections, which I feel has prepared me for the role.”
4. How do you ensure treatment operations comply with regulatory standards?
This question can help the interviewer assess your industry knowledge and professional values regarding health and safety in the workplace. Describe how you stay aware of both company and industry regulations and how you monitor processes to ensure a safe work environment.
Example: "To maintain my licenses, I attend development training each year for continuing education credits. These workshops not only support my credentials but also give me the opportunity to update myself on current industry standards and federal and state regulations. As I learn of new developments, I communicate them with my team members. I also like to schedule team meetings each week to discuss current procedures and evaluate how plant operations are complying with requirements."
5. Describe a situation in which you suggested a technique or method that helped improve efficiency.
The interviewer may ask behavioral questions that give them insight into how you provide input and apply strategies for improvement. Consider examples that highlight your communication skills, critical thinking and ability to test and evaluate outcomes.
Example: "There was a time when I had first started in a job as a technician when I noticed that documentation and analysis of treatment procedures were somewhat disorganized. I communicated this with my supervisor, who agreed that the absence of an organizational framework was affecting communications with stakeholders. Working with my supervisor, we developed a framework that provided documentation methods for personnel to communicate ongoing procedures with senior management, executives and shareholders. This framework helped increase the efficiency of communication between all levels and supported overall performance goals.”
6. What mitigation strategies have you applied to overcome operational challenges in sewage treatment plants?
Your ability to identify and solve challenges that can affect operations is crucial in water treatment operations. Use your answer to show the interviewer how your ability to overcome operational challenges can benefit their organization.
Example: "The organization I worked for before moving was a nonprofit, and our main objectives were developing efficient wastewater management and treatment strategies to control pollution in the environment. My team and I helped manage the development of water reclamation and energy recovery strategies that helped reduce materials consumption and the risk of pollutants releasing into the environment.”
7. What experience do you have with budgeting operational costs?
In some treatment facilities, treatment specialists may work with managers to plan and monitor operational costs. In your answer, discuss any experience you have with assessing costs and supporting budgeting activities.
Example: "Each quarter, I helped my previous manager assess materials costs, energy usage and operational expenses. Because of this experience, I developed my knowledge of planning for strategy integration to support cost and energy reductions. I understand your company is evaluating alternative resources for managing waste materials, and I feel that my experience can be a benefit in developing a budget that supports your organization's desire to reduce operational costs."
8. Describe your management experience.
The interviewer may also ask about your leadership skills and your experience managing team activities. No matter your experience level, consider talking about one or two situations in which you took on a leadership or managerial role so the interviewer can better understand how you can support team projects for their company.
Example: "Before my transfer, I worked in training and development as a team manager. I helped my new team members learn the company's procedures and requirements and helped senior management create training programs that supported both team collaboration and operational knowledge. I'm motivated to keep improving my management style and contribute to a team that prioritizes environmental safety and protection through our treatment processes."
9. What is the recommended procedure for treating and storing wastewater?
This question assesses your career knowledge and tells the interviewer about your training in the field. When responding, discuss how you performed each process and worked with others to maintain safety and efficiency during wastewater treatment operations.
Example: "Typically, regulations dictate that treatment facilities collect and store wastewater in a tank for aeration treatment. After aeration, recommended procedures call for neutralization with chemicals like chlorine. After the wastewater goes through these processes, personnel should treat it through pressure, sand and carbon filtration. This removes waste materials and harmful bacteria enough for nonpotable water use, like agriculture and landscaping."
10. How do you ensure the integrity of water treatment equipment and machinery?
This question evaluates your technical and mechanical knowledge of wastewater treatment equipment and your ability to troubleshoot problems. Give examples of how you inspect machinery and components and describe your technical capabilities with equipment programs and control systems.
Example: "I organize my maintenance schedule by separating my equipment inspections from maintenance work. Each week, two plant engineers and I perform inspections of all facility equipment and document condition and any repair requirements. This ensures each operational department is aware of equipment conditions so team members can perform their maintenance and repair duties."
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.