Career Path > Resume & Interview

Interview questions:All the rope you need to hang yourself

(1/7) > >>

Recently, I interviewed for an NLO position at my friendly neighborhood BWR.  It was a Behavior based/STAR interview.  I had studied here, and was ready for the tricky question that involved trying to see if I would consider voilating procedures, as well as the S.C.W.E. question, since this particular utility still had a scab on it's wounds in that area.  What I wasn't ready for was a question that went something like "At times the demands of the job require us to do things we might not usually do, tell me about a situation where you had to stretch, or lower your standards to get the job done".

That question took me by surprise.  Were they actually trying to see if I was flexible, or were they trying to see if I would break rules i.e. the end justifies the means?  While I still don't know what they wanted, I think my answer somewhat satisfied them, but I could have done better.  Those few points might have made the difference when it came to getting an offer.

Here's the question about questions.  What are some more examples of real life ways questions can or have been manipulated like the one I gave as an example.  If you know, please also say what the question is really asking. 

Please understand I'm not trying to give false or misleading answers, just trying to really understand what the question is asking, so I can better address it without feeling like I'm about to make my own noose. I just reading too much into the question?

That's the tricky question.


Ahhhh, what is the sound of one hand clapping, Grasshopper?

Was the scab over a procedural violation or malicious compliance? Knowing the history of the facility is always prudent for an interview. Shoulds, shalls and mays in procedures drive compliance standards unless the function is considered "tool box knowledge". This may have been a thought process question as much a black and white ethics question. Did you pull the thread to a conclusion?

Thanks for the responses.   Marlin, here's basically how the NRC described the SCWE (scab) thing (quote sanitized):

  "there were numerous indications of weaknesses in corrective actions and management efforts to establish an environment where employees are consistently willing to raise safety concerns.  Some utility staff and managers felt that the company had emphasized production to a point which negatively impacted the handling of emergent equipment issues and associated operational decision-making.  Additionally, management had not been consistent in its support of Station staff identifying concerns and providing alternate views.  We found examples of unresolved conflict and poor communication between management and staff, as well as underlying staff and management frustration with poor equipment reliability.  The equipment issues stemmed, in part, from weaknesses in implementation of station processes such as work management and corrective action."    - Not my words, a quote from the NRC

There have also been cross-cutting issues dealing with having good procedures and following them.

I haven't read or heard of any malicious compliance issues.

Yes, it may have been just a question to see how I think. 

When asked the "tricky" question, I went with a nonnuclear power experience answer.  Why didn't I go with a nuclear answer to try to get all the points?  Because when I worked there before and now, the expectation for procedural compliance and bringing up safety issues was, on paper, and from the mouths of the upper management, the same.  While I do believe it's gotten much better (based upon conversations with mgmt., and worker friends that still work there), without some real time there on site, (and some retraining) I wouldn't be able to determine just where the culture currently sits with respect to what constitutes procedural compliance etc..  I didn't want my answer about "stretching or lowering my standards" experience that's over a decade old to be viewed through the lens of what procedural compliance etc. means today.  We had should/shall/may in place when I was there before.

I wasn't, and still aren't sure the question was a proxy for a procedural compliance violation question.

I can't say I pulled the thread to conclusion, although F/B I got from one of the SRO's that interviewed me (direct), and from another SRO friend I know in the plant (grapevine) was that I did very well during my interview, but the competition was very stiff, and they only hired half the EO's they originally were planning to hire.

I'm looking forward,  not looking back.   I'm scheduled for another test tomorrow, and if I pass it, will likely have another interview for a different job shortly.  I'd like to be able to better spot the "trick question", including understanding just what they're asking me.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version