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What's in a NLO interview?


I recently had an interview for a NLO position at a power plant.  Here are some key take-aways...

1.  For ex-nukes or ex-military, BRING YOUR DD-214.  I thought this to be common sense and I brought mine, but half of the people I talked to who were there for interviews did not bring their DD-214.  You don't have much of a leg to stand on to prove what you did in the military if you don't bring it.  I think technically they're not supposed to ask for it... but they will.  If you have nothing to hide, then just bring it.  As long as you have an honorable discharge and your NEC/rating proves you were what you said you were, then they'll be satisfied.  Even if you have an OTH, just tell them why, and explain that you've grown since then.  I personally know someone with an OTH who still got hired on as a NLO, so it's not a deal-breaker in and of itself.

2.  Dress to impress.  Even if HR or training coordinators tell you that casual or business casual is acceptable, first impressions mean a lot.  Out of 30 or so people, I was one out of only 4 people that wore a suit.  About 2/3 wore business casual, and the rest were casual.  Prove to them that you want the job before you even talk to them.  If an interviewer asks you something along the lines of "would you want to work here in that outfit?"  Tell them your choice of wear was to show that you never shoot for minimum standards. 

3.  Be confident.  They are going to ask personality-type questions.  "Tell me a time you had difficulty working with another employee", "tell me where you see yourself in 5 years", questions like that.  Google "STAR interview technique" and you will find a lot of the types of questions they will ask.  You can even use personal examples that are unrelated to previous work experience, as long as they are relevant.  Technical questions will be few to non-existent.  If you're currently employed, they may ask why you're wanting to leave the company you're with.  "Because I hate my boss" is not an acceptable answer.  Don't try and make stuff up on-the-fly.  They WILL catch on quickly, and will start to rip you apart.  Integrity is one of the most valued principles in the nuclear industry.

4.  Bring a folder with examples of your previous work, and any e-mails/bulletins that highlight you as a star performer.  I was amazed at how almost everyone else showed up to their interviews empty-handed.  While you don't necessarily NEED to bring anything, any proof you have that you go above and beyond will definitely be a positive mark whenever you are being interviewed. 

5.  Don't leave without having all of your questions answered.  Don't be afraid to ask questions afterwards.  Even if you think you know everything you need to know about the job, find something relevant to ask.  This shows them that you are indeed interested in the position.

6.  So you did all of these things, yet you still didn't get an offer?  It happens sometimes.  Timing also plays an important role.  They may end up deciding that they're going to fill all of their NLO positions with internal candidates after all of the interviews are complete.  This actually happened to one guy I spoke with.  Passed the POSS, and one of the interviewers personally told him that was one of the best interviews he's done.  If all the positions get filled from within, it doesn't matter.  Half of the room may also be current or previous NLOs simply looking to re-locate.  If you don't have any previous NLO experience, you're already at a slight disadvantage.  That's just the way the cards are played sometimes.

Granted, I have not even received an offer yet, but I feel very confident after my interview.  All of this advice comes after hours upon hours of going through these forums reading other people's experiences, along with my personal experience from my recent interview.  Feel free to provide feedback.  I will provide an update on whether or not I get an offer.  ;)

My thoughts on this (I interviewed for D-RO, D-SRO, SRO Instructor and a couple non-nuke jobs last year):
1. You don't actually need your DD-214 at the interview, but you will need it when you start. It doesn't hurt to bring it though.

2. 100% agree. The only reason to even consider going business casual (heck no to casual) for an interview is if you know ahead of time you're getting a plant tour (not likely at a nuke plant), and even then, you can just take of the coat.

3. You will probably get asked something you're not ready for, but don't sweat it. Ask for a minute to think, then answer honestly (unless it involves hating your last boss). If you can't think of an answer (i.e. a time you were in the situation), just say so and tell them how you would handle it.

4. I doubt you need anything to provide proof of what you've done, unless you're going for Direct RO/SRO, then bring proof of your quals. I would recommend a notebook and pen so you can take notes. Also, if you're moving to a new company, do some research, take notes, and write down questions ahead of time.

5. 100% agree. If you think of something after the interview, you should have contact info for someone so you can ask.

6. I had this issue with an interview for D-SRO. Took and passed the POSS, BMST, and FLS assessment, then spent 3 months waiting (I started calling at 6 weeks) before finding out all the positions had been filled with internal candidates. I did get offers for D-RO and the instructor position (took the instructor)

There really is no way to fully prepare for the interview questions, true.  The STAR interview questions can provide you with a general guideline of the TYPES of questions they will ask, but that's about it.  I think I got lucky with the questions they asked; two of them I actually practiced answering, so I was immediately ready for those questions.  The notebook and pen isn't a bad idea.  I did not bring anything to write with during the interview, but I also did extensive research on the plant and union, and it showed.


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