Manager Sustainability Interview Preparation Guide
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Manager Sustainability related Frequently Asked Questions in various Manager Sustainability job interviews by interviewer. The set of questions here ensures that you offer a perfect answer posed to you. So get preparation for your new job hunting

42 Manager Sustainability Questions and Answers:

1 :: Tell me what sort of training or education do you have?

I have a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. I received my master's degree in environmental engineering from the University of Minnesota. One of the reasons I was a good candidate for the job was my regulatory and environmental health and safety experience in operations and product development. My past jobs required systems thinking. I worked with teams that were cross-functional. Interdisciplinary thinking is a large part of problem solving in sustainability - looking at issues from numerous perspectives for solutions to complex problems. Training has been on the job for me, primarily through webinars and attending workshops and conferences.

There are more courses available to people interested in sustainability jobs today than when I was in school. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus has a minor in sustainability open to all majors and the College of Continuing Education is developing a professional certificate. There are sustainability programs in architecture, agriculture, and business. The Association for the Advancement in Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has resources for people interested in campus sustainability.
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2 :: Explain what changes in this field do you expect to see in the future?

What won't be changing? It's very dynamic. Minnesota is at a different place than other states. It's more active on many sustainability-related issues. Jobs could shift to other parts of the country that are just starting to think about sustainability. I think we'll see shifts in jobs based on research and political support. Minnesota will play an important role in our energy future.

Other institutions are working on sustainability too. Hospitals are involved and working on this through their credo of "health care without harm." Businesses have been focused on environmental issues for years. For several years, there has been a shift towards sustainability and the triple-bottom line. Interdisciplinary research and education help bring more holistic approaches. On campus, student interest drives a lot of changes. The Internet is linking students to global ideas and solutions. It's a shift that people of my generation don't always fully appreciate. As these students enter the workforce and become consumers, they will be looking for responsible companies that are being innovative in their solutions. With Minnesota resources, our workforce has an opportunity to prepare for future jobs.
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3 :: Tell me how many of our employees have read the report and how many have provided feedback?

Aha. This is a great question. If your Sustainability Report is not reaching your employees (supported by a proactive process of dialogue) then you are probably not gaining all the potential benefits of reporting. How can employees reflect the company's Sustainability Performance to external stakeholders if they are not familiar with the report? Your SRM should be in close collaboration with the HR function to ensure that the internal organizational processes include engagement with the Sustainability Report.
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4 :: Tell me when should we have another little chat?

Be prepared for a non committal response
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5 :: Why this industry?

What is it about the work environment that appeals to you? Perhaps you're applying to be a retail manager because you particularly like the idea of working in a store. Or maybe you're applying to be a construction site manager and you've always been an outdoors type. It will be particularly impressive if you can talk about the challenges and developments facing the industry.

If you're applying for role in transport you could talk about rising fuel costs, for retail you could talk about the role of online shopping and for construction you could talk about sustainability, for example. That would show that you've got business sense and are commercially aware, a crucial skill for a manager.
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6 :: Explain what are the big barriers or frustrations you face to achieving change?

I'm not going to give you the 'normal' answer you may hear as to which barriers we face when trying to achieve change - I'm going to go with my pet peeve, which is the lack of readily available, and high quality life cycle analysis data. Life cycle analysis data enables you to find out where your biggest impacts are, i.e. how much water you use, how much electricity you use - unfortunately our industry is not quite at the big data age yet. There's a lot of info you can get - but it takes a long time and it's difficult to find.
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7 :: Tell me what is a typical day like at your job?

My typical hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., sometimes earlier or later depending on events and meetings that day. My hours vary depending on the time of year, because in the summer there are fewer student activities. I meet with student groups in the evenings or work on student events or community events during the weekend. As long as I am accessible by phone and Internet, I can get many parts of my job done. There's some flexibility to work from home if I need to. During a normal day, I meet with a variety of people - from large committee meetings that I staff to informal student meetings. I also speak to classes and other groups.

Since I am fairly new to the job, I spend a lot of time learning about everything going on at the University. I often read and e-mail in the evening. I also learn new technical information. For example, trying to learn about B3 energy standards compared to LEED. I benchmark schools and their policies in transportation, dining services, purchasing, etc.
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8 :: Tell me are there any common misconceptions about this type of work?

Some people think sustainability is not definable, that it is vague. We are working to define and measure sustainability. Our efforts to show what works (and what doesn't) will hopefully help the public be more informed.

Another misconception is sustainability always costs more and is not practical or that you aren't being fiscally responsible. Reducing energy use and waste can be big costs savers and are first steps to create more sustainable operations. Terminology is important. For many people, when they hear "green," they may assume you have a radical political agenda. Not everyone does. Some people in this field are simply practical problem solvers. Another challenge is misinformation and "green-washing." I hope the university can play a role to help the public wade through information.

There's also controversy of the words "green" and "sustainability" and applying them to things that have happened for years. Regulatory jobs are now called green jobs. Other people think sustainability is a "flash in the pan" and wonder whether it will be around long-term. Making decisions that take into account future generations and life cycle concepts isn't simple, but I think there will always be people working on these issues to get the job done whether or not they are "popular."
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9 :: Tell me what did we choose not to report on and why not?

Almost all reports are trade-offs. Legal, marketing, finance, HR team members almost always have something they prefer not to disclose for different reasons. In many cases, these "Secrets" may not be critical to the report's integrity but in some cases, they might be quite telling about the organization's challenges. As CEO, you would probably want to know what your people are fearful about disclosing and why.
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10 :: Explain what help do you need from me in the next reporting cycle?

Asking the question doesn't commit you to providing all the help requested, but it does give you an idea of the state of mind of your SRM. The SRM should be pleased to receive help and support from the CEO and I can think of hundreds of ways the CEO could support the reporting process. An SRM who responds "nothing, really" to this question is probably not doing the best possible job.
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