Effective Interviewing of Oil Refinery Candidates | RefinerLink

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Effective Interviewing of Oil Refinery Candidates

By Org Coach Thomas

May 10, 2016

Tips on how to find the right candidate to fit your refinery job vacancy.


Finding the right candidate for your job vacancy isn’t always a straight forward task.  You will come across a wide variety of personalities, and not all are appropriate for your specific job or company. Here are a few to scrutinize very carefully.






The Smooth Talker



Hey, how you doin’? This person may be hard to recognize at first. The conversation flows easily and he’s a likeable guy. Someone you’d like to play softball with. He responds to questions with all the right phrases. “Oh yeah, I was able to resolve conflict by finding the right compromise, thus creating peace and harmony in the world.”


This is where you remind yourself that you’re not looking for a person who interviews well but a person who also works well. Dig deeper into his responses and get specifics on what his contributions were. Don’t accept generic responses – use the STAR approach to draw out concrete examples.


In a refinery it’s critical that you get a candidate that can work well with people from diverse backgrounds.  This person needs to be a straight shooter or else operations folks are going to see right through it. Unit operators don’t like working with these smooth talkers, so be wary of this when making hiring decision.




The 4.0 and Nothing Else



Most companies are getting better about not focusing in on GPAs, but some still need to be reminded. The guy that got a 4.0 but has nothing else on his resume could be a disaster in a refinery. Most refineries don’t have positions where you can focus on one thing and just the one thing. Priorities are always shifting and people have to learn to manage different tasks at the same time.


For the people that fall in this category, try to push more on how they managed stressful times with multiple deadlines. It’s also wise to test if the 4.0 demonstrates creative thinking and problem solving or just memorization. Ask them to walk you through an open ended problem and observe how they managed to approach a problem where the solution wasn’t already defined.


The biggest issue with 4.0 new hires is that they tend to over-apply theory in the practical world. The strong academic background also provides a false sense of confidence that can rub people the wrong way in an industry environment.  Even if a console operator has not properly diagnosed a problem, the lack of tact that these 4.0-ers have may not get anything solved.




The Shy One



This person doesn’t interview extremely well. Maybe he’s soft spoken and doesn’t make strong eye contact. Does that mean you automatically cross him off the list? Not really. Too many people fall into the habit of hiring people that have personalities similar to them.


Remember that you’re trying to hire a diverse workforce with different strengths and characteristics. You’re not just hiring future managers.


For these shy candidates, press more on situations where they have demonstrated leadership. This doesn’t have to be the fiery speech type of leadership. Quiet leadership can be just as effective. So even though this person isn’t the most outgoing and confident person you’ve seen, he might still bring some very valuable skills to your organization.




The Go-Getter



We all love to manage a group of self-starters.  They are clever, efficient, and strong workers.  There’s always a place for a Go-Getter in any organization, but many companies create conflict when they hire a quality candidate, but do not provide that person with a way for continued growth. 


If your organization can provide dynamic opportunities for this type of candidate to develop in, then surely hire a Go-Getter that fits your company culture.  If you have a flatter organization structure, you should evaluate the short term benefit vs long term risk.  An immediate boost of energy is great for all organizations, but this can quickly turn into frustration if growth outlets do not exist.



At the end of the day every hiring manager needs to assess what the long term goals are for the job vacancies they are trying to fill.  The objective to hiring quality candidates is to have people satisfy your organizational needs while satisfying their personal motivations.  Whether it be future leaders, or daily work-horses. 


We all recognize that constant turnover and transition presents a huge distraction from company progress, so one means of minimizing this is to hire the right type of individuals to fit your organization. 

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