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National Oilwell Varco Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brown

Question 1 of 30

How are crude oil prices determined?

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National Oilwell Varco Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    How are crude oil prices determined?

      Show the interviewer that you have a understanding of pricing in the oil and gas industry. Although you are likely not an oil trader, you should still have a good idea of how pricing works when it comes to crude oil, gasoline, and more. Of course, supply and demand is a factor but try to dig a bit deeper when you respond.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I understand that market conditions, as well as supply and demand, are critical factors when it comes to pricing crude oil. Other important factors include consumer habits, terrorist activities and other global threats, environmental issues, and also the grade of the crude itself."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "Crude oil prices are determined by multiple factors, which include market conditions, economic issues, environmental issues, and also the overall demand for the crude. The smallest market shift can alter the crude pricing, which is why some people dedicate their entire lives to learning about crude oil pricing and the factors that affect it."

  2. 2.

    National Oilwell Varco has a serious commitment to safety. How will you help us to uphold this commitment?

      Safety is a vital topic in the oil and gas industry, and the interviewer would like to know that you are committed to helping National Oilwell Varco in their mission. Discuss the ways that you uphold safety standards in the workplace. Extra points if you can memorize the safety mission of National Oilwell Varco.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I read online that National Oilwell Varco has a range of programs related to safety, and that your mission is, 'Safety above everything.' I will help you to uphold this commitment by delivering over and above expectations, completing my documentation fully and clearly, and by staying on top of industry trends and changes."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "When National Oilwell Varco says that the safety mission is to put safety above everything, it resonates with me. Values guide me and understand the importance of a healthy environment and a safe workplace."

  3. 3.

    Which is the leading publication or resource that you use for up-to-date news on the oil and gas sector?

      It's crucial that you keep up-to-date on the latest news and changes within the oil industry. The industry is ever-changing, and you must be well-immersed to stay on top of your game. Luckily, there is a multitude of publications and resources available, to keep your knowledge current. It's a great idea to ask the interviewer if they have any suggestions for you to expand your knowledge base.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I like to stick with a few of the most reliable resources for oil news such as Oil and Gas Journal, RigZone, and Oil & Gas 360. Before you stopped publishing, I also used to love to read The Lamp. Do you have any recommendations? I love to hear of new resources where I can learn."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "My favorite publication for up to date news is Oil and Gas Journal. I also look for trending tweets on Twitter, and I follow Exxon Mobil on social media, for up to date news. Do you have any additional resource recommendations? I'm always looking for new sources of reliable information about the industry."

  4. 4.

    This role requires extensive knowledge of pipeline systems and oil well machinery. How well do you understand this complicated equipment?

      To fully understand pipeline systems and oil well machinery, you will need to have many years' experience in the industry. Briefly discuss with the interviewer how comfortable you are on these topics. Be sure to list any courses that you have taken on these topics.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I have studied pipeline systems for some time now, and have worked in the oil industry for approximately eight years. There are always new things to learn, as the industry is ever-evolving; however, I would rate my knowledge at an intermediate to advanced level. If there is any coursework that you recommend I take before starting with National Oilwell Varco, I would be happy to comply."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I am newer to the oil and gas industry; however, I have taken some coursework including fundamentals of offshore and onshore pipeline systems and am confidently in my knowledge base. I am currently working toward my Pipeline Operations Certificate which includes studies focused on corrosion theory, measurement fundamentals, and inspection techniques."

  5. 5.

    What is the most significant achievement you have on the horizon?

      When you show that you have goals and achievements on the horizon, you are letting the interviewer know that you put thought into your career and what you bring to your employer. Employees who do not have goals set just beyond their reach are typically disengaged and unmotivated. This achievement does not need to be complicated. It can be as simple as finishing a beautiful Powerpoint presentation, finishing work-related coursework, or reaching a sales target.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "The most significant achievement on the horizon for me is the completion of my Advanced Excel and SAP courses. I have learned a great deal, and have a few modules to go. I look forward to applying these new skills to this role with National Oilwell Varco"

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "For the last two years, I have been working toward my master's degree in Chemical Engineering while also working full time. This effort has been challenging and rewarding all at the same time. My graduation date is this May, so that is the most significant achievement on the horizon."

  6. 6.

    What have you done to improve your oil and gas knowledge in the last year?

      The interviewer wants to know that you are interested in your industry, and career growth, enough to take your professional development into your own hands. Even if your current employer does not offer perks like oil industry conferences or financial reimbursement for additional coursework, there is no reason why you cannot take the initiative.

      You could:

      - Read industry or career-related books
      - Subscribe to relevant podcasts
      - Enhance your education with an additional certificate
      - Attend a conference related to your career or personal growth
      - Teach yourself a new software program
      - Read established journals and websites on a regular basis
      - Find a mentor who is senior to you, in your particular industry or career path

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "It is important to me that I continue to grow as a professional oil and gas administrator. This year I took an Advanced Excel course so that I could take my competency from intermediate to expert. The course has helped me immensely, and I am currently looking into a leadership workshop as well."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "The oil and gas industry is always changing, and it's vital that I continue to gain knowledge, to keep up with the latest and greatest! I refer on a daily basis to a variety of energy-related journals and publications such as Oilweek, Midstream Business, and Gas & Oil magazine."

  7. 7.

    Why is this job with National Oilwell Varco right for you at this time in your career?

      Discuss with the interviewer why you are looking to make a change, and how this particular role fits well with the changes that you are seeking. Be sure to give a more in-depth answer than the typical 'I am looking for growth'response that so many interviewers hear. Be thoughtful and draw upon the research you have done on National Oilwell Varco.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I have been passively seeking a new position for quite some time and haven't jumped on anything yet because I want to make sure it's the right fit. I feel that this job is right for me, at this point in my career, because it offers an opportunity for me to utilize my new education in GIS while giving me an opportunity to advance in my management skills."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I currently manage a small team of 12 field operators and engineers. Although I love the work, I am ready to stretch myself professionally into an organization with more production capacity, and teams of 25 or more. This year I dedicated myself to taking two leadership workshops, which I feel greatly prepared me to take on the challenge of the work volume present in National Oilwell Varco."

  8. 8.

    When given an important assignment, how do you approach handling it?

      The interviewer would like to know how you first approach a critical assignment. Are you the individual who will take an assignment head-on, or do you need to research and plan early? Do you jump in and get it all done immediately or do you balance it with other assignments? Talk to the interviewer about how you approach essential tasks at work.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "When my supervisor gives me an important assignment or task I am sure to assess the depth of the project, then take a look at my schedule to see how I can appropriately balance it with my other work. I do not procrastinate because then it's easy to get behind."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I lay out all the deadlines, figure out the deliverables, priority order, and then do all the research needed to make informed decisions. I keep a written "to-do" list and transfer project deadlines into my calendar to stay on task."

  9. 9.

    Tell me about your education and how it relates to the oil, gas, or energy sector.

      The interviewer would like for you to take a few minutes to highlight your educational background. You can mention your GPA, your major or minor and also any accolades and awards that you received during your university career. If you were involved in student-led clubs or other extracurriculars, you could mention that as well.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "My degree in Chemical Engineering has prepared me in a few ways. My degree came with a heavy focus on petroleum which included safety issue reviews such as blowouts, fire, and other hazards. I also learned a great deal about hydrate formation and decomposition, H2S, toxic gases, and safe transportation and disposal of petroleum wastes. I graduated with a 3.6 GPA and was also president of the Student's Union, rounding out my time with some leadership experience."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I recently graduated with my Mechanical Engineering degree, where I focused my time on Mechanical and Industrial engineering applications. My GPA was a 3.8, and I made the Deans List. My education has prepared me for a role with National Oilwell Varco in many ways including leadership, discipline and organizational skills."

  10. 10.

    You will often be working cross-departmentally. Tell me about a time you worked successfully with people outside of your department.

      Collaboration and teamwork are significant topics in the oil and gas industry. There will be many opportunities for you to work alongside different people in varying roles, functions, and departments. The interviewer would like to know that you can work closely with others even when their job functions may not be exactly like yours. Your ability to work with cross-functional teams will be a significant asset to National Oilwell Varco.

      Maybe you headed a project which required you to collaborate with the members of the engineering and HR teams. You may have had the opportunity to organize a volunteer activity or team building exercise, company-wide. Share any challenges that came up and what you learned from the experience.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I have worked in a cross-functional setting for many years. Primarily with the Engineering department and the HR department, arranging various contractors and agreements. Clear communication and clarity in expectations are of huge importance to me, and you can rest assured that I would work cohesively with any department."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I bring experience in cross-functional teamwork in my current chemical engineering position. I believe that when expectations are communicated clearly from the beginning, a cross-functional team project can be very successful. I go into these types of projects with an understanding that everyone has their strengths and limitations based on their expertise and job function."

  11. 11.

    With which industry-related computer programs are you most familiar?

      The oil and gas industry has many options when it comes to computer programs, applications, and other software solutions. Speak briefly to the ones with which you're most comfortable. Also be sure to express that you can learn new applications and systems quickly.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I have experience with several different computer software suites within the oil and gas industry - I've worked with NetSuite, Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management, JD Edwards and Microsoft Dynamics most recently. I'm also comfortable with SAP Business. I also can easily learn new systems. Could you share with me which programs you use at National Oilwell Varco? I would be happy to gain a head start by taking online coursework and tutorials."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I am newer to my career so I would say that I am entry-level in most oil and gas related programs. I am tech savvy, however, and can learn these systems quickly. I am advanced in MS Office Suite and have used CRM's in the past."

  12. 12.

    Do you think it is possible to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader?

      The interviewer wants to know that you can be diplomatic in the workplace, even when you may not agree with your leader. Show the interviewer that it is possible for you to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader from time to time. Explain that you believe everyone is entitled to their own professional opinion, yet capable of maintaining respect for each other at the same time. Show that even if you disagree with the final decision they make, you support the direction the team is heading.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "What makes a great team member is not that they agree with everything but the level of respect and positive thought that goes into the person's communication style. It's okay to disagree; however, you have to communicate your thoughts professionally and ultimately comply with the leader's decision on a particular issue."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I have had team members disagree with decisions that I have made as a manager, and it does not bother me unless they are disrespectful about the situation. I think it's great to face challenging thoughts in the workplace and I welcome varying trains of thought. In fact, I believe that sometimes disagreeing with the leader is the strongest sign of a good team member. If someone disagrees with me because they have the greater good of the team and/or the company in mind, then I want to hear that. And as a strong leader, I need to hear it."

  13. 13.

    Documentation is crucial in this role. Rate your documentation abilities from 1-10 while supporting your answer.

      Documentation, in the oil and gas industry, is crucial. When dealing with intense environmental situations, red tape and regulations, and the safety of employees and labor contractors, one must always ensure the I's are dotted, and the T's are crossed. Tell the interviewer that you understand the importance of clear and precise documentation. Give an example of what makes you great with documenting.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I would rate my documentation skills as a 9/10. I am not perfect; however, I fully understand the potential repercussions related to unclear or messy paperwork and documentation. My current manager often compliments me on my reliable documentation, and I am sure she would be happy to comment when you call for an employment reference."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "I feel solid in my documentation skills, ensuring that my work remains organized and precise. Since what I do is closely related to safety initiatives, I am especially careful and pay close attention to detail. For that reason, I would rate my documentation skills as a 9.5/10."

  14. 14.

    National Oilwell Varco operates in many countries. Are you eligible to travel and work around the world?

      National Oilwell Varco may operate in a multitude of regions and the interviewer would like to know that you can accommodate their potential needs as you grow within their organization. Be honest with your answer, but as open as possible. If you have limitations, be sure to discuss them. If you are free and able to travel, you can keep your response straightforward.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "I am eligible to travel and have no limitations when it comes to working around the world. My passport is valid, and I have a NEXUS border pass."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "Could you share with me more about the travel component in this role? I am eligible to travel and willing to, as needed."

  15. 15.

    Using the STAR method, tell me about the most significant problem you faced and solved.

      Many interviewers like to apply the STAR method during discussions with their candidates. If you are not sure what STAR is:

      - Situation: talk about a challenge you have faced
      - Task: an overview of what you set out to achieve
      - Action: a brief on what you did, or how you assessed the situation
      - Result: the outcome of the steps that you took

      Keep your STAR example workplace related, and keep your response organized, helping you to avoid rambling.

      Ryan's Answer #1

      "In my first year of working as an O&G administrator, I was asked to update and manage our Well Files into digital files. The job was daunting, so I broke the task alphabetically, and then by region. From there, I started to build the file database. The job took me about three months and, in the end, my manager was thrilled. The result was that the organized file system saved our department many hours of time when searching for oil-well specific data."

      Ryan's Answer #2

      "My previous company had an alarmingly high accident rate. As a safety specialist, I was asked to evaluate multiple processes, assess the problem areas, and create a program to resolve the safety issues. I studied every accident, going back six years. Compiling the data, I then analyze my findings, to source out the weak spots. Knowing the weakest areas gave me a baseline from which to work. The entire project took me about four months. The result was, 18 months later, our safety rate went up 35%."

  16. 16.

    Tell me about a time when you witnessed unsafe behavior in the field. What did you do?

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  17. 17.

    Oil has different categories. Name a few.

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  18. 18.

    What is OPEC, and why does it matter?

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  19. 19.

    What questions do you have for me?

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  20. 20.

    What is API gravity, and how is it calculated?

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  21. 21.

    When have you been asked to perform a function or complete a task in which you had little or no experience in doing?

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  22. 22.

    When have you had to make a split second decision? How do you react under unexpected pressure?

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  23. 23.

    Would you be willing to work over 40 hours a week?

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  24. 24.

    How would you describe your written communication skills?

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  25. 25.

    What type of work environment allows you to be the most productive?

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  26. 26.

    Tell me how you brought value to your most recent position.

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  27. 27.

    When have you shown great integrity at work?

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  28. 28.

    What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

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  29. 29.

    What is your personal mission statement?

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  30. 30.

    Is compensation the most important factor for you when taking a new job?

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