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Heavy Equipment Operator Interview
Questions

39 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 39

What types of heavy machinery are you experienced in?

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Heavy Equipment Operator Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    What types of heavy machinery are you experienced in?

      It's a great idea to be clear on the types of machinery you will be working on, in this role, before going into your interview. This way, you can highlight any relevant experience. If you are not aware of the type of equipment used in this role, it is absolutely okay to ask! The types of machinery you are experienced with are likely listed on your resume; however, the interviewer would like for you to go into further detail on your level of experience and comfort-ability.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I see that you are looking for 5 years' experience in equipment 'ABC'. I bring 7 years experience with this particular type of equipment. I also consider myself an intermediate level operator in X, Y, and Z."

  2. 2.

    What causes you to feel dissatisfied on the job?

      Everyone will have their own particular triggers that cause them to feel dissatisfaction on the job. Talk to the interviewer about any factors that may deflate or discourage you in the workplace.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I can feel dissatisfaction on the job when I am not feeling heard or when there is not a mutual respect among the team members. I work best in more harmonious situations where there is little drama or gossip."

  3. 3.

    Why do you want a career as a Heavy Equipment Operator?

      The interviewer wants to gauge whether you may be a long term fit for their company, or not. Be sure to give an example of why you are passionate about your career as a Heavy Equipment Operator and tell the interviewer that you are in this career path for the long haul.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I have always had an interest in heavy equipment. As a teenager, I helped my dad on the job site in the summers and he would let me operate the smaller pieces of equipment. I guess you could say it's in my blood. I plan to be an operator for many years to come."

  4. 4.

    Would your former or current boss describe you as a worker who gladly goes the extra mile to complete their tasks?

      You can absolutely say that you will go the extra mile but it's best to give a real life example to the interviewer about a time when you did just that. Offer up your references as well and discuss with the interviewer what you feel your most recent employer would say about you.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My former boss would definitely describe me as an employee who goes the extra mile. In my most recent position, I was always available on my email and many of my service clients had my cell phone number just in case of an after-hours emergency. When you call my reference he will be happy to expand on that for you, I am sure."

  5. 5.

    In your opinion, what skills and behaviors are most important, in order to be a successful Heavy Equipment Operator?

      The interviewer knows that you will likely list skills and behaviors that you personally possess. Assure the interviewer that you understand what it takes to be successful as a Heavy Equipment Operator. You want your answer to be unique. This will help you to stand out from the other potential candidates. For instance, saying that you think a Heavy Equipment Operator should be safe, and detail driven, may be a mundane answer that anyone would give. Dig deeper!

      Here are some ideas:

      - Reliable
      - Independent
      - Aware
      - Capable of stress-management
      - Patient
      - Honest
      - Alert
      - Open to feedback
      - Dedicated

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I believe the most important skills as a Heavy Equipment Operator would be to have technical and mechanical abilities, quick-decision making skills, and be capable of exercising patience."

  6. 6.

    What are your salary expectations?

      The best way to discuss your salary expectations are to use your current earnings as an example. Be open, and honest. Transparency is the best choice when salary based questions arise.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Currently, I earn a base salary of $45,000 per year plus a potential 20% annual bonus. Last year my earnings were $52,000 and I would like to stay in the same range or slightly higher."

  7. 7.

    We measure productivity in a variety of ways. In your opinion, what are the most important performance metrics for this position?

      The interviewer would like to know that you can identify the most important parts of this role and understand how those relate to the overall success of the company. Reading through their job description, you should be able to pull out the key responsibilities in this role. These key responsibilities are directly connected to the success of the organization. Discuss what you think the key performance metrics are and how you plan to meet them.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "From reading the job description and overall responsibilities of the role, I believe that the most important metrics to measure in this role are A, B, and C. In my current position I am measured by these exact metrics. I am a consistent performer in my current role and plan to bring the same enthusiasm to this position."

  8. 8.

    Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with.

      Keep your answer simple and avoid over dramatizing any event. Speaking negatively about others will always look unfavorable towards you. Telling the interviewer that you get along with everyone is not an appropriate or believable response either. Focus on a time when your work style was different than another person but perhaps you still had to successfully complete a project together. Discuss, in a positive tone, how you made it work!

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Last month I had to collaborate on a project with a corporate project manager who works very differently than I do. I find timely follow up to be incredibly important and this particular PM seemed to be more relaxed with that aspect. I continued to work how I always do but did ask this PM a couple of times to communicate more frequently with me in order to make the collaboration smoother. I fully understand that not everyone will work in perfect synergy and that is okay. It's what makes everyone unique. There is always a professional workaround available - sometimes you just have to approach the situation head-on but in a respectful way."

  9. 9.

    Do you have experience working in a unionized environment? What are your thoughts on union based roles?

      While the interviewing company may have some, or all, unionized employees, it's best to answer this question as diplomatic as possible. Avoid complaining and try to focus on the perks that might come from working in a unionized environment.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Personally, I have not worked in a unionized environment; however, I have heard that unions are a great way to ensure continuity in the workplace. From what I understand, they offer security to employees which is always a bonus.
      OR
      I currently work in a unionized environment. There are some kinks to be worked out, but overall, I am certainly open to working in another unionized environment. If executed properly, unions can be great!"

  10. 10.

    This role will require full commitment in varying weather conditions. Do you have experience working in tough conditions?

      The interviewer wants to know that you are able to work in any type of work conditions required in this role. If you are unsure of the work conditions, it is absolutely okay to ask the interviewer to elaborate, before you fully agree. You can respond by describing the work conditions you have previously been exposed to, and assure the interviewer that you are ready and capable of handling the position as it's been described.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I understand that you have indoor and outdoor facilities, and that work must go on...rain or shine! I have worked in a variety of environments including outdoor yards, and even a chemical plant. I am happy to commit, even through tough working conditions."

  11. 11.

    How important is safety to you? What type of safety training do you have?

      The interviewer wants to see that you understand the importance of safety in the workplace, and that you are dedicated enough to your trade to have participated in some formal training. Walk the interviewer through your safety-related training and be sure to ask them if they are looking for specific experience. This will allow you to overcome any objections related to your level of exposure to safety training.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Safe work practices are the groundwork to everything that we do. In regards to safety training, I have completed courses on Ground Disturbance, Occupational Health and Safety, and Excavation Safety. Are there any other safety courses you would like to see me have?"

  12. 12.

    What are your strengths?

      Which personal strengths make you excellent at your job? Strengths can be skills or qualities that help you overcome difficult circumstances or accomplish challenging tasks.

      In a work context, your strengths will help you to complete your to-do list, understand client needs, and help you to apply what you have learned in your training. Talk to the interviewer about a couple of your strengths and why those will help you to be successful in this role.

      Some great strengths to mention are:

      - Communicative
      - Loyal
      - Collaborative
      - Tech Savvy
      - Flexible in Schedule/Availability
      - Persistent and Determined
      - Eager for Knowledge/New Skills

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am very thorough, I work well with a team, and I am careful to always follow safety protocols. I go the extra mile to ensure things are done right and everyone is safe. This only benefits the team and the company as a whole. Safety is a top priority, not only so people don't get hurt, but to demonstrate care and concern for your team members' wellbeing. This is what builds trust and camaraderie on a team. I also pride myself on performing high quality work in an effort to lead by example and encourage others to do the same."

  13. 13.

    After receiving information from your supervisor, how do you ensure you properly communicate this information to your team?

      It is immensely important to accurately communicate information in the workplace, especially when it means the safety of others. Discuss with the interviewer how you go about communicating important information to your team.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "When I receive new information from my supervisor I will run my understanding of it by the supervisor to ensure that my interpretation is correct. After that, I will relay the information formally (in writing) to my team, and then I will follow that up with verbal confirmation."

  14. 14.

    Why did you leave your last job?

      The interviewer wants to know why you chose to move on. A great response would be to say, "I was ready to take on a new challenge," or "there was no room for growth in that position." It's always best to draw attention to what you are moving onto rather than focusing on what was wrong with what you left. It's understandable to want a new challenge or to desire to learn new things. So share what you're interested in getting out of this new opportunity! If you left involuntarily, explain why and be willing to admit fault. Show what you learned from the situation and how you want to prevent that issue from happening again.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I was ready to take on a new challenge,"

  15. 15.

    On a scale from 1 to 10, how honest are you?

      Do you feel that you are a very honest person or do you have room for growth? This could be a tricky question as nobody is always 100% honest. Answer to the best of your ability and back your reply by speaking about your personal ethics.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I would love to give myself a 10/10 for honesty but truthfully - nobody is 100% honest all of the time. I will give myself an 9 because I always do my best to be as honest as possible."

  16. 16.

    Tell me about a time that you naturally took on a leadership role without being asked. Did you enjoy being a leader? Were you happy with the outcome?

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  17. 17.

    What steps do you take when a piece of equipment starts performing poorly?

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  18. 18.

    Attention to detail is very important in this role. How do you ensure you remain focused and accurate at all times?

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  19. 19.

    If you were given a choice, which work related task would you leave for last? Why?

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  20. 20.

    How would you react if your supervisor asked you to perform a task that you were not comfortable with?

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  21. 21.

    We are asking for 8 years of industry experience and you have just 5. Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

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  22. 22.

    What kind of people do you enjoy working with?

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  23. 23.

    When have you had to make a split second decision? How do you react under unexpected pressure? The interviewer wants to know how you handle pressure when an unexpected stressor arises.

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  24. 24.

    What decisions did you routinely make in your last position?

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  25. 25.

    How do you deal with conflict on your team?

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  26. 26.

    When have you used an inventive method to stretch company resources beyond the normal level?

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  27. 27.

    What is your availability?

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  28. 28.

    Tell me about a time when you received criticism from your manager. How did you react to that criticism? How did you make improvements based on that criticism?

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  29. 29.

    How do you handle a larger than average workload?

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  30. 30.

    When have you worked amongst a diverse group of people?

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  31. 31.

    Would you say you are a better verbal or written communicator?

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  32. 32.

    What are your weaknesses?

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  33. 33.

    Why is this job right for you at this time in your career?

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  34. 34.

    When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?

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  35. 35.

    Describe an ongoing problem at your current or former employer that you were able to overcome.

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  36. 36.

    As a Heavy Equipment Operator, you will be asked to work a variety of shifts. Do you have any restrictions on your availability?

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  37. 37.

    The role of Heavy Equipment Operator requires high amounts of physical activity. What experience have you had within a physically demanding role?

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  38. 38.

    When you have a situation that could cause you to be unexpectedly absent from work, how do you handle it?

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  39. 39.

    How would you fill your time, if faced with downtime during your working day?

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