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Water Quality Analyst Interview
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25 Questions and Answers by Clara Canon
Updated April 2nd, 2020 | Clara is a career coaching expert and has supported individuals landing positions in education, nonprofit, corporate, and beyond.
Job Interviews     Careers     Sciences    

Question 1 of 25

Are you familiar with our state-specific water quality standards in addition to federal requirements?

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1.

Are you familiar with our state-specific water quality standards in addition to federal requirements?

Your interviewers might ask this question to gauge the level of research you conducted to prepare you for the interview. In anticipation of this question, be sure to research federal and state requirements prior to your interview - particularly if you are applying in a new state or region.

Clara's Answer

"Yes, I am very familiar with federal and state guidelines regarding water quality standards. To stay informed, I continue to consult various resources with details on my region, state, and surrounding areas."

2.

What are the three main purposes of water treatment?

This is a knowledge-based question that should be considered standard. It might seem straightforward, but your interviewers will use this opportunity to see how well you answer a seemingly simple question under pressure as well as how easy you are to understand when breaking your answer down. Be sure to outline your response in advance so you don't catch yourself on your words, and keep it concise for your interviewers to easily digest.

Clara's Answer

"Water treatment primarily focuses on health and safety, though it also incorporates a cosmetic function as well. The three main purposes of water treatment are: to remove any toxic or health-hazardous chemicals, to remove - or inactivate - any potential disease-causing microorganisms, and simply to improve the aesthetic quality of the water."

3.

Are you willing to work weekends?

Government positions generally check water quality 365 days a year. Some private and government departments might offer 24-hour emergency service as well. Generally, you will want your answer to be 'yes' to this question to demonstrate that you are flexible and familiar with the expectations of the position.

Clara's Answer

"I am very open and flexible with my schedule, so I am able and willing to work weekends."

4.

Why would water treatment switch from chloramine to chlorine disinfection?

This question is purely testing your knowledge. Your interviewers will likely pepper-in a few knowledge-based questions to explore your understanding and ability to navigate being put on the spot. Remember - you don't want to make things up on these sorts of questions, so be prepared to own when you might need to explore something further.

Clara's Answer

"In some cases, water treatment might switch from chloramine to chlorine in order to remove a scum layer. I would love to explore this question further following the interview for any additional purposes that I might be less familiar with."

5.

How do you motivate yourself when operating independently?

This position requires operating independently to meet your targets and largely drafting your own schedule, so your interviewers want to ensure that you are self-motivated and capable of operating independently at a consistently high level. Consider ways in which you motivate yourself at work and how you might apply those tricks to this position.

Clara's Answer

"First, I remind myself daily of what draws me to my work and keeps me engaged. I maintain a detailed schedule in my planner, so I might leave a note there or ground myself in the car at the start of the day. When I focus on those fundamentals, I'm able to keep myself in a more productive and helpful mindset. Of course, I also like to incorporate additional little ways to stay motivated, like car karaoke on my way from the field to the lab!"

6.

Are you familiar with the current water quality criteria for aquatic life and human health?

Your interviewers will likely test the depth of your knowledge and understanding with varying levels of questions pertaining to water quality analysis. You will want to refresh your memory and update yourself thoroughly prior to your interview in anticipation of some of these questions. If you find yourself unsure of an answer, then provide as much relevant information as you're able and acknowledge that you will explore it further following your interview. You do not want to make your answer up on the spot if you are not familiar with the content of the question.

Clara's Answer

"I try to stay as current and informed as possible on regulations that impact water quality criteria in my service area, and I pursue additional national - even international - resources and information on a minimum quarterly basis. That said,I am very familiar with the criteria for human health, and I am also familiar with the fundamentals of the criteria for aquatic life."

7.

Explain the concept of 'multiple barriers' in water treatment.

The interviewers will likely test the depth of your knowledge and ability to articulate concepts to others. Be prepared for specific, subject-based questions and scenarios. When answering, be sure to present yourself energetically and excited about the content. You want the interviewers to be left with the impression that you are passionate about this work.

Clara's Answer

"The multiple barrier concept essentially combines several elements and processes, or barriers, to ensure that water is consistently safe for human consumption. It follows the idea that one single process cannot be consistently relied upon to produce safe, consumable water for humans."

8.

Do you have any experience working in the public sector?

You might come across public and private sector positions in water quality. Public sector positions are government-owned and operated, and your interviewers might find public sector experience to be valuable. Be sure to scan the job description for information on what level of public sector experience might be desired. When answering this question, you may use experience from any field within the public sector, even if it doesn't directly relate to water quality.

Clara's Answer

"I do - I have worked in water quality in the public sector for 3 of the last 5 years and in the private sector for 2 years."

9.

Are you able to meet the physical demands of this position?

This position requires visiting several sites, some of which might be fairly remote. You might find yourself walking or hiking with field supplies up to 30 pounds, so your interviewers want to ensure that you are physically capable of completing the job.

For xample: "Maintaining good physical health is important to me, so I keep myself in shape and exercise regularly. So, yes, I am absolutely able to meet the physical demands of the position!"

Clara's Answer

"Maintaining good physical health is important to me, so I keep myself in shape and exercise regularly. So, yes, I am absolutely able to meet the physical demands of the position!"

10.

What motivated you to become a water quality analyst?

The interviewers are interested in your personal motivation(s) to enter this profession, so be honest and authentic with your response. Whether you are interested in conservation, sustainability, public health, or something else, always remember to project your excitement and enthusiasm for the position.

Clara's Answer

"For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawn to water. I love how its taste varies, I love how peaceful a body of water can be, and of course I appreciate it's immense benefits to life on Earth. I think I started to consider water as a career when I was in high school and started learning more about sustainability and water supply. When I began pursuing this career option in college, I learned of the many impacts water quality also has on public health. It is difficult to attribute my motivation to any one of those things, but I am certainly inspired by the profession and passionate about contributing to it."

11.

Are you comfortable and willing to spend extended periods of time in hot, cold, and inclement weather?

Water quality is a hands-on industry for 365 days of the year, so you will need to be able to work through the elements. Consider the weather patterns in the region and whether or not you are able - and willing - to work through all seasons of the year. Do your research in advance. If you want to remain open to the position, then you will want your answer to be 'yes!' If you aren't sure or the answer is 'no,' then you might want to reconsider the job.

Clara's Answer

"Absolutely. I have always wanted to be outdoors no matter the weather or where I've lived, so I more than welcome the opportunity to work any period of time outside."

12.

How are your written and verbal communication skills?

In most water quality analyst positions, you will need to be able to communicate your findings in written or verbal form, so your interviewers are interested in your communication skills across mediums and audiences. When preparing for this question, be sure to touch on adapting to audiences to be technical or more descriptive.

Clara's Answer

"My communication skills are strong and well-rounded. I have extensive experience professionally, educationally, and even personally in various modes of writing and speaking, from academic papers to public presentations. I am able to communicate to a wide audience and create a sense of connection and understanding regardless of the topic. I feel confident employing these skills in any way you find beneficial in this position."

13.

What methods are approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency to disinfect water?

This is a knowledge-based question that interviewers might ask you. Like any knowledge-based question, do not make up a random answer - try to provide any relevant information and suggest that you will explore the topic further.

For xample: "Through my education and experience, I am most familiar with the use of chloramine and chlorine to disinfect water. That said, science and technology make swift advancements, so I would love to research this a bit further for any new developments in this area."

Clara's Answer

"Through my education and experience, I am most familiar with the use of chloramine and chlorine to disinfect water. That said, science and technology make swift advancements, so I would love to research this a bit further for any new developments in this area."

14.

What are your top 3 to 4 skills that best support your success in this position?

Given the nature of the position - working in the field, in labs, collecting and analyzing data, and sharing that data with others - you will want to emphasize skills that directly correlate to success in fulfilling the job, such as communication, organization, multi-tasking, and independent work with minimal oversight. Draw connections for your interviewers by linking your skills to the position or to examples or experiences you might have.

Clara's Answer

"My top skills include interpersonal communication, organization, attention to detail, and the ability to work independently with minimal oversight. I believe that these skills support the position's need for a reliable, well-rounded, and detail-oriented candidate."

15.

What do you do when your schedule or project plan is disrupted by unforeseen circumstances?

Your interviewers might ask this question to understand how you might handle a realistic possibility that might arise in the position. For example, you might have an emergency that prevents you from visiting certain field sites or returning to the lab. Things happen, and you remain accountable for your job and duties. Consider how you navigate interruptions in your everyday life and how you might in this position. Be sure to emphasize the importance of coverage and communication.

Clara's Answer

"I make it a priority to maintain a current, updated schedule and list of contacts so I have the time and ability to thoroughly plan in case circumstances change. Sometimes, circumstances change abruptly enough to prevent prior planning, such as a family emergency or getting unexpectedly sick. If that is the case, I always inform my supervisor of the situation, share my steps for maintaining coverage, and follow-up once I have confirmed coverage. Communication is key in these situations, so I try to maintain as many touchpoints as possible and remain available virtually - when possible - for whoever is supporting my coverage in case they have any questions or issues."

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25 Water Quality Analyst Interview Questions
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Interview Questions

  1. Are you familiar with our state-specific water quality standards in addition to federal requirements?
  2. What are the three main purposes of water treatment?
  3. Are you willing to work weekends?
  4. Why would water treatment switch from chloramine to chlorine disinfection?
  5. How do you motivate yourself when operating independently?
  6. Are you familiar with the current water quality criteria for aquatic life and human health?
  7. Explain the concept of 'multiple barriers' in water treatment.
  8. Do you have any experience working in the public sector?
  9. Are you able to meet the physical demands of this position?
  10. What motivated you to become a water quality analyst?
  11. Are you comfortable and willing to spend extended periods of time in hot, cold, and inclement weather?
  12. How are your written and verbal communication skills?
  13. What methods are approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency to disinfect water?
  14. What are your top 3 to 4 skills that best support your success in this position?
  15. What do you do when your schedule or project plan is disrupted by unforeseen circumstances?
  16. How effective is cyanotoxin oxidation with chlorine when Anatoxin-a is present?
  17. In what capacities are surface water quality models important and useful tools for water management?
  18. How would you explain water quality analysis and treatment to the average person in another industry?
  19. What is your educational background?
  20. Name 3 sources of contamination.
  21. What experience do you have interpreting data?
  22. How do you ensure data integrity and traceability?
  23. Do you have a valid driver's license?
  24. How do you balance your calendar to include daily field visits and lab work?
  25. What experience do you have with lab equipment?
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