It is best to answer this through an example of a time you were recognized for displaying this strength.
"I feel that my greatest strength is my work ethic. It has always been engrained in me that I need to give 100% to my employer every moment I am on the job. This dedication has helped me as a Water Treatment Operator because this job is demanding, requires attention to detail and requires me to be a safe worker. Strong work ethic keeps myself and my team safe and helps to produce a really great product."
You can answer this question briefly and if you recall, cite to the interviewer what your math grades looked like during post secondary education. Or, have you taken any additional math related coursework?
"My math skills are very strong. I was top of my class in University and have continued to showcase top-notch math skills. An example of the math I currently apply in my work would be calculating flow rate and detention time. I am confident that I can solve any related math problems."
It is important to answer this question honestly but also keep the answer positive. Talk less about the weakness you feel you have and more about what you have done recently to improve upon it.
"During a recent performance review with my current supervisor he brought to my attention that my documentation was sometimes too brief for his liking. He asked that I use more words when describing the situation so that the new operators would be able to fully understand what my notes meant. I have been making a conscious effort since then to ensure that my documentation can be understood by even the most junior of operators."
You can answer this briefly and factually. Take a moment to explain which water pumps you are most experienced in. You can follow up with a question for the interviewer as well.
"I am most familiar with Drum Pumps, Cryogenic Pumps and Circulator Pumps. Of those three I would say that I am most versed in Drum Pumps. What types of pumps does this facility use the most?"
Be sure to answer this in a simple to understand way. The more simply you can answer how a basic water pump works, the more confident you will sound. Complicating things will lose the interviewer's attention and you will likely talk in circles which does not display a confident understanding.
"All pumps use basic forces of nature to move a liquid. As the moving pump part begins to move, air is pushed out of the way. The movement of air creates a low pressure vacuum which can be filled up by more air, or in the case of water pumps, water."
Answer this factually and as briefly as possible. If the interviewer would like for you to elaborate on your answer, they will ask you to do so.
"My understanding of ozone and it's role in water treatment is that it was first used in water treatment in the late 1800s. This technique is more common in Europe and Asia than in the the United States. Ozone is an unstable gas comprising of three oxygen atoms, the gas will readily degrade back to oxygen, and during this transition a free oxygen atom, or free radical form."
Being a water treatment operator, no doubt, takes an incredible level of attention to detail. Give an example of a time when you were recognized for your strong level of attention to detail.
"As a water treatment operator I am given specific regulatory standards that must be adhered to at all times. I was recently recognized by my supervisor for so closely abiding by the guidelines of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. Because the list of contaminants regulated by these statutes is ever-changing, I must pay attention to what is happening in the industry as well."
Answer this from the heart. Show your true interest in why you feel water treatments plants are necessary in our time.
"I feel that water treatment plants are so important because their primary purpose is to clear the water we use in our homes of solid materials. It's environmental impact is incredibly important and they keep us safe from sickness and disease found in wastewater."
You should answer this factually and as briefly as possible.
"The two most common processes for separating water and flock are sedimentation and filtration. I am very familiar with both processes and comfortable overseeing both."
You can list the types of pipe valves that you have worked with most. Be sure that your examples include some types of pipe valves that are used in this particular facility.
"In my current position I work most closely with choke valves, globe valves and flow control valves. From my research, I understand your facility uses these as well. Are there other types of pipe valves that I would be frequently exposed to?"
Your answer should be based on fact and presented in a brief manner. You can list different coagulant chemicals that you have worked with as well.
"In water treatment, coagulation chemicals are added to water to destabilize colloidal suspensions. Some of the coagulant chemicals that I have worked with include Alum, Polyamine and PolyDADMAC."
You can answer this using a specific example of a recent challenge that you faced on the job. Be sure to continue to speak highly of your co-workers and the facility that you operate. Keep the tone positive.
"In our facility, the chemical treatments can take some time to show their effects. This makes it difficult to know if we simply wait for changes or if more chemicals are needed. We worked hard at creating a program that better timed water movement. This solved many of the issues that we had. I am proud that we were able to take a difficult situation and turn it into a positive experience."
This is a good time to tell a personal story about what inspired you to begin a career in water treatment. You can also talk about what aspects of the job continue to motivate you.
"My grandfather was a water treatment operator and the amount of pride he took in his work was really inspiring. When I researched it further, as a fresh high school graduate, I really liked that I could make an impact on the environment while helping people to have clean, safe water. Clean water is an irreplaceable commodity and I never want to take that for granted."
Answer this in a heartfelt manner and give an example of how you show pride in your work.
"Yes, I take great pride in my work. I have been in the water treatment industry for over 10 years now and not a day goes by where I don't ensure 100% accuracy in what I do. The quality of water that goes out is of extreme importance and I take my job seriously."
Be sure to give a full list of your previous on-the-job training and finish the question by asking what type of job training is offered in this position.
"In my current position I have had 200 hours of additional job training. The majority of that training has been focused on treating contaminated water. I have been taught the operation and maintenance of all water treatment plant equipment and related piping. I have also installed pumps and piping."
How you answer this could determine whether the interviewer views you as a leader and/or as someone capable of doing so with the correct training. If you DO have leadership experience you can answer something like this: "Yes, I currently lead a team of 12 individuals. I was given this promotion 2 years ago because of my consistent ability to mentor more junior operators. I have been told by my supervisor that my leadership style is well received. If the answer is NO, you do not have leadership experience you can answer something like this: "I have not been given an official leadership title but I am working towards this by taking on an unofficial mentorship role with new operators and keeping my eye out for opportunities to lead. I would be very happy to be groomed into a leadership role at some point soon."
"Yes, I currently lead a team of 12 individuals. I was given this promotion 2 years ago because of my consistent ability to mentor more junior operators. I have been told by my supervisor that my leadership style is well received. If the answer is NO, you do not have leadership experience you can answer something like this: "
Answer this clearly and precisely but finish with a question about their ideal certification level.
"I am currently a Class 2 level operator. My goal is to achieve my Class 4 Operator Certification by June 2018. What Class level is ideal for this position?"
Water is one of our society's most important resources. While most people take it for granted, it takes a lot of work to get water from natural sources, reservoirs, streams, and groundwater into our taps. Similarly, it is a complicated process to convert the wastewater in our drains and sewers into a form that is safe to release into the environment. Water treatment plant and system operators run the equipment, control the processes, and monitor the plants that treat water so that it is safe to drink. Liquid waste treatment plant and system operators do similar work to remove pollutants from domestic and industrial waste.