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Recruitment in the mining industry: five top tips from graduates

Peter Nicholls

We’ve spoken with graduates who successfully applied for mining sector jobs. Here are five insights they had about the recruitment process.

Entry-level graduate positions in the mining industry are often highly paid and offer exciting opportunities for career development in Australia and abroad. For this reason, they’re also very competitive, with graduate programs for positions at well-known companies, such as BHP-Billiton and Shell, invariably receiving more applications than there are available positions. At GradAustralia, we’ve spoken with graduates who successfully applied for mining sector jobs. Here are five insights they had about the recruitment process.

1. Don’t be daunted by how rigorous the application process is

All of the grads we spoke to had been through a stringent multi-stage recruitment process that involved (at least) an online application, a phone or face-to-face interview, and various activities at an assessment centre. According to a graduate from Newcastle who now works for Downer Group, “the interview process consisted of an online application, followed by a phone interview, and then a two day assessment centre. The first day of the assessment centre involved a face-to-face interview, and some teamwork assessments. The second day of the assessment centre had us delivering a presentation to members of the executive team”.

That might seem like a lot, but the good news is that many grads find the process a rewarding challenge. “It was stimulating and enjoyable,” said a grad from Singleton who secured a role at Orica. “The interviewers were approachable and could answer all my questions.”

2. Be prepared for a range of questions

According to the grads we surveyed, applicants can expect to be quizzed on a range of topics, from their professional experience to their knowledge of the company. One grad from Mount Maunganui advised future applicants to expect questions beginning with phrases like “tell me about a time when you…” or ”how would you react to…?”. He said that you should “think about some of the key moments in your life and be ready to share them in the interview. The thing they want to see is someone who is able to deal with change in their life”.

3. Know which skills they’re looking for, and prepare evidence that you possess them

Time and time again, successful grads have emphasised the importance of researching target companies to identify the skills and attributes they’re likely to look for during job interviews. As one Downer Group graduate explained, you can then create “a list of experiences and situations that demonstrate certain skills” or “research and answer interview questions relating to personal achievements or difficulties and how you overcame them”. Of course, you can’t predict every question they might throw your way—but it’s often easier to adapt something you’ve prepared than  have no response while under pressure.

4. Relax

An Orica graduate said, “They say in the group interviews that everyone there has the mental capacity to work for the company, and they’re really trying to find candidates that fit well into the culture of the company. So try to focus on being friendly and willing to give new things a go”. This idea was echoed by a grad from Sydney who advised future candidates to “relax and be yourself, because emotional intelligence is highly rated. After all, (recruiters for) the graduate program are looking for  future leaders”.

Of course, ‘relax’ is easier said than done when it comes to interviews. So, if you’re hit with a case of nerves, follow the advice of a grad from Perth, “Take a deep breath and don’t be afraid to take a moment to think about your answer”.

5. Take workplace culture seriously

The application process is, of course, an opportunity for you to ask questions and ensure that you’ll be happy in your new role. When making this evaluation, graduates say it’s important  that you consider culture. Do you want to work somewhere that encourages staff social events? How important to you is workplace diversity? Will your graduate program include team-building activities and training?

The good news is that if you ask these questions and find an employer who meets your expectations, you’re likely to enjoy your new career. One grad from Tauranga spoke enthusiastically about staff sporting events, like volleyball and soccer matches. Another grad, from Newcastle, said that ‘The culture is perhaps the best part of working for Downer. I would feel comfortable approaching and talking to the CEO if there was an issue for me to raise.’ The basic message is clear—culture is important, so take time to get it right.