Safety of the employees, and of course the protection of expensive equipment in the production halls, is one of the top priorities of each organization. What’s more, there are always new regulations and rules in place, and employees have to adhere to them. In order to protect the assets, and avoid hefty fines, companies employ safety officers.
You will be responsible for inspecting facilities, processes and people within the company or organization, to ensure they follow occupational safety guidelines. You will also assess risk and try to identify potential safety hazards, and suggest new regulations accordingly, or an improvement of existing policies.
Let’s have a look at the questions you will face while interviewing for this interesting and well-paid job.
Why do you want to work as a Safety Officer?
You have your education, certifications, and experience. But you should not refer only to these things, while explaining your job choice to the hiring managers.
Saying that you want to work as a safety officer because you’ve already invested so much time and money into your education and qualification would indicate a must. But you want to show a desire, some motivation and enthusiasm for the work you will do.
Tell them that you see a meaningful purpose in the job. You understand the importance of keeping the employees safe, and also how it can contribute to the overall image and reputation of the company.
What’s more, you really enjoy your job. You enjoy inspecting the production process, looking for areas of improvement in terms of employees’ safety. With your knowledge, excellent observation and analytical skills, and attention to detail, you consider this job a great match.
Everything combined, you cannot imagine a more fitting job at this stage of your professional career.
How do you imagine a typical day, working as a safety officer in this company?
The most important thing is to show proactive approach to work, and focus on prevention. You won’t sit in your comfy office, playing with your smartphone, waiting until someone loses his finger while working with the machinery, or until something else happens.
On the contrary. You will divide your time between office work and being in the production halls, observing whether employees adhere to the safety regulations, and looking for possible safety hazards, and areas for improvement.
Of course you will also work in the office, doing your reporting and analysis, perhaps devising new OHS policies and programs, or reviewing the existing policies. But most of your time will be dedicated to organizing OHS training of employees, inspecting premises and the personnel, and overseeing the installation and maintenance of different equipment and production tools.
Ensure them that you expect to have your hands full, and will proactively look for something to do, and to improve.
* May also interest you: Compliance Officer interview questions.
If we hire you for this job, what will be the first thing you do in the office?
You can suggest doing a proper safety audit, either for individual jobs, or for the entire production process. This should help you identify the risks and safety hazards. Then you can review the existing OHS policies they have in place, and suggest improvements.
Of course, if some of the employees lack the OHS training, providing it will be the first thing you will do in your new role.
You can also say that before anything else you will talk to the executives from the company. You will try to understand their goals, and the role you play in the process of achieving them. They should also inform you about the current OHS regulations they have in place, and any accidents that happened recently.
Once you know what they expect from you, and where the company stands in terms of employees’ safety at the moment, it will be easier for you to set goals for your first year in job, and eventually start working on them.
Imagine that one of the employees isn’t wearing the protective equipment while working. You warned them several times before, but they seem to ignore you. What will you do?
One of the problems you may often face as a safety officer is disobedience of the employees. Often you won’t have a formal authority over them, you won’t be their superior, and hence some of them may simply ignore your instructions.
Ensure the interviewers that you won’t just let it go. You can suggest making one last talk to the employee, not only threatening them with a fine or dismissal, but also trying to motivate them positively. You can explain them how the gloves and glasses and whatever protects them from this or that accident, and why it is important to wear it–for their own good.
If this doesn’t work, however, if they still do not oblige, you will talk to their manager, and suggest a disciplinary action against the employee. Because you can’t afford one bad apple to spoil the morale in the workplace.
If other guys see someone neglecting the rules, and getting away with it, they may also neglect them. And that’s when you are just one step away from a disaster, or at least from an accident… Ensure the hiring managers that you are aware of this, and will address any disobedience of the rules immediately.
Special Tip: You can download the list of questions in a one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later, even when offline:
Describe the most dangerous violation of safety rules you’ve ever encountered.
You do not necessarily have to talk about something big–especially when you are just starting your career. What matters more for the interviewers is your attitude. You are constantly on the outlook for such violations. Spotting it quickly, you interfered before it turned into a disaster.
To most dangerous violations belong:
- Working without protective equipment with a machine that can easily cause a serious mutilation.
- Opening fire, or even smoking a cigarette anywhere where they work with gases or other inflammable materials.
- Any violation of the rules that endangers more people, especially those who did not violate any rules.
If this is your first application in the field, try to think a bit about their company. What they are doing there, what the greatest hazards are. It should help you to identify dangerous violations that can happen in their company, and you can refer to them in your interview answer.
Imagine that you are leading an OHS training with new employees, and they seem to not understand your instructions. What will you do to eventually get your message over?
Ensure the interviewers that you won’t give up easily. You actually won’t give up at all. You will continue trying, patiently explaining things, until you are sure that they understood you.
Using demonstration, video tutorials, and practical examples, you will try your best to make your training easy to understand for anyone, including the employees who weren’t blessed with great intelligence.
You can also say that you plan to include short test at the end of each training, just to make sure that the employees really understood their message, and know how to act in the workplace to protect their health and safety, as well as safety of their colleagues.
Other questions you may face in your Safety Officer interview
- Imagine that you are walking down the hall, and see that a group of manual workers is not wearing a helmet. How will you react?
- In your opinion, what role does reporting and monitoring play in the job of a safety officer?
- Tell us about a time you had to comply with a procedure you did not agree with.
- What is a job safety analysis (JSA)? Explain how you will conduct it, step by step.
- What motivates you the most in this job?
- Tell us about a time you disagreed with your boss.
- An incident happens in the workplace, and one of the employees is seriously injured. Explain the steps you will take in this case, from a position of a Safety Officer.
- Are you a detail oriented person?
- What are your salary expectations?
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a Safety Officer belongs to difficult interviews. You will typically compete with several other people for the job, and you may deal with a mix of personal, behavioral, and technical questions.
What’s more, Safety Officer plays a crucial role in each production or manufacturing plant. Companies choose their officers cautiously, and it is not uncommon to see a four or even five step interview process for this position. Online application, phone interview, behavioral interview in the company and the assessment center, and eventually the final interview with one of the executives…
But I do not want to discourage you. As long as you have the knowledge of your field, do a good research about your future employer, and prepare for the questions you may face, you have a decent chance of succeeding, and ending up with a new employment agreement. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Compliance officer interview questions – Some questions will overlap, and we have also an eBook for this interview. Do not forget to check it out.
- What does integrity mean to you?
- Tell me about a time when you faced an ethical dilemma.