Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
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Chemical Engineer ("Contact Engineer") Interview
I applied through college or university. The process took 2 days – interviewed at ExxonMobil in October 2009.
I was first contacted through my university's career services department. I had applied to be interviewed by ExxonMobil, and they had agreed to interview me during their on-campus interviews (which occur annually). The day prior to the interview, I attended an information session hosted by the company. It was not personalized in any way; there were about 50 future interviewees attending. I did not speak with any ExxonMobil employees at this function.
The next day, I had a 1:1 interview. I arrived early, checked in with the "receptionist" (who was an engineer), and went to the room when called. ExxonMobil uses a STAR system: Situation, Task (I think), Action, Result. My interviewer posed questions to me and wanted answers that touched on each of those four points. Questions included:
"Tell me about a time you had to go above and beyond what was required of you to complete a task."
"Tell me about a time you foresaw a problem no one else did."
"Tell me about a time you took the initiative to get something done."
"Tell me about a time you had a conflict with someone and how you resolved it."
After the interview, I shook hands and left.
Later that evening, around 6 PM, I got a call from the receptionist inviting me out to a group dinner. It was business casual (no one wore a tie). When I arrived at the restaurant, about 11 other interviewees were there, along with the whole recruiting team. It was rather pleasant, but I should have arrived a little earlier so that I had more of a choice where I sat. During the meal, there was absolutely no pressure. The only talk about work that was done was by some of the older ExxonMobil employees, who reminisced together. There was a lot of talk about sports, weather, and life in Texas.
About 3 weeks later, I got a call during lunchtime from an ExxonMobil employee from the Beaumont complex. This man was not on the recruiting team. In fact, no one on the recruiting team was from Beaumont, so my information must have changed hands at least once. The man on the phone asked me a little bit about which of three positions intrigued me the most, spoke to me about what ExxonMobil does, and how great it is, and then asked that we arrange a site visit (per my agreement). Of course I agreed, and we scheduled it for about 2 weeks later.
I traveled to the site without incident. I ate dinner with my host and had the rest of the night to myself at the hotel. The next morning, I met my host in the hotel lobby at about 7 AM for breakfast. We went to the complex at 8 AM, and I started by speaking for 30 min with someone whose self-proclaimed purpose was "to get me excited about working for ExxonMobil," though he only talked about hurricane damage. Then I had a 30 min 1:1 interview with a REALLY friendly lady who worked in accounting (or finance of some sort). She asked me questions such as:
"What project are you most proud of, and why?"
"Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision about an open-ended problem. Walk me through your thought process. How do you feel about the result?"
and some of the questions from the previous interview.
I then had a 30 min 1:1 interview with an engineer who had been with ExxonMobil for 10 years. He was supposed to give me a "technical interview" (no STAR questions). For this interview, he just wanted me to tell him about my toughest assignments (projects) in school, what my role was, which one worked out the best, etc.
I then had a third interview which was almost exactly the same as the first.
I then had lunch with my host and 2 of his coworker friends.
After lunch, we toured the facility.
I then had the last interview of the day with the head of the Facilities Planning Dept, which was the hardest one. She said she was unconvinced that I was driven and unconvinced I was a team player. “Convince me,” she said. It was tough. I still don’t know if she was playing some sort of doubting role or if she was being sincere.
The final interviewer had told me that they would contact me within 7 days. Two and a half weeks later, she called me personally and told me that they would be unable to make me an offer. She said that other candidates had slightly better "organizational experience" (which I assume to mean "work experience"), and that was the only category in which I was "edged out." I thanked her for the opportunity to be considered. I do not know if her reason for not giving me an offer was true. My work experience was known prior to my site interview, so perhaps the real reason is something else. Maybe I was some sort of alternate choice, which is why I had to wait so long to get a final decision.
I never had to take any written test of any kind, nor answer any technical questions, nor take a drug test.
- Working at ExxonMobil requires teamwork. I'm not convinced you are a team player. Convince me. Answer Question
- I'm not convinced you are driven. Convince me. Answer Question
- Tell me about a time you were under a strict deadline, and you were forced to re-think your approach to the problem at hand. By changing one aspect of your approach, you were then able to meet your deadline. Answer Question