17 Environmental Health and Safety Specialist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an environmental health and safety specialist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Environmental health and safety specialists are responsible for ensuring that their company’s employees and physical plant are in compliance with environmental health and safety laws and regulations. They work to prevent workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses, and also develop and implement health and safety programs.

If you’re looking for a job in this field, you’ll need to be prepared to answer a range of questions about your experience and knowledge. In this guide, we’ll provide you with some common environmental health and safety interview questions and answers to help you get started.

Common Environmental Health and Safety Specialist Interview Questions

Are you familiar with the OSHA regulations for your industry?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency that oversees workplace safety. Employers ask this question to make sure you are familiar with the regulations for your industry, as well as how to follow them. Before your interview, review any OSHA regulations specific to your industry. If you have not worked in an industry with OSHA regulations before, research general OSHA regulations and compare them to your own industry’s standards.

Example: “I am very familiar with the OSHA regulations for my industry. In fact, I was responsible for creating our company’s policies based on those regulations. For example, we had to ensure all of our employees were trained in bloodborne pathogens and universal precautions. We also had to provide personal protective equipment like gloves and goggles when working with hazardous chemicals.”

What are some of the most important safety procedures you enforce at work?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you prioritize safety procedures and which ones are most important to you. Use your answer to highlight some of your best practices for keeping employees safe in the workplace.

Example: “I believe that it’s essential to have a strong emergency action plan in place at all times, so I make sure to enforce this procedure regularly. In my last role, I helped create an emergency action plan with our team that included specific instructions on what to do in case of fire, natural disasters or other emergencies. We also created a list of contact information for local law enforcement, hospitals and other emergency services. This was one of the most beneficial things we did as a team because it made us feel more prepared for any situation.”

How do you handle a situation where a co-worker is not following safety protocols?

An interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to work with others and ensure that everyone is following safety protocols. In your answer, try to show that you can be assertive when necessary while also being respectful of other people’s opinions.

Example: “I would first speak with my co-worker about the situation in private. I would explain why I think they are not following protocol and offer suggestions for how they could improve their behavior. If they continue to ignore protocol after our conversation, I would document the issue and bring it to my supervisor so we could discuss appropriate disciplinary action.”

What is your process for investigating an accident or incident at work?

The interviewer may ask you this question to understand how you approach your work and the steps you take when conducting an investigation. Use examples from past experiences to explain how you gather information, interview people involved in the incident and analyze data to determine what happened and why it occurred.

Example: “I first assess the scene of the accident or incident to get a better understanding of what happened. I then speak with anyone who was present during the event to learn more about their role and perspective on the situation. After collecting all relevant information, I review any documentation related to the incident, such as safety protocols or equipment maintenance records, to see if there are any patterns that could help me identify the cause of the accident.”

Provide an example of a time when you identified and solved a problem that was causing environmental issues in the workplace.

This question can help the interviewer learn more about your problem-solving skills and how you apply them to your work. Use examples from previous jobs that show how you used critical thinking, research and communication skills to solve environmental issues in a workplace setting.

Example: “At my last job, I noticed that some of our recycling bins were overflowing with paper products. This was causing an issue because it meant we weren’t properly sorting our recyclables, which could lead to contamination. I spoke with my supervisor about this issue, and together we decided to have a meeting with all employees who worked in the office to discuss proper recycling procedures. We also provided additional training on how to sort different types of materials.”

If you had to choose one area of environmental health and safety that is most important to you, what would it be and why?

This question is a great way to determine what the interviewer values in an employee. It also helps you understand which areas of environmental health and safety they may be looking for when hiring someone new. When answering this question, it can be helpful to think about your own career path and how you have developed your skills over time.

Example: “I would say that my passion lies with preventing accidents before they happen. I love being able to use my problem-solving skills to find solutions to issues that could lead to injuries or other problems. For example, at my last job, we had a situation where employees were not following proper procedures when cleaning up spills. We created a training program that helped employees learn how to clean up spills safely and efficiently.”

What would you do if you noticed a colleague was wearing loose clothing and no gloves while working with a hazardous substance?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you work with others and your ability to communicate. Your answer should show that you respect the opinions of others, even if they differ from yours.

Example: “I would first ask my colleague why they are not wearing gloves or other protective clothing. If they say they don’t need them, I would explain the risks involved in working without proper safety equipment. If they still refuse to wear the required gear, I would document the incident and inform my supervisor so they could take appropriate action.”

How well do you communicate with other departments, such as human resources and logistics, to ensure the workplace is running smoothly?

This question can help the interviewer determine how well you work with others and your ability to collaborate. Showcase your communication skills, such as active listening, speaking clearly and respectfully and asking questions when needed.

Example: “I have a lot of experience working with other departments in my previous role. I would regularly meet with human resources to discuss any safety concerns or issues that employees were having. For example, if an employee was injured on the job, I would communicate with human resources to ensure they knew what happened so they could take care of any necessary paperwork. I also worked closely with logistics to make sure we had enough supplies for our department.”

Do you have experience using hazardous material handling and storage equipment?

This question can help the interviewer understand your experience with using specialized equipment and tools. Use examples from your past experience to highlight your ability to use this equipment safely and efficiently.

Example: “In my current role, I am responsible for maintaining all of our hazardous material storage units. This includes checking inventory levels, ordering new supplies when needed and ensuring that all safety protocols are followed when handling these materials. In my previous position, I was in charge of training employees on how to properly handle and store hazardous materials. I also helped develop a system for tracking which chemicals were used most frequently so we could ensure we had enough supplies on hand.”

When performing an inspection, are there any specific areas you always check?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience and expertise in the field. Use your answer to highlight any specialties you have or specific areas of focus that relate to the job description.

Example: “I always check for proper labeling on hazardous materials, as well as whether employees are following safety protocols when handling these materials. I also make sure all chemicals are stored properly and disposed of according to regulations. Another area I inspect is the facility’s emergency procedures, such as fire drills and evacuation routes. These are important because they help ensure everyone stays safe at work.”

We want to be environmentally friendly. How would you promote eco-friendly practices to employees?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would encourage others to be environmentally conscious. Use examples from your past experience of promoting eco-friendly practices and explain why they were effective.

Example: “I have found that one of the best ways to promote eco-friendly practices is by providing employees with information about what types of products are more sustainable than others. For example, I worked at a company where we had an employee who wanted to purchase a new computer. Instead of recommending a brand that was most expensive, I recommended a model that was more affordable but still met all of their needs. The employee appreciated my advice and ended up purchasing the computer I suggested.”

Describe your experience with using safety software and other technology used in the industry.

Employers may ask this question to learn more about your experience with using software and other technology that helps you do your job. Use your answer to explain what types of software or technology you use, how often you use it and why you prefer these tools. You can also mention any specific programs you’ve used in the past if they’re relevant to the position.

Example: “I have a lot of experience using safety software for my previous positions. I find that these tools are helpful because they allow me to keep track of important information like employee training records and emergency procedures. In my last role, I used an online database to store all of our company’s safety policies and procedures so employees could access them from their computers.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their organization. Before your interview, review the job description and highlight any skills or experience that match what they’re looking for. In your answer, explain why these skills make you a good fit for the role.

Example: “I have five years of experience in environmental health and safety, which makes me an ideal candidate for this position. I also have extensive knowledge of OSHA regulations, which is essential for this role. My communication skills are another strength, as I am able to clearly communicate complex information to employees and managers. These skills make me confident that I would be successful in this role.”

Which environmental health and safety certifications do you hope to obtain in the future?

Employers may ask this question to learn more about your career goals and aspirations. They want to know that you are committed to continuing your education in the field of environmental health and safety. When answering, make sure to mention certifications that you have already obtained and those that you hope to obtain in the future.

Example: “I am currently working on my Certified Environmental Health Specialist certification through the National Environmental Health Association. I also plan to pursue a Certified Hazardous Waste Manager certification from the American Institute of Environmental Safety Professionals within the next year. These two certifications will help me advance my career as an environmental health and safety specialist.”

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when working with hazardous materials?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your knowledge and experience with working in an EH&S role. Your answer should include examples of how you’ve handled hazardous materials in the past, including what steps you took to ensure safety for yourself and others.

Example: “The most important thing I think about when working with hazardous materials is always my own safety first. If I’m not safe, then I can’t do my job effectively or keep anyone else safe either. In my last position, we had a situation where there was a leak in one of our chemical storage units. We evacuated everyone from the building while I assessed the situation and determined that it wasn’t as serious as it could have been. After making sure no one was in danger, I worked with another specialist to clean up the spill.”

How often do you perform safety inspections?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your experience with conducting inspections. They want to know how often you perform these tasks and what types of facilities you inspect. Use your answer to highlight the different types of places you’ve inspected in the past, such as residential areas, commercial buildings or industrial sites.

Example: “In my current role, I conduct safety inspections at least once a month. However, when I first started working for this company, I performed them every two weeks. As I gained more experience, I was able to reduce the frequency of my inspections because I became better at identifying potential hazards during each inspection.”

There is a disagreement between two of your colleagues about how to handle a situation. How do you handle it?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you handle conflict and disagreements in the workplace. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills, communication skills and ability to work with others.

Example: “I would first make sure that both colleagues feel heard. I would then ask them for their reasoning behind their opinions. After hearing each of their perspectives, I would consider what they said and think about a solution that could benefit everyone. If I still couldn’t come up with an idea that satisfied both parties, I would suggest we take a break from the conversation so we could all reflect on it. Then, once we had some time to ourselves, I would try to find a compromise between the two ideas.”


17 Student Recruiter Interview Questions and Answers

Back to Interview

17 Event Operations Manager Interview Questions and Answers