Whilst mining graduates may currently be in short supply across most disciplines, from engineers through to metallurgists and everything in between, there are however still enough of you / them floating around to make mining graduate programmes a worthwhile exercise. Both for the companies that offer them, and for the graduates who are interested in applying for them. However, even though they're entry-level, many of these positions nevertheless pay well, which means that understandably there's often a lot of competition for them. Although admittedly there is probably a lot less competition these days than there would have been a decade ago! Regardless, it does mean that for the recent graduate who is keen to get a position in a graduate programme with a mining company, it pays to be well prepared.
First, in most cases there is a rigorous application process. This is designed to weed the chaff from the grain. It may involve a multi-stage process that includes an online application followed by an interview of some type – either face to face or by phone, or both. These days it could also be by any one of the electronic communication mediums – Skype, Messenger etc. Once you've successfully negotiated those, you'll almost certainly be required to participate in a range of activities run at an assessment centre. In some cases, it could run to two days worth of assessment. Some of the things you can be expected to encounter during this assessment include a face-to-face interview, (it may even be a second one if you've already done one prior), a panel interview, team work assessments, plus delivering a presentation to the executive team. Fear not however! Many grads who have gone through the process come out the other side not only with a job but also with a sense of accomplishment at having met and overcome the challenge.
Part of getting into these graduate programmes involves answering questions. Usually a LOT of questions! The topics can range from a grilling about your mining related experience to date, to what you know about the company you're applying to work for. Therefore it's a good idea to do some research on that company so you're prepared for the questions. Apart from anything else, it shows you're keen enough to work for them that you've taken the time to learn more about them. Besides those questions, you'll also undoubtedly face the usual 'what would you do in these circumstances' or 'tell me about a time when…' The standard fare when it comes to grilling interview questions, in other words. You can prepare yourself for these types of questions by pulling details of any relevant experiences you've had out of your memory bank, dusting them off, and having them ready to go if required. Alternatively, there are plenty of sites online that specialise in providing lists of 'trick' interview questions and telling you how to most effectively prepare yourself to answer them.
This next pointer should be obvious but it's surprising how many people head off for interviews without really knowing too much about the types of skills the potential new employer is looking for. When you're doing your research about the company so you can tell the interviewers what you know about their company, also spend some time identifying skills and experiences they're likely to be looking for in candidates. Do they want graduates who know what the inside of an underground mine looks like or are they an exploration company, in which case your 4WD and off road driving experiences may come in handy. Then come up with a list of things you've done or situations you've been in that can be used to prove you have the relevant skills or experiences.
Take a chill pill, meditate, practice your deep breathing, or do whatever you need to do to relax and just enjoy the learning experience. Group interviews are usually about identifying and making up a short list of candidates who seem to best fit what the company is looking for. If you're friendly, come across as being someone who is prepared to step outside your comfort zone and have a go at things, then so long as everything else pans out, you're more likely to make that short list than someone who is uptight, uncommunicative and doesn't appear to be open to new experiences. Remember too that it's also OK to spend a moment thinking about your answer before you speak.
Don't discount the importance of work place culture, and don't be afraid to ask your own questions in this regard at your interview. Does the company encourage staff to get together socially as a group? Are there regular team building events? Are these things important to you in a work place environment? If they are, you're more likely to enjoy working for a company that believes in, and provides them.
Ultimately, given the skill shortages within the industry today, you're in a better position to pick and choose who you work for than has often been the case in the past. However, that doesn't necessarily mean landing the job you want with the company you want is going to be a walk in the park either. So the take home message is clear – do your homework, prepare yourself as best you can, and have confidence in your skills, training and experience.