Questions to Ask at Your ESG Job Interview



When looking for a new job in the Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) sector, it is common to compare your personal values with those of the organisation you are looking to work for. As such, you may be willing to somewhat turn the interview tables around (figuratively) during your ESG job interview and grill the organisation on their systems and overall values. 

So what are the types of questions that will help you decipher whether the ESG jobs you are applying for reside in organisations that align with your values? 

What is the company doing about waste generation?

Most of the questions you ask will likely revolve around the organisation’s own sustainability impact. This question indicates the extent to which you are concerned about the hazardous impacts of an organisation’s waste to the health of living organisms and the natural environment, and as a starting point you may be keen to understand the company’s policies around that area.

What are your thoughts on the renewable energy options available to the organisation and broadly to our geographic region?

Many jobseekers are keen to understand the renewable energy mix that is available in the geographic location(s) of the organisation and to explore what the organisation may be doing to tap into these energy sources. For instance, you might extend this line of questioning to discuss the organisation’s existing renewable energy sources or any plans they have of switching to more sustainable energies. You could then ask about the organisation’s attitude towards green electricity, factoring in aspects such as costs and availability.

An organisation may not be willing to discuss all the particulars of what goes on under the proverbial hood, but where they come across good candidates or even particularly conscientious candidates, they may be at a disadvantage if they refuse to disclose such information openly.

What are the organisation’s core values?

Core values reflect a company’s long-term vision; how employees work together, how the organisation will invest its earnings and what type of employees the organisation wants to hire and retain. You will therefore want to understand these values and see if they match your own. In particular, you may be interested to see how organisations handle issues of greater scrutiny or even controversy; for instance, how willing is the organisation to contribute over existing obligations and how does it demonstrate diversity and inclusivity?

How does the company differentiate itself from its competitors?

This is associated with the earlier question of values as you dig deeper into how the organisation operates in-house and with its clients, and what, if any, programs it offers on a voluntary, pro bono basis.

What are your views on [insert topical issue such as monsoons,/climate change]?

Organisations have to be more willing nowadays than they were in the past to discuss their stance on sustainability issues. Using this as an opener to get the conversation started, you can ask whether the business has partnered with any other organisations to address those issues. Have they released a statement? Have they engaged any regulators in order to understand the issue better? Additionally, you may also be interested to know what, in their opinion, is the most topical issue we’ll be facing in the coming decade(s).

What sort of standards/certifications is the company aligned to?

Climate change is easily the most topical area of sustainability these days so people want to know what companies are doing about it. Of interest to many jobseekers is how companies can operationalise their values and a big part of this is understanding company standards and guidelines. For example, asking if the organisation is certified to ISO140001 aims to understand whether the business satisfies the requirements for an environmental management system within the organisation. In so doing, you can ascertain further the sustainability vision of the organisation. Depending on your values, this may dictate whether you choose to work for a company which is or isn’t certified.

What sort of technologies are you using to measure emissions or understand the sustainability impact of your business?

By implication, every organisation has an impact on the environment, so you might want to know exactly what that impact looks like and what organisations are doing about it. Are they relying on new and diverse technologies or rather on the old, conventional means? This once again relates back to the issue of core values.

Back to article list