11 Power Plant Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
Updated 15 March 2023
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Getting a job as a power plant operator involves developing a diversified skill set that comprises engineering, dexterity, concentration and problem-solving. The questions an employer may ask at an interview for this type of role often reflect the company's values and the position's general responsibilities. Preparing for an interview to work in a power plant can help you answer the employer's questions with confidence, prudence and timeliness.
In this article, we discuss the type of question you can expect in the interview and review 11 common power plant interview questions with example answers to help you better prepare for the interview.
What type of power plant interview questions can you expect?
Power plant interview questions may help the hiring manager assess your knowledge of fundamentals of power plant operation, chemical handling and ability to operate various power plant equipment. The interviewer often asks about the workings and use-cases of various machinery to test your knowledge and level of experience. You can also expect some definitive questions to assess your basic understanding of differences in machines and their operation.
11 power plant operator interview questions with sample answers
Here are 11 common power plant interview questions with example answers you can review to help you prepare yourself for a successful job interview:
1. Tell me about different waste materials and which ones you might use as fuel for generating power.
This is a common question that combines both science and engineering. An employer may ask about this topic to see how informed you are about the topic. Try to provide a direct and concise answer to demonstrate your knowledge about the field.
Example: 'There are four types of waste materials you can use to generate power, that include rubber, municipal, paper and industrial waste.'
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2. What is the difference between out-plant handling and in-plant handling?
Out-plant handling and in-plant handling are two specific topics that are important for you to know as a power plant operator. The interviewer asks this question to understand your general knowledge. You can answer this question by defining both terms.
Example: 'Out-of-plant handling is the management of resources located outside the plant, such as coal transfer through pipeline, rail, sea, river or road. In-plant handling refers to the processes of preparing, unloading, storing and transferring large quantities of coal within a power plant.'
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3. What is a high-pressure boiler and what are some of the most important types?
A high-pressure boiler is one of the essential technology and often operates within a power plant facility. This is why the hiring manager might ask this question to gauge your familiarity with the topic and if they may require providing additional training. You can start by defining a high-pressure boiler and then mentioning its important types. While answering this, convey professional and teachable behaviour.
Example: 'A high-pressure boiler is an equipment system that improves plant efficiency and reduces electricity production costs. Some of the most important types of high-pressure boilers include the La Mont, Velox, Loeffler and Benson.'
4. Tell me about various types of power plants and the primary differences between them.
There is a diverse range of power plant facilities you may work in, which often depends on your specific industry skills, knowledge and capabilities. If you have a diversified skill set, the ability to work in a variety of these plants can help you gain access to more job opportunities. Usually, the hiring manager asks this question to determine your general knowledge, but it can also inform them of the types of roles and departments you may be qualified for if they hire you.
Example: 'There are various types of power plants, like hydroelectric and nuclear. The former is more environmentally friendly because it generates electricity using water. The latter converts potentially dangerous nuclear energy into electricity. Solar, wind and geothermal power plants are also the other environment-friendly power plants that generate electricity. Coal power plants are common, but have a harmful effect on the environment.'
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5. What is regeneration and tell me some of the advantages of the regeneration cycle?
This is a technical question that an employer may ask to help them assess your knowledge about regeneration and the regeneration cycle. When answering this question, it is important that you give a response that clearly defines regeneration in the context of a power plant. To keep your response brief, try to mention just two or three advantages, ensuring each one is distinct from the others to reduce the redundancy in your answer.
Example: 'In a power plant, the process of using steam from turbines to heat feed water is regeneration. The steam is subsequently exhausted and sent to the regenerator to complete the heating process. Several advantages include decreased boiler heat, increased thermal efficiency and decreased turbine erosion.'
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6. What are the core safety protocols employees follow when working in a power plant and what can you do to help encourage healthy safety practices among your colleagues?
Since the power plants may include dangerous materials and chemicals, following safety procedures is a key component of a power plant operator's job. Implementing safety measures helps protect colleagues, visitors and business clients. The hiring manager asks this question to assess your knowledge of important safety and health regulations and how you help inspire others around you to follow the same practices.
Example: 'I used to work at a nuclear power plant, where we had various safety protocols to follow in place to assure the health and safety of everyone who worked there. Some of the safety equipment we used are physical barriers, hazard assessment systems and electronic detection systems. Illuminated detecting zones, physical patrols and 24-hour surveillance.'
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7. Tell me the use of belt conveyors.
This is one of the most basic questions the hiring manager asks during a power plant interview. You can answer this question by elaborating on the use cases of belt conveyors.
Example: 'The most common use of belt conveyors is to transport large amounts of coal across long distances. A series of rollers at regular intervals supports the endless belt runs over a pair of end drums and pulleys.'
Related: What Does A Machine Operator Do? (Duties And Salary)
8. What is overfeed stoker?
The hiring manager may ask this question to assess your understanding of stokers in the power plant. While answering, simply explain the working of the overfeed stoker.
Example: 'Overfeed stoker refers to a boiler design that incorporates a moving grate assembly that feeds coal into a hopper and then onto a continuous grate that transports it to the furnace. The coal goes through multiple air zones as it flows through the furnace, allowing for staged burning.'
9. How do overfeed and underfeed stokers differ from one another?
Usually, the hiring manager asks this following up the last question to identify whether you understand the difference between stokers. To answer this question, you can explain the difference in working of both the stokers.
Example: 'The main difference between the overfeed and underfeed stokers in the entryway of the coals. The overfeed stoker is one in which the coal gets introduced from the top and the air blows from the bottom. Whereas coal gets introduced in underfeed stokers from beneath and air from the top in case of the underfeed stoker.'
10. In a steam power plant, what comprises the cooling water circuit and the coal and ash circuit?
The interviewer often asks this question to ascertain that you possess the necessary specialised knowledge about the steam power plant circuits. This question allows you to show your familiarity with the different circuits. While answering, include the components of both the circuits.
Example: 'The cooling water circuit comprises three components, which include a pump, a condenser and a cooling tower. The coal and ash circuit comprises the components, including coal supply, coal preparation, coal handling, ash handling and ash storage.'
11. Explain the isotopes of an element.
This question helps the interviewer gauge your basic concept of chemical elements, such as atomic number, mass number, neutrons and protons. Explain the concept of isotopes in your answer.
Example: 'Certain elements have two or more forms of atoms with the same number of protons but different neutron numbers resulting same atomic number, but a difference in mass numbers. The isotopes of a chemical element are those that have the same atomic number, which means the same number of protons and the same chemical characteristics but have different mass numbers and different physical properties because of the difference in neutron number.'
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