Potential Interview Questions Topics

First of all don't be put off by the list of topics below, it is intended to be comprehensive but not intimidating. 

But DO remember that taking the trouble to broaden your general industry awareness often makes the difference in the professional interview.  

It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of topic areas that may be raised at your interview to demonstrate wider industry knowledge. This list should be used to identify the wide scope of issues some of which you may not be familiar with and current issues relating to these topic areas.  And remember - the interview panel will be looking for a general awareness in this part of the interview - NOT detailed knowledge in any and every area of expertise in the industry!  They want to see that you have an appreciation of the broader industry(ies) around you as a context for your area of practice/expertise.  

Maintaining an awareness of current issues is important; this can be done through CIWM's Website, CIWM News Online, the CIWM journal, CIWM centre events as well as recent media attention and other relevant news services.

Always consider these topic areas from the perspective of others within the industry and in context with current government policy and not just from your own interests and understanding.

Use the list to identify any gaps in your awareness and to structure further reading around these topics or to attend specific local CIWM centre events.

Topics areas to consider:

You may be asked about very general or "high level" issues such as the current state of the economy and how it has affected the industry as a whole, or what the industry may look like in 10/20/30 years from now.  

You may be asked your opinion about topical issues such as Circular Economy, waste crime, litter and fly-tipping or markets for recyclate.  Remember, if it's topical enough, it is certain to have been covered recently in CIWM communications.  

National (UK) Waste and Resources Policy and Strategy

You should be aware that waste and resources is a devolved responsibility within the UK and legislation, policy, targets and strategy are different in each of the 4 countries, in other EU Member States, and globally. Panels will normally be most interested in "home" country policy etc but may look for an understanding of how it varies between countries. 

Targets - biodegradable diversion, recycling, reduction, voluntary commitments
Waste Hierarchy - Prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery, disposal
Climate change, carbon agendas and energy policy


Legislation (current and future, recent changes and issues)

Waste Framework Directive issues and status

Environmental permitting, waste management licensing, exemptions
Producer Responsibility - packaging, WEEE, batteries, ELV
Landfill Directive
Landfill Bans - liquids, tyres, future examples
Duty of Care, waste carriers, brokers
Hazardous waste, regulation and management
Civil Sanctions (where relevant)
International Waste Shipments, imports and exports
Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act or similar LEQ legislation 
Health & Safety at Work Act


Waste Hierarchy

Article 4 of Waste Framework Directive

Preparing for Re-Use
Other recovery e.g. energy recovery or biological treatments


Street Scene/ Local Environmental Quality

Recycling initiatives - e.g. Recycling On The Go, Recycling Now

Litter, gum, litter prevention plans, gum removal 
Street cleansing


Technologies, Waste and Recycling Operations

Principles, impacts, public perception plus link to legislation

Landfill - Environmental impacts, leachate and landfill gas control and management
Energy from waste, incineration, combined heat and power, pyrolysis, gasification, anaerobic digestion
Materials recycling/recovery facilities
Household waste recycling centres
Composting - open windrow, In-vessel
Management and treatment of hazardous waste
Infrastructure development


Waste Collection Systems

Municipal - definitions

Biodegradable waste diversion from landfill 
Construction waste 
Collection systems and frequencies (harmonised collection systems)
Pre-treatment of waste
Food waste collections
Recycling targets - Household/commercial and industrial
Contract Management and partnership working 
Commercial & industrial waste collections
The role of the 3rd sector 


Regulation and Enforcement

Role of regulators, who are they and their prime objectives

Current regulatory issues e.g. permits and exemptions, charging 
Waste Crime


Environmental Issues

Potential environmental impacts - noise, odour, pollution, amenity loss, flies, pests, birds,

litter, energy wastage, heat and carbon, climate change, resource use and access. 
Contaminated land
Fires at waste facilities


Health and Safety

General legislation

Industry performance and challenges
Key issues


Related Issues

Fiscal instruments - landfill tax, aggregate tax, council tax, pay as you throw 

Biodegradable plastics
Planning process and public opposition

Life Cycle Assessment
Waste management standards across Europe
Central and local government austerity and the effect on service provision 
Communications and stakeholder engagement, public opinion/fears, awareness raising and behaviour change 
Definition of waste
Carbon agenda and management, Carbon Reduction Commitment
Energy Policy


Examples of the work of other relevant organisations

WRAP/Zero Waste Scotland (for Scottish Candidates)

Keep Britain Tidy, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Keep Wales Tidy, Tidy Northern Ireland along with other national litter organisations 
The Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Northern Ireland Environment Agency
Third Sector - Community Recycling Network