From Application To Interview: How To Stand Out During The Suncor Energy Hiring Process


When it comes to finding the best talent at Suncor Energy, Sabrina MacPherson knows her stuff.

She’s been involved in almost all aspects of recruitment, from job postings to campus recruitment and beyond. And finding the right students and grads for Suncor’s roles is no simple feat – in fact, there are numerous things that recruiters like Sabrina look for when it comes to filling their various positions.

If you’re looking to start an exciting career with Suncor Energy, we’ve got some fantastic tips straight from the source to make sure your application shines its brightest!

Getting to know Suncor Energy

“I actually started my career with Suncor in Fort McMurray after graduation. It was – and still is – known for being a reputable company with great learning opportunities.”
Sabrina MacPherson, Suncor Energy

Suncor Energy is Canada’s leading integrated energy company – and they’re always looking to source and nurture fresh new talent through their various programs for students and new grads.

There are three hiring seasons that Suncor Energy goes through each year, where they receive thousands of applications from eager individuals across the country looking to begin their careers.

But you may be wondering, what is it that Suncor Energy is looking for? Sabrina says there are 4 qualities you must possess to be successful at this company: you must be positive, innovative, creative, and collaborative.

“Because Suncor Energy has many locations, the culture can vary depending on where you work,” says Sabrina. “The business you’re in and the job you’re doing is also a factor. But those words have resonated throughout all the locations – and you can’t really survive without doing that in this industry.”

Here’s a sample list of roles new grads can apply to with Suncor Energy:

  • Project Management
  • Human Resources
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Facility Planner
  • Millwright
  • Geophysical Development
  • …and more!

Click here to explore new grad roles with Suncor Energy.

The majority of positions Suncor Energy looks to fill fall into either business or engineering. In fact, Sabrina estimates that these two fields make up around 80% of the roles they aim to hire for. However, there are also opportunities for people outside of those disciplines.

“Sometimes some roles are willing to take people with different types of backgrounds, as long as they come with an analytical skill-set, for example,” says Sabrina. “It’s very important for applicants to keep their eye on job descriptions.”

Creating a top application

As one might expect, the recruiters at Suncor Energy definitely have their hands full sifting through new applications. But Sabrina says the most important thing to remember is that a well written resume goes a long way.

“I tell students that the most important thing about writing a resume is clarity,” she says. “If we have to go searching through your resume when we need key pieces of info, we’re not going to be able to spend a lot of time on it.”

Key info you should highlight on your Suncor Energy application:

  • What you’re studying at school, and what year you’re in – this helps recruiters figure out if you’re eligible for certain programs.
  • What educational institution you’re from, and your (expected) grad year – be sure to clearly state the university or college that you attend/have graduated from, as well as when you will be graduating (if you haven’t already).
  • When you’re available to start – this is especially important for students applying to co-op terms. Suncor Energy’s programs typically start in January, May, and September.
  • How long you’re able to work for – This is to determine if you will be able to fulfil the requirements of the program.
  • If you are in a formal co-op program – Be sure to state if you are applying for Suncor Energy’s co-op program as a means to graduate.
  • If you are willing to relocate – Since Suncor Energy has multiple locations you can work out of, be sure to let them know if you’re willing to be considered for positions abroad.

One of the most important things to remember during the application stage is to read the instructions carefully. Depending on the role you are applying for, Suncor Energy’s recruitment team may require certain things such as an academic transcript. They also require candidates applying for their student roles to answer a series of assessment questions.

Skipping these steps are the biggest mistakes students and grads make when applying to Suncor Energy. “If you don’t answer these questions or include the proper documentation, then we won’t look at your resume,” says Sabrina.

When putting your resume together, Sabrina says it’s important to highlight previous co-op experience, or any other relevant experience that can make you an asset. If you don’t have any previous experience, volunteering and leadership skills are also taken into account, as well as good grades. Highlighting unique skills and qualities that you gain from your programs is a really effective way to stand out.

For Sabrina, she says that there are certain things as a recruiter that she would always consider the most important.

“Definitely a nice format,” she says. “I should be able to tell within 30 seconds what your goals are… as I said before, a well written resume goes a long way.”

Acing the interview

Interviews at Suncor Energy are conducted in one of two fashions. If you’re local, you will likely be contacted for a face-to-face interview. However, Sabrina says since Suncor Energy receives applications from students and grads across the country, many of their interviews are conducted over the phone.

“For the phone interviews, we’ll give you a dial in number to call,” says Sabrina. “So make sure you’re on the line on time. Make sure there’s no background noise, and you have a fully charged phone with a strong connection.”

During the interviews, Suncor Energy recruiters really aim to get a sense of who the individual is, and how they’ll fit in with the company if they’re hired. Sabrina says there are a few ways students and grads can accomplish this.

“I really think that giving us examples of things they’ve done in the past can help us see how they’ll perform in the future,” she says. “It’s great to see when they’re honest and not afraid to admit they’ve made mistakes before.”

Suncor Energy’s recruiters ask a series of behavioural based questions to determine if the candidate is the right fit for the role. These types of questions can be found online with a quick search – Sabrina says it’s very important for students and grads to use these resources to prepare for their interviews ahead of time.

“Ask a friend to help you practice,” she says. “Get used to coming up with different things you’ve done in your work history on the spot. You need to prepare to think quickly and think of different examples without hesitation.”

Here are some sample behaviour based questions:1. “Tell me about a time (either in a school project, work setting, or extra-curricular activity) when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation for a plan going forward.”Optional follow-up questions:

  • “What kind of thought process did you go through?”
  • “Looking back, is there anything that you would change about your process or recommendations?”

2. “Tell me about a time when you were given a confusing task. What was the task, and what steps did you take in order to gain a better understanding of the task?”

Optional follow-up questions:

  • “What were some of your greatest challenges with the task?”
  • “How did this assignment/project/experience turn out?”

3. “Tell us about a work, school or extra-curricular experience where you had to work closely with others. How did it go? How did you overcome any difficulties?”

Optional follow-up questions:

  • “Did you follow-up with your team afterwards to debrief the experience? If so, what were the major learnings?”
  • “Do you prefer working independently or on teams?”

Of course, it’s natural for even the most well-practiced candidate to get stumped on a question during the interview. In that case, Sabrina says the most important thing is not to panic.

“You can always ask to move on to the next question,” she says. “But be sure to address that you want to go back and try to answer the question again at the end. As long as you answer the question, you won’t necessarily lose points.”

At the end of the interview, students and grads will have the opportunity to ask questions of their own. Sabrina says it’s important to keep questions focused on how you will fit into the position, and address aspects of the role itself.

“You can ask things like ‘what opportunities will I have development-wise’ or ‘will I have a mentor?’” she says. “Stay away from questions such as pay rate and how much time you’ll have off – you can ask about those aspects during the offer stage.”

Here are some samples of good questions students ask during their interviews:

  • “Will I have the opportunity to experience different aspects of the business?”
  • “Can this position lead to another role if I am a top performer?”
  • “How will I know that I’m performing well on the job?”
  • “Will there be opportunities to take on more responsibility in this role?”

Final thoughts

Sabrina says that the opportunities at Suncor Energy are endless, which makes it a great place for students and grads to launch their careers. Even after 9 years with Suncor Energy, she says she’s still exploring new opportunities and trying different roles.

“You get to work with experienced people and do unique work,” she says. “It’s an innovative company that provides a full end-to-end process. There’s a lot to learn about that.”

Her advice for aspiring young professionals looking to apply with Suncor Energy: be flexible when it comes to roles within the company.

“If you get a call for a different role that you didn’t apply for, keep an open mind,” she says. “It could lead to a great opportunity that you never even considered.”

For the students across Canada that will be applying to Suncor Energy in the future, Sabrina encourages them to be bold and stand out from the crowd.

“I’m sure in every way, all of you have something unique to offer,” she says. “So don’t be afraid to highlight that and sell yourself… so show us what you’ve got!”


Ready to work with Suncor Energy? Check out their career opportunities here!