Science Interview Questions

What to Expect in Your Science Interview

Education, field experience and publication history will all help to get you an interview in the science field, but landing the job will require you to set yourself apart from other candidates. Keep in mind that interviewers will likely want to get to know your personality while also validating how much you really know about your area of expertise.

In the science field, an employer will want to know how you’ve handled challenges in the past. Be primed to explain how you’ve dealt with disappointments and setbacks and to show your ability to work through difficult situations. Make sure you’ve considered the trajectory of your career and research plans. You’ll likely face questions related to your goals, projects and future plans, so prepare yourself to speak about them comfortably.

Tips to Remember

Interviews in the science field are often led by unskilled interviewers, usually fellow scientists who are subject matter experts, but may not have much experience interviewing. In these cases, traditional interview tips can often fail you, since you may not be asked the top ten interview questions most people prepare for. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Plan the points you want to get across. If the interviewer asks you oddball questions, find a way to keep those points in mind and navigate towards them.

  • Use vague questions to your advantage. When the question is not specific, you can use your answer to highlight your most valuable experience or skills.

  • Don’t avoid specific questions. When an interviewer asks something precise, your attempt to avoid answering may make you seem incapable of doing the job. Instead, answer to the best of your ability.

    General Skills to Highlight

    In the science field, interviewers are often looking for a specific set of skills and experience. They will also want to get a feel for how well you will be able to manage the rigors of the job. Be sure to underscore these skills:

    • Teamwork – emphasize your ability to work as a part of the team, not just independently
    • Drive – show your desire to work in a scientific field and specifically in this position
    • Organization – demonstrate how structured your files and experiments will be kept
    • Likability – to get grants and excel in the science community, you must be personable
    • Enthusiasm – show your excitement for this job/project

    In a science interview, you will want to show your personality, experience and skill set. If you can strike that subtle balance, your interview will surely be a triumph.

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