Try a practice interview for a science job, answering typical questions and also getting tips on how you should answer. There are also other questions students have been asked at science interviews.
- What skills do scientists need?
- Practice science interview
- Skills required for a range of science careers
- Questions that have been asked at interview for science jobs
- Technical questions which have been asked
- Questions you could ask at science interviews
- Further Help
Here is a list compiled by one major pharmaceutical company:
- Presentation skills
- Computing Skills
- Time Management/organising skills
- People skills
- Report writing/documentation of experiments
- Laboratory experience
- Problem solving skills
- Ability to work on your own initiative, without constant supervision.
Scientific interviews in a laboratory environment may sometimes be "on the hoof" - informal whilst being shown round the lab. Make sure you have revised your project because questions will come from that.
Employers will be looking to see how you can talk about and demonstrate these skills at your interview. The sort of evidence you could offer includes:
- CO-OPERATING: working together on a field trip.
- WRITING a report from a placement.
- PLANNING a holiday round Europe.
- PRESENTING: delivering experimental results to your seminar group.
- ANALYSING data from a project.
See our Example Science CV for an idea of how to sell these skills to employers.
Before you arrive ...
Before your interview research the company. Revise thoroughly your project and relevant topics covered in your degree. There may be a tour round and the interview may be informal -especially for placement interviews. You may be asked to give a presentation on your project/research. You may get spatial, numeracy and logical reasoning tests - the Careers Service has examples of these see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/psychotests.htm
There follow some of the questions that might be specifically asked of students at interviews for jobs in scientific research, development, analysis and related areas. General interview questions are not asked here, so you might also like to try the general or multiple choice interviews as well for standard interview questions that can be thrown at any candidate. Click on "First Question" to begin. Think carefully about how you would answer, then click on "Show Answer Tips" to get an idea of how you should be answering.
Whilst not comprehensive, the following list of skills may give you an idea of the skill sets interviewers may be looking for, for different science jobs,
- Academic and Industrial Research. Academic, problem solving, analytical, attention to detail, practical skills. Research scientists must be able to ANALYSE the results of experiments and be competent in WRITING reports about the procedures they have used and the results obtained. They usually work in teams and therefore need to CO-OPERATE with other people. On occasions they have to GIVE PRESENTATIONS to groups of people and as they progress within a company, they may have to LEAD a team and PLAN their schedule of work over a given period of time.
- Development. As above + commercial awareness, ability to compromise, liaison skills
- Production. Management skills, able to work under pressure.
- Scientific Support. Attention to detail, analytical, problem solving
- Regulatory Affairs. Liaison, attention to detail, writing, keeping up with legislation
- Patent Work. Writing clearly and unambiguously, attention to detail, languages
- Teaching. Communication, organisation and planning
- Information Science. Organisation skills
- Technical sales, marketing, purchasing. Negotiating, persuading, business awareness, people skills
- Scientific Consultancy. Analytical, problem-solving, attention to detail, commercial awareness, oral and written communication
- Technical Writing and Journalism. Ability to explain complex concepts in simple terms
If you have been to an interview or assessment centre recently please fill in our interview report form to help other students.
- The questions in the first part were quite general: why did you choose those A Levels, why this degree, what part of the degree did you enjoy most, content of some of my courses.
- Why did you choose to study your subject?
- What parts of your course have you found most interesting and why?
- They asked about the content of some of my courses, so it might be an idea to look at the syllabus before your interview.
- Explain what you covered in this part of your course.
- What was the content of your mathematics course?
- What benefits do you expect to obtain from your placement? (if a placement interview)
- How good are your practical laboratory skills?
- What practical techniques have you carried out in University Labs?
- Questions about my lab skills
- What laboratory experience have you gained on your course?
- What techniques are you familiar with?
- What experience do you have of analytical techniques?
- How would you go about solving a problem?
- Can you mend your bike?
- Can you write reports?
- Can you work in a team?/with little supervision? Give an example.
- How do you deal with people?
- Can you work independently?
- Can you work closely with others?
- Have you got any computing skills?
- Give an example of where you have had to communicate effectively?
- How would I deal with customer interaction
- What jobs have you done and what skills have you learned from them.
- What skills and attributes did I have that made you suitable for the job?
- What do you have to offer the trust?
- Do you mind doing non-scientific tasks as well?
- What do you know about our company?
- About their products
- Which other companies have you applied to?
- What do you hope to gain from the job.
- No personal questions were asked
About your projects
- Be prepared for questions on your project: know it inside out.
- Revise thoroughly your project and relevant topics covered in your degree.
- I was asked in great detail about my project as this was directly relevant to the job.
- I was asked about my final year project. This was to relax me and get me talking.
- Make sure you have revised your project because most of the questions will come from that!
- I was asked to talk briefly about my project. I gave a full outline: basically a condensed version of my project.
- How did you choose your project? What did you get out of it? What did you enjoy about it? How did you do it? Justify the results.
- How did you prepare your project? What did you learn from it? What would you do differently next time?
- Final year research project: what did you do? How did you go about it? How did you organise yourself?
- I was asked about my project in great detail and felt that I had to fully justify why I chose it, how I did it and the results.
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