Whether in pharmacology, immunology, quality assurance or
R&D, securing those prized science jobs depends on more than just getting
your CV right - you will also need to negotiate what may be some seriously
bruising interview questions.
Here are just five that you might face, along with suitable
1. Why should you get
This question calls for good pre-interview preparation.
Before walking into the room, pick out three to five characteristics from your
CV that make you indispensable, backed up with examples. Employers want to see
evidence of a strong track record.
2. Where do you see
yourself in three to five years?
Responding with "I have no idea" - as truthful as
it may be - suggests that you have little idea what direction your career is
going in or for how long you intend to be in the job. A much better approach is
to say you have carefully assessed your career aims and learned that you can
best develop in the role for which you are being interviewer.
3. What was the worst
aspect of your last role?
Again, telling the
truth - such as that you hated the hours or your boss - may be tempting, but in
doing so, you can inadvertently reveal a weakness of your own. This, of course,
is why the question is being asked. It's more advisable to instead say that
your responsibilities were not sufficiently challenging - or something similar
that would indicate you are ready for the step up.
4. Why is there a gap
in your work history?
Answering this one well is much easier if you can
demonstrate that you have actually spent your time in-between jobs productively.
Employers understand that from time to time, people can lose their jobs and not
always immediately find another one. However, time spent looking after family
members, volunteering or undertaking freelance projects can all help to make
you more marketable from a science recruitment perspective.
5. What is your
This is yet another question that draws out unwitting
admissions of weakness in ill-prepared candidates. You can avoid becoming one
of them by stating a 'weakness' that could be equally easy considered a
strength - for example, a tendency to say yes and over-commit. Follow this with
an example of how you are becoming better at prioritising, and you will look
like an even better candidate for the job.