Research scientists play key roles in laboratory-based examination and trials. They design, undertake and analyze any information obtained from these tests and trials.
As a research scientist, you will mostly work in government laboratories, specialist research organizations, universities, or environmental organizations.
This article will look at some of the questions you should expect in a research scientist interview. Also, work on your presentation and interview skills to increase your chances of landing the job.
Take a look at the following questions:
1. Why Are You Interested in This Job?
Why did you choose to become a research scientist, or why did you decide to apply for this job? This is a chance to sell yourself to the interviewer and mention what the organization stands to gain from your services. You can also give a personal experience first.
I am a naturally curious person who enjoys researching new things. I, therefore, decided to pursue this career to make use of my passion, coupled up with my love for Biology. I have been in this field for quite some time and would like to use my experience, skills, and expertise to better your organization, hence my application.
2. What are the Roles of a Research Scientist?
Do you know what your Work as a research scientist entails? The interviewer wants you to mention some of your mandates. You can refer to the job description or mention some of your roles in your former workplace, provided that it relates to the role.
A research scientist plans and conducts experiments, writes research papers and reports, collects different samples, conducts other types of fieldwork, monitors experiments, and records data. Other roles are supervising junior staff members, demonstrating different procedures and staying updated on different developments.
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3. What are Some of the Qualities that a Research Scientist Need to Be Effective?
What are some attributes that a research scientist needs to have to be good at their Work? Make sure that you only mention job-specific qualities. We advise that you mention some of the qualities that have helped you reach this far in your career.
A research scientists should be curious and willing to learn more about their subjects of expertise. They should also have leadership skills that can make the work atmosphere productive and enthusiastic. Other qualities include open-mindedness, analytical skills and the ability to work in team settings. ( make sure that you can relate all the attributes that you have mentioned to the position at hand)
4. Mention a Challenge that You Faced in Your Last Role and How You Overcame it
Even though your main Work will be finding more about different subjects, you will also be needed to solve problems that come your way. The interviewer must therefore confirm that you are a problem solver. To answer this question, give an experience that will shed some light on your problem-solving skills.
I worked in an ill-equipped lab. Therefore, most of the time, I lacked the resources to conduct extensive research. It was a startup that faced lots of funding difficulties, and therefore I understood. Luckily, I had a personal lab at home and conducted most of the technical research there, at times excusing myself from Work, which my employer understood.
5. What is Your Daily Routine?
What are some of the daily activities that a research scientist performs? Keep in mind that there are overall and daily roles of research scientists. Find out as much as possible about the potential employer and mention some of the roles that their research scientists perform daily.
My day as a research scientist mainly revolves around planning and performing experiments, analyzing data, generating reports, attending meetings with different people and talking to the line manager when briefing him/her about my Work.
6 Briefly Describe Your Experience
This is a common question in different interviews that attempts to find out some of the places you have worked in, the accolades you have gathered and the roles you have occupied in your line of Work. However, since most of this information is captured in your CV and work resume, make your answer short and direct to the point.
I have been in this field for the last ten years. I began shortly after completing my Master’s degree, which taught me teaching skills, research paper writing, public speaking and advanced mathematics. I have worked in five labs in my years of practice and a record five schools. I also pursued a doctorate which made my dreams of being a leading research scientist come to pass.
7. Mention a Strategy and Mindset Required For This Role
Which working style and perspective makes you an excellent research scientist? The best way to answer this question is to draw from your personal experience. Mention a strategy and mindset that has seen you through your career. Make sure that you can relate them to the role if asked.
There are lots of strategies that one can adopt in this job. However, I have discovered that using peer-reviewed articles in one’s research papers is essential. It ensures that you will work with accurate and well-cited information, essential for any research scientist. As for the right mindset, one needs to be open-minded and receptive to new information.
8. Mention a Challenge that You Foresee in This Role?
What is the main obstacle that you foresee In This job? You should take time and conduct extensive research to find areas that may prove troublesome later in your new job. However, while mentioning a Challenge, desist from anything that may make you look incompetent in the interviewer’s eyes. You can also turn this question around and instead sell yourself.
Having been in this field for quite some time, I have realized that most of the challenges cut across. I have dealt with them all through my career, always finding new ways or modifying previous solutions. Therefore, I believe that with your help, I will solve any challenge that comes my way in this job.
9. How Do You Stay Motivated In this Role?
What gives you the needed push to wade through all the challenges you face in this role? Remember, this is a highly engaging job that will mostly drain you. You should therefore have a source of motivation that is not material in nature.
I believe that my passion for research has kept me going this far by giving me the much-needed motivation. I love discovering new information about different subjects, thanks to my curiosity. My desire for learning and obtaining new information is also a great motivating factor. ( You can also mention your support network, be it
your friends or family)
10. Mention a Time That You Failed In This Role and the Lesson You Learnt
Can you be accountable, admit that you made a mistake and learn from it? This interview question is testing your accountability skills and ability to learn from your mistakes. Please do not treat it as a trap; give an experience that bettered your career.
During my early days as a research scientist, I failed to use peer-reviewed articles and resorted to a common search engine. Most of the information turned out to be inaccurate, and my boss was really mad. However, I managed to convince him and redid the article, this time with peer-reviewed articles. I learnt the importance of using credible sources when conducting research. I haven’t looked back since.
11. What is the Most Challenging Part of your Job?
What is the most challenging thing about being a research scientist? This question seeks to establish your experience as a research scientist and areas that you find problematic. The best approach is to draw from your experience.
The hardest part of being a research scientist is finding adequate credible resources for our Work. We have to pay to access certain information on the internet at times, which makes this venture pretty expensive. I have spent a lot of money on books, which does not seem to change anytime soon.
12. How Do You Organize, Plan and Prioritize Your Work?
The interviewer wants to know how you handle well you can handle all the tasks that come your way and meet the set deadlines. How do you prioritize and plan your Work? You can mention some of the things that you use, such as a planner. All in all, convince the interviewer that you are a good organizer and planner.
I normally list all my activities in my planner at the beginning of the day. I then prioritize them by beginning with the most urgent before progressing to the ones with flexible deadlines. I also set alarms for every task, which I always strive to achieve. Therefore, I normally meet deadlines.
13. Mention Some of the Original Research that You Have Conducted in Your Career
The interviewer wants to know about some of your works that you are most proud of. You should tell how the Work is original and impress the interviewer with your answer. Also, show how you planned your time and the results that you got.
I once researched the effects and healing power of cannabidiol, which is the active compound in Marijuana. I conducted it in my lab from scratch and published a whole article about it, which shows just how original it is. It is yet to be peer-reviewed, but I am sure that it is pretty insightful. ( Just mention any research that you have carried out in your area of expertise)
14. Would You Consider Data Analysis a Strength?
Your Work as a research scientist involves data analysis, which is also one of the necessary skills for any research scientist. It would be best if you considered data analysis a strength since you cannot be good at your job without it.
I believe that data analysis is a strength. Cleaning, transforming and modelling data into useful information is not an easy task, and therefore, not everyone can do it well. That explains why research scientists must be good at data analysis, an important skill during research.
15. Have You Ever Worked in a Rapidly Evolving Workplace? How Do You Normally Deal with Change
The interviewer wants to know if you are receptive to change. Can you adapt to change? Remember, change can be in terms of technology, change in the workplace, or a new culture. In your line of Work, there will be new introductions that you should be ready for.
Yes. I have firsthand witnessed change in my work settings. I am receptive to change and appreciates it since it makes my work easier and more manageable. I also love introducing, driving and implementing change in the workplace. It is, therefore, safe to say that I do not mind a Rapidly changing environment.
16. Are You Okay With Teamwork?
The interviewer is testing your ability to collaborate with others on projects. As much as you may be expected to work independently, you should also be willing to do the same with a team of other researchers. Convince the interviewer that you are a team worker and wouldn’t mind joining hands with others.
I am a team worker. I believe in collaboration, especially when working on large projects that need team efforts. I believe that teamwork enhances accuracy and makes works easier, allowing us to work faster and meet all the set deadlines. I have also been a lead researcher several times, in charge of a team of researchers and therefore wouldn’t mind working with a team.
17. How Do You Normally Persuade Others to Adopt Your Line of Thinking?
The interviewer is testing your persuasion skills, which is highly important, especially if a team is involved. You may need to persuade others to adopt your line of thinking, especially if you are a lead researcher. The best approach here is to draw from an experience where you convinced others to join you.
I understand just how important it is to at times persuade others to adopt my line of thinking in this job. To do this successfully, I normally explain my view and convince them of the perks we stand to gain by relying on it. I also give them time to ask questions, which I answer dutifully and with great detail.
18. Has Your Patience Ever Been Tested? How Did You Deal With that Scenario?
Remember, one of the traits we mentioned when discussing the qualities every research scientist needs is patience. Your patience will be tested in this field in experiments or when working with a team. However, you should be able to handle such situations maturely and not lose sight of your research objectives. Tell the interviewer how you normally take care of such situations.
My patience has mainly been tested in group settings. Whenever we have lots of work to do, we divide it into small proportions, and everyone is given something to do. However, some people normally fail to meet the set deadlines, and hence inconvenience the entire team. I try as much as possible to maintain my cool and push them to finish the work during such times. If they are still not able to, the Work is reassigned, and they are removed from the team.
19. Mention a Strength that Makes You the Right Choice for this role
Do you know what it takes to be a research scientist? Do you have it in you? If you understand all the qualities one needs to be a research scientist; you definitely know some that you have. Mention these and try to relate them to the role.
I am a generally curious person. I love knowing more about things and learning about new subjects. To be a good researcher, one needs to be curious, a trait which I already have.
20. What is Your Greatest Weakness?
It would be best if you were careful when answering this question. Do not mention a weakness that will automatically disqualify you from this role. Try to identify the least harmful and show that you can manage it.
My greatest weakness is perfectionism. I normally want things to turn out exactly as I envision them and get mad at myself when they don’t. However, I am learning to go easy on myself and acknowledge that things do not normally turn out as anticipated, which is still okay.
These are a few questions that you should expect in a research scientist interview. Make sure that you have the right responses at your fingertips, and also try to think about unique responses that will satisfy the interviewer.
Also, remember that the interviewer will be looking for more than just answers. Show that you are confident and can perform exceedingly well if given the job.