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  • How to stand out in interviews - Finding the right job L5 PSP 2 Module

    Nikki Abbott

    Bioscience and Chemistry Employment Adviser

  • Aims of session

    Will look at: Interview types Interview preparation and evidencing your skills Assessment centres and psychometric tests Presentations How to maximise chances of securing

    placement/summer placement or relevant work experience

  • Types of interview

    1:1 panel telephone video technical or competency

    based informal chat part of an assessment


  • Some examples from previous placements Quotient Bioresearch: informal chat; tour of the facility Sheffield Medical School, Clinical Oncology- Met supervisor in cafe for

    informal chat Hammersmith Medical Research: Panel interview, tour Euromimmun: informal chat Royal Hallamshire Hospital: informal chat; 1:1 and tour of facility Uni of Sheffield: panel interview, presentation, tour Sheffield Teaching Hospital: panel interview and practical test (error

    spotting on patient samples) Covance, Sample Management: Informal chat and telephone interview Mordelez International, RSSL, Metals Laboratory: Assessment day- 1:1,

    telephone, groupwork and presention European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute: video/ skype

  • Top interview Tips

    How to prepare

  • Why the company? Why the


    Why are you a good candidate?

    What are the main themes of interviews?

  • How to prepare for your interview

    Why the company... Look at their: Core business and values Culture and mission Role or products Look at info from your Employability Adviser Use its website, recruitment brochure, newspapers, trade journals and Careers Central. If it is a research or education institute look at published papers of supervisor or Department personnel

  • Researching the Job

    Why the Job

    Pay close attention to the job advert they vary in detail, length and clarity

    The Job Description and Person Specification contain requirements of knowledge/experience/skills/abilities You need to prepare examples of how you match the person spec Prospects website explore types of jobs industry insights

  • Why you? Skills employers seek

    Written and oral communication; decision making, time management; commercial awareness; research; laboratory; persuading, influencing and negotiating skills; leadership skills; computing skills; numeracy; striving for excellence; determination; adaptability


    Communication Skills

    Problem solving

  • Evidence skills using STAR

    Employers often look for examples of specific skills: Prepare examples using: Situation - briefly describe the where/when/who Task - outline the task or objective (what you hoped to achieve). Action - describe what you did - focus on your role and your input. Spend most time on this part. Result - what the outcome was and what skills you developed. Reflection: What would you do differently next time?

  • Prepare by Evidencing Your Skills Activity Skills Acquired

    Practical Degree project/module Designed and conducted experiments Wrote up and presented work to the department

    Biochemical techniques, PCR, culturing cells Self-driven and motivated, communication skills (writing and presenting) Interpretation and analytical skills, accuracy and precision

    Voluntary work experience Worked on a conservation project

    Team working and cooperation Fieldwork skills and fitness levels Understanding of ecology

    Bar work during first year

    Excellent communication skills negotiating and dealing with difficult customers Accuracy under pressure-handling cash and dealing with orders

    Science interview examples and hints

  • Prepare and practice answers to potential questions

    Think about which questions you may be asked - refer to the job description and person specification

    Prepare your 'ideal' answers, making sure your answers are relevant to the role and the company

    Provide specific examples about your experience that relate to what the employer is looking for - evidence your skills using the STAR technique

    Write your answers down to use as a 'crib' sheet to use to practice for the interview - practise saying the words out loud

    Contact Employment Adviser to have a practice interview

  • Research the types of questions asked by the employer and prepare answers Usual questions are.... Open/Broad questions

    "Why did you apply for the role?" "Why do you want the job?"

    A real chance to sell yourself and your skills. Focus on the company, the role and what you have to offer- Examples at the end of the PowerPoint

  • Types of questions

    Competency based: "Tell us about a time you have solved a

    problem." Use examples to build a mental picture Structure using STAR

    Scenario/behavioural: What would you do if you were asked to

    carry out a sample test quickly but were already busy?"

  • Types of questions

    Knowledge-based/Technical: "How do you keep your sector knowledge up to date?"

    Checking out what you know and how you apply it Commercial awareness

    Strength-based: "What motivates you in the workplace?"

    Trying to find out where you would best fit Be honest! (GSK)

  • Types of questions

    Extra tricky questions: "What is your weakness?"

    Checking out your self awareness Be honest - explain how you've tackled your weakness

    Curveball: "Is life a comedy or a tragedy?"

    How do you respond under pressure Rationale more important than answer

  • Uni of Sheffield (oncology and Metabolism)- Drug discovery What interests you in the role? Describe a technique used in the first year Tell us about yourself What are your strengths and weaknesses What is your greatest achievement What are your career goals

    Uni of Sheffield (oncology and Metabolism)- Lab Technician Why do you want to work for the organisation Technical questions related to lab skills

  • Questions asked for trainee Biomedical scientist placement (Sheffield) Tell me about your course and how you are getting


    What are your interests outside University?

    Where did you see this job advert and how did you apply?

  • Scientific / Technical Questions: Prepare

    research the company's main activities what techniques are mentioned in the job description ask students whove had interview Come and see me

    Common Question topics:

    Calculations! (Molarities, dilutions, unit conversions etc.) Job specific (theory, practical) Discussion of practical work done at SHU

  • Practicals

    Uni of Sheffield, Lab tech: Health and Safety test; Calculations to decide how many cells per flask are required for a project

    Uni of Sheffield, Department of Oncology, Lab Assistant: given a chance to dissect a mouse; molarity question

    Heaton Manor School- Lab Tech- Titrations/ making correct dilutions

    Abbott Diabetes Care- Student Scientist- maths skill- standard deviations/ %; making up solutions (glucose PBS)

    Penistone Grammar School-Making Dilutions; constructing a reflux condenser; making a 250 ml flask of 0.1M acid from1M stock

  • Others Basic mathematics Dilutions using a pipette Situational judgement with reagents How to calculate the number of cells in a solution Forensic Handwriting- examination of old case Calculation of concentrations Conversion of units Calibrations Informally tested on macrophage markers and some key facts about


  • Cont Lab based:

    Give an e.g. of where you have practised manual dexterity in a lab.

    Give an example of a practical in your lab classes and what skills you gained.

    What are the sub disciplines of microbiology?


    What does IBMS stand for and what are their values?

    If successful how will you balance a F/T job and completing IBMS portfolio?

  • Examples of how to answer key questions

    Abintegro: interview simulator (shuspace>my university>careers central)

    Example interview questions- science,9.htm,9_SDRD.htm,9_SDRD.htm

  • My favourite website for building up skill examples

  • How would you go about solving a problem

  • Give an example of where you have worked as part of a team

  • Tell me about any projects done.

  • Technical questions on science e.g. What is entropy? What does HIV stand for?

  • Other 'Awkward' Questions our Students have Faced:

    Topical questions


    Meeting deadlines

    Recovering from a bad question

    Try to be enthusiastic Show other strengths

  • Questions for you to ask

  • Range of interview assessment methods...

  • Telephone interviews

    Telephone interviews are increasingly popular and are

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