Day 4: How to use mock interviews to test your business ready answers

On the surface a question like “Why should we hire you for this job?” may seem to have one simple answer: “I am qualified by virtue of my PhD in the precise scientific field you seek. I also have 4 years of experience as a Postdoc continuing my studies. I know this field of study.”  And the interviewer could score you 100% scientifically qualified and you get the job.

Probably NOT YET.  You did demonstrate that you are “science ready” for the job and we know you have been training for many years to meet the science job requirements. But you still need to demonstrate that you are “business ready” for the job.

Your answer to the following interview question could demonstrate that you have thought through the science and business elements relevant to a research position.  It would demonstrate that you are learning about being business ready.

First, answer the basic question before you read or prepare answers for the follow up questions a – h below.  Use an actual “work experience” of your own.

Basic question: Tell about the most recent time you made an improvement in the lab.

STOP and answer this question before reading further.

AFTER you have answered the basic question, review and prepare you answers for these follow up questions.  These are the answers that will demonstrate how business ready you really are.

a.     What criteria did you use to measure “improvement?”

b.     How much improvement did you want to make and why that quantity?

c.      What role did other team members play?

d.     How much time did you dedicate to this improvement?

e.     How would you determine that the improvement was worth the investment of time?

f.      Will the change you made sustain itself, is it stable?

g.     Was this entirely your decision or did you need or seek agreement or approval of others?

h.     What did you learn in this process that you would do differently the next time you make improvements in the lab?

NOW, find another person to play interviewer.  If possible, find someone with a business background and not another scientist.  The first time through the series of questions, use the sequence and answer in sequence.  Then, think how could you answer the basic question by incorporating some later answers. For example, “we were noticing a higher than acceptable contamination and set an aggressive target of 70% reduction.”  Your goal is to provide all the data in the follow up questions by using the answer to the same basic questions and 3 follow up questions.

Practice in a mock interview setting until you achieve this goal.  You will learn the routine faster and with better recall by speaking your responses as it accelerates neural reinforcement compared to just thinking about your answers.  Master this technique and you will elevate your interview performance.

Leave a Reply