Four Questions to Ask a Scientific Candidate

August 7th, 2015

The interview gives you or your hiring manager the best chance to see what truly makes a candidate tick. Applicants for scientific jobs bring a different set of skills when compared to most other professional disciplines. Your interviewing team needs to ask the right questions to ensure they get the best possible read on the candidate’s skills, their ability to work as part of a team, and the tangible difference they made for previous employers.

When finding out the most about a scientific candidate is the ultimate goal, here are four sample questions worth noting.

“Describe your practical laboratory skills.”

It’s a good idea to find out if a candidate is strong in the laboratory; boasting meaningful, practical skills. This is an especially appropriate question to ask candidates fresh out of college with little professional experience. Some excellent students with high GPAs and a significant number of awards aren’t able to carry their weight when it comes to laboratory work.

Frame the question so it leads to further discussion of specific aspects of their experience — equipment, techniques, and methodologies. While this question may not be applicable to all candidates, if the role you are hiring for includes aspects where they will work in or alongside a lab, this question can be highly insightful.

“What experience do you have with computer data analysis packages?”

Computer skills are a must for any 21st century worker. Specific experience in data analysis packages are especially important for anyone working in the scientific field. The ability to understand report-writing tools using graphics and data visualization concepts is a plus when performing this kind of analysis.

“How would you solve this scientific problem?”

This question is especially vital as it helps to understand a candidate’s methodology when presented with a similar problem on the job. Pay close attention to whether the person is able to define a structured step-by-step plan that includes defining the issue, researching a solution, and ultimately solving the problem in an efficient manner.

“After researching our company, on what projects can you make a difference?”

Any candidate needs to research the company with which they are interviewing. This question verifies they did their homework, while giving the interviewee a chance to share how they are able to add real value to your organization. The more detailed their answer, the better chance they are right person to receive a job offer.

If your company needs additional insight on interviewing scientific talent, talk to the experts at Synerfac. As one of the top technical staffing agencies in Philadelphia and nationwide, we offer vetted candidates able to make a difference for your firm. Schedule some time with us today.

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