Practice questions to ace your science policy job interview
· Why the AAAS Fellowship? What do you have to offer? – got this and why now
o Unique opportunity, with trainings, professional development, and network.
· What did ______ experience in your CV teach you about policy/science communication/leadership and how would you apply it to the AAAS STPF?
· Explain your research to someone without a science background.
· What is an accomplishment you’re proudest of?
· What is a (non-policy) skill that you feel that you’re missing?
· What are some skills you learned from [volunteer experience on my resume] and how will those apply to a fellowship placement at an agency?
· What was the most interesting part of [experience on my resume]? What was the least interesting part of [experience on my resume]?
· What are some differences in the environment of academia versus policy/agencies, and how do you think you’d adapt to that?
· Fast pace in answering a question, accepting uncertainty
· I had experience with industry-facing projects
· What projects are you currently working on at [current position]?
o Related to that answer: Elon Musk just announced that next week he’s going to launch a website and service where you can select the eye color, hai
r color, and personality traits of your baby. What role should the Federal government play in regulating this?
o Follow up: instead of U.S., this is going to be done by a company in Singapore. What action should the U.S. government take?
· If you could wave a magic wand and change any one (science) policy, what would it be?
· What agencies do you want to work at?
· Is there any agency you wouldn’t want to work at?
· What would you do if someone wasn’t interested in what the data said?
· What would/will you do if you don’t get this fellowship?
· What role can the US play in international issues of XYZ?
· Have you presented your work to high level people before?
· HAVE A 30 SECOND CLOSING STATEMENT READY FOR WHY YOU ARE A GOOD FIT FOR THE FELLOWSHIP!!!!!
· The National Nanotechnology Initiative funds a lot of basic research. How can we ensure that this economically benefits Americans and not just other countries who may use American ideas?
· Can you talk about how you tried to incorporate diverse speakers and fields in your outreach?
· You recommended convening a workshop. What outputs do you anticipate from that workshop, and how would you disseminate the information?
· Why should we give international companies access to American data? Shouldn’t we let American companies have the IP?
· Private companies will profit from this. How would you go about making sure Americans get something in return?
· Why did you choose this topic?
· Pros and cons of one of your recommendations
· How did you come up with these recommendations?
· What would you do if the member took a position that did not agree with the science? (Internally, within the office? Externally, with others?)
· What would your process be if your boss asked you to brief the member on a topic outside of your discipline? Briefing is 1 day from now/briefing is 15 minutes from now
· Why a congressional fellowship? Why now?
· What will you do if you aren’t chosen?
· What are you most nervous about regarding this fellowship?
· Do you have any questions for the former fellows on the committee?
· Who is someone in Congress that you admire or would like to work for? Why?
· Memo Related Questions (2015-2019)
· Why did you pick this topic?
· How did you come up with the $$ amount (if applicable)? Is this reasonable/feasible/practical?
· What are other aspects of this issue that need to be addressed, and how should they be addressed?
· What are the broader implications for the implementation of these recommendations?
· The president will leave office in two years and a Republican may take his place with majorities in both chambers. How might that changed political situation affect the future of this recommendation?
· AAAS-Specific Questions
· Why this AAAS S&TP Fellowship? Why DSD (and HEHS) in particular?
· Why this fellowship now, as opposed to another point in your career?
· What will you do if you are not chosen as a finalist?
· How do you think this fellowship will fit within your career goals?
· Where do you see yourself in the year after the fellowship is over?
· Why would you be a good fit for this fellowship program?
· Who have you contacted about the AAAS S&TPF program?
· What agency or agencies do you want to work for and why?
· What will you do if you do not get your first, second, or third choice of agency placements?
· If you had five minutes with John Holdren [Science and Technology Advisor to POTUS], what would you talk about?
· If you could wave a magic wand and change anything instantly, what would it be and why?
· If you were in the elevator with the head of an agency, what would you say?
· Educational/Professional Experience Questions
· What was your PhD research on?
· What kind of relationship do you now have with your graduate lab? Your mentor? Your institution?
· Describe a time in which you experienced a personal/professional failure and how you responded to it.
· Describe a time where your supervisor asked you to do something you found morally objectionable and how you responded (or how would you react if you’re asked to write a policy brief advocating a policy position that is factually correct/evidence-based but which you personally disagree with?)
· Describe how you approach working on issues on team versus individually.
· What is your leadership style?
· How have you resolved interpersonal conflicts?
· Have you done community service?
· How have you communicated science to the public?
· Personal Questions
· What are three of your greatest strengths?
· What are three of your greatest weaknesses, and what have you done to overcome them?
· What are three traits you value most in colleagues? Friends? Family members?
· What have been your greatest motivations in your life to date?
· How do you handle stressful, high pressure situations?
· What have been some of your proudest accomplishments to date?
· What are some things you’ve done that you’re least proud of?
· Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
· What do you do for fun? What are your favorite hobbies?