Nailing the Interview

By Emma Giarracco

Interviewing well is key for getting into labs, connecting with recruiters, and landing an exciting opportunity. Use the resources below to learn how to best present yourself and improve your skills. The following resources were adapted from the Emory Career Center.

Types of Interviews


Usually, these kind of interviews begin with a “Tell me about yourself” prompt. The goal of these kinds of interviews is to learn more about your personality, experiences, as well as your goals and aspirations for the future.

Before these types of interviews practice a candid yet professional elevator speech about who you are and what you are looking for. Use this list of potential interview questions to help prepare.

Before an interview, call a friend or family member and ask them to ask you potential interview questions! If they are unsure what to ask, you can provide them with the same list to help them!

Behavioral Based

These interviews focus on your role in specific situations and how you navigated challenging circumstances. Come prepared with a few stories that show your ability to think on your feet, persist, and create novel solutions.

Example questions:

  • Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
  • Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict while working on a team. How did you handle that?
  • Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome that?
  • We all make mistakes we wish we could take back. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled a situation differently with a colleague.
  • Tell me about a time you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on, and how did you get through it?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet in order to delicately extricate yourself from a difficult or awkward situation.
  • Tell me about a time you failed. How did you deal with the situation?
  • Describe a long-term project that you managed. How did you keep everything moving along in a timely manner?
  • Sometimes it’s just not possible to get everything on your to-do list done. Tell me about a time your responsibilities got a little overwhelming. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you go about ensuring that you would meet your objective?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to rely on written communication to get your ideas across to your team.


Especially for STEM interviews, this can be the most important kind of interview. The interviewer is looking for a technical understanding of your field, as well as a description of your specific role in the success of the project.

Example questions:

  • Tell me about a successful presentation you gave and why you think it was a hit.
  • Describe a time when you were the resident technical expert. What did you do to make sure everyone was able to understand you?
  • Describe a challenge you encountered in your research project and describe how you worked through it?
  • How did you overcome an unexpected obstacle?
  • Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
  • Give me an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it?
  • Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied in your work. What could have been done to make it better?

General Tips for Interview

Research the company and role of the job you are seeking. Understand the job description and echo the characteristics listed through your own experiences. Show, don’t tell. Look at the organizations’ mission, values, demographics, and organizational philosophy, as well as what department you will be working in.

Use the Emory Career Center website to make an appointment with a Career Counselor for help finding your voice and telling your story in an interview.

Check list/flow chart

It can be hard to prepare for every possible interview type and question. Use this short checklist to make sure you are ready.

  1. Polish and update resume. Include keywords and adjust experiences to fit the job description
  2. Create and practice a “Tell me about yourself” elevator speech introduction
  3. Ask friends or family for a practice interview. Ask for feedback!
  4. Dress professionally and appropriately. If the interview is virtual, make sure your background is neat and the lighting is flattering. Have a glass of water and pen and paper available.
  5. Be yourself! Smile, relax and be confident!

For more support preparing for your interview, visit the Emory Career Center.