This is the turning point of your industrial placement application process. If you tick all the boxes at this stage then you can be sure to be offered a position. But the obvious problem is that you don’t know what the boxes stand for, but then again neither do any of the other applicants!
I was undoubtedly very nervous the few days before my interview at GSK. That is normal. I remember it was a particularly busy time for me with lots of university deadlines to meet and having an interview to prepare for is no easy task. It is vital you know what role you are applying for. Some positions are advertised in a generic manner that covers the multiple positions offered in a department (e.g.; the respiratory department at GSK has 12 different industrial placement students working on different projects this year, but their positions were all advertised under one general job description). So before you go, know what your department do and what your role will be.
A day before my interview date, I had arranged a meeting with the university industrial placement coordinator to tell him about my interview and to ask him for any advice. He gave me a practice interview and I was absolutely terrible. Even I wouldn’t have hired myself! I had one day left and I had done absolutely no preparation which I know was not very sensible but I am able to cope very well with last minute stress, not everyone can so know your limits! I stayed up the night before my interview and practiced answers to common interview questions and also researched what I will most likely be doing during my placement. Websites such as RateMyPlacement are a good source of information with opinions of past students who have actually undertaken the placement year so be sure to have a look.
The interview itself will be broken into different sections with there most likely being a tour of the labs you will be working in, an informal discussion possibly with current industrial placement students working there or with another employee and then the formal interview conducted by 2-4 interviewers. At this stage you need to bring across your passion for the work you will be doing and make it clear as to why you want to work for that company in particular. Be enthusiastic as enthusiasm and a genuine interest in the work being carried out will show you to be a promising applicant.
What I remember distinctly from my interview is the number of questions I was asked during my formal interview. From the answers I gave countless more questions were asked and it was clear that they wanted to test the depth of my understanding and see how I applied the knowledge I had in a research and development context. It would be terrifying if you were guessing your way through your answers and you only had an artificial understanding of scientific concepts but as I found, the challenge is quiet exciting if you enjoy applying what you learn.
Please do let me know how your interviews go. I wish you all the best!