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Environmental Scientist Interview
Questions

25 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 30th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Sciences    
Question 1 of 25
Why are you the best environmental scientist for us?
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How to Answer
Bragging about yourself in an interview can be tough to do, but this is your time to shine! Which characteristics and career accomplishments have made you a stand-out candidate? Perhaps you have received some academic awards or have been given individual accolades in your most recent position. There is nobody like you, and now you need to express that to the interviewer.
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Answer Examples
1.
Why are you the best environmental scientist for us?
Bragging about yourself in an interview can be tough to do, but this is your time to shine! Which characteristics and career accomplishments have made you a stand-out candidate? Perhaps you have received some academic awards or have been given individual accolades in your most recent position. There is nobody like you, and now you need to express that to the interviewer.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am the best candidate for you because I have a consistent history of exceeding my targets and meeting project deadlines. I have been promoted two times in the last year which is nearly unheard of in my current company."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have the necessary experience, skill sets, and ambition to add great value to this role. I am looking forward to the opportunity!"
2.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
It's impossible to know where you will be in 5 years but do assure the interviewer that, given all possible circumstances, you could see yourself as a long-term fit for their position.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Ideally, five years from now, I would love to see myself growing into a more prominent leadership role within your organization. My career interests align very nicely with your company's goals which helps me to see a great long-term fit here."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In 5 years I would like to be seen as an authority in our industry. I would like to be well-connected and trusted when it comes to my work here."
3.
When have you had to change a major component of your project, due to new information being presented?
Being able to swivel the focus of your project is a necessary skill for your success as an environmental scientist. Talk to the interviewer about a time when a significant change occurred on a project. How did you handle the implementation of the new information?

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I had a large project last month that was nearly complete when the client called to say that some of the needs provided were incorrect. Because of this, our team had to re-do the entire proposal. It took us an additional four days of work but, in the end, the client was delighted with our work, and it resulted in new opportunities for them."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Last year we saw new federal regulations come through which affected 80% of our ongoing projects. We had to adjust our plans; however, we were able to deliver a timely product that met federal regulations."
4.
Have you ever broken a confidentiality agreement?
Companies will have confidentiality agreements for a variety of reasons. These could be to protect their trade secrets or to ensure that you do not bring clients over on the occasion that you leave their company. Talk to the interviewer about your thoughts on confidentiality agreements.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I never have, to my knowledge, broken a confidentiality agreement. Despite my reasons for leaving a position, I would never choose to hurt a previous employer in any way."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"No. I have only once had a confidentiality agreement and had no problem adhering to it."
5.
As an environmental scientist, you will face a significant amount of diversity among your coworkers. Are you accustomed to this?
Working in a scientist role, you will have co-workers that come from many backgrounds, specialties, areas of focus, and years of experience. Are you accustomed to working with a very large or diverse team of individuals? How about cross-functional teams? Assure the interviewer that you can handle an environment that offers diversity.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I have worked with diverse groups of people most of my career, including my time in university. I am most comfortable, and happy, in this type of environment because it offers a great learning opportunity."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In my current role, I work alongside cross-functional teams regularly. Together, we manage our research projects very well."
6.
How do you believe you will complement our department if you were hired?
If you were awarded the position, what would you bring to the department or organization? Assure the interviewer that you are the right fit for this position.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"If I were hired, I feel that I would compliment your organization in a few significant ways. First - I am a fast learner, and I already bring six years' experience in this industry. The time to train me will be reduced. Also, I will bring a solid amount of research on ecosystems, which you mentioned you were looking for in your next hire."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"If I were hired, I will compliment your department by adding value to the pressing initiatives you have prioritized such as conservation and environmental sustainability."
7.
Tell me about yourself.
When an interviewer asks an open-ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in-depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This question is an excellent opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am a competitive individual who is driven and likes to win. In addition to my successful career in science, I also spend time playing competitive sports. I give back by volunteering at the local animal shelter and working for a variety of annual fundraisers in our community."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am a very active individual who loves to workout and go to the mountains on the weekend. I feel that my level of activity on my off time greatly improves my work during the week. I have a high amount of energy to offer!"
8.
What made you choose to become an environmental scientist?
Th. It can be anything, ranging from your parents, some relative, your school teacher, or even your curiosity towards the current changes in the environment etc. Whatever is your reason, be honest about it and inform it to the interviewer in a nice positive manner.
Sometimes, money is also our motivation behind making a career choice but this is not something that you might want to use for this answer. So, use something that sounds unique and assures the interviewer about the fact that you are in this profession to make a change and not just for the money.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I want to become an environmental scientist because I have always been curious about the recent changes in the environment and I wanted to do my share of duty towards improving the situation as much as I can."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I grew up with both parents as a scientist, and my mother specifically was an environmental scientist. She was so passionate about her work that it inspired me to follow in her footsteps. I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and look forward to starting a long and fruitful career with your organization."
9.
What do you like most about being an environmental scientist?
The interviewer would like to know what you enjoy most about being an environmental scientist. This is likely the factor that will continue to motivate you on the toughest of days.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"What I enjoy most about being an environmental scientist is that I am paid to do what I love! Being on top of environmentally related issues and finding solutions for them, is all very exciting to me. The ever-changing landscape of the environment is fast-paced and keeps me engaged on a daily basis."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"The one thing that I like most about being an environmental scientist is the fact that I love the research involved. I am a strong researcher and look forward to utilizing this skill with your organization."
10.
What is the most challenging part of supervising environmental technicians and junior scientists?
As an environmental scientist in a leadership position, you may find that you have difficulties with your employees. A few challenges you may face are balancing being the boss and being a friend, interpersonal conflict on a team or having employees with bad attitudes. Show the interviewer that you are capable of handling challenging leadership situations. If you have not been in a leadership role, talk about an example you have had in the past from a great supervisor. State that you would like to emulate that person's leadership style.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"The most challenging thing about supervising technicians and other junior scientists is figuring out what style of communication works for each person. Also, finding out everyone's motivators can be a challenge at first."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have not been in a leadership position as of yet; however, I have had some great leaders as examples in my past. My most recent supervisor was excellent at keeping the peace in a high-stakes environment. He knew everyone's motivators and worked with those when he wanted better performance."
11.
When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with delays in the workplace.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"Experiencing a setback is always disappointing and can be a bit disheartening, especially when research hours are lost for example. I understand that it happens from time to time. If I experience a major setback, I will take a few moments to debrief with my manager and discuss what I could have done differently. Then, I move on!"
Rachelle's Answer #2
"In science, seā€‹tbacks happen for a reason, and they do not affect me emotionally in the least. I am a very pragmatic thinker and stay focused despite the challenges that come my way."
12.
As a scientist, team communication is key to your success. What experience do you have using team-based messaging applications?
As you know, when you are working on a science-based project, there is a multitude of moving parts and potentially many hands in the kitchen. For this reason, tools for clear team communication are essential. There are many options for communication software and messaging applications. Give the interviewer a brief overview of the apps you are experienced in and assure them that you can learn their internal system, should it be new to you.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I love team-based messaging applications! I have utilized many of them with direct teams and remote teams. They are effective for updating communications and keeping on track with the progress of team-based work projects."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I have limited experience with team messaging apps in the workplace. However, I have used them during my time in university for group projects and connecting with professors. It would be great to have a simple and quick messaging system in the workplace."
13.
What are your strengths as an environmental scientist?
Which personal strengths make you excellent at your job? Advantages can be skills or qualities that help you overcome difficult circumstances or accomplish challenging tasks.

In a work context, your strengths will help you to complete your to-do list, understand client needs, and help you to apply what you have learned in your training. Talk to the interviewer about a couple of your strengths and why those will help you to be successful in this role.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I think my strengths are in my perceptiveness and ability to be observant of the needs of others. These strengths are part of what makes me an excellent performer in a client facing role."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"Some great strengths to mention are:

- Communicative
- Loyal
- Collaborative
- Tech Savvy
- Flexible in Schedule/Availability
- Persistent and Determined
- Eager for Knowledge/New Skills"
14.
Do you prefer to work in the field, or in a lab setting?
The interviewer would like to know if there is a particular environment in which you enjoy working. Are you pretty flexible in your ability to work in most situations? Have you experienced a position where the situation wasn't conducive to your productivity? Be sure to know the type of environment offered in this position before the interview.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I am able to be productive in most work environments, so long as the mentality is positive and teamwork is encouraged. I enjoy lab work because it's so precise and also field work because it's active and unpredictable."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am newer to my career as an environmental scientist and would love to have some hands-on, field experience. It's necessary for me to cut my teeth as a new scientist, in my opinion. This environment is a big reason why I applied for this role."
15.
When conducting scientific research, how often do you create alternative scenarios for potentially unexpected outcomes?
As an environmental scientist, you need to be ready for unexpected outcomes when it comes to your research and findings. Being able to problem solve and think outside the box when it comes to changing situations is a valuable skill set. Talk to the interviewer about your ability to create a variety of potential scenarios.

Rachelle's Answer #1
"I feel that it is essential to create alternative scenarios in all research situations. One cannot guess what will happen in the end, so it is great to be prepared for all possible outcomes."
Rachelle's Answer #2
"I am ready to adapt at all times. Alternate scenarios are a must in science-based research. One of my professors taught me to always work in 'what-ifs' because, in science, plans change and fail on a regular basis."
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25 Environmental Scientist Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
Interview Questions
  1. Why are you the best environmental scientist for us?
  2. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  3. When have you had to change a major component of your project, due to new information being presented?
  4. Have you ever broken a confidentiality agreement?
  5. As an environmental scientist, you will face a significant amount of diversity among your coworkers. Are you accustomed to this?
  6. How do you believe you will complement our department if you were hired?
  7. Tell me about yourself.
  8. What made you choose to become an environmental scientist?
  9. What do you like most about being an environmental scientist?
  10. What is the most challenging part of supervising environmental technicians and junior scientists?
  11. When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?
  12. As a scientist, team communication is key to your success. What experience do you have using team-based messaging applications?
  13. What are your strengths as an environmental scientist?
  14. Do you prefer to work in the field, or in a lab setting?
  15. When conducting scientific research, how often do you create alternative scenarios for potentially unexpected outcomes?
  16. Tell me about a career related goal that you set and did not reach. How did you recover from the disappointment?
  17. How do you encourage creative thinking with your fellow scientists?
  18. What questions do you have for me?
  19. What are your salary expectations for this environmental scientist role?
  20. Which scientific literature resources are your favorite?
  21. Describe your working relationship with your previous or current colleagues.
  22. What type of environmental test equipment have you used in the past?
  23. Do you have experience with asbestos?
  24. How do you like to be recognized for your accomplishments?
  25. What kind of events cause you stress on the job? How do you deal with stress?
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