How to pass your placement interviews | Advice from Chemistry student Radoslav Petkov part 2

Welcome back to how to pass your placement interviews. The second part of this three part series will explore why knowing why you want to do a placement and being confident are important components to have to stand out from other candidates.


Know your why and be confident 

I think this is a very important point and one that I neglected for most of the time before my interview. Knowing why you want to do a placement will help you focus on what you want to get out of a placement. I personally wanted to do a placement to find out whether a career in chemistry was the right choice for me. Being exposed to lab work and doing experiments on a daily basis for a full work shift would give me a taste of the life of a chemist.  I would suggest not to do a placement because your friends have done the program where they have recommended it for its employability benefits. After you have researched different jobs and opportunities, figure out why you want to do it and the purpose it has. Perhaps you have a big interest in pharmaceutical research and you want to be in the next generation of scientists who find a cure to a specific disease. It could be that you are really passionate about the environment and you have seen that science can offer a solution to the current plastic problems through microorganisms, for example. So, you would want to join a company focusing on these efforts to develop new and creative technologies. These are just a few reasons however, make sure to develop your own. This will also make you more motivated for the interview and other application processes.

It is easier to talk about something you are passionate about. This closely aligns with being confident as passionate often comes across as confidence. This is important because if you are not confident you won’t present your true self during an interview. What do I mean by that? You may for example, shy away from saying certain answers because you are afraid of how the interviewers will react to your response. If you get asked the question “what was the biggest achievement you have achieved?”, you may give an answer that is most comfortable to you but not necessarily your best answer. Imagine your biggest achievement is organising the chemistry ball at the chemistry society. You would have developed leadership skills by leading the different teams within the society, finding a venue, organising the program for the evening etc. This is a very big achievement however, your friends might have achievements such as: collaborating and publishing a research paper with one of their professors during the KURF program or increasing production quantity of one of the medicine drugs at GSK by optimizing an experimental method during their summer internship. The examples I mentioned above are fictional but I wanted to get the point across. If you don’t understand that you are unique and your firsthand experience is equally as valuable to the other two, you will shy away from sharing it and therefore, not give the greatest impression you can to the interviewers. So, it is so important to be confident, understand your own unique qualities and what you can bring to the company.


The final part of the series will explain why lots of practice will put you in a good position when you are participating in interviews.