I was e-mailed by an administrator after applying for the role (by completing an online application form, submitting my CV and personal statement) that I had been invited to interview in 16 days' time. I arrived in plenty of time and thought I had prepared enough by revising my undergraduate dissertation (which I had brought along with me as I was asked in the e-mail to bring a sample of my academic work, but unusually the panel didn't even look at this - they were more bothered about my motivation for PhD and my knowledge of regenerative medicine, immunology and my technical knowledge of previous experiments). I did extremely well in the interview as there were many difficult questions put to me e.g. [Question]: How would you make sure a certain receptor binds erythropoietin in experiments? [Answer]: Antibody blocking of all other receptors to show that only one receptor is vacant and is causing the effect (I actually said drugs but he wanted me to say antibodies). The interview conducted by 5 scientists (one external examiner, three of my potential supervisors and one collaborating scientist whom would be involved in the project) lasted around 45 minutes but I wasn't offered a place due to the fact that I didn't have enough laboratory experience in the areas that I would be investigating (which has been a major problem in many of my interviews).
Most difficult question
I was asked a question about a lab protocol for flow cytometry which I had followed during my placement but since forgotten the exact details and so I answered the question they asked me wrongly (I should have said I lysed the red blood cells prior to analysing but I said I didn't think there was a step and that the whole blood just needed to be incubated with antibodies in the dark, I basically skipped an important step), it had been 4 years prior to my interview that I had conducted such a protocol but I was expected to remember it in this level of detail - I suppose I should have known really
Make sure you know the technical information of your placement research project well (as ), plus make sure you know about the interviewers' individual research publications and interests (I answered a question about this very well), and have plenty of lab experience (especially cell culture experience is wanted by many interviewers nowadays!)
Experiences at the assessment centre
I first arrived and waited around 30 minutes in an annexe room and read my notes whilst I waited; a little while before my interview I greeted and shook the hands of two of my interviewers who arrived around 15 minutes before the interview (both of which were my main supervisors) before they went into the interview room as I thought it might make a good impression and demonstrate my keenness and punctuality, then I was called through into the interview room via a cloak room which I was able to leave my briefcase in before I entered the interview room; the interview room was a small conference room with my 5 interviewers sat across a medium-sized table with my chair being the closest to me when I entered the room which was directly facing them. I was briefed firstly by the external examiner about the format of the interview and then questioned by each of the scientists in a clockwise fashion.
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