Talking Yourself Up

By Jef Akst Talking Yourself Up How to score points during an interview and what to do after it's over. © images.com / Corbis Anthony Brown has always been good at pharmaceutical medicine, but recently he's become a pro at being interviewed as well. Just 1 month and two interviews after graduating from St. John's University in Queens, New York with a bachelor's degree in toxicology and chemistry in May 2005, Brown landed a job in the phar

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Sep 1, 2009

Talking Yourself Up

How to score points during an interview and what to do after it's over.

© images.com / Corbis

Anthony Brown has always been good at pharmaceutical medicine, but recently he's become a pro at being interviewed as well. Just 1 month and two interviews after graduating from St. John's University in Queens, New York with a bachelor's degree in toxicology and chemistry in May 2005, Brown landed a job in the pharmaceutical industry as a quality assurance professional, doing safety assessment and regulatory work for the company's pharmaceutical and biotech clients. Eight months into the job, the limited opportunities for advancement prompted Brown to pursue graduate studies in pharmaceutical sciences.

After a couple of semesters, the prohibitive cost of graduate school forced Brown back into the job market. But with the help of Kelly Scientific, an industry staffing company, and his quickly improving interviewing skills, he found...

By now, Brown is used to this part of the process. While he used to get nervous about interviewing, which sometimes had the unfortunate result of causing him to forget things he wanted to mention or stumble over tough questions, Brown now enters every interview calm and collected. "I'm a professional interviewer at this point," he says. "It all comes with experience." He has started to be more precise in his answers, citing specific scenarios and examples that highlight his abilities. That's what employers want to hear, he says.

Brown has started to be more precise in his answers, citing specific scenarios and examples that highlight his abilities. That's what employers want to hear, he says.

Fortunately, many scientists are not subjected to the grueling interview process to the extent that Brown has been. But, with the recent waves of layoffs, they may now find themselves in a position where their career depends on their ability to win over interviewers. The Scientist talked with career counselors who work with researchers to find out the best ways to prepare for an interview, and how to make the most of the ones that go south.

Before the Interview—7 tips

1. Get on the networking circuit

2. Cultivate your professional image

3. Scan the tweets before you meet

4. Find common interests

Scour twitter for any recent articles and breaking news about the company's state of affairs.

5. Focus on improvements

6. Study for the tough questions

7. Nail the easy questions

During the Interview—3 tips

1. What not to do

2. Market yourself

3. Don't botch the presentation

After the Interview—3 tips

1. Follow up

2. Expand your network

3. Make the most of a rejection

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?