EMBL Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
PhD Student Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied online and interviewed at EMBL.
Interview Details – It is tough to get in embl as PhD due to good money they offer, and also when you enter the bulding everything looks perfect, the facilities and billiard in cafeteria and big TV screen.
Most important is the recommendation letter, if you were for example 3 months in harvard, even in a really crappy lab, they would get very impressed. the interviw process is stressful week, and you have to impress the whole lab, by going for lunch with them, and asking good questions
Interview Question – assessment at the begining of the week, 10 minutes of questions from all biology, but many pass, the most difficult thing is to make a lab to hire you. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – no negotiation, only time of start.
PhD Student Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 4 months - interviewed at EMBL.
Interview Details – The interview process for the PhD program consists of applying online. Applications are evaluated by representatives of the country of the applicants if available (to rate the perhaps sometimes unclear relative success of 'tough' and 'easy' higher education institutions in various countries. Evaluations of prior employers/ recommendation letters play an important role, especially if it is possible to obtain a recommendation from a former EMBL group leader. There are two rounds of applications, one in the fall and one in the spring. Applicants judged to have 'acceptable' records are invited for a week of interviews, with all the group leaders of the department(s) that they applied during their application. This consists of more or less a 'speed dating' strategy for the first 2-3 days and on the 3-4th day applicants are given the opportunity to speak at greater lengths to the group leaders whose groups they wish to join. Some gropu leaders give particular importance to the perception of the candidate from existing group members and hence it is important to give a good impression to the current group members, however bitter and unpleasant they may be. All applicants are allowed to select up to 3 'top choices' of groups they wish to apply to. The PIs determine which students they prefer most as well. Overall, it is rare to be received in the group of your 2nd or 3rd choice. On the 4th day of interviews an oral exam geared to determine that one didn't lie on their CV and to ascertain that the future student has the 'appropriate level' is performed by a group of 3- 4 group leaders and the applicant. First the applicant describes one of his or her latest research experinces and subsequently the group leaders ask the applicant general culture scientific questions, related or not to their subject of study. Frequently the PIs ask questions concerning their own field. As a result of this assessment procedure, students are classified as having 'passed' the process or not. Students that will be 'picked' by group leaders are discussed within the department by all the group leaders. (The applicant would have spoken to all recruiting group leaders). It is therefore important to not offend any group leaders whose labs one is clearly not interested in. However, overall, group leaders generally choose by themselves which students they prefer, with considerable competition for the 'wunderkind' student. Those that both succeed this 'final assessment' process and were selected by a group leader that they indicated as one of their top choices will receive on the 5th day of the selection process an invitation to join the said group. If the applicant successfully passed the assessment procedure but was not picked by a group leader, he or she is 'wait-listed'. Thus if a selected applicant refuses the invitation, one of the wait-listed applicants may be offered the position in his or her place. The EMBL application website indicates that students should not contact the group leaders independently. Frequently, however accepted students are those that had contacted the group leaders of the labs they were interested in quite some time in advance and had given a talk concerning their prior research interests and experiences or performed internships at EMBL.
Interview Question – During the one-on-one interviews with the different group leaders of the department one applies for, it is important to seem sure of oneself and confident, as few group leaders will be apt to assess the scientific quality of projects that are far from their own field.
During the 'final assessment', there is first a small 5-10 time frame in which the applicant is given the opportunity to present one of their research topics (without a powerpoint) and then is questioned on their topic to the extent of the knowledge of the group leaders on the given topic. This is followed by 'general knowledge' questions, which often end up being questions in the fields of the group leaders in the panel. The names of the group leaders are generally announced the day before. They are not necessarily members of the department the applicant plans to join. Answer Question
Intern Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at EMBL in September 2010.
Interview Details – depended entirely on group leader... one-to-one matching process according to needs of the host research group and it was entirely conducted on phone. career ambitions were probed and basic inquisitiveness in what they did.. on the whole short and to the point..