PNNL Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
Postdoctoral Research Associate Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 3+ months - interviewed at PNNL in June 2014.
Interview Details – I had an excellent interview experience overall. I was referred to my lab manager by a colleague via email. The manager replied and we had two talks on the phone about my research, what he was looking for, and the details of the project. I was asked to complete an online application and I was then invited out to an on-site interview about a month later.
The on-site interview went great; it was professionally organized and I met with probably a dozen different researchers. All seemed to be interested in sharing their experiences, and they were quite frank about their opinion of the group/lab. I was asked to give a 45 minute talk to a group of about 30 researchers from around the laboratory. The questions were no more difficult than those asked at my thesis defense and I generally got a good reception. I was then taken out to lunch and offered a tour of the various facilities. The lab allowed me to stay on for the weekend to explore the area and then I headed home. HR followed up about a month later with a formal offer, which I accepted.
Interview Question – There were a couple difficult technical questions during the presentation, but I was able to handle them. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – The lab offered a generous package of compensation, but they would not negotiate on any points. I have heard that some of the divisions at the lab are more amenable to negotiating, so this may be different for other people.
Post Masters RA Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 5 days - interviewed at PNNL in October 2013.
Interview Details – Hiring process was very smooth and exciting. Question asked were directly related to the question and majority of them were technical. They went off of my resume and didn't ask any "human resource" type of question.. They were purely interested in research abilities and technical knowledge.
Negotiation Details – NA
Engineer II Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took a day - interviewed at PNNL in June 2014.
Interview Details – 7:30 am having breakfast with group manager, security check in, 9:30am one-hour presentation and Q/A, 12:00pm lunch with group manager and colleagues, 2 on 1 interview for the rest of the day, 5:00pm interview with HR
Interview Question – How do you proceed your research in a "non-ideal" world in which many assumptions in your research don't hold? Answer Question
Post Bachelor Research Assistant Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at PNNL in May 2014.
Interview Details – First you will have a 1-1 phone interview with the immediate supervisor, which is pretty informal. Next they will likely ask you the send sample code for one of your projects. Following that there is either an on-site interview or teleconference interview with the group that you would be work with.
Interview Question – What is your favorite algorithm. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – Not negotiable.
Very Easy Interview
Postdoctoral Research Associate Interview (Positive Experience; Very Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at PNNL.
Interview Details – The smoothest I've ever experienced.
A month after I applied, I received an email from one of the staff scientists asking for recommendation letters. Meanwhile, they were conducting their own background check on me by asking anyone in our shared circles of coworkers/collaborators about me, I guess to get a sense of what type of person/scientist I was.
Soon afterwards, I was scheduled for a phone interview, which lasted about 30 min with a few of the staff scientists in the group I would potentially work with. They first told me a bit about PNNL, the group, and the project. Then, they asked me about my grad school research, my work habits, why I want to work in a national lab, what are my career aspirations, and if I had a preference for any of the projects with openings. They allowed some time for me to ask questions, which I took advantage of to show my interest in working there. An important thing was before my interview, I read papers published by the staff scientist I was scheduled to interview with so I'd be more prepared to discuss some science.
Interview Question – Describe how you envision your work day. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – As a postdoc, the only thing to negotiate is the start date.
Staff Scientist V Interview (Positive Experience)
I applied online and interviewed at PNNL.
Interview Details – Interview process was better than average, good scheduling, well organized, nice arrangements, two interviews performed. However hiring personnel had little clue about the position and what to expect from it.
Interview Question – Because of the nature of the position there were few technical questions and interview thus was not quite challenging on a technical side Answer Question
Post Masters Research Associate Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at PNNL.
Interview Details – Initial communication came from a very helpful admin, who kept me informed and quickly setup up the initial phone screening. The phone conversation had a nice flow to it and the interviewers did not waste time with typical interview questions, which was very refreshing. The on-site interview was scheduled 2 weeks later and took place from 9am to 3pm. It consisted of one-one interviews with potential mentors, colleagues and managers, tours and panel interviews. Very thorough, but I felt comfortable going through the process. They make it very apparent that you should be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. It was, by far, the longest interview of my life, but I can't say it was painful. It wasn't easy by any means, it was just very high caliber and well organized.
Interview Question – What do your peers view as your strengths and weaknesses? Followed immediately by what you view as your strengths and weaknesses. Answer Question
Postdoctoral Research Associate Interview (Neutral Experience)
I applied through other source and the process took 6+ weeks - interviewed at PNNL.
Interview Details – Presentation for 30 mins followed by questions for another 30 mins. That was the entire interview process. Got back to me in about 30 days for the initial offer. background check etc. took another 30 days.
Interview Question – Why do you want to work here Answer Question
Postdoctoral Research Associate Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 5 weeks - interviewed at PNNL in July 2009.
Interview Details – First is phone interview which focuses on the technical skills and your resume. Then they asked for recommendation letters before they asked me to go for the on-site interview. During on-site, I had a lot of one-on-one sessions with the scientists, and most of the time they talked about their own research instead of asking me questions. There was also a person from HR to introduce the benefits, but no behavior questions asked.
Interview Question – N/A Answer Question
Business Intern Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at PNNL in March 2012.
Interview Details – The actual PNNL hiring process is great. They are quick to respond and are professional while, at the same time, are casual enough with you that you remember that they are people. First off, you submit an application online with your resume for the position you want. Next, you will wait around 2 months until they go through all of the applications and contact you with a possible interview. You will then have a one-on-one structured interview. Following this, if they think that you're worth the money, they will do a full background check. This is the only annoying part because, for some reason, the company that did the background check was inept. Once that is all done, you will or will not receive an offer of employment which you have approximately a week to accept.
- Describe a time when things did not work out as you had hoped. How did you respond or react? View Answer
- How have you shown leadership in an activity that you have participated in? View Answer
Negotiation Details – I was not given an opportunity as an intern.