Sandia Interview Questions

Updated Apr 16, 2015
74 Interview Reviews

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  1.  

    Research Scientist Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Albuquerque, NM
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3+ monthsinterviewed at Sandia (Albuquerque, NM).

    Interview

    It was a full-day interview, which involved meeting with about 10 future colleagues, managers, directors, human resource, etc. The candidate was also required to give a one-hour research talk on a relevant subject area. The meetings with the technical people included technical discussions on several research topic areas.

    Interview Questions

    • Describe your work experiences   1 Answer
  2. Helpful (2)  

    Mechanical Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Albuquerque, NM
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 4+ weeksinterviewed at Sandia (Albuquerque, NM) in February 2015.

    Interview

    First had two phone interviews with different hiring managers in related departments. The in person interview was about 6 to 7 hours long. The first part was an interview with a hiring manager outside the department I was interviewing with. Then I gave an hour long presentation on my graduate research. Then a 1 hour panel with about 4 interviewers and a bunch of 1:1 interviews, a short tour of the department's lab, and a lunch interview. Overall, the interview was pretty standard for engineers just getting out of graduate school and applying to national laboratories. The rejection phone call came within the time period they projected. I was disappointed that the hiring manager stated he was unable to give feedback to me because of some corporate policy.

    Interview Questions

    • What was one major problem or hurdle you had to overcome in graduate school? They also asked about teamwork and leadership experience.   Answer Question
  3.  

    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    No Offer
    Positive Experience

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 daysinterviewed at Sandia.

    Interview

    Applied online, received an invitation to a lunch interview shortly after. Hiring manager and several managers from related departments attended. Informal questions, some background questions. The position and associated training were explained. Follow-up phone call two weeks later to discuss travel requirements and other duties. Decided not to pursue the position.

    Interview Questions

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  5. Helpful (3)  

    Senior Member of Technical Staff Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Albuquerque, NM
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 2 daysinterviewed at Sandia (Albuquerque, NM).

    Interview

    Interview process usually starts with a technical presentation such as PhD or Master's research projects, followed by interviews with several members of your technical group. At least one of these is usually from outside your research area and will ask you about broader themes such as the research community, research processes, conferences etc. The interviews are usually very relaxed with the emphasis on you explaining ideas or research areas you are familiar with rather than question-based driving toward a single "correct answer." My experience was that staff were really trying to explore you thoughts and ideas. Knowledge of current research questions and themes helped considerably at this gave the interviewer and me something concrete to discuss. There was ample opportunity to ask the interviewers questions about the laboratories, the culture, the area (New Mexico) and research at the laboratory. I never felt that anyway was being hidden and I was encouraged to be open about what things I wanted to ask etc.

    Interview Questions

    • What area did I think the laboratory did not perform well in or an area where the laboratory could improve. This is difficult because of the obvious problem of being too critical. My experience here was to be open, explain that there are on-going challenges which require continuous improvements and explain how you could help there or what interests you bring to extend this in novel ways. The interviewer seemed very receptive to this conversation and was very supportive in exploring them.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    Did not negotiate, felt the laboratory offered a good benefits package up front with opportunities for promotion in the future.

  6.  

    Project Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    Declined Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview
    Declined Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 3+ monthsinterviewed at Sandia in November 2014.

    Interview

    Hiring process was a little slow. I was told that they were desperately seeking someone to fill a hole, but then they had a lot of hoops to jump through to get someone. That being said, I understood their predicament. While Sandia is not a government agency, it is a federally funded national lab and the employees are sort of like federal employees in the DOE and have to go through lots of background checks and security clearances. They even needed transcripts from college and grad school even though I've been working as a project manager for years.

    Process was like any other place. Phone screening with recruiter/HR. Telephone interview with hiring manager. Then group interview with the team. I had questions that were behavioral in nature, so setting up the answer in the form of STAR helped a lot.

    All in all, everyone was nice. HR recruiters walked me through the benefits packages, and I got to talk to people in the labs, see the campus, and check out the city too.

    Interview Questions

    • How do you handle difficult and unreasonable expectations from customers?   1 Answer

    Reasons for Declining

    It was a good salary offer at ~$115K, but I felt it was not competitive for the Bay Area.

  7. Helpful (1)  

    Senior Member of Technical Staff Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Albuquerque, NM
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3+ monthsinterviewed at Sandia (Albuquerque, NM) in October 2014.

    Interview

    Timeline: the hiring process took almost three months. I was contacted for a phone interview two weeks after applying to the position online through Sandia's career website. The onsite interview was confirmed one week later, and took place four weeks after the phone interview. A verbal offer was extended seven weeks after the onsite interview. This longer than usual timeline was due to the holiday season and vacation. Communication and feedback were excellent throughout.

    Phone interview: this was with an engineer with experience in the position and lasted about 30 minutes. It was very straightforward and casual: we discussed my interest in the position, qualifications, experience, biggest challange(s) and success(es) in my Ph.D. work, some details about how the group is composed, and life in Albuquerque.

    Onsite interview: this was a full day, lasting from 8:30 - 4:30. First was an hour-long HR briefing with a few other interviewees at Sandia that day. I was then escorted to the group's building and gave a one hour seminar (50 minutes presentation, 10 minutes Q&A) on my Ph.D. research. This was surprisingly well attended by about 15 Sandians, about half of whom were not interviewing me later on but were just interested (this seems to reflect the atmosphere of the lab - learning and growth are definitely parts of the culture). The rest of the day consisted of a 30 minute 1:1, a 2 hour lunch with managers, two 1 hour 1:1s, and a 1 hour 8:1 group interview. Overall there was great balance between personal, technical, and behavioral discussions. I was given opportunities to show my expertise, sell my character and skills, and ask questions. All of the interviewers were positive and eager to both hear and talk about my fit within the group. I felt like they were selling Sandia to me as much as I was selling myself to them (what a relief this was!). The group interview was the toughest part, but that was expected: thinking out loud is hard for me in front of a group of people, but they understand it is stressful and helped me through parts where I struggled.

    Overall: the entire process was a great experience. Logistical details were handled well and travel was easy.

    Interview Questions

    • Most questions were about my research and I felt comfortable answering them after spending 5 years doing just that. There were a few unpredictable off the wall questions, the kind where sharing them does no good because they are random problems designed to see how you think.   Answer Question

    Negotiation

    Salary offer was higher than anticipated. I accepted without negotiating.

  8.  

    Senior Member of Technical Staff Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Kirtland AFB, NM
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Sandia (Kirtland AFB, NM) in October 2014.

    Interview

    First off, I cheated. I have been a contractor at SNL for a few years. I had already developed a reputation and several professional contacts within Sandia before I applied.

    1) Search for the job on Sandia's website.
    2) Apply for the job via Sandia's website.
    3) Discuss application with manager filling the position.
    4) Wait patiently for official email response from Sandia's hiring group.

    Once I received the official email inviting me to an interview, I had a great deal of background paperwork to fill out. Most of this was easy, as I already carry a security clearance and had filled out similar paperwork two years before. Be prepared to detail everything about the last 10 years of your life.

    I was also invited to a benefits meeting, where an HR rep detailed the benefits that Sandia offers.

    Two weeks after the interview, I was given an official verbal job offer. Two days after that I received the official offer letter.

    IMPORTANT POINT: The interview took place in the Limited Area. Do no take any personal electronics with you - no cell phones, mp3 players, cameras, etc. You will need to stay close to your escort the entire time you are in the Limited Area.

    Interview Questions

    • Why do you want to leave your current position as a contract employee?   1 Answer

    Negotiation

    The hiring manager knew my current wage since I was a contract employee. This actually took a lot of the uncertainty out of the process. I was able to ensure a 13% increase in pay through casual conversation. This put me at just about the mid-point in the pay scale I was being hired into.

  9.  

    Manager Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Albuquerque, NM
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at Sandia (Albuquerque, NM) in July 2014.

    Interview

    Interview day began with an HR briefing. Was picked up by group admin. assistant and taken to site for interview. Later, there was a team interview that included a person from outside the hiring group or its principle customers. The intent was to ensure the candidate could fit in well in other areas and was a cultural fit. There were five behavior-based questions.

    Interview Questions

    • Tell us about a time when you had a customer with an impossible request or need. How did you handle it.   1 Answer
  10.  

    Graduate Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through college or university. The process took 3 daysinterviewed at Sandia.

    Interview

    The process started with a phone interview with the supervisor I will be working with. It was very casual and revolved around discussions about my skill set, the various projects that were available and how I would fit into their current research agenda and what my contributions could be.

    Interview Questions

    • There weren't any unexpected questions - most of them revolved around my current research, and my interests in what I would like to do in the future.   Answer Question
  11. Helpful (1)  

    Human Resources Interview

    Anonymous Employee
    Declined Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview
    Declined Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 8 weeksinterviewed at Sandia in June 2014.

    Interview

    The interview process was fairly quick. Had a ten minute conversation on the phone with just basic questions. The in-person interview was a little daunting at first because it was a huge room with three people form the team but everyone was super nice and none of the questions were hard at all. I did have prior experience and did a few internships before applying here.

    Interview Questions

    • No question was difficult or unexpected. They mostly asked about how you stay organized, do you know how to use microsoft applications, what your future goals are etc.   Answer Question

    Reasons for Declining

    I did not feel like I would benefit much from the position. It seemed very administrative and like I already had the qualities that the previous intern learned from the position. I think this would be a great start for a recent high school graduate but since I had previous internships it just was not enough for me.

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