17 Field Biologist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a field biologist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Field biologists conduct research on land, in air and water, studying plant, animal, and bird behavior in natural ecosystems. They collect plant specimens and track the movements of aquatic and land animals. Field biologists use their findings to develop conservation plans to protect endangered species and their habitats.

If you want to become a field biologist, you need to be prepared to answer some tough questions during your job interview. The questions will be about your experience, your education, and your skills. But they will also be about your ability to work in the field, to conduct research, and to write reports.

To help you prepare, we have put together a list of sample questions and answers that you can use to practice for your next job interview.

Are you comfortable working in remote locations?

Field biologists often work in remote locations, so employers ask this question to make sure you’re comfortable with that. If you have experience working in a remote location, share what your favorite part of the job was. If you haven’t worked in a remote location before, explain why you think you would be able to handle it.

Example: “I love being outdoors and exploring new places, so I’m definitely comfortable working in remote locations. In my last position, I spent most of my time in the field collecting data. My favorite part of the job was getting to spend all day outside surrounded by nature. I also really enjoyed learning about different species and ecosystems.”

What are some of the most important skills for a field biologist?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have the skills necessary to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest skills and how they apply to this position.

Example: “I believe that communication and problem-solving skills are two of the most important skills for a field biologist. In my previous positions, I’ve had to communicate with other biologists, clients and even the public about what we’re doing and why. Being able to clearly explain our work is an important part of the job. Also, being able to solve problems on the fly is crucial. Field biology often requires us to adapt to changing conditions or unexpected events.”

How do you handle the stress of working in a remote location?

Field biologists often work in remote locations, which can be stressful. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the skills and experience needed to handle working in a challenging environment. In your answer, share how you manage stress and adapt to new environments. Explain that you are willing to take on challenges and learn from them.

Example: “I am used to working in remote locations because I grew up in one. My parents were field biologists, so I spent my childhood living in different places. I learned early on how to adapt to new environments and find ways to entertain myself. I also developed strong communication skills, which has helped me build relationships with other people who live in these areas. This helps me get information about the area and its wildlife.”

What is your experience with using scientific equipment?

Field biologists often use a variety of scientific equipment to collect data and information about their study subjects. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience using the tools they provide in the field. Use your answer to explain which types of equipment you’re familiar with and how you’ve used them in the past.

Example: “In my last position, I was responsible for maintaining all of our equipment. This included calibrating sensors, checking batteries and making sure that everything was in working order before we left on each expedition. I also had some experience using the equipment during my research projects. For example, I’m comfortable using binoculars, GPS devices and other common instruments.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to adapt your research methods due to a change in circumstances.

Field biologists often work in remote locations, so it’s common for them to encounter unexpected changes. Interviewers ask this question to learn more about your adaptability and flexibility as a researcher. In your answer, describe the change you encountered and how you adapted to it. Explain what steps you took to complete your research despite the change.

Example: “In my last position, I was researching endangered species of frogs in a national park. One night, there was a storm that knocked out power at our camp site. We lost all communication with the outside world, including cell phone service. The next morning, we discovered that one of our team members had gone missing overnight. We searched the area but couldn’t find her.

I decided to continue my research while the rest of the team continued searching. I knew that if I didn’t collect data on the frogs, then no one else would be able to do it later. After two days, we found our teammate safe and sound. She had gotten lost in the woods and spent the night there before finding her way back.”

If you discovered a new species, what steps would you take to ensure its protection?

Field biologists often have the opportunity to discover new species. This question helps employers understand how you would handle this responsibility and what steps you would take to ensure the safety of a newly discovered species. In your answer, explain that you would report it to an authority figure or organization so they can make sure the proper measures are taken to protect the species from harm.

Example: “If I were to discover a new species, I would first document everything about it, including its location, physical characteristics and behavior. Then, I would contact a relevant authority figure or organization to let them know about my discovery. They could then decide whether to keep the information private or release it to the public.”

What would you do if you noticed another field biologist engaging in unethical practices?

Field biologists often work in remote locations, so it’s important that they can rely on each other for support. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the integrity and courage to report unethical behavior if you see it. In your answer, explain how you would handle the situation. Share a specific example of when you reported someone else’s unethical behavior.

Example: “I’ve seen field biologists engage in unethical practices before, but I’ve never been in a position where I had to report them. However, if I ever saw another biologist doing something illegal or unsafe, I would definitely speak up. For instance, once while working at a wildlife reserve, I noticed one of my colleagues feeding an endangered species. I immediately told our supervisor about what was happening, and we reported it to the authorities.”

How well do you understand the ecosystems you study?

Field biologists must have a strong understanding of the ecosystems they study. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the necessary knowledge and experience to succeed in their role. When answering, try to show that you have a deep understanding of the ecosystem you studied. Explain how your research helped you develop an understanding of the ecosystem.

Example: “I understand my chosen ecosystem very well. In fact, I am still learning new things about it. My first field season was spent studying the endangered species of frogs living in the Everglades. During my time there, I learned more about the different types of plants and animals that live in the area. I also discovered some interesting facts about these frogs, such as where they like to hide during the day and what type of food they eat.”

Do you have experience writing scientific papers?

Field biologists often write scientific papers to share their findings with other scientists. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the necessary writing skills for the job. In your answer, explain that you have written several scientific papers in the past and provide an example of one you wrote.

Example: “I’ve had experience writing scientific papers since I was a biology major in college. For my senior thesis project, I studied how different types of food affect the growth rate of frogs. After collecting data on hundreds of frogs, I found that frogs who ate flies grew faster than frogs who ate worms. I wrote up my results in a ten-page paper and presented it at a conference where I won first place.”

When is it appropriate to intervene when you see an animal in distress?

Field biologists often encounter animals in distress, and it’s important to know when it’s appropriate to intervene. This question helps employers understand your decision-making process and how you prioritize the safety of yourself and others. In your answer, explain what factors you consider before intervening.

Example: “I always try to assess the situation first to determine if I can help without putting myself or anyone else at risk. If an animal is injured but not posing a threat to humans, I will usually leave it alone unless there are other people nearby who could be harmed by its presence. However, if I see that an animal is severely injured and poses a danger to itself or others, I will do everything I can to rescue it.”

We want to improve diversity in our field. Are there any steps we can take to make our workplace more inclusive?

Field biologists often work in teams, so it’s important that the workplace is inclusive and supportive of all team members. Employers ask this question to make sure you’re committed to diversity and inclusion. In your answer, explain what steps you would take to create a more diverse and inclusive environment.

Example: “I think one way we can improve diversity in our field is by making sure everyone feels welcome at work. I would start by creating an open-door policy where anyone can come talk to me about any concerns they have. Another thing I would do is encourage people from different backgrounds to apply for positions within the company. This will help us hire a more diverse group of employees.”

Describe your process for taking measurements and recording data.

Field biologists often use specialized equipment to take measurements and record data. This question helps employers understand how you apply your skills in the field. Use examples from past projects to describe your process for taking measurements and recording data.

Example: “I have a background in mathematics, so I am comfortable using scientific instruments to measure things like temperature, humidity and other factors. When I first arrive at my site, I set up my equipment and calibrate it according to the instructions. Then, I begin taking measurements of the area I’m studying. For example, when I was studying the migration patterns of monarch butterflies, I took measurements of the butterfly population’s size and location every week. I recorded all of this information in a notebook and later transferred it to my computer.”

What makes you stand out from other field biologists?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your unique skills and abilities. They want to know what makes you a valuable employee, so they can decide whether or not you’re the right fit for their company. When answering this question, think of two or three things that make you stand out from other field biologists. These could be specific skills, certifications or awards.

Example: “I have been working as a field biologist for five years now, but I am still passionate about my work. This is because I love being outdoors and exploring new places. Another thing that makes me stand out is my ability to communicate with others. I always try to explain complex concepts in ways that are easy to understand. This helps people feel comfortable asking questions and ensures everyone understands the information.”

Which field of biology do you want to advance?

This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your passion for biology and how you plan to contribute to the field. Your answer should include what interests you about this particular field, why it’s important and how you hope to make an impact in that area.

Example: “I’m passionate about marine biology because I love being outdoors and exploring nature. I want to advance our understanding of coral reefs so we can protect them from climate change and other environmental threats. Coral reefs are home to thousands of species of fish, plants and invertebrates, which makes them incredibly important ecosystems. If we lose these reefs, we could also lose many medicines and treatments that come from tropical plants.”

What do you think is the most important thing field biologists can do to protect the environment?

This question can help interviewers understand your environmental values and how you might contribute to the company’s goals. In your answer, try to highlight a specific action that you’ve taken in the past or plan to take in the future to protect the environment.

Example: “I think it’s important for field biologists to be aware of their impact on the environment. For example, I always make sure to use non-toxic chemicals when collecting samples so they don’t contaminate the area. I also avoid leaving trash behind when I’m working in the field because animals may eat it and become sick. These are just two examples of ways I work to protect the environment.”

How often do you update your field notes?

Field notes are a record of observations and data that you collect in the field. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand how important it is to keep accurate records of your work. In your answer, explain that you take detailed notes during each observation or experiment. Explain that you also enter these notes into an electronic database as soon as possible after returning from the field.

Example: “I find it very important to document my observations accurately while I’m still in the field. This way, if I need to reference something later, I can do so without having to rely on my memory. After every observation, I write down all of my findings in my notebook. Then, when I return to the office, I upload those notes into an electronic database. I find this process helps me remember details more clearly.”

There is a bug infestation in your lab. What is your response?

Field biologists often work in labs, so an interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your ability to work with others. Use your answer to show that you can collaborate and communicate effectively.

Example: “I would first try to determine the cause of the infestation. If I find a solution to the problem, then I would let my team know what we need to do to fix it. For example, if there is a leak in the lab’s ventilation system, then we could repair it or replace parts as needed. Once we have a plan, I would delegate tasks to other members of the team. This way, everyone has a role to play and we can get the job done quickly.”


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