20 Ginkgo BioWorks Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position at Ginkgo BioWorks.

Ginkgo BioWorks is a synthetic biology company that designs, builds, and tests custom microbes for its clients in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food, and chemical industries.

If you’re interviewing for a job at Ginkgo BioWorks, you can expect to be asked a variety of questions about your experience, qualifications, and knowledge of synthetic biology. To help you prepare, we’ve gathered a list of sample Ginkgo BioWorks interview questions and answers.

Ginkgo BioWorks Interview Process

The interview process at Ginkgo BioWorks is lengthy, and can involve up to three rounds of interviews. The first round is a technical screening, the second round is a values fit interview, and the third round has 4 1:1 interviews plus a 45 minutes job talk. The majority of the interviewers are friendly, but some candidates have reported feeling uncomfortable with the level of detail required in the interviews.

Common Ginkgo BioWorks Interview Questions

1. What is your experience with fermentation?

Fermentation is a key process in the production of ginkgo biloba. The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience with fermentation and how you might apply it to their company. Use your answer to highlight any specific skills or knowledge related to fermentation that you have.

Example: “I’ve worked with fermentation before, but I haven’t done so extensively. In my last role as a biochemist, I was responsible for monitoring the fermentation process during the creation of new probiotics. However, I also had extensive experience working with yeast and bacteria cultures. This helped me understand the importance of fermentation in the production of many different products.”

2. Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision in the workplace, how did you handle it?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of how you make decisions and what your thought process is. It can also show them that you are able to think critically, which is an important skill for any scientist or researcher. When answering this question, it can be helpful to give specific details about the situation and explain why you made the decision you did.

Example: “In my previous position as a research assistant, I was tasked with helping my supervisor find information on a particular topic. However, when we were looking through our resources, I noticed that some of the information we had found was outdated. I brought this up to my supervisor, who agreed that it would be best to look elsewhere for more recent data. We ended up finding new information that helped us complete our project.”

3. How would you approach designing an organism for a specific purpose?

This question can help interviewers understand your thought process and how you apply it to the work environment. Use examples from past projects that highlight your ability to analyze a situation, consider different solutions and implement an effective plan.

Example: “When designing organisms for specific purposes, I first assess what traits are most important for the organism to have in order to perform its function. For example, when working on a project for a company that wanted to create a mosquito repellent, I considered which characteristics mosquitoes possess that make them undesirable. From there, I designed a mosquito with a gene mutation that would prevent it from producing certain chemicals that attract other mosquitoes. This approach helped me develop a solution that met the client’s needs while also reducing the number of mosquitoes in the area.”

4. Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond for a customer.

This question can help the interviewer get a better sense of your customer service skills. It also helps them understand how you might approach working with their company’s clients.

Example: “When I worked at my previous job, we had a client who was very demanding and would often call us to make changes to his website without giving us much notice. He would sometimes change his mind about what he wanted on the site after we already started building it. This made our jobs more difficult because we had to constantly redo parts of the website. However, I always tried to be as kind as possible when talking to him. Eventually, he began to respect me and even gave us more time to complete projects.”

5. What are some of the challenges that you see facing the biotechnology industry over the next 5 years?

This question can help the interviewer get a sense of your knowledge about the industry and how you might fit in. Use examples from your experience to highlight your critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and ability to adapt to change.

Example: “One challenge I see is that there are still many people who don’t understand what biotechnology is or why it’s important. In my last role, we had to work with local schools to teach students about the field so they could better understand our company. We also worked with community groups to host open houses where we explained our research and answered questions. This helped us build relationships within the community and show others how biotechnology can improve lives.”

6. Do you have any experience working in a laboratory setting?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you have any experience working in a laboratory setting and how that experience may relate to your potential role at Ginkgo BioWorks. If you do not have direct lab experience, consider describing an experience where you worked with scientific equipment or processes.

Example: “I have no previous experience working in a laboratory setting, however I did work as a research assistant for my college professor last semester. My professor was conducting experiments on plant life and I helped him collect data by using various tools and techniques like microscopes and testing equipment.”

7. Why do you want to work at Ginkgo BioWorks?

This question can help the interviewer get to know you better and understand why you are a good fit for their company. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention something specific about Ginkgo BioWorks that interests you or what drew you to apply for the position.

Example: “I want to work at Ginkgo BioWorks because I am passionate about helping people live healthier lives. In my last role as a research scientist, I worked on developing new ways to treat Alzheimer’s disease. I was able to see firsthand how our products helped patients with memory loss regain some of their cognitive abilities. This experience inspired me to continue working in this field.”

8. Are you able to lift 50 pounds repeatedly?

This question is a measure of your physical strength and stamina. Employers ask this to ensure you can perform the necessary tasks in their facility. If you are not able to lift 50 pounds, consider asking for clarification on what weight they expect employees to be able to lift.

Example: “Yes, I am physically fit enough to lift 50 pounds repeatedly throughout my workday. In fact, I have been lifting that much since high school when I started working out regularly. I find it helps me stay focused at work and avoid injury.”

9. What do you think is the most important quality for someone who works on our team?

This question is an opportunity to show your understanding of the company culture. It also gives you a chance to highlight one of your own skills or personality traits that would be beneficial in this role.

Example: “I think the most important quality for someone who works on your team is flexibility. I’ve worked with many scientists and researchers, and they all have different ways of approaching problems. Some are more methodical while others are more creative. The best employees can adapt their work style to fit the needs of each project. They’re willing to try new things when needed and take criticism as constructive feedback.”

10. What are some of your favorite hobbies and activities outside of work?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your personality and interests. They want to know if you will fit in with their company culture. When answering, try to choose hobbies that are similar to the work environment of Ginkgo BioWorks.

Example: “I love spending time outdoors. I am an avid hiker and enjoy taking my dog on long walks through the woods. I also like to spend time reading and learning new things. I have recently started a photography hobby where I take pictures of nature and wildlife.”

11. How does your background prepare you for this job?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your background and how it relates to the job you’re applying for. Use your answer to explain what skills, knowledge or experience you have that make you a good fit for this role. Try to focus on skills that are relevant to the position and highlight any unique experiences you may have had.

Example: “Throughout my career as a biologist, I’ve learned many valuable skills that help me succeed in my work. For example, I am highly organized and detail-oriented, which helps me keep track of all the information I need to record during experiments. I also understand the importance of teamwork and communication when working with others on projects. These skills have helped me develop into an effective team member who can contribute to group discussions.”

12. What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the biotechnology field today?

This question can help interviewers understand your knowledge of the industry and how you might approach challenges. Use examples from your experience to explain what you would do in this situation.

Example: “The biggest challenge facing biotechnology today is a lack of funding for research projects. In my last position, I helped develop new ways to grow plants that could withstand drought conditions. However, we were unable to continue our research because we didn’t have enough money to purchase more seeds. To solve this problem, I would look for grants or other sources of funding to support these types of projects.”

13. Have you ever worked in an environment where you were given little direction or guidance, how did you manage?

This question can help interviewers understand how you respond to uncertainty and challenges. Use your answer to highlight your problem-solving skills, ability to adapt quickly and willingness to take on responsibility.

Example: “In my last role as a research scientist, I was given very little direction from my supervisor. However, I found that this actually helped me learn more about the industry and develop my own methods for conducting experiments. While it may have been challenging at first, I eventually became comfortable with making decisions without direct supervision. This experience has taught me that I am capable of handling situations where I need to rely on my own judgment.”

14. What are some of your long term career goals?

Employers ask this question to see if you have a plan for your career. They want to know that you are motivated and driven, and they also want to make sure you’re going to stay with the company long enough to achieve those goals. When answering this question, be honest about what you hope to accomplish in your career. Explain how working at Ginkgo BioWorks will help you reach those goals.

Example: “I would love to become a manager one day. I think I have all of the skills necessary to do so, but I’m not quite there yet. That’s why I am currently pursuing my MBA. I feel like working here would give me the experience I need to get promoted within five years.”

15. What do you know about synthetic biology?

This question is a great way to test your knowledge of the field and see how much you’ve learned about synthetic biology. You can use this opportunity to show that you’re passionate about the industry and have done research on it.

Example: “I know that synthetic biology is an emerging science that uses genetic engineering techniques to create new organisms or modify existing ones. I also understand that there are many applications for synthetic biology, including medicine, energy production and environmental cleanup. In my last role as a lab technician, I worked with a team of scientists who were developing a bacteria that could break down plastic waste.”

16. We like to promote from within. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question is a great way to see if the company has an internal promotion policy. It also shows that they are interested in your career development and want you to succeed within their organization. When answering this question, it’s important to show that you have goals for yourself and how you plan on achieving them.

Example: “I would love to be working as a senior scientist at Ginkgo BioWorks in five years. I am very passionate about my work here and feel like I could really excel in this role. I know I need to continue to learn more about our products and processes, but I’m confident that with my hard work and dedication, I can achieve this goal.”

17. Can you tell me about a time when you made a mistake and what you learned from it?

This question is a great way to learn more about how you respond to challenges and mistakes. It can also help the interviewer understand your ability to take responsibility for your actions, which is an important skill in this role.

Example: “When I first started working as a lab technician, I was tasked with testing samples of blood from patients who were experiencing symptoms of dementia. One day, I accidentally mixed up two samples, so when I tested one patient’s sample, it came back positive for Alzheimer’s disease. The doctor then prescribed medication that wasn’t necessary for that patient. When I realized my mistake, I immediately informed the doctor and apologized. They understood that it was an honest mistake and didn’t hold me accountable.”

18. What kind of training do you think will be needed in order to stay up-to-date on technology in the future?

This question is a great way to show your interest in the company’s mission and how you can contribute to it. Your answer should include what you think will be important about technology in the future, as well as any training or certifications that you have already obtained.

Example: “I believe artificial intelligence will continue to grow and become more advanced. I am currently enrolled in an online course on AI programming, which I hope to complete by the end of this year. This knowledge would help me create even better products for Ginkgo BioWorks.”

19. Give an example of a time when you had to solve a problem that was not straightforward. How did you approach the problem?

This question can allow you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and how you approach challenges. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation in which you had to solve a problem that was not straightforward.

Example: “At my previous job, I worked with a team of scientists who were trying to create a new type of medicine for patients. One day, one of the scientists accidentally spilled some chemicals on his arm. He immediately washed his arm off, but we still needed to know if he would need medical attention. We decided to test him for chemical exposure by using our own product. Luckily, he did not have any serious side effects.”

20. In your opinion, what are the key qualities that every engineer should possess?

This question is a great way to assess an applicant’s understanding of the engineering profession. It also allows you to see how they view their own skills and abilities in comparison to those of other engineers. When answering this question, it can be helpful to mention specific qualities that you possess yourself.

Example: “In my opinion, every engineer should have a strong work ethic, excellent problem-solving skills and a passion for innovation. I believe these three traits are essential to being successful as an engineer because they allow us to create new solutions to complex problems. In my previous role, I was tasked with creating a solution to a problem that many companies were facing. I worked hard to find a solution that would benefit everyone.”


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