Top HR Interview Questions for Data Science Graduates

Top Question 1: Why did you choose to study at this university?

This question is typically one of the opening questions for graduates looking to secure their first data science job. The interviewer is looking to determine how much planning went into your decision, and whether the candidate had set clear goals for themselves before applying to their degree programs.

UCL has one of the best computer science departments in the country, so I worked very hard to get the grades and test scores necessary to be accepted into their program.

Top Question 2: How will your degree help you be successful in this role?

If you are applying for a data science position as a graduate, you should emphasize courses you took and projects you worked on when asked this question. Ideally you can point out computer science, probability & statistics, machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing courses, and projects you completed as a student that utilised your data science knowledge.

From reading the job specifications, I see you are looking for a data scientist who knows how to code and implement machine learning algorithms in Python using the scikit-learn library. I took Python coding, machine learning, and deep learning course as an undergraduate, and built a recommender system using the scikit-learn library for my undergraduate thesis.

Top Question 3: Your degree is not relevant for the role. Should we still hire you?

This question is usually asked to see how you cope under stress. The company is clearly interested in hiring you if you have progressed to the interview rounds. Make sure you don't get defensive and instead emphasize courses you took where you developed skills for the job, even if they weren't in conventional areas such as computer science or machine learning. For example, if you have a degree in chemical engineering, discuss the engineering mathematics courses you took that taught you statistics, probability, and calculus, the modelling and optimization courses you took that would have covered numerical routines relevant for data scientists, and the individual design projects you would have completed that taught you how to code.

My degree provided me with a strong foundation in probability, statistics, and calculus necessary for data science. Further, my third year design project taught me how to code in R. I am also a fast learner, and am confident I will be able to contribute to the team with minimal training.

Top Question 4: Tell me about your extracurricular activities as a college student?

If you've participated in clubs, meetups, or volunteering activities, now is a good time to showcase this. Your college life was filled with activities outside of the academic realm, and interviewers are interested to see how you used your time. It's good to focus on activities that developed your organisational, communication and leadership skills for this answer.

I played guitar for a band as a college student. We performed in many concerts and I learned a lot about organising my time so that I could balance my studies with the demands of rehearsals and performances. I also learned skills such as marketing, budgeting and sales, which I believe will set me up to work effectively with product and project managers in the company.

Top Question 5: What else can you offer to us besides your academic qualifications?

Companies are looking for graduates who have a good work ethic, who can learn quickly, and who are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do. They're also looking for people who are positive and determined, and will become trusted team members. This is a good time to talk about your positive personality traits and your desire to learn and to grow.

I am very sociable and reliable, and I believe this will help me be a good addition to the team, as I will not only be effective with my work, but also improve morale and be supportive of others.