Aaas Fellowship Interview Questions

AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows (STPF) share how a leap of faith changed their lives and transformed their careers. Watch this video series of fellows discussing why they applied, how to draft a great application, tips for interviewing, what it’s like to be a fellow, and how the fellowship transformed their careers.

7 Tips for the AAAS STPF Finalist Interview Week

Congratulations! You survived the semi-finalist round of interviews for the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship (STPF), and you are now a finalist.

For STPF finalists, interviewing in Washington is an exciting and exhausting experience. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing interviews online, many applicants in the 2020 cohort didn’t know what to expect.

How different was it? Well, I was (un)fortunate enough to experience both so I can tell you firsthand. In 2019, I flew to DC as a AAAS STPF finalist. Overall, it was a great and memorable experience. However, I made a difficult decision to not leave my current position for the fellowship so I waited a year. In 2020, I did it all over again, but virtually.

Here is a comparison of my PRE- and During-COVID experience with the STPF Finalist Interview week, with several tips to help you get the most out of this fun, but challenging week.

It’s also helpful to practice with a friend, they can tell you if your stories make sense. Someone that knows you especially well might remember a better example of an accomplishment, strength, or time you recovered from a difficulty. You’ve made it this far and must have done some important or interesting things to get here! Ask your colleagues and friends to share their best or weirdest interview questions and answers. Check out for many helpful blog posts on interviewing, as well as a free downloadable guide.

A new administration, COVID-19, and civil unrest bring daily changes to the federal landscape. Some confirmation hearings are passing by smoothly but others are not. It seems like there are new Executive Orders every day. The information you’ve put in your memo may change by the time you are interviewed, so be prepared to address such differences. As well, consider what might happen if there is a big shakeup at your favorite federal Department or Agency.

Be prepared to share the challenges you’ve faced, but also your passion and joy. Your interviewers are people, too! They have their own interests and seeing your passion may remind them of theirs. It also doesn’t hurt to do some background research on your interviewers. It may feel impossible at first but relax, breathe and remember, regardless of the outcome, you are a talented and highly accomplished person.

Are the recommendations in your memo within the jurisdiction of the targeted agency? How would you make the case to someone who disagrees with you, politically? Keep one or two of the most prominent or impactful sources in mind to help you make your case, especially if you drew on a variety of resources. You might get pushback on a particular point, so be prepared for follow-up questions.

You may be asked directly about some outstanding accomplishments. But also, reviewing all you’ve done will serve as a confidence boost, and a reminder of why you applied to the fellowship (another question you might be asked). Having a few succinct points top of mind will help you make sure you hit them in your interview, and if in the end they ask you if there is anything else you want to share, you have a ready and powerful answer to the question.

Tips for Fellowship Interviews – Dr. Ryan D’Souza

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