How To Get Ahead In Ecology: Tips & Advice For Graduates Part III

University degrees often focus on preparing students for a career in academia. Rarely do they provide advice for those considering careers in ecological consultancy? We have listed some of the questions that are often asked.

Identification and Case Study Test

Many consultancies will include some kind of wildlife identification test, this could be based on live specimens, photographs or line drawings.

Case studies will often involve appraising different ecological situations and working out what protected species may be involved in different types of site.


You will often be asked to deliver a short presentation which will help to gauge your communication skills.

Questions – Absolute Musts

These are the questions that interviewers are highly likely to ask and you should be prepared to answer them well:

• Where do you see yourself in five years?

• What are you looking to get out of this role?

• What are your strengths and weaknesses?

• Why do you want this job?

• What do you know about the company?

• Why do you want to work in ecological consultancy?

• Do you prefer working in teams or independently?

Tell Me a Story

These types of questions are designed to provide the interviewer with information on you ability to solve problems. Examples include:

• Tell me about yourself and how you got to where you are?

• Tell me a time you experienced a difficult situation and worked through it.

• Can you describe a situation where you had to deal with an under-performing employee?

• Tell me about a time when you worked with a difficult personality.

• How would you best motivate a team/staff that you are managing?

 Current and Past Jobs

• What do you like most/least about your current job?

• Why are you leaving your current job?

Technical Questions

What kinds of software/programs have you used?

• What experience do you have of undertaking phase 1 habitat surveys?

• What experience do you have of undertaking bat surveys?

Off the Wall Questions

• What do you do for fun?

• What are your favourite species?

Good Questions to Ask the Interviewer:

At the end of the interview, the interviewer(s) will always ask you if you have any questions. Not having any questions will reflect upon you negatively; you are either unprepared or don’t care enough about the job. Often during an interview, the interviewer may answer questions that you have throughout the interview. We suggest preparing a list in advance to ensure that some questions remain unanswered until the end of the interview. For example:

• What will a successful year look like?

• What is your mentoring style?

• What is the work environment? (Will you be working independently? As part of a team?)

• What does a typical day look like for this position?

• Are there any reservations you have about my fit for the position that I could address? (A good final question)

• What is your timeline for getting back to candidates, and what are the next steps? (Also a good final question)

Things to Take With You to Interview

It would be helpful to take examples of written work along to interviews, this could include your university thesis or any other written reports that you have produced.

It would be useful to take your protected species logbooks (if you have prepared them) and certificates from any courses attended along to job interviews to show that you are working your way down the path of securing your protected species licences.

Good Luck

It’s a really tough job market at the moment so you need to take the interview process very seriously and prepare. Good luck!

For further advice see our other first and second graduate blog articles or some advice from Careercake.

Acer Ecology can provide ecological training or Continuing Professional Development (CPD) support. For more information on our business and biodiversity services, call us on 029 2065 0331.