Landing a Job as a Health Scientist

Landing a Job as a Health Scientist at the CDC: Your Comprehensive Guide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a highly esteemed institution committed to protecting the health of people in the United States and around the world. For those aspiring to work as Health Scientists at the CDC, the opportunity to contribute to life-saving research and public health initiatives is unmatched. However, the path to securing a job at the CDC is rigorous and competitive. In this article, we will guide you through the hiring process, including assessments and typical interview questions, to help you prepare for a career at the CDC.

Overview of the CDC Health Scientist Role

Health Scientists at the CDC often work in multidisciplinary teams and engage in a broad range of activities. Their responsibilities may include data analysis, program evaluation, policy formulation, health promotion, and outbreak investigation. They often specialize in areas such as epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioral sciences, or environmental health.

The Hiring Process

Job Vacancy Announcements

Job vacancies are usually posted on the USAJOBS website or the CDC’s own careers page. Read the job description carefully to understand the requirements, responsibilities, and qualifications needed for the position.

Initial Application

Submit your application through the specified channel. This usually involves submitting a resume, a cover letter, and possibly additional supporting documents like transcripts or certifications.

Initial Screening

Your application will undergo an initial screening to ensure that you meet the basic qualifications for the position. If you pass this phase, you may be invited for further assessment.

Assessment Tests

Some Health Scientist positions at the CDC require assessment tests. These could be subject-matter tests, aptitude tests, or technical exercises designed to evaluate your skills and knowledge.

CDC Health Scientist Assessment Test

The specific assessment tests depend on the role you are applying for. However, common assessments include:

  1. Technical Skills Test: A multiple-choice or written exam that tests your knowledge in the relevant field.
  2. Analytical Skills Test: This may involve data interpretation, logical reasoning, and other skills relevant to scientific analysis.
  3. Behavioral Assessment: Some roles require tests to evaluate your team dynamics and leadership capabilities.

Interview Phase

Candidates who successfully pass the assessments will usually be invited for an interview, which may be conducted in-person, over the phone, or via video conference.

CDC Health Scientist Interview Questions

While questions will vary depending on the job and department, some typical questions might include:

  1. Technical Questions: “Can you explain the difference between relative risk and odds ratio?”
  2. Behavioral Questions: “Describe a situation where you had to adapt to a significant change in your work environment.”
  3. Situational Questions: “How would you handle an outbreak of a highly infectious disease in a small community?”
  4. Motivational Questions: “What motivated you to want to work as a Health Scientist at the CDC?”

Final Steps

After the interview, if you are selected, you will receive a job offer. This will be followed by a thorough background check and possibly additional screenings, depending on the role’s sensitivity.


A job as a Health Scientist at the CDC is a prestigious and highly competitive position. To successfully navigate the hiring process, it’s crucial to be well-prepared and well-informed. With meticulous preparation, you’ll be well-positioned to join the ranks of the CDC’s team of dedicated professionals contributing to global health and well-being.

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