Tips for applying to physics jobs

  • Helena Kudiabor
  • Jun 08 2023

Applications for physics jobs are competitive, so you’ll need to do all you can to make your application stand out from the crowd. Here are some things that will help you in the application process, whether you’re applying for a full-time role or an insight day


What is the process of applying for a physics job?

The specific application process will vary between companies. Many graduate jobs and internships, particularly at large companies, have a multi-stage application process. The first stage is usually an online application form, which asks applicants about their education history, their qualifications, and why they’re suitable for the job. The second stage is typically a video interview, with the final stage being an assessment day, involving group exercises and a face-to-face interview. At each stage, the candidates will be shortlisted. 

Smaller companies often have a simpler application process. This typically involves an online application form, or a request for applicants to submit their CV and a cover letter. Successful candidates will be invited to an interview. 

How do I increase my chances of being offered a job?

Firstly, it’s important to have a concrete reason why you’re interested in physics. Try to avoid generic answers like ‘it’s been my dream since I was a child’. Instead, you could talk about a famous physicist that inspired you or a research project that you found particularly interesting. In a similar vein, have concrete reasons for why you’re interested in the specific company. Avoid talking about things many companies have done (they’re well known or conduct good research). Instead, talk about a research project they did that you're particularly interested in, or a recent initiative that struck a chord with you. If there’s someone at the company you admire, you could talk about how interesting you find their work.

To help your application stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to discuss what traits you have that set you apart from other applicants. Even if you don’t think your achievements are particularly impressive, what matters is how you sell them to your prospective employer. For example, you may think that your babysitting job is unrelated to physics, but it actually provides you with transferable skills like communication and problem solving. These are two skills that are greatly valued by physics employers.

How do I cope with rejection?

Although it's common for many students to experience job rejection, that doesn’t take away from how difficult it is. It’s okay to feel sad and frustrated, and it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many professionals got rejected from numerous jobs before they started their careers, and often things work out for the best. Rejection is redirection.

In terms of practical things you can do, contact the company and ask if they’d be willing to provide feedback. Many companies provide feedback once they get past a certain stage of the application. If the company doesn’t provide feedback, reflect on your application and think about how you can improve it for next time. Some of the most common reasons for rejection include: spelling and grammar mistakes, not being prepared for an interview and not having much work experience.