Unlocking the Secrets to Acing Your CDC EIS Interview

As an aspiring public health professional, being selected for the prestigious Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a dream come true. However, the interview process can be daunting, with highly competitive applicants vying for a limited number of coveted positions. Fear not, for in this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the world of CDC EIS interview questions, equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to stand out and secure your place in this elite program.

Understanding the EIS Fellowship

Before we dive into the interview questions, let’s first understand the significance of the EIS fellowship. Established in 1951, the EIS program is the world’s first and longest-running disease detective training program. Its primary goal is to provide hands-on, experiential learning in applied epidemiology, allowing fellows (known as EIS officers) to investigate and respond to emerging and ongoing public health threats.

The EIS fellowship is a two-year commitment that combines classroom instruction with hands-on assignments under the guidance of seasoned mentors and supervisors. Upon completion, EIS alumni go on to fill critical and influential public health roles worldwide, serving as leaders in government agencies, international organizations, academic institutions, and private sectors.

The EIS Interview Process

The EIS interview process is designed to assess your knowledge, skills, and aptitude for the rigorous demands of the fellowship. It typically consists of several stages, including an initial screening, followed by an in-person or virtual interview with a panel of EIS staff and alumni.

During the interview, you can expect a range of questions that delve into your understanding of epidemiology, public health principles, and your ability to navigate complex scenarios. The interviewers will also evaluate your communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and your passion for public service.

Common CDC EIS Interview Questions

Now, let’s explore some of the most common CDC EIS interview questions you might encounter, along with insightful strategies to craft compelling responses:

  1. Why are you interested in the EIS fellowship?

This question allows you to showcase your motivation and commitment to pursuing a career in applied epidemiology. Highlight your passion for public health, your desire to contribute to disease prevention and control, and your eagerness to gain hands-on experience through the EIS program. Share any relevant experiences or achievements that have shaped your interest in this field.

  1. Describe your understanding of the role of an EIS officer.

The interviewer wants to assess your knowledge of the EIS program and the responsibilities of an EIS officer. Emphasize the diverse range of duties, including conducting outbreak investigations, studying infectious and chronic diseases, responding to natural disasters, designing surveillance systems, analyzing data, and contributing to public health guidelines. Demonstrate your understanding of the rapid response nature of the role and the importance of effective communication and collaboration.

  1. How would you approach an outbreak investigation?

This question tests your problem-solving abilities and your understanding of epidemiological principles. Outline the steps you would take, such as gathering data, identifying potential sources, developing hypotheses, analyzing data, and implementing control measures. Discuss the importance of working with local health authorities, communicating with affected communities, and staying adaptable as new information emerges.

  1. Describe a time when you had to work effectively in a multidisciplinary team.

Collaboration is essential in public health, and EIS officers often work alongside diverse teams of professionals. Share an example where you successfully contributed to a team effort, highlighting your ability to communicate effectively, respect different perspectives, and leverage the strengths of each team member to achieve a common goal.

  1. How would you communicate complex scientific information to a non-technical audience?

As an EIS officer, you may need to communicate public health findings to various stakeholders, including policymakers, community members, and the general public. Demonstrate your ability to simplify complex scientific information into clear, concise, and accessible language. Discuss the importance of tailoring your communication style to your audience and using visual aids or analogies to convey key messages effectively.

  1. How would you handle a challenging or stressful situation in the field?

EIS officers often work in dynamic and unpredictable environments, responding to urgent public health threats. Share your strategies for maintaining composure under pressure, prioritizing tasks, and adapting to rapidly evolving situations. Highlight your resilience, problem-solving skills, and ability to make informed decisions in high-stakes scenarios.

  1. What experience do you have with data analysis and interpretation?

EIS officers are expected to analyze and interpret data to generate evidence-based recommendations. Discuss your familiarity with statistical software, data visualization techniques, and your ability to identify patterns and trends in complex datasets. Provide examples of projects where you’ve applied these skills to inform public health interventions or decision-making processes.

  1. How would you approach a situation where you disagreed with a supervisor or stakeholder?

Navigating differing perspectives is a common challenge in public health. Describe how you would respectfully voice your concerns while maintaining professionalism and openness to alternative viewpoints. Discuss the importance of constructive dialogue, seeking common ground, and finding mutually acceptable solutions that prioritize public health outcomes.

These are just a few examples of the types of questions you may encounter during your CDC EIS interview. Remember, the key to success is to prepare thoroughly, practice your responses, and showcase your passion for public health, your commitment to lifelong learning, and your ability to thrive in dynamic, challenging environments.


Securing a position in the esteemed CDC EIS fellowship is a highly competitive endeavor, but with the right preparation and mindset, you can increase your chances of success. By understanding the program’s mission, familiarizing yourself with common interview questions, and crafting thoughtful, well-articulated responses, you’ll be one step closer to joining the ranks of the world’s premier disease detectives.

Remember, the CDC EIS interview is not just an evaluation of your knowledge and skills; it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your passion, resilience, and dedication to protecting public health on a global scale. Embrace this challenge, showcase your unique strengths, and let your enthusiasm shine through – the path to becoming a CDC EIS officer awaits.

Behind the Scenes of an Investigation with EIS Officer Erin Blau


What is an EIS officer with the CDC?

EIS officers are CDC’s disease detectives who learn from and work alongside subject matter experts while providing service to domestic and international partners. EIS has trained over 4,000 disease detectives who have investigated and responded to a wide range of public health challenges and emergencies.

How much do EIS officers make?

Job Title
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention EIS Officer salaries – 3 salaries reported

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