"Why should we hire you?" is as common a question on the lips of science recruitment professionals as it is among hiring teams in any other sector, and it takes forms that can easily catch out the ill-prepared interviewee. You may be asked what makes you the right fit for the position, why you are the best candidate for the vacancy or what you would bring to the job - whatever, the gist is much the same. Before you go for the interview you need to ask yourself, "why should you hire me?", and come up with an answer. 

Be employer-focused

One of the first things that any applicant must realise about this question is that they really must answer it from the employer's perspective. It can be easy to effectively only answer why you would like the job - for example, because you have always had an interest in biochemistry or R&D, need the money or would like to move to wherever the role is based. These are not answers to the question of why the employer should hire you.

The frank truth is that a hiring manager does not really care about the benefits to you of getting the job. They're much more concerned about the risk to their position if they make a poor choice of hire, such as someone who leaves the organisation prematurely or does not fit in well with their colleagues or the company philosophy.


They are certainly interested, then, in your ability to do the job to an exceptional standard, get on well with your colleagues and bring to bear skills and experiences that make you stand out from the other candidates.

The information that you must give

Therefore, by setting out an answer that clearly details such factors as your industry experience, relevant past accomplishments, soft skills, technical skills, education/training and/or awards/certifications, you are making the hiring manager's professional life much easier.

When you communicate memorably and confidently that you possess these traits that answer the employer's pain points, whether their field is chemistry, molecular biology, immunology or something completely different, they will be more confident to trust you with the role.

But remember...

With this being only one of potentially many interview questions, not all of the above parameters necessarily need to be included in your answer. This question is a golden opportunity to sell yourself for your dream clinical, biochemistry or pharmacology role. However, such 'selling' is generally best done with just three or four powerful points - backed up with easy-to-remember descriptions and/or examples - than with a quickly rifled-off list of 12 strengths that you are unable to explain further.

The employer should be left in no doubt as to your unique combination of relevant experience and skills. "Why should we hire you?" is a question will not be your only opportunity during the interview to make that clear - which is all the more reason to provide well-selected highlights rather than the full catalogue of your credentials.

However, it is so often a memorably convincing answer to this, or any number of the aforementioned similar questions that separates those who secure sought-after science jobs from those who don't. Good luck!

Whether in pharmacology, immunology, quality assurance or R&D, securing those prized science jobs depends on more than just getting your CV right - you will also need to negotiate what may be some seriously bruising interview questions.

Here are just five that you might face, along with suitable responses.

1. Why should you get this job?

This question calls for good pre-interview preparation. Before walking into the room, pick out three to five characteristics from your CV that make you indispensable, backed up with examples. Employers want to see evidence of a strong track record.

2. Where do you see yourself in three to five years?

Responding with "I have no idea" - as truthful as it may be - suggests that you have little idea what direction your career is going in or for how long you intend to be in the job. A much better approach is to say you have carefully assessed your career aims and learned that you can best develop in the role for which you are being interviewer.

3. What was the worst aspect of your last role?

 Again, telling the truth - such as that you hated the hours or your boss - may be tempting, but in doing so, you can inadvertently reveal a weakness of your own. This, of course, is why the question is being asked. It's more advisable to instead say that your responsibilities were not sufficiently challenging - or something similar that would indicate you are ready for the step up.

4. Why is there a gap in your work history?

Answering this one well is much easier if you can demonstrate that you have actually spent your time in-between jobs productively. Employers understand that from time to time, people can lose their jobs and not always immediately find another one. However, time spent looking after family members, volunteering or undertaking freelance projects can all help to make you more marketable from a science recruitment perspective.

5. What is your greatest weakness?

This is yet another question that draws out unwitting admissions of weakness in ill-prepared candidates. You can avoid becoming one of them by stating a 'weakness' that could be equally easy considered a strength - for example, a tendency to say yes and over-commit. Follow this with an example of how you are becoming better at prioritising, and you will look like an even better candidate for the job.


In all science jobs - whether in chemistry, molecular biology, quality assurance, engineering or R&D - a well-written CV is extremely important.

Today we're looking at 10 of the biggest CV mistakes to avoid when you're applying for a job in science. 

1) Too long

You shouldn't require more than two or three pages for a CV. Venturing onto a fourth or even fifth page is a rookie CV mistake, and employers will get the impression that you are disorganised and tend to ramble on.

2) Misspellings and typos

This is an obvious CV mistake to avoid but that doesn't prevent it being made time and time again. Be sure to run your CV through a grammar and spelling checker before you send it off to any prospective employers. 

3) Irrelevant information

Talking about ghost hauntings at your last job (unless you're applying for a ghostbuster job!) or that you were the best dancer in the office isn't likely to endear you to science recruitment agencies seeking only salient information. Be sure to check if everything on your CV is relevant before making the CV mistake. 

4) Falsified information

Saying that you passed a degree, diploma or certificate that you actually failed isn't a mere bending of the truth - it's an outright lie that will almost certainly catch up with you later.

5) Cliches

Simply saying that you are a "good communicator" or "work well in a team" without backing it up with any hard evidence is meaningless to any demanding recruiter and another common CV mistake.

6) Wrong contact details

Even the most brilliant CV might be of little use if the phone number or email address on it is wrong.  Be wary of writing .com where you should have said .co.uk, or giving the address of your previous rather than current address

7) A one-size-fits-all approach

Don't send out the same CV for an information systems job as you would for a procurement role - the CV needs to match the employer's needs, so adapt it to each application.

8) Vague explanations

Simply saying that you are looking for a new challenge that offers the opportunity for professional growth doesn't much serve a potential employer. Instead, state something more specific that focuses on their needs, not just your own.

9) Fancy font

You might want to stand out through your CV, but you can do that best by demonstrating your unique qualifications for the role, rather than merely using an unconventional font that might merely distract the reader.

10) Name and personal details in the header

The technology used by many science recruitment firms today to process applications may not pick up information included in the document header, so we would advise that such crucial details are kept in the main text.

There are many potential reasons why you may not secure an interview and many common CV mistakes that can be made. Don't allow any of these easily avoided errors to be the cause of your own next job application failure. 

Do you want to hire a true game-changer? The answer to that question might seem to be "yes" for every new person that you recruit, but there is a particular type of candidate that has recently attracted the attention of HR managers in many science companies for varying departments, including Quality Assurance, Regulatory Affairs, R&D and : the 'purple squirrel'.

These especially rare individuals are associated with a combination of exceptional talent and an often 'maverick' personality type that can make them difficult to manage. While they are therefore not necessarily the best team players, being somewhat unconventional at times, there are nonetheless significant rewards to be had when they are successfully integrated.

At their best, the 'purple squirrel' can bring dazzling new perspectives to your organisation and push it in a decisive and successful new direction - possessing the education, skills and experience to be major innovators. Celebrated businesspeople who have been described as 'purple squirrels' include James Dyson, Philip Green and David Ogilvy.

However, it is many of the unique characteristics of the 'purple squirrel' that can also make them difficult to pick up via the more traditional recruitment methods. None of the three aforementioned individuals, for example, possessed a university degree, meaning that they would have been missed by a more competency-based hiring approach.

Instead, science employers looking to pick up a 'purple squirrel' are advised to apply more aspiration-based search and hiring techniques. To know where to look, it is a good idea to first ask yourself what incredible results you would like your organisation to achieve. You will then be able to start defining the kind of person who could produce them.

Adopting this more lateral perspective will lead you to consider individuals who you might not have ordinarily deemed suitable for your vacancy. However, it is also crucial to understand the very different motivations that 'purple squirrels' can have. Such candidates are much more likely to ask about your company's direction and values than the size of the financial package on offer or how many promotions they could rack up.

The key to finding the elusive 'purple squirrel' is disruptive talent searching, rather than the received wisdom of more established recruitment methods. Land such a candidate, however, and your organisation could be set for a new era of innovation and profitability - just as long as it is willing to adapt in turn to the exciting newcomer. 

Interview Tips for Introverts

Life as an introvert can be difficult enough without the intensified environment of a job interview. Whether a candidate is seeking a role in biochemistry, genetics, virology, pathology or any number of other science fields, there's enough to think about for the interview process without also having to worry about how you will come across to prospective employers.

Introverted job candidates often fear that they will compare poorly to their extroverted peers in such an inherently social situation. However, by playing to their strengths and creating the right personal branding, introverts, too, can deliver standout interview performances that get them hired. Here are some interview tips for introverts. 

Prepare well

This is one of the areas where an introverted job aspirant can thrive. By gathering all of the information that they can about the company and position - in addition to the finer points of their CV and what they are likely to say in the interview - in advance.

By taking steps the day before the interview to practice your answers to likely questions, organise any documents that you will bring with you and trying on your outfit for the interview, you can relieve a significant amount of stress.

Work on the basis of your strengths

It can be easy for employers to make unfair assumptions about introverted candidates, so you will need to carefully consider how to express yourself at interview. Are there certain personality traits, qualifications or skills that you would like to emphasise?

Remember that knowing your strengths as an introvert is one matter, but actually selling them to the prospective employer is quite another. The aforementioned self-assessment should give you a greater awareness of the qualities that you can market to hiring managers.

Introverts, for instance, can be good listeners, so you may wish to explain how such skills have contributed to past projects. You should be sure to back this up with examples of praise accorded to you by previous employers - especially given that as an introvert, it may not come naturally to you to 'brag' about your successes.

Take a confident approach

Though this may seem like the hardest thing to do as an introvert, rather than worrying about how your personality could compromise the interviews against the extroverted competition, try to follow our interview tips for introverts and feel confident in your interview style.

An introvert can easily succeed in an interview context with the right self-branding that helps to show their value as an employee in their own right. By taking the right approach to interviews, introverts can mark themselves out as indispensable prospective employees.  

We hope these interview tips for introverts will help you sail through your next interview. To browse the latest science jobs in your field, take a look at our Job Recruitment page here. 

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