Honesty

We're all taught that honesty is the best policy - but is this the case in a job interview?

When you're being interviewed, your primary concern is presenting yourself as the best candidate for the job, and it's perfectly normal to talk up your best traits while downplaying your weaknesses. But overstating your qualities and skills can have disastrous repercussions if you're successful! So where does one draw the line?


When talking about your personal skills and experience, it's always safer to be honest!

Before your interview starts, the interviewers will spend some time reviewing your CV to determine what kind of questions they should ask you. If you have been honest on your CV, the interview stage should be relatively easy!

The reason why it's so important to be honest about your skills and experience (both on your CV and in an interview situation) is that you may well be expected to apply those skills if you get the job.

FOR EXAMPLE: If you are applying for a scientific job that requires extensive knowledge and experience of working with a certain type of equipment, you might be asked to complete tasks using that equipment at a later date. If you lie to the interviewers and tell them that you're an expert in using that equipment (when really you aren't), you might end up causing a serious accident or injury.

The same theory applies to lots of other skills, like speaking a different language, being able to use a certain piece of software, and even managing teams of people. When it comes to talking about the skills and experience you have, it's definitely better to tell the truth.

Read More: Can You Lie on Your CV?


Can I bend the truth when answering other questions?

While it's definitely in your best interest to be upfront and honest about your skills and experience, you may not want to disclose too much information when asked questions like:

  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?

For example, you might have left your last job because they simply weren't paying you enough, but mentioning this in your interview might make the interviewer think you're only concerned with money.

Don't just make up a lie, though - try to frame the truth in a positive way, like this:

  • NOT IDEAL: I left my last job because they weren't paying me enough.

  • BETTER: I left my last job because I'd reached a dead end - I wanted to move on to something more rewarding, with more opportunities to advance my career.

Remember, there are some questions you don't have to answer.

It's actually illegal for employers to ask potential employees about certain 'protected characteristics', such as:

  • Sexuality
  • Gender identity
  • Family and marital status
  • Age
  • Disabilities
  • Nationality, race and ethnicity
  • Religious beliefs

So if you're in a job interview and the interviewer asks 'Are you planning to have children?' or 'What country are you from originally?', they are actually breaking the law. (The only exception is if the question is part of a positive action to help people from a particular group - e.g. an initiative to hire more openly LGBT+ individuals. Even in these cases, you are not required to give an answer if you would prefer not to.)

Hyper Recruitment Solutions specialise in science recruitment - for more interview advice, click the link below.

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Research and development

Would you like to know what a typical science research and development job looks like? Perhaps you've studied a core science like biology or physics, and now you're not quite sure what career to pursue. Research and development (R&D) is an important part of almost every scientific industry, so you can be confident that there are lots of R&D jobs on offer at any given time.

Within the science industry, research and development jobs look like this:

  • Research involves exploring different materials, processes and phenomena. Someone who works in scientific research designs and conducts experiments, observes and analyses results, and draws conclusions from their findings.

  • Development uses the knowledge gained from the research to implement new products, procedures and services.


R&D Job Description

For most scientific research and development jobs, you will need to have a good degree (2:1 or above) in a relevant subject and some good experience working in a laboratory. Alternatively, you might be able to begin your career in R&D as a technician, but it can be tricky to progress without a degree. 

If you're currently working towards a scientific degree, you might be wondering how you can gain relevant laboratory experience in the meantime. Here are a few different ways you can gain lab experience:

  • Do a placement in a laboratory in a foreign country. There are often placements in laboratories abroad, and being open to travelling broadens your options!

  • Pursue a year in industry. Many universities offer this, and even if it isn't a typical part of your course, it's always worth asking. Most universities will try to accommodate you.

  • Try to pick a final-year project which allows you to work in the laboratory. Being able to demonstrate a good understanding and interest in scientific research and development looks great to employers.

If you have completed your degree and you're ready to start pursuing an R&D job, we at Hyper Recruitment Solutions can offer you helpful career and interview advice. We also have a range of current job vacancies in research and development roles that you can browse and apply for!

Click the link below to browse the latest R&D jobs with Hyper Recruitment Solutions.

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According to the British Toxicology Society, the primary purpose of any toxicologist's job is “to help us avoid chemical injury or manage accidental exposure of humans or the environment”.

Essentially, toxicologists observe the impact of chemicals, medicines and toxic materials on living organisms, focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating adverse effects of toxicants.

With substantial implications for human health, wildlife and the environment, jobs in toxicology are extremely important and require highly skilled and qualified practitioners.

Toxicology Jobs

Types of Toxicology Jobs

When diving into the world of professional toxicology, it’s important to note that not all toxicology jobs are the same. There are a number of sub-groups that toxicologist jobs fall into, broadly categorised under three primary labels:

- Medical toxicology

A sub-division of medicine, medical toxicology is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of adverse effects relating to medications, toxicants and biological agents. Medical toxicology jobs typically require physician status.

- Clinical toxicology

Closely related to medical toxicology, clinical toxicology also covers the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have been exposed to toxic substances. Not requiring physician status, this field is accessible to other appropriately-qualified health professionals, including nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals.

- Computational toxicology

As the name suggests, computational toxicology primarily focuses on the development and implementation of computer-based models to better understand and predict the adverse effects of chemicals, including pharmaceuticals and environmental pollutants.


Toxicology Job Requirements

A typical toxicologist job description will include a laundry list of duties and responsibilities; however, before anything else can be considered, these vacancies will also come with a number of essential criteria attached.

These typically include:

Relevant qualifications

Like any scientific profession, toxicology requires you to be appropriately qualified. This will usually mean holding a relevant degree in a life sciences discipline (e.g. toxicology, biomedicine, pharmacology, etc).

Industry knowledge / experience

Most toxicology job vacancies will also require a certain amount of job experience and/or training. This often includes experience of product-related risk assessments and knowledge of effective testing protocols to identify potential health hazards.

Appropriate certification

Some toxicology jobs also require applicants to be verified by a trusted health science or professional medical authority as proof that they are accredited to carry out certain tasks. This may include registration with the Health & Care Professions Council or certification as a European Registered Toxicologist.


Duties and Responsibilities of Toxicology Jobs

Toxicologists are tasked with creating and developing efficient ways to identify potential hazards relating to chemicals and physical agents. This also extends to assessing the relative dosage of these substances, monitoring the amount that will cause these harmful effects, and identifying how substances can be used safely.

Knowledge of diseases caused by exposure to chemicals or physical substances is essential, as is the continued research of the associated basic molecular, biochemical and cellular processes. Through controlled studies, you will be required to help establish and update industry rules and regulations, with the primary focus being on protecting and preserving human health and the environment.

Toxicology is classified as an “integrative science”, which means that most toxicologists will work with fellow scientists specialising in other areas as part of a collaborative team. As such, a co-operative, synergistic approach to work is also essential.

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Lab Equipment


Describe yourself

Interviews can be a nerve-racking experience for candidates of all ages and experience levels. After all, there can be a lot riding on the outcome, so it’s important to get it right and be prepared.

One recurring problem area is how to describe yourself at a job interview. This is a task that comes up time after time and can throw candidates off track just as frequently.

Luckily, we’ve put together this handy step-by-step guide to help you handle the pressure and ensure your CV remains at the top of the pile. 


The “tell me about yourself” interview question


One of the standard-issue questions any candidate can expect to hear from their interviewer is the seemingly ever-present line, “tell me about yourself”. Open-ended and deliberately vague, this single utterance can stop any momentum dead in its tracks, crippling any caffeinated confidence you may have gained from that pre-interview coffee. 

However, if you do stumble at this early hurdle, this isn’t a cue for you to exit stage left, abandon ship or drive off the edge of a cliff “Thelma & Louise” style – get a hold of yourself! This is the perfect opportunity to get your interview off to a flying start – if you know how to handle it.


Keep it professional


“So, tell me about yourself…”

While it might be tempting to unleash a verbal recitation of your Tinder profile, it’s important to remember that your interviewer is, in all likelihood, referring to your professional history – so keep the weekend references and pub tales to a minimum.

This does, however, provide the perfect window to shed some light on your previous employment and career achievements thus far. Sell yourself, don’t be modest and be proud of your professional accomplishments: this is the ideal opportunity to tell your would-be employer exactly why YOU are the one for job.


A strong opening


Knowing where to begin can make or break an interview; start off on the wrong path and you could quickly wind up off the beaten track, in the middle of nowhere. Irrelevant ramblings have no place here.

To get the ball rolling, try opening with a notable fact about your work ethic. This is a fool-proof way to get this verbal personal statement off the ground, while it’s also a great line to segue seamlessly into your work history.


Relating your experience to the role


When recounting your previous roles, be sure to include career details that will impress, such as notable achievements and positions of responsibility you may have earned. Facts and figures can provide helpful support, so don’t be afraid to include a stat or two to back up your claims.

Give examples of how you have contributed and made a difference, relating these experiences back to the job you are pursuing. This shows that you understand the role being offered and have the proven ability to excel in that position.


Putting it all together


So, you have the blueprint in mind, now to put it into practice. Luckily, this process can be a lot easier than you may think.

For a salesperson, this could sound something like:

“I truly excel when I’m selling a product I believe in. During my three years as Head of Sales at Chocolate Teapots Ltd, sales of chocolate teapots increased by 40%. Prior to that, I was consistently top salesperson in my team at Inflatable Dartboards Inc, regularly outselling my peers by as much as 180%. I’m really impressed by the products you have and your new ice fireguard is an exciting concept. I’m confident I could use my skills and experience to significantly boost sales of such a great product.”

While the products in that example may have a few minor design flaws, the fact remains: a solid opening line, backed by career facts/stats that are related back to the job at hand can make a great first impression, setting you up for a positive dialogue to follow.


What makes you unique

The “what makes you unique” interview question


Another hallmark of many interviews is the equally bewildering query of “what makes you unique?” An ace up the sleeve for any employer looking to weed out the unsuitable, this question is a common stumbling block for many candidates and can cause even the coolest of heads to feel hot under the collar.

Nevertheless, as the old saying goes, the best defence is a good offence, so be prepared to come out fighting with a great response. “How so?” we hear you ask – read on…

While, on the surface, this very statement can seem somewhat belittling (particularly depending on the tone it’s said/read in), it’s actually a very valid question. Among all the other candidates being considered for the role, just what does make you stand out from the crowd?

Now, to be clear, this isn’t an opportunity to break out a party trick or unveil an ill-advised tattoo (although both of those options would surely qualify as memorable); it’s actually the point of the interview where you can explain, in no uncertain terms, why you’re the top prospect.

Digest the job description and reacquaint yourself with exactly why you applied for the role in the first place. Pinpoint what you bring to the table and why your skills match the task at hand. Again, this is another great point to revisit your past achievements and back up your claims with real-life examples.

Try to highlight your overall compatibility with the role and how your talents can help benefit the company. Simply put, let your interviewer know that, not only are you worth employing, they can’t afford to let you go elsewhere.


The “describe yourself” interview question


As we’ve seen above, interviewers love to hear their interviewees present a verbal personal profile. Not only is it a good way to gauge confidence, it’s also an effective method of testing inaccuracies on a CV. Best of all, it allows the employer a chance to hear a candidate’s own self-assessment, straight from the source.

Another variation on this is the “describe yourself” task. Depending on the industry and the job you are applying for, this is a great opportunity to insert a few choice buzzwords that fit the bill. It may be worth revisiting the original job ad for inspiration; from there you can easily hone in on standout phrases that are integral to the position and relate them back to your own experiences.

Words like “reliable”, “productive” and “flexible” can be music to the ears of an interviewer, conveying a candidate that isn’t afraid of work and can be trusted to get a job done when it needs doing.

Similarly, terms like “professional” and “conscientious” imply that you conduct yourself in a positive manner befitting the workplace, while also painting you as someone that takes pride in their work and will represent a company well.

Additional terms, such as “co-operative”, “friendly” and “sociable” can also serve you well, indicating that you are a team player who can transition well into a team environment. Naturally, these phrases can be particularly useful if you’re applying for a job that involves working closely with others.

However you choose to label yourself, it’s important to remember that there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance; tripping over that line could land you in hot water and quickly turn your interview into a damp squib. Hyperbole and superlatives can backfire dramatically, so use sparingly and only when you can back it up.


Writing

Interview mistakes


Many of the questions and answers above are widely interchangeable, so you should never be at a loss for words. Whichever question your interviewer throws your way, nothing screams “indifference” quite like “I don’t know”, so avoid these fatal three words at all costs. Think of it as the professional equivalent of calling a first date by your ex’s name – it’s an instant turn-off and the chances of a call-back are slim to none.

On the other end of the scale, dishonesty is another interview faux-pas that’s high up on the list. Confidently selling your skills is one thing – fraudulently exaggerating your ability to the point of fiction is another entirely. Lying to your interviewer is inevitably setting yourself up for failure and embarrassment, whether it’s later on in that conversation or further on down the line. 

Finally, it’s also widely agreed that cliché answers are an instant eye-roller at interview. Even if you really are a “team player” that “thinks outside the box”, it may be worth keeping idioms and worn-out phrases at arm’s length. 

That being said, if it means avoiding the dreaded “I don’t know”, don’t be afraid to grab the low-hanging fruit and push the envelope with the odd phrase, if it helps your cause.

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You're Hired

There are lots of questions that put you on the spot in an interview, but ‘tell me about a time’ interview questions can be particularly challenging because they’re behavioural questions. This means that the interviewer is trying to gauge how you behave when faced with a particular type of situation.

Some examples of common ‘tell me about a time’ interview questions include:

  • Tell me about a time you were faced with a difficult situation. How did you overcome it?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake. How did you learn from it?
  • Tell me about a time you had to work outside of your comfort zone.

There are three easy steps to follow to make sure you provide a well-rounded answer to a ‘tell me about a time when’ interview question. More than likely, you will need to answer this question with a brief story - a story that should loosely follow this format:

  • Explain the context of the story – Explain the difficult situation, mistake or task that you were faced with. This should be highly relevant to the question. You should think carefully about what is and isn’t appropriate to tell the interviewer before you go into the interview.

  • Explain what you did – Your response to the difficult situation, mistake or task is what the interviewer is most interested in. Make sure you have thought carefully about how you word this portion of your answer, and take your time while relaying it in the interview.

  • Explain why you did it – Explaining why you responded in the way you did gives the interviewer an insight into your thought process.

Here's an example:

Question: Tell me about a time when you were behind schedule. Why were you behind schedule, and what did you do to catch up?

Answer: When I was at university, I was behind schedule for one of my assignments because I had been off sick for a week. This meant that I had missed a couple of my lectures and needed to catch up to make sure I knew all the relevant information to complete the assignment.

I decided to spend a few extra hours at the library when I started to feel better - luckily all of the lecture materials I needed were available online. I decided to do this rather than pestering my course mates because I knew they would all be busy getting their own assignments finished!

As a specialist science recruitment company, we at HRS know science industries inside out. If you are looking for employment in a scientific field, use the link below to browse our latest job listings.

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