It can be tricky to take the stress out of job interviews. However, one of the most effective ways to do that - whether you are being interviewed for a biotechnology, medical, R&D or indeed any other science role - is to have a few questions to hand yourself.

While a lot of candidates for science jobs realise the value of asking their interviewer some questions - not least in showing initiative and interest in the vacancy - too many simply waste the opportunity by asking obvious questions to fill the time.

If you want to show your seriousness and suitability as a candidate, consider these five questions to ask your interviewer:

1. "What are the key priorities in the first few months of this job?"


You'll learn something from the answer about the day-to-day challenges and constraints of the role. However, you should also bear in mind that you may be asked in turn for your own ideas of what the key priorities should be - so have an informed answer ready.

2. "What size of team and what other teams would I be working with?"


Not only does this question help to convey your team-player credentials, but it can also glean useful information on the kind of working environment and people that would await you in the role. This enables you to judge whether you would get along well with colleagues and be a good fit for the organisation's culture.

3. "What could I do to contribute to this organisation or department's success?"


This is the question that business owners and your interviewer have probably asked themselves often enough, so hearing it from a candidate creates an instant connection, signifying your seriousness about furthering their deepest wishes for the organisation or department. It communicates your instinctive wish to assist the organisation or department with its aims.

4. "I recently learned from X that Y is happening. What impact will this have on the business?"


It's a good idea regardless to read up on the organisation that you are seeking to join as much as possible prior to the interview, as well as about what industry rivals are doing. This will enable you to ask the above question, marking yourself out as having a real interest in and understanding of the department, company and wider industry - and enter a meaningful conversation as a result.

5. "What are the qualities needed to excel in this role?"


This is a direct appeal to the interviewer to outline once more their most pressing priorities for the vacancy, perhaps allowing you to expand on areas of your own strength as a candidate that weren't touched on during the main interview. It's a great question for directing the conversation, especially if you enquire about the importance of a certain characteristic and the interviewer responds in the affirmative, giving you an opportunity to describe your qualifications in that area in greater detail. 

Ending the interview by thanking the interviewer for their time, reaffirming your suitability for the post and requesting information on the next stages of the selection process helps you to make a great final impression. Join us here at the leading science recruitment agency Hyper Recruitment Solutions, and you can benefit from the highest standard of interview advice. 

Job Interview Dress Code

Whether you like it or not, when you are applying for a science job, you can expect (no matter your field of expertise) to be judged by your appearance at the interview.

Indeed, in a survey of male and female executives, 37% said that they had decided against employing a candidate because of how they were dressed.

Job interview dress code, then, really is an important issue. Here are 3 useful tips to bear in mind when you're dressing for your next interview:

1. Don't be afraid to be dull

First impressions count for a lot, and you want the interviewer to remember you for your high level of competence and suitability for the role, not for the garish tie you were wearing. Sometimes, it really does pay to play it safe.

If you are male, it may be a good idea to opt for this classic combo:

  • Plain, low-key tie
  • Tailored suit (single-breasted)
  • Long-sleeved white shirt
  • Black socks
  • Black leather shoes
For female candidates, the following items of clothing can help to make a great impression:

  • Long-sleeved shirt or blouse
  • Mid-length black skirt or dress
  • Tights
  • Moderately high heels

Being reassuringly dull, of course, also means avoiding many of the interview dress code gaffes that immediately lower an employer's perceptions of a candidate. Steer clear of jeans, T-shirts, dangling jewellery, and overly revealing garments.

2. Echo the style of your prospective employer

For certain roles or departments, however, it is possible to be a little too dull in how you dress. In certain cases, it may be better to convey a dynamic, high-energy image, and sometimes that means dressing a little more casually. If in doubt, simply ask the employer or recruiter in advance for advice on the appropriate dress code for the interview, looking for clues of the employer's in-house style.

Emulating the style of clothing that you will be expected to wear once you've joined the organisation has the important effect of communicating that you are a 'safe pair of hands' and 'one of us' as soon as the interviewer sees you for the first time.

3. Maintain basic cleanliness and hygiene

When you are getting your outfit ready, you should also ensure that is clean and free of small blemishes such as:

  • Deodorant marks
  • Dog hairs
  • Straining zips
  • Fraying hems
Prospective employers probably won't comment on any of these things during a job interview, but they will notice them, and it may well affect their final hiring decision.

Decent grooming and hygiene are also imperative - a good impression made by shrewd wardrobe choices can easily be undone by dirty fingernails, unkempt facial hair, or bad breath.

You should pay close attention to your hair, too, making sure it looks neat but modern, and colouring it freshly for the interview (if you dye it).

All accessories, like briefcases and handbags, should look smart and be in good condition.

It's well-documented that dressing smartly doesn't just help to give employers a more favourable view of your capabilities - it could also elevate your actual performance. This is just one more reason to refresh your interview wardrobe when searching for the best-paid and most exciting roles with a science recruitment agency like Hyper Recruitment Solutions/

Tough interview questions

In today's highly competitive job market, it's common for employers to interview many highly suitable candidates when there are only one or two positions available. This naturally raises the question of how interviewers can better separate the candidates, to which one of the most obvious answers is to ask more challenging interview questions.

If you're preparing for a job interview and you're worried about some of the more difficult questions that the interviewer might ask, we at Hyper Recruitment Solutions can help. Here are 10 tough job interview questions and how to answer them:

'Can you tell me something about yourself?'

Why it's a tough question: When asked this question, it's easy to slide into endless irrelevant talk about where you were born, your parents, your childhood, your family, your personal likes and dislikes, and so on.

How to answer it: Instead of telling the interviewer your life story, give brief examples of personal and professional experiences that make you suitable for the position. You may even want to have a 'lift pitch' prepared.

'Why do you think you should get this job?'

Why it's a tough question: When asked this one, many candidates fall into the trap of just boasting about how great they are in general, instead of focusing on things that are relevant to the role that's up for grabs.

How to answer it: Remember that this is a very specific question about what makes you suitable for this job, not for the world of work in general. Match your strengths to the characteristics outlined in the job description and person specification.

'Why are you leaving your present job?'

Why it's a tough question: Like many questions that you may be asked by those conducting recruitment campaigns, this actually isn't too tough a question if you prepare well. However, if you complain too much about your current boss or workplace, you risk coming off as a negative person, which will lose you points.

How to answer it: Talk about the personal and professional growth opportunities or the challenge and excitement of taking on this position, rather than whinging about your present or previous employer.

'Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?'

Why it's a tough question: There are two big risks with this question: criticising a past employer (which, as noted above, can reflect badly on you), and incriminating yourself in relation to the bad experience.

How to answer it: Instead of complaining or laying blame, focus on how you grew as a result of this experience, or the positive qualities you demonstrated while dealing with it. If you can't truthfully say that you have never had a bad experience with an employer, at least describe a difficult situation that you emerged stronger from as evidence of your potential now.

'What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of your present job?'

Why it's a tough question: Again, moaning about your current job is not a good look in an interview, and even when describing the parts you like, it's possible to convey the wrong impression - if the only thing you like about your current role is the money, or eating cake on people's birthdays, then you may come off as somewhat unenthusiastic. An overly vague or general answer, meanwhile, might make it seem like you're damning your employer with faint praise.

How to answer it: Be more specific than just citing 'a nice atmosphere'. Something that relates to the position itself, such as your enjoyment of working in a team, is ideal. As for your 'least favourite' aspect...try to make it something as far away as possible from the responsibilities that you would have in this new job, and make sure the answer illustrates either good performance or an ability to learn.

'Give an example of when you handled a major crisis.'

Why it's a tough question: Many candidates are thrown by just how dramatic this question sounds, so you may want to reframe it as something more like 'Give an example of when you coped with a difficult situation.'

How to answer it: Look back through your personal, professional and educational life and think of situations where you successfully dealt with unexpected problems.

'Give an example of a time when you showed initiative.'

Why it's a tough question: A big danger here is that you'll stumble into describing an idea that you had but didn't put into action.

How to answer it: Describe an idea that you did act upon, or an occasion where you solved a problem by yourself. Then back this up with examples of the positive consequences that your actions had.

'Where do you expect to be in five years' time?'

Why it's a tough question: It's far too easy to give a glib response to this question that isn't actually very insightful. For instance, saying that you want to be running the company or sitting in the interviewer's chair five years from now.

How to answer it: Talk instead about your motivations and your understanding of your likely career path in this particular organisation or industry. This is very much a question where you will be expected to have done your employer research.

'What can you tell me about this company / industry?'

Why it's a tough question: Obviously, this question requires some prior research. However, it shouldn't be difficult at all as long as you've taken the time before the interview to do some reading.

How to prepare for it: Look at the company website, especially its 'About Us' section and any other details you can find regarding the company's history, objectives and values. Write down some key points to mention - points that will show the interviewer you are interested not just in a job but in a job with this company.

'Do you have any questions or anything else you would like to add?'

Why it's a tough question: You've almost reached the end of the job interview, and it's tempting at this point to just say 'no', shake hands and leave. But this is an opportunity to ensure that you stick in the interviewer's mind as a strong, memorable candidate, and it shouldn't be wasted.

How to answer it: Take the opportunity to end the interview on a decisive and memorable note that banishes any lingering doubts in the interviewer's mind. Prepare some questions in advance about the company's culture, or even what the interviewer likes best about the company. Try to demonstrate that you are interviewing them as well, rather than merely being interviewed by them.

Don't be yet another candidate who thinks they're good enough to 'wing it'. By thoroughly preparing in advance with answers for questions like the above, you will be able to gain a decisive advantage in the race for many of the most desirable jobs.

Browse and apply for science jobs with Hyper Recruitment Solutions >

January has been a busy month. Your New Year’s Resolution - to "get that dream job". You've been busy sending off CVs and now the hard work is paying off, interview offers are starting to come in. Congratulations on making it through to this stage. 

You've researched the company’s background, looked over the job description and rehearsed your answers to questions you think you are likely to be asked. Great! This will certainly help you in the interview. But did you know? The language you use in your responses may well be the deciding factor on whether or not you are successful.


You arrive for your interview - are you ready?

Dressed in your smartest suit, you arrive nice and early. You tell the receptionist you’re here for an interview. You’re feeling confident and proud of yourself. There’s not doubt about, it you've worked hard to get to this stage, but it’s not over yet. Just one more hurdle to overcome, the actual interview. This is probably the most daunting part of the whole recruitment process. So, whilst you’re sitting in reception waiting to be called, why not use the time to fill your head with some last minute positive thinking. 

 

 

Do you know WHAT to say and HOW to say it?

From the informal to the formal there are many types of interviews, but one that you are likely to come up against is the competency-based interview. Ever heard that "Tell me about a time when…" question? It probably sounds like a simple question but during an interview it’s so easy to forget that answer you've been trying to memorising for the last few days. Don’t worry, we've all been there. When this happens we end up missing out key details and usually give a really unstructured answer.

Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions we always encourage our candidates to use techniques like ‘STAR’. This model will really help you to formulate a structured response, which will in turn ensure you give a well thought out answer.

 

 

Here are some examples of how can you use this model to ensure your responses are structured and positive.

 

Talk about challenges

Interviewer: ‘tell me about a time when you failed at a task”

Avoid using phrases like “I’ve never failed at anything before” or “I never make mistakes”. We've all faced challenges both professionally and personally. These responses simply show that you are lying. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that you are not only capable of dealing with difficult situations but you've actually learnt from the experience.

Candidate: “When things didn’t quite go to plan, I made sure I…so next time…”

 

Talk about weaknesses

Interviewer: ‘Do you have any weaknesses?”

It’s a fact; we can’t be good at everything so there will something you’re not good at doing. When you’re asked this question, don’t focus on how bad you are – turn a negative into a positive

Candidate: “I would like to learn…” or “I…to overcome this challenge in the past" or “I asked a colleague to help me.”

 

Leave a positive lasting impression

When you walk into the room make sure you introduce yourself and shake hands with the interviewer. When you leave, thank the interviewer for inviting you for an interview. End on a positive note, why not mentioning something you came across during your research? Simple things like this will ensure the interviewer has a positive impression of you.

Candidate: “I noticed that you have a company football team” or "it was great to meet the team, I think I would fit in well."

Bottom line, when it comes to interviews knowing what to say and how to say it is critical. Using the right language will ensure you deliver a lasting impression and a positive experience. Remember as I always our MD Ricky Martin always says #thinkpositivebepositive. Good luck!

For more interview advice and questions please visit our website.

Described by Claude Littner as an ‘Australian Ricky’ - but did he live up to the reputation? 

 

It’s been another entertaining series of The Apprentice this year and no doubt we were all on the edge of our seats watching Bianca Miller and Mark Wright battle it out in the final task. I am sure most of us would agree that both candidates deserved to be in the final.

After a grueling 12 weeks, Mark Wright was finally crowned as the 10th Apprentice winner. And it came as no surprise; Mark showed himself to be a worthy candidate throughout the process should be congratulated on his outstanding performance. 

I am really looking forward to seeing another Apprentice winner embarking on a career in ‘selling a service’ as opposed to a commercial product. Mark’s business idea involves digital marketing and search engine optimisation to help push small and medium sized businesses up online searches. I can appreciate Mark’s business aspirations in terms of providing a service to clients/customers as similarly, my business idea was to offer a service.  

Mark should be respected for what he has achieved. His desire to start up a new business in a very competitive market place in another country was an extremely brave decision. I can completely relate to how hard it is to start a business in a crowded market place. However sometimes, its challenges like these that drive you even further to achieving your goals. 

I absolutely love watching The Apprentice and it’s no secret that year was especially exciting for me. I could never have imagined that I would be sitting on the opposite of the desk as the interviewer – when only two years ago I was an interviewee! It was a surreal experience for me. Having been a candidate myself, I can really appreciate how gruelling and intense the interview experience must have been for the remaining five candidates. 

Advice for Mark 

Lord Sugar has not just invested in Mark’s business idea; he has invested in him as a person. Mark has showed some incredible attributes throughout the 12 week process. He came across as having the right ‘people skills’ that Lord Sugar is looking for. Lord Sugar invests time and money in people who show they can commit to making their ideas happen. And having interviewed him myself, it was clear he not only had relevant knowledge, skills and experience he genuinely had the passion and drive to succeed. For those reasons, I am confident he will be successful. 

Final thoughts 

I graduated as a Biochemist back in 2006 and this fuelled my passion for a career in the Life Science sector. I then spent over seven years working in the recruitment sector on behalf of the science community. I really enjoyed working in the recruitment industry, talking to clients and candidates from the science field supporting science jobs / careers. 

At that moment in my career, I felt I had reached a point where I had the relevant qualifications and experience to set up my own recruitment agency. Those who know me, know that science is a subject I am extremely passionate about. My goal was to set up my own recruitment scientific consultancy. So in 2012 I applied for the Apprentice. Wow! What a life changing experience that was.

Winning the Apprentice and receiving that all important £250 cash injection from Lord Sugar meant that my dream became a reality. I was able to finally set up my own company, Hyper Recruitment Solutions. Two years on my ambition to develop the landscape of science recruitment and make a positive impact to the Science & Life Sciences industries is a reality. It just shows that with hard work, commitment and dedication you can achieve your goals. 

The movement you hear the words “You’re hired” your life instantly changes. I wish Mark every success with his new company and welcome him to The Apprentice family! Oh and Mark - don’t forget to think about HRS when you need to recruit for your future sales workforce - just give one of our friendly recruitment consultants a call and we will find the right people for you ;)

My advice to anyone who is thinking about setting up a new business, is to never give up on your dreams, always follow your passions. If you fail the first, second or third time, don’t give up. Think positive and keep going.

So if you’ve been inspired to follow your business dream why not apply for next year’s Apprentice. Think you’ve got what it takes to be Lord Sugar’s next business partner? Apply now what have you got to lose? 

 



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