What Can Job Interviewers Ask?

The questions you're asked during a job interview should mostly focus on your experience and qualifications. It also gives you and your prospective employer a chance to get to know one another.

What a job interview shouldn't be is an opportunity for the interviewer to ask lots of probing personal questions. In most cases, it's illegal for employers to make hiring decisions based on protected characteristics such as age, race, sexuality, and so on. By extension, it's usually not appropriate to ask about these things in an interview setting.

Sadly, just because it's not allowed doesn't mean that people don't do it. Hyper Recruitment Solutions conducted a survey of 1,000 hiring managers and 1,000 jobseekers, and a stunning 85% of interviewers admitted to asking inappropriate questions in job interviews.

Here's a closer look at some of the subjects that should remain off-limits for interviewers...


Age

Example: What year were you born?

Interviewers are not allowed to ask you your age or date of birth. You also don't have to include this information on your CV if you don't wish to.

55% of the interviewers we surveyed admitted to asking candidates when they were born. 60% stated that they considered this an 'acceptable' question.


Children & Pregnancy

Example: Have you got any plans to start a family?

It's illegal to make hiring decisions based on whether or not the candidate has children and/or plans to have a child in the future. Paid maternity/paternity leave is a right, and employers can't exclude candidates who wish to become parents just because they don't want to grant it. Already being a parent should not be a barrier to getting a job either.

That being said, our survey found that 40% of employers think it's acceptable to ask if a candidate is planning on taking maternity/paternity leave, while 54% find it acceptable to ask whether the candidate has any children already.


Gender & Sexuality

Example: Are you a man or a woman?

Your sexual orientation and gender identity are personal matters that should not have any bearing on your ability to do your job.

In most cases, it is illegal for employers to ask about your sex or your sexuality (although exceptions may be made for positive action schemes, e.g. an initiative to hire more LGBT workers).


Health & Disabilities

Example: Are you physically fit and healthy?

In our survey, 53% of hiring managers admitted to asking the question above. But it's illegal to ask questions about a candidate's health before offering them a job.

Employers in certain industries may require workers to pass a physical exam before starting work. Crucially, though, this should not be part of the recruitment/hiring process - any necessary health checks can only take place once the candidate has been offered the job.


Marital Status & Relationships

Example: Are you in a relationship?

As with gender and sexuality, one's marital status generally has no bearing at all on their suitability for a job. And yet 51% of interviewers we surveyed admitted to asking candidates whether they're married / in a relationship!


Religion

Example: Will you need time off for religious holidays?

It's unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their religious beliefs, so questions about faith should be off-limits at all times during job interviews.

Unfortunately, our survey indicated that just 18% of hiring managers understand that it's illegal to ask questions like 'Will you need time off for religious holidays?' 39% said it was inappropriate, but not illegal, while 43% felt that this question was acceptable.


Where You're From

Example: Where were you born?

Questions like 'Where were you born?' and 'Where's that accent from?' may seem innocuous enough, but again, they're not appropriate for an interview environment. Sadly, a large number of interviewers think these questions are acceptable - for instance, 47% of those surveyed stated that it's acceptable to ask the origin of a candidate's accent.


More useful links from HRS:

Graduate Job Interview

So, you've finally graduated from university and - better still - secured an interview for the dream job that you've been working towards for the last few years. Problem is, you don't really know what to expect or how to prepare yourself for the interview.

Many people think that job interviews are high-pressure situations where a single slip-up can ruin one's chance of success, but with the right preparation, you will be ready for whatever is thrown your way. So don't panic - Hyper Recruitment Solutions are here to help!

Follow our essential graduate interview tips to give yourself the best possible chance of impressing the interviewer and getting the job you want.

Research

  • Learn about the company's history and the work they've done in the past.

  • Find out what the company's goals and values are.

  • Ensure that you understand the role you're applying for (including responsibilities and requirements).

Rehearsing

  • Decide which of your skills and qualities you would like to highlight to the interviewer, and make sure you can prove that you have them (e.g. by mentioning achievements and experiences where you demonstrated those qualities).

  • Find a list of commonly-asked interview questions and write out your own answers in advance.

  • Get someone to ask you questions that you haven't specifically prepared for - this will practice your ability to improvise and bring every answer back to your key skills and qualities.

Appearance

  • Dress smartly and appropriately for the job. If you're struggling to pick an outfit, read our What to Wear guide.

  • Make sure that your clothes are washed, dried and ironed prior to the interview.

  • Ensure that your hair is neat and tidy - get a haircut if necessary.

  • Do not wear excessive make-up or accessories.

Travel

  • Find out where and when the interview will be held.

  • Plan your route and method of travel (walking, driving, or public transport).

  • Set off early and allow plenty of time for delays/traffic.

  • Stay dry! Take a coat and/or umbrella just in case it rains.

Miscellaneous

  • Take an extra copy of your CV so you have the same information in front of you as the interviewer.

  • If necessary, prepare a copy of your certifications and/or examples of past work.

  • Make sure you can provide strong references on request.

We hope these tips will help to put your mind at ease and bring you one step closer to the job of your dreams! If you have any questions or queries regarding your interview, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the HRS team - one of our advisors will be more than happy to help. Good luck!

Further Reading: Why Didn't I Get the Job?

Science Job Interview

Job interviews are a nerve-wracking process. No matter how confident you are in your ability to do the job you're applying for, there is always a sense of pressure when you're trying to persuade an employer that you're worth hiring. This can be particularly gruelling in the science industry because of the high competition and technical knowledge required.

However, as with all interviews, there are a few things that can help you to feel better prepared for your science job interview. Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we link talented and passionate individuals with the latest opportunities in the science sector, but we can also help to prepare you for the process.

With that said, here's some advice on how to impress during a science job interview:

Research the job

The most important part of preparing for any job interview is research. Before you walk into that room, you should have a good idea of who your potential employers are and what the job entails.

Go back over the job listing and go online to learn more about the company. If it's on their website, it's definitely something you should know.

Before you go to the interview, find out:

  • What does the company do?
  • When was it established? How did it get to where it is?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • What are the company values?

You should also think about why you specifically want to work for this company. The interviewer(s) will want to know this as well.

Prepare for the questions they're likely to ask

We specified 'science' on purpose here. In most if not all science job interviews, the employer will want to know what kind of knowledge you have about the field in which you're hoping to work. You should be prepared to answer questions about the industry, research you have carried out or been involved in, and what you expect to do within this role.

Employers want workers who are passionate about what they do, so be sure to sell yourself as someone with a high interest in both the role and the industry at large.

Of course, you should also prepare for the all the standard interview questions that we've all come to dread. Take a look at our list of the most common interview questions and make sure you're prepared to answer each one. The key is to come up with unique answers that make you stand out from other applicants - just make sure this is in a positive way!

Dress to impress

Although your appearance is not what will ultimately determine whether or not you get the job, it is important to try and make a professional first impression. Showing that you've made an effort to look the part at an interview is always a positive thing, and dressing sharp can also give you a big confidence boost!

A nice outfit won't get you the job by itself, but dressing poorly for an interview could well ensure that you don't get the job. We all judge people on how they look, but worse still, your potential employer may take sloppy presentation as sign of how little you care about impressing them. If you're unsure of how to dress, read our job interview dress code advice here.

Plan ahead

You can only prepare so much, and of course you can't control everything. Nevertheless, it's worth planning ahead to give yourself your best possible chance of success; this should, in turn, calm your nerves down a bit.

Planning your journey to the job interview is a particularly important step. You should plan to be early (but not too early); take traffic into account, and if something does go wrong, be prepared to call and explain that you may be late. Hopefully, you've taken this possibility into account so that you will never be too late for your science job interview.

if you have any other questions about how to prepare for an interview, we would be more than happy to help. Contact us today so we can help get you prepared!


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. People often struggle to think of questions to ask in an interview, particularly when you're put on the spot and haven't prepared. 

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.

Luckily for you, we have a variety of unique job interview questions to ask that are bound to make you stand out from the crowd. So, 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 when asking this question in your job interview. 

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 - asking this interview question both reflects well on you, and is informative in your own understanding of the job. 

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 always good practice to read up on the organisation you are seeking to join as much as possible prior to the interview (as well as wising up on the industry rivals and what they are doing). Knowing this information will enable you to ask this informed question in your job interview, thus marking yourself out as having a real interest and understanding of the department, company and wider industry.

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 to ask in a job interview as it allows you to direct 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 all helps you to make a great final impression. 

We hope our unique tips on job interview questions to ask have helped build your confidence prior to your interview. Join us here at the leading science recruitment agency Hyper Recruitment Solutions, and you can continue to 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/

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