Job interview questions and answers

So you've secured a job interview - congrats! The next step is to start preparing for the interview questions that you might be asked.

As you may already know, there are a number of typical questions and answers that come up at every interview. Today we're going to look at what these could be and the best way to answer them.

'Tell me about yourself.'

While this may seem like the easiest interview question to answer, if you're caught off-guard it can actually be one of the most difficult. What exactly do employers want to hear when they ask this question? Is it your academic history, your ambitions, your reasons for applying?

A little bit of each topic is perhaps the best way to answer this interview question. Be sure to detail previous academic history, ambitions, and reasons for applying that make you a great fit for the job. Make sure you don't ramble, though, and make sure all of the information is relevant. The employer is trying to understand who you are as a person and how you would fit into the company.

'Why should we hire you?'

You'll find that you get asked this question in most job interviews, so it's an important one to prepare an answer for. Though it may seem like a rather difficult question to answer, the employer is actually just trying to see how you have thought of yourself in relation to the company.

It's valuable to know how your skills suit the job role, but remember, the employer wants to know how you fit into their company specifically. So when it comes to answering this question, be sure to include details of how your skills suit the job role and how you, personally, suit the company.

This interview question gives you a great opportunity to stand out, so make sure your answer is both memorable and concise. For further advice and information on how to best answer this question, read our blog here.

'What do you know about this company?'

This may seem like a bit of a vain interview question from the company's side, but yet again, it's a very important part of many job interviews. Most companies are proud of their history, culture, and ambitions, and they will want to know you value the same things.

To prepare for this interview question, be sure to do extensive research on the company. Look up important things like:

  • When they started
  • Their biggest projects to date
  • Research they've conducted (if applicable)
  • The company's values and brand identity
Not only will these things help you to answer the question, they'll also help you decide if this is actually a job you want.

'Why did you leave your last job?'

This, understandably, is a very common interview question. Most employers want to know what led to you leaving your last company as it will help them to understand what you look for in a job. Honesty is always the best policy, but if (for instance) you had to resign from your last job because you had a falling out with your boss, be tactful about how you word this.

Here's an example: instead of saying 'I left because I hated my last manager', you could say 'I left my job because the company culture didn't feel like a good fit for me'. It's best to always be reasonably respectful of your previous company - you don't want the interviewer to think you'll end up bad-mouthing their company down the line.

'What's your greatest achievement?'

Compared to some of the other questions we've covered today, this is a much nicer one to prepare for. The best way to prepare for this question is to think back through all the things you're proud of. It's best to think of professional achievements, but you can use more general life events too as long as they reflect your suitability for the job.

You can use any awards you've won, successes with clients, big breakthroughs, or even the grade you received at university. You could even use the birth of your child or your marriage if you think this is relevant to the role; for example, if becoming a parent has made you more conscientious, or planning your wedding made you more organised, these are unique answers that will stand out in an employer's mind.

We hope these common interview questions and answers have helped you prepare for your upcoming interview! If you're still looking for jobs, click here to browse the latest science jobs from HRS.

Job Interview Tips

You probably don’t need our science recruitment experts here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions to tell you that the job market can be an extremely competitive one.

A survey last year reported by Business Insider, pretty much confirmed what so many of those seeking the most attractive and lucrative science jobs already knew when they reported that UK job seekers have to apply for 27 positions on average just to land one interview.

So, if you are fortunate enough to be invited to interview, here are six job interview tips to maximise your chances of success.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare

Yes, you might have heard this job interview tip often, but it can’t be emphasised often enough. Thorough preparation for an interview is very much the bedrock for success.for success.

As a guideline, most candidates have a tendency to spend just a few hours preparing for their interview, so we would advise you to spend much more time than that. After all, you need to be spellbindingly good to truly impress the recruiter, not just adequate.


  • Get accustomed to 20th-century technology

There are so many examples of cutting-edge (and maybe slightly less than cutting-edge) technology in today’s recruitment landscape that are not exactly going to just go away. Therefore, this is a job interview tip that should be kept in mind for those who do not get along with technology. 

Increasing numbers of companies, for instance, now like to conduct video interviews before meeting with you in person.

So, you should take the time to ensure you are comfortable with whatever technology is used and don’t make any amateurish mistakes that will make a bad impression – such as positioning yourself at an unflattering angle to the camera or neglecting to ensure the lighting and sound are top-notch.  


  • Make sure you have a clear value proposition 

Remember that the interview is ultimately about selling yourself to the recruiter or employer, so you will need to – at the very least – have an extremely clear value proposition to make them truly interested in you.  

To do that, you will need to communicate not only what it is you do, but also who you serve, or who your customers or clients are.

You should also be able to convey what value those customers or clients perceive in your services and what you can offer that isn’t available to those customers or clients anywhere else.  


  • Ask strategic questions

While it’s obviously crucial to provide convincing answers to the questions you are asked, it’s equally important to have interesting questions of your own to ask.

A job interview tip to follow is to ask strategic questions designed to bring you closer to being presented with a job offer, rather than basic tactical questions – such as how to do certain things – that can plant doubt in the mind of the interviewer.


  • Pay attention to your image

Your interviewer is a human being, and like any human being, they tend to remember images rather more easily than words or text. Think back to the last movie you watched – is it the images that you recall most from it, or the actors’ lines?

It’s therefore important to make sure you present the most positive image to the interviewer as soon as you arrive. Are you wearing appropriate clothing? Is your posture good? Are you smiling, or gloomy? 

If you’re struggling for ideas of decent questions to ask, this article from The Guardian on the best 10 questions to ask in job interviews may give you some timely inspiration. 


  • Be oriented towards the future, not the past

It’s all too easy during a job interview to become buried in your past achievements and qualifications. When it comes down to it, what are you going to do for this employer in the coming weeks and months after they take you on?

The future is almost certainly what the recruiter or employer will be mostly thinking about, so it’s what you should be mostly thinking about as a candidate as well.

Would you like to benefit from more advice and guidance like this in your quest for a rewarding new science job? If so, don’t hesitate to familiarise yourself with the HRS Candidate Commitment before getting in touch with our team to learn more about what we have to offer. 


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 questions you should ask in the interview 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 advice on what questions you can ask in an interview has helped to 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/

Tough interview questions

In today's highly competitive job market, it's common for employers to interview lots of 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 might come up, we at Hyper Recruitment Solutions can help. Here are 10 tough 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 fall into the trap of blathering about where you were born, your parents, your childhood, your family, your personal likes and dislikes, and other details that aren't relevant to your career.

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 simply boast 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: 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 or serial moaner, 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. Focus on positives, not negatives!

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

Why it's a tough question: There are two possible pitfalls 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.

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