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. 
Whether a candidate is seeking a role in biochemistry, genetics, virology, pathology or any number of other science fields, the interview process is intimidating enough without them also having to worry about how their personality type 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 as an interview. However, by playing to their strengths and creating the right personal branding, introverts, too, can deliver standout interview performances that get them hired.

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 such steps the day before the interview as practising your answers to likely questions, organising 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, 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

Rather than worrying about how their personality could compromise them in interviews against the extroverted competition, introvert science job applicants are advised to take confidence in their interview style.

An introvert can 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.  

In a bid to connect employers and job hunters via Twitter the UK’s first Twitter Job Fair took place this week on Tuesday 24th February at the Twitter Headquarters in London - and I was lucky enough to be involved.  

The Twitter Job Fair 2015 initiative made careers-related advice and news accessible to Twitter users all over Europe. The concept was first launched last year in Germany and was very successful. This year the Twitter Job Fair was held several European countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands.

 

 

The UK’s Twitter Job Fair, worked with over 50 businesses in the UK including L’Oreal, John Lewis, GSK, Nestle and British Gas. These well recognised companies along with key careers spokespeople gave UK tweeters the opportunity to seek careers advice, find out about job vacancies, get job application/interview tips and ask careers-related questions using the dedicated #YourJob.

 

My thoughts

Confidence in the job market right now is higher than it has been pre recession. So with confidence in the market more employers are hiring and more people are switching jobs. The Twitter Job Fair was a great way to show people how to use tools readily available to maximise their chances to look for jobs and assess their future career. As somebody who runs a recruitment business and has been in extremely competitive application and interview processes, it was great to be able to share career tips, advice and my experience and knowledge of how businesses are using Twitter to recruit. There were some great questions!

 


What are the benefits of using Twitter?

  • Provides people with the opportunity to communicate directly with a wide range of companies and services for information
  • Allows people to engage with businesses and potential employees, and find out more
  • Smaller companies are able to reach new and varied potential employees that they wouldn’t normally have been able to communicate with through traditional channels (print, TV, radio)
  • A quick and simple way to share news and discuss shared passions with like-minded people
  • A great way to raise your business and personal profile and is the quickest way to get the message out about you or your company and it's absolutely FREE!

With more and more recruiters posting vacancies on a daily basis, Twitter users in the UK and across the world are embracing the digital platform as an alternative way of seeking employment. So if you haven’t already signed up, make sure you do! The process is very straightforward, all you need to create an account is an email address and a password, and you’re ready to go! Your dream job is probably being tweeted at this very moment. So what’s stopping you?

Don’t forget, if you’re looking for a science job, technology job or engineering job, make sure you visit our Twitter page @Hyperec_HRS  our recruiters are always busy posting the all the latest vacancies.

And just to prove using Twitter really can help with your career, our very own Marketing Officer found her job at here Hyper Recruitment Solutions through our Twitter page!

If you missed out here is the timeline from my Q&A session: https://twitter.com/TwitterUK/timelines/570277201275551744

 

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.

Next Round: The Interview Stage




With just two more episodes of The Apprentice to go, this year has proved to be yet another exciting series. It’s been an entertaining 10 weeks for everyone sitting watching at home, but let’s not forget this is actually a recruitment process. Next week will be the “interview” stage where the remaining five candidates will face the toughest round of the process. And speaking from experience, I know exactly how that feels. The interviews are real. The focus will be on CVs, application forms and business plans so in actual fact, it is no different to how candidates are hired in the real world. For the candidates this will be an important and crucial stage of the selection process.


I am especially looking forward to the interview stage this year. Why? I hear you asking. Well I am pleased to announce that I have been invited back by Lord Sugar to be part of the interview panel. Yes, that’s right I, alongside Claude Littner, Claudine Collins and Mike Soutar will be interviewing the five remaining candidates.

Why me? Apart from being a qualified recruitment professional who interviews people on a day to day basis, I’ve been involved in the hiring process across many of Lord Sugar’s companies, as well as for my own company, HRS. Moreover, having been a candidate on The Apprentice myself, I know exactly what it feels like to be grilled by the interviewers! And believe me, it’s tough. With this blend of experience I bring valuable expertise and a new dimension to this stage of the selection process and it is for these reasons I was asked to be on the panel as an interviewer by Lord Sugar.

 


The process began with a shortlist of 20 candidates however, only one will be announced at the winner of The Apprentice. That winner will received that all important £250,000 investment for a 50:50 business partnership with Lord Alan Sugar. For me it feels like it was yesterday. It’s still hard to believe that it’s been two years since I won The Apprentice. I have since set up my own specialist Science and Technology Recruitment Consultancy, Hyper Recruitment Solutions, which is continuing to go from strength to strength.  As part of our services at HRS, we personally support jobseekers with preparing for an interview and making the right impression. We also offer services to our clients in running assessment days and interviewing on their behalf to make the right selections for the behavioural and skills fit to their business. Something which I am proud to bring to The Apprentice this year.

The real life lesson here is that you never really know what the future will hold. You never know who you will end up working for or alongside. If someone had told me two years ago, that I’d be sitting on the opposite side of the table as one of the interviewers on The Apprentice I wouldn’t have believed them in a million years! How ironic, the people who once grilled me during the interviews are now my peers and next week I will share the panel with them!

So, reflecting on my experience my advice is, whoever you are meeting, speaking with or even being interviewed by, make sure you leave a long lasting and positive impression on them. Who knows one day the shoe may be on the other foot. Perhaps they will become your peers. I see it happening time and time again in the recruitment world. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so make sure you get it right, as who knows what will happen in the future?

After the interviews in next week’s episode, there will only be two candidates left in the process. I wonder who we will see battling it out in the final! I wish all the finalists the best of luck for the final stages of the process as things become more real than ever at this stage. I look forward to seeing the winner join Lord Sugar in another new business venture and helping them on their way.

The interview stage of The Apprentice airs on Wednesday 17th December at 9pm on BBC One. 



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