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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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.

For more interview tips and application advice, like Hyper Recruitment Solutions on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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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New Year Fireworks

An article published on Buzzfeed last December offered a number of suggestions for job seekers hoping to land their 'dream role' in 2018. The tips were fairly wide-ranging, touching on everything from cleaning up your social media accounts to choosing the right interview clothes.

Even so, we believe that we at Hyper Recruitment Solutions can add a few extra tips to that list for 2019 - if you're serious about getting a new job in the new year, here are 5 more things that you should keep in mind:

1. Ask somebody else to read your CV.

Before you submit your CV to any potential employers, send it to a trusted friend or family member and ask them to give it a quick read-through.

Your proof-reader will hopefully catch any spelling / grammar mistakes that you failed to spot yourself, but more importantly, they'll be able to tell you whether or not the document is a fair representation of your abilities and experiences. They may think you're selling yourself short!

2. Tailor your CV to each job you apply for.

Once you've finished writing your CV, it's easy to just send exactly the same version to every prospective employer. But tweaking your CV each time you send it - tailoring it to the specific role you're applying for - can be a very worthwhile endeavour. You don't have to start from scratch every time you begin a new job application, but you should assess each job description and make sure that your CV is emphasising the right skills and focusing on the most relevant parts of your career history in each case.

3. Eliminate all filler from your cover letter.

When applying for certain jobs, you will be required to accompany your CV with a cover letter that explains why you're applying for the role in question (and what makes you a good fit for it). Your cover letter is a great opportunity to make a glowing first impression, but no matter what you decide to put in this document, it needs to be concise and to-the-point.

Once you've written your cover letter, read back over it and make sure that every single sentence has a reason to be there - if it doesn't add anything to the picture you're trying to paint, delete it! Employers won't enjoy reading a lot of pointless waffle that wastes their precious time, and a shorter, punchier cover letter will likely make more of an impact anyway.

4. Know how you're getting to the interview.

Showing up late for an interview is almost always a surefire way to not get the job. Once you've been told where you're being interviewed, take the time to plan your journey carefully:

  • Will you be walking, driving, or taking public transport?
  • What time will you need to set out in order to arrive on time?
  • Do you have an umbrella in case it rains on the day?
Planning is key if you want to be sure of arriving on time (and not looking too dishevelled when you get there!).

5. Didn't get the job? Ask for feedback.

Even an unsuccessful job application can be valuable if you're able to learn from it and do better next time. If a prospective employer tells you that you didn't get the job, thank them for their time and ask them if they would be willing to provide any feedback. For example:

  • Did your answers leave something to be desired?
  • Could you have dressed more appropriately for the interview?
  • Was it simply a question of experience?
You can't control every aspect of your job application, but constructive feedback can give you a better idea of what employers are looking for and how to present yourself in the best possible way.

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Data Analyst

There are lots of great roles available for talented data analysts in the UK, but as with just about any career, you'll only get the job if you ace the interview.

When applying for a job in data analysis, you can expect all the usual questions about your biggest weaknesses, where you see yourself in five years' time, etc. But you will also be asked some more specific questions that are unique to this particular field.

Every employer will ask different questions, of course, but here are 5 examples of the sort of question you can generally expect to hear:


In your own words, describe what a data analyst does.

This question may crop up if the employer wants to make sure you actually understand the role that's up for grabs. It can also give them a bit of insight into how you see yourself and what you'll prioritise if you get the job.

Try to go into a bit of detail here, as this will demonstrate that you have a firm grasp of the subject in question. A generic answer that only scratches this surface might make the interviewer suspect that you don't really know what you're talking about.


What software are you proficient with?

Obviously, the interviewer will want to make sure you're familiar with the programs that are necessary to the job. The job description probably specified certain requirements (e.g. 'knowledge of MySQL'), and hopefully, you wouldn't have applied for the job if you didn't meet them!

Of course, you should always be honest with your answers in a job interview, especially when it comes to questions like this. The interviewer will probably be able to tell if you're lying about your ability to use a particular type of software, and even if you manage to convince them, you'll soon be found out when you start work.


Explain how you'd solve this problem...

Data analysis is all about solving problems, and it's quite common for applicants to be given specific examples during a job interview. This will give the interviewer a chance to see you think on your feet.

The point of this exercise isn't to provide the solution right there and then, but to explain the process you would use to find it. You'll get extra points for creativity and clarity, so be sure to think carefully before you respond.


Tell us about a problem you failed to solve, or a deadline you failed to meet.

This is a twist on that old classic: 'tell me your biggest weakness'. Pretending that you've never, ever failed at anything is a bad idea - instead, you should try to talk about a disappointing experience that nevertheless taught you an important lesson. The right response is one that demonstrates your ability to learn from your mistakes while also showing that you're able to cope well with stress and setbacks.

Try to avoid blaming other people when responding to this question. The interviewer wants to know about your failings, not somebody else's, and shifting the blame can make you seem like someone who can't admit when it's their fault - not an attractive quality in a potential employee.


Why did you choose to become a data analyst?

Employers generally prefer to recruit people who are genuinely interested in their work - after all, we tend to try harder when the task is something we care about.

This question is an opportunity to give the interviewer a glimpse of your personality, and again, it tells them more about what the job means to you. Try not to focus too much on the money - instead, explain why you enjoy problem solving, working with data, and using numbers to tell stories and make decisions.

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