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.


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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?

Thumbs Up Thumbs Down

So you've applied for a job and secured an interview - congratulations! Now it's time to prepare for the interview process that will determine whether or not you actually get the job.

Though that may sound a little intimidating, if you can avoid these common job interview mistakes, it should all be plain sailing:

1) Forgetting to research the company

This mistake is the mark of an amateur interviewee. You know the job description off by heart, you know you're the perfect match for the role, but you don't know a thing about the company itself.

It may not matter to you what kind of organisation it is, but it'll matter to your employer. If you don't know the company values or their aim, how can they know whether you'll work to achieve their vision?

Be sure to conduct plenty of research prior to your interview. Learn about the company history, what they're working to achieve, and how you will fit into their team.

2) Not dressing appropriately

Even if your interview invitation said to dress casual, this does not mean wearing your favourite hoodie and torn jeans. Not making a good first impression may be a mistake that you cannot rectify no matter how well you actually perform in the interview.

Apparently, 6 minutes and 25 seconds is how long it takes for an interviewer to make up their mind about a candidate. So if you wear somewhat questionable clothing, you don't want the employer to spend those six minutes wondering about your dress sense instead of listening to your responses to their questions.

3) Failing to make yourself available during work hours

If you are in the process of leaving your current job, it can undoubtedly be difficult to find time for interviews. However, it's important to keep in mind that your potential new employer probably also works during usual office hours. Suggesting they stay late to interview you or do it on the weekend can be a major faux pas.

The best way to avoid this is to try and take your annual leave on the days you've been asked to an interview. If this is not possible, ask the potential employer if they would be happy to conduct a phone interview during your lunch break instead.

It's important to show your potential employer that you're willing to go out of your way for them.

4) Speaking negatively about a previous employer

Even if you didn't have the best time at your last company, a job interview is not the time to discuss this.

Though you may want to be honest when asked 'why are you leaving your current job?' or 'why did you leave your last job?', you should always try to stay positive. For example, if you left due to personal reasons, just say 'I did not feel like it was the right company for me' rather than airing your personal views.

5) Showing off

Yes, the employer wants to know about your experience but they don't need to hear that you single-handedly saved the company from almost certain doom. Egotistical remarks will do nothing but leave a bad taste in your interviewer's mouth. Remember, they already have a lot of information about you thanks to your CV.

If you did achieve something notable at your last job then by all means mention it, but only do so if it comes up naturally. Randomly interjecting a brag into a normal question is a job interview mistake that's best avoided.

To see more things that could put off a potential employer, check out this Buzzfeed article:

10 Things That Turn Employers Off

Are you looking for a new job? We specialise in recruitment here at HRS, specifically in science/technology sectors. View our latest vacancies here.

See also: 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!

New Year Fireworks

An article recently published on Buzzfeed offered a number of suggestions for job seekers who are hoping to land their 'dream role' in the new year. 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 the list - if you're serious about getting a new job in 2018, here are 5 more things that you should keep in mind:

1. Ask somebody else to read your CV.

Before you send your CV to any potential employers, give 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. It may just be that 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 point - 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 because you had to rush!).

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 improve your approach for 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. 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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