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?

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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!

How to prepare for a Job Interview

Now that you've been offered a job interview, it's time to buckle down and prepare for what's ahead.

Many people think they don't need to prepare for a job interview. It's tempting to believe that your qualifications alone will be enough to get you the job, or that the interview is just a way for the employer to get to know you. Though both of these statements are true to an extent, they are certainly not the whole story.

We at Hyper Recruitment Solutions have helped countless candidates to secure their dream jobs, so today we're going to share some of our best tips on how to prepare for a job interview.

The following tips should stand you in very good stead when the time comes to sit down with your potential employer.

Research the company

Researching your potential employer is one of the most important steps when preparing for a job interview. Hopefully, if you've applied for the job, you already know a little bit about the company anyway; nevertheless, read through the company's website, find out what they do, what their values are, their past projects, their future ambitions, and so forth.

The most important things to take note of are as follows:

  • How long has the company been around?
  • How did they get to where they are?
  • Who do they work with?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • What are their company values?
  • What do you like about the company?
This information will also help you to make sure that this is the company you want to be working for.

Google yourself

In much the same way as you've been researching the company, your potential employer will most likely conduct their own research on you. So try to think like the employer. What's the first thing they'll do when they want to find out more about a potential candidate? That's right: Google them!

Google your name and check what comes up. If your Facebook profile shows up, complete with lots of photos from drunken nights out, be sure to check your account's privacy settings. If some unsavoury images of you appear in Google Images, be sure to delete those pictures from the place where you uploaded them.

Likewise, be sure to delete any controversial posts that may have seemed like a funny joke at the time, but could potentially breach company policy if associated with you. You don't want your potential employer to get the wrong opinion of you!

Prepare for the interview questions

Most job interviews come with a standard set of questions. You know the ones: 'what are your weaknesses?', 'where do you see yourself in five years?', 'provide an example of when you lead a team'. A good way to prepare for a job interview is to write out your answers to these questions and revise. If you don't know the standard questions, you should read our blog post about common job interview questions.

A good tip when preparing for these questions is to try and think of unique answers. Your potential employer will most likely ask every candidate these questions, and may therefore have heard many of the same answers over and over again. Think hard about these questions and try to provide an answer that provides your interviewer with an insight into who you are (rather than just another cliché that tells them next to nothing).

Dress sharp

We are often told to not judge a book by its cover, but interviewers only have a limited time with each candidate, and first impressions are incredibly important.

Dressing smart for your job interview not only shows your potential employer that you really care about this job, it can also give you a confidence boost. If you feel like you suit the part and look good, you will feel more at ease during your interview. Confidence is an attractive quality in a situation that usually incites nerves, so prepare for your job interview by making yourself feel more confident.

For more advice on this front, read our blog post about what to wear to a job interview.

Prepare your journey

Our final tip on how to prepare for your job interview is to be on time (early, if possible!) to your interview. If you are late, this is a clear indicator to your potential employer that you don't care enough about the job that's up for grabs.

Plan ahead and prepare your journey. If the company is based somewhere that's not local to you, check your travel times and the traffic rigorously prior to the interview. If you think you may be late, be sure to call ahead and let them know why you will be late. After all, a traffic jam can be forgiven as long as you handle it professionally and reasonably.

Good luck! We hope our tips on how to prepare for a job interview have helped you. If you're still looking for your dream job, you can browse the latest science and technology jobs here.

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