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.

What to Wear to a Job Interview

Job interviews are all about making a good first impression, and nothing makes or breaks a first impression like how you're dressed. When a potential employer invites you to an interview, you should immediately start thinking about what to wear - what is the right outfit for this interview?

To some extent, of course, the answer to that question will depend on what sort of job you're interviewing for, but it's always important to look neat and professional. Even if you're hoping to land a role at a trendy tech start-up where all the employees wear T-shirts and jeans, it pays to look smart for the interview.

With that in mind, here - courtesy of the team here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions - are some top tips to help you get dressed for that career-making job interview:

  • First of all, be prepared. Don't wait until the day of the interview to select your outfit (especially if you're indecisive - showing up late won't look good regardless of what you're wearing!). Pick your clothes a few days in advance, and get them out of wardrobe to check that they're clean and crease-free. Leave yourself plenty of time to do laundry and ironing, just in case.

  • Don't dress too outrageously. Novelty ties, plunging necklines, garishly bright colours...a good interview outfit avoids all of these things. You want the interviewer to remember you for your articulate and intelligent answers, not for your red polka-dot shirt or your skimpy dress.

  • Be moderate with make-up, jewellery and scents. A drop of cologne or a touch of make-up? No problem. But you're not going on a date or hitting the clubs - you're applying for a job, so there's no need to do yourself up too extravagantly.

  • You're not there to show off your fashion sense. By all means wear nice, modern-looking clothes - you don't want to look like you've stepped through a portal from the 1970s. But unless you're interviewing for a post at some glossy magazine, your clothes shouldn't be trying to persuade the interviewer of your smashing fashion sense. Make a good impression by looking tidy and together, not by dressing for the catwalk.

  • Check your hair. Like clothing, hair can have a very powerful impact on what people think when they meet you for the first time. Your hairdo should be as neat and tidy as your outfit, so spend a little time sorting it out before you set off for the interview (and don't be afraid to go for a trim if you need it).

  • It's better to be overdressed than underdressed. It's an enormously clichéd piece of advice to offer, but 'dress for the job you want, not the job you have' is a good saying to bear in mind when pondering what to wear to a job interview. Most employers will expect interviewees to look reasonably smart even if they allow their employees to dress casually, and if in doubt, it's always safer to dress formally. In the vast majority of cases, business attire will make a far better impression than the clothes you wear around the house.

If you need more interview preparation tips, be sure to visit our Interview Advice page!

Still looking for your dream job? Browse the latest science and technology vacancies here.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Telephone Interview

So you've just heard back from that job you applied for, and it's good news: they were impressed with your CV, and you've made it through to the interview stage. However, this won't be a traditional, face-to-face job interview - as it turns out, this particular employer prefers to do things over the phone.

You might be pleased to hear this at first. On paper, a telephone interview sounds quite a bit easier than the alternative: no need to get a haircut, no need to iron your interview suit, no need to worry about how you're going to get there on time. All you have to do is pick up the phone and have a conversation. Simple, right?

But being interviewed over the phone rather than meeting your potential employer in the flesh does have its disadvantages. For example...

  • The employer won't be able to connect with you in quite the same way as if you were right there in front of them. Facial expressions and body language are important when you're trying to get someone to warm to you, but you can't rely on them during a phone interview - instead, you're forced to present yourself well and get your points across using speech alone.

  • Similarly, you won't be able to use the interviewer's physical cues to assess how well (or not) the interview is going. It can be difficult to give a relaxed and confident performance when you don't know whether the person you're talking to is smiling or frowning.

  • Telephone interviews tend to be shorter and less in-depth than traditional job interviews, which leaves you with a significantly smaller window of opportunity. Less time means fewer chances to talk yourself up and persuade the interviewer of your suitability for the role.

  • While it can be nice to conduct a job interview from the comfort of your own living room, the home environment can be distracting and detrimental to the professional image you're trying to project. Many a remote interview has been interrupted by a child or pet wandering into the room at an inopportune moment, and even if you're home alone, there's still a chance that the doorbell will ring, or that you'll get sidetracked by one of the many other things vying for your attention.

By now, you should be beginning to realise that telephone interviews aren't necessarily the walk in the park that they may resemble at first glance. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, and we haven't even mentioned the fact that some people genuinely struggle to talk on the phone (even if they're perfectly outgoing and eloquent in person).

But don't despair - you can still ace your phone interview and land the job of your dreams without a hitch. To help you do so, here are five top telephone interview tips from the experts here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions:

1. Choose the right space.

Our phones go everywhere we go nowadays, which means that it's possible to take calls in the park, the car, the supermarket, and just about anywhere else you fancy. However, if at all possible, you should avoid conducting a job interview while on the go; instead, find a quiet, secluded room where you can be fairly certain you won't be interrupted. Try to choose somewhere with as few distractions and diversions as possible.

2. Focus on the task at hand.

Ideally, you shouldn't be doing anything else while you're being interviewed. You wouldn't doodle or surf the web or watch TV during a face-to-face job interview, so you should absolutely avoid those activities when on the phone. And don't eat anything during the call - it's impolite, and the person on the other end might have a hard time understanding you with your mouth full.

3. Make notes beforehand.

It never hurts to prepare. Keep your CV handy throughout the call (along with your cover letter, the company's details, and anything else that might prove useful) so that you can quickly refer to key information as necessary. Before the interview, you may also wish to draft answers to common questions so that you won't 'um' and 'ah' too much when you're in the hot seat. If you don't think it will be too much of a distraction, it might even be worth keeping a pen and some paper handy during the call itself so that you can make notes on the fly.

4. Don't speak too quickly.

During any sort of interview, it's easy to let your nerves get the better of you and speak too quickly to be understood. Before responding to each question, take a breath and remind yourself to answer slowly, steadily, and clearly. You'll come off a lot better for it, and the interviewer won't have to ask you to repeat yourself.

5. Be concise.

Just as it's important to try not to talk too fast, it's also important not to talk too much. Waffling on needlessly won't endear you to your potential employer - it's never fun to sit through a long, rambling answer, and it's even worse when you're on the phone and the physical cues we discussed earlier aren't present to make the monologue more engaging. If you really want to impress, answer each question in as few words as possible (while still making your point clear each time).

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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. 

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/