The established wisdom in job interview preparation is that while dressing well will never overcome deficiencies in what you actually say in front of a prospective employer, it can nonetheless play a big role in projecting a more positive image of yourself.

Indeed, there have even been indications recently that the saying "the clothes make the man (or woman)" has more truth to it than many of us realise, a study cited in The Atlantic finding evidence that people's thought processes change when they wear a suit.

So, you might know the importance of dressing smartly when being interviewed for jobs - but what exactly does that entail?

How suitable 'interview wear' differs between the sexes

The basic rules of interview dress arguably don't change much whether you are a man or a woman - you are still best advised to wear something comfortable and that you actually feel confident in. It's a good idea to go for 'safer' colours like black, not using more than three colours across your entire outfit, while you should also pay attention to all of those 'small' aspects, such as shoes and socks.

Beyond these broad principles, if you are attending an interview for a role, whether it is in chemistry, pharmacology, immunology or a different scientific or technical field altogether, you will almost certainly be expected to dress more formally than the 'business casual' that can be prevalent in interviews for other job sectors.

What men might wear to a science job interview

A good rule of thumb is to dress one level more formal than would be expected in the day-to-day job. For men, that often means opting for darker, more sober colours, choosing cotton instead of linen on account of the latter's tendency to crease easily, and brown or black shoes - leather rather than suede.

Colours are an important consideration for men, which at the most basic level, means avoiding distracting or garish ties and socks. Also give thought to colour combinations and coordination - while blue can be made to work with brown, the same cannot be said of black and brown.

Some good dress pointers for women

Suits aren't merely timeless - they also effortlessly cross gender lines. Further down one's outfit is a different story, with women needing to choose between trousers and a skirt. If opting for the latter, the distance between the hemline and the knee should not exceed the length of one biro.

Women, like men, are advised to wear darker colours like black, navy or brown, although a lighter, plainer colour can be a good choice in the summer. Scarfs can also be a source of brighter colour, but patterns anywhere are generally a no-no. Any blouse is best plain, and heels should not be too high.

While many would reasonably argue that there are no hard-and-fast rules governing what to wear to an interview with a recruitment agency, the above should nonetheless constitute sound guidelines for the many of us who consider the thorny issue of interview wear almost as intimidating as the interview itself.   

Tough interview questions

In today's highly competitive job market, it's common for employers to interview many highly suitable candidates when there are only one or two positions available. This naturally raises the question of how interviewers can better separate the candidates, to which one of the most obvious answers is to ask more challenging interview questions.

If you're preparing for a job interview and you're worried about some of the more difficult questions that the interviewer might ask, we at Hyper Recruitment Solutions can help. Here are 10 tough job interview questions and how to answer them:

'Can you tell me something about yourself?'

Why it's a tough question: When asked this question, it's easy to slide into endless irrelevant talk about where you were born, your parents, your childhood, your family, your personal likes and dislikes, and so on.

How to answer it: Instead of telling the interviewer your life story, give brief examples of personal and professional experiences that make you suitable for the position. You may even want to have a 'lift pitch' prepared.

'Why do you think you should get this job?'

Why it's a tough question: When asked this one, many candidates fall into the trap of just boasting about how great they are in general, instead of focusing on things that are relevant to the role that's up for grabs.

How to answer it: Remember that this is a very specific question about what makes you suitable for this job, not for the world of work in general. Match your strengths to the characteristics outlined in the job description and person specification.

'Why are you leaving your present job?'

Why it's a tough question: Like many questions that you may be asked by those conducting recruitment campaigns, this actually isn't too tough a question if you prepare well. However, if you complain too much about your current boss or workplace, you risk coming off as a negative person, which will lose you points.

How to answer it: Talk about the personal and professional growth opportunities or the challenge and excitement of taking on this position, rather than whinging about your present or previous employer.

'Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?'

Why it's a tough question: There are two big risks with this question: criticising a past employer (which, as noted above, can reflect badly on you), and incriminating yourself in relation to the bad experience.

How to answer it: Instead of complaining or laying blame, focus on how you grew as a result of this experience, or the positive qualities you demonstrated while dealing with it. If you can't truthfully say that you have never had a bad experience with an employer, at least describe a difficult situation that you emerged stronger from as evidence of your potential now.

'What are your favourite and least favourite aspects of your present job?'

Why it's a tough question: Again, moaning about your current job is not a good look in an interview, and even when describing the parts you like, it's possible to convey the wrong impression - if the only thing you like about your current role is the money, or eating cake on people's birthdays, then you may come off as somewhat unenthusiastic. An overly vague or general answer, meanwhile, might make it seem like you're damning your employer with faint praise.

How to answer it: Be more specific than just citing 'a nice atmosphere'. Something that relates to the position itself, such as your enjoyment of working in a team, is ideal. As for your 'least favourite' aspect...try to make it something as far away as possible from the responsibilities that you would have in this new job, and make sure the answer illustrates either good performance or an ability to learn.

'Give an example of when you handled a major crisis.'

Why it's a tough question: Many candidates are thrown by just how dramatic this question sounds, so you may want to reframe it as something more like 'Give an example of when you coped with a difficult situation.'

How to answer it: Look back through your personal, professional and educational life and think of situations where you successfully dealt with unexpected problems.

'Give an example of a time when you showed initiative.'

Why it's a tough question: A big danger here is that you'll stumble into describing an idea that you had but didn't put into action.

How to answer it: Describe an idea that you did act upon, or an occasion where you solved a problem by yourself. Then back this up with examples of the positive consequences that your actions had.

'Where do you expect to be in five years' time?'

Why it's a tough question: It's far too easy to give a glib response to this question that isn't actually very insightful. For instance, saying that you want to be running the company or sitting in the interviewer's chair five years from now.

How to answer it: Talk instead about your motivations and your understanding of your likely career path in this particular organisation or industry. This is very much a question where you will be expected to have done your employer research.

'What can you tell me about this company / industry?'

Why it's a tough question: Obviously, this question requires some prior research. However, it shouldn't be difficult at all as long as you've taken the time before the interview to do some reading.

How to prepare for it: Look at the company website, especially its 'About Us' section and any other details you can find regarding the company's history, objectives and values. Write down some key points to mention - points that will show the interviewer you are interested not just in a job but in a job with this company.

'Do you have any questions or anything else you would like to add?'

Why it's a tough question: You've almost reached the end of the job interview, and it's tempting at this point to just say 'no', shake hands and leave. But this is an opportunity to ensure that you stick in the interviewer's mind as a strong, memorable candidate, and it shouldn't be wasted.

How to answer it: Take the opportunity to end the interview on a decisive and memorable note that banishes any lingering doubts in the interviewer's mind. Prepare some questions in advance about the company's culture, or even what the interviewer likes best about the company. Try to demonstrate that you are interviewing them as well, rather than merely being interviewed by them.

Don't be yet another candidate who thinks they're good enough to 'wing it'. By thoroughly preparing in advance with answers for questions like the above, you will be able to gain a decisive advantage in the race for many of the most desirable jobs.

Browse and apply for science jobs with Hyper Recruitment Solutions >

virtual interview tips

One of the biggest changes in the world of science recruitment in recent years - indeed, in any recruitment field - has been the rise of the virtual job interview.

Virtual interviews can be defined as "any form of interview that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as email, discussion board, real-time chat or video chat system such as Skype."

While many of the usual principles of how to handle a job interview also apply for a virtual job interview, the latter also comes with certain distinctive challenges - so don't forget the below advice when faced with one. Here are some virtual job interview tips for you to consider:

Get comfortable with the technology

Particularly when you are being interviewed for more technical science jobs, it is important to get the associated technology in order and not appear overawed or intimidated by it - any attempted small-talk about how weird it is to be interviewed 'virtually' is likely to create the wrong impression.

If technical issues do occur - as can happen with even the best preparation - respond in a professional way, asking the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary and politely asking if you can disconnect and reconnect if the problem is persistent.

Also keep signalling acknowledgement - such as by saying "yes" or "hmm" or nodding the head - so that the interviewer is in no doubt that you can hear them.

Project the most professional impression

There are so many issues of professional presentation or lack thereof that can arise in a virtual interview if you do not thoroughly and suitably prepare.

Dress remains as important in a virtual interview as it does in a face-to-face one. Indeed, with one recent study suggesting that simply wearing a suit affects the way you think, it is advisable to dress smartly even for a phone interview.

Other presentation issues that can arise during a virtual job interview include your cat walking into the shot, unmade bedding in the background, harsh lighting or an unflattering camera angle - again, all problems that need to be ironed out in the preparation rather than during the interview itself.

Be sure to adopt the right interview manner

In all of your anxiety to project the desired impression of a competent candidate, it can be easy to forget such apparent basics as actually looking into the camera rather than your image on the screen, keeping a straight posture and being subtle in reference to any notes that you have placed nearby to aid you.

Remember, too, not to over-rehearse - in a virtual interview as much as in a 'real' one, a natural manner can go a long way to making you a more engaging interviewee.

There are so many other important things to keep in mind when being interviewed 'virtually', from choosing a professional username if this is required for any videoconferencing technology you use, to keeping a printout of your CV and other key documentation nearby.

If there's one thing that definitely applies to virtual interviews as much as it does to 'normal' in-person interviews, it is the great importance of preparation - so never underestimate it if you are called to such an interview by a recruitment agency. 

We hope these virtual job interview tips help you but if there is anything else you are unsure of, feel free to contact us today



It hopefully won't have passed your notice that here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we don't merely provide services to candidates! Indeed, it is a natural part of our work in matching science jobs to those seeking vacancies in such fields as pharmacology, biochemistry and molecular biology that we also work very closely with organisations in need of talent in these categories.

Your business or organisation doubtless needs to get the New Year off to the best possible start, so here's how you can do just that by investing in the best talent in partnership with a leading science recruitment agency like Hyper Recruitment Solutions.

The most suitable candidate will bring long-term value

Let's imagine that you have found a candidate who seems to be making all of the right noises. They have great qualifications, their CV shows a lot of relevant experience and they appear to be a friendly, curious and determined 'team player'. Why is it so important to hire someone with the right attributes?

There is, of course, the financial aspect to consider - a hire who turns out to be unsuitable could cost your business many thousands of pounds to replace. This can in itself hold back your organisation from achieving its 2016 goals, particularly if you are a small firm and margins are tight already.

Mostly, however, the value of the best candidate is in how they can actively power your organisation forward, for month after month and year after year. Whoever you hire now will effectively be the face of your business in 2016 - so not only do they need to have the right skills and experiences, but they should also truly believe in your science organisation's mission, values and work.

Fuel your company's growth with the right hire

The graduate or new starter that you hire now may be occupying a senior position at your organisation in years to come. With their fresh perspective, energy and ideas, they can be instrumental as ambassadors for your business, helping you to create an effective 'employer brand' that will attract even more of the right people.

Don't forget that investing in the right people isn't just about finding and hiring those people - it's also about treating and training them well to minimise the likelihood of them ever wanting to leave your company. Studies have shown that employers that train their employees are three times less likely to lose them than those that don't.

Do you have exciting new science jobs to fill? Contact Hyper Recruitment Solutions right now about our acclaimed and highly compliant science recruitment solutions, so that your company takes on only the best talent in the New Year.  


Become more employable

The beginning of a new year is supposed to see people living up to their resolutions and dropping bad habits in favour of far more productive ones. In reality, of course, most of us end up doing more or less the same things as we did the year before.

But there's no reason for you to be the same! Become more employable and nab one of the best science jobs this year with these 10 tips from Hyper Recruitment Solutions:

1. Revamp your CV

Does your CV quickly make clear why no employer should ignore you? Is it well-structured, readable and free of mistakes? Do you adapt it to each new position that you apply for? Make sure the answer to all three of these questions is a resounding 'yes!'

2. Undertake further training

That molecular biology job you've got your eye on may be more attainable with an additional qualification. Even if you don't need a specific formal qualification to get the role you want, there might be other useful skills that you can learn in order to boost your employability. 

3. Improve your interview technique

Many candidates have a sparkling CV, but can't articulate in person what makes them such a great catch. Avoid this problem by rehearsing answers to common interview questions and developing your lift pitch - this will ensure that you're prepared to really impress your potential employer. 

4. Determine what you are worth

Assess what value you actually have to an employer on the basis of your current skills, attributes and experience. Learn to confidently 'sell' yourself during interviews, and remembering that you're interviewing the employer as well!

5. Brush up on your leadership skills

Great leadership isn't just about managing a team - it's also about being able to manage yourself. Can you work well independently without the need to be micro-managed? Are you able to show initiative when working?

6. Build your online presence

Your profile on the web can both assist and damage your chances with employers, who will often Google the names of candidates before offering them a job. Make sure your own net presence is a help rather than a hindrance - see our social media clean-up tips for assistance.

7. Change your attitude

It's especially easy for those who have been unemployed for a while to think they'll never find another good job. Unfortunately, this lack of confidence does not go unnoticed by employers, and it can therefore become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Think positive, and this will come through in your applications and interviews.

8. Show flexibility

You may desire a certain salary and hours, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get it. Keep an open mind: even a less-than-ideal role may turn out to be the perfect stepping stone to your dream job.

9. Request feedback from others

What do your current employers and/or colleagues think of your current performance? Ask them about your best and worst attributes - what are your strengths right now, and in which areas could you improve?

10. Keep busy!

Don't be that jobseeker who simply watches TV all day - you should be searching hard for jobs and other opportunities that will make you more employable. Hunting out that dream role is a full-time job in itself!

If you're looking for a job in science or technology, be sure to register with Hyper Recruitment Solutions to get the latest science job listings and further advice on how to be more employable.

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