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).

Useful Links:


As much as we might all like to think that we are immaculately impartial when it matters – such as when we are leading a HR team recruiting for a position – the fact of the matter is that we are human and therefore as prone to bias, whether inadvertent or otherwise, as anyone else.

There have certainly been enough signs of that down the years. One controversial report cited a few years ago by The Telegraph, for instance, suggested some bias among recruitment agencies against black and ethnic minority candidates.

Meanwhile, a recent BBC Inside Out study found that a jobseeker with an English-sounding name was offered three times more interviews than a candidate with a Muslim name, despite the two CVs that were sent out detailing the same level of qualifications and experience.

So what are some of the forms of bias from which your own hiring team could be suffering?

1.       Confirmation bias

We’ve all probably had times when we’ve glossed over news articles containing facts that don’t comply with our political views, while remembering and agreeing with those that do.

Well, a similar thing happens in recruitment – you might have certain preconceived views about a candidate and seek out information in their CV and at interview to confirm those pre-existing beliefs, while discounting any information that goes against those beliefs.

2.       Overconfidence effect

This term refers to when a person’s subjective confidence in their judgements outweighs their objective accuracy. You may be overly confident, for example, that you always make the right hiring decision whenever you go by gut instinct.

This form of bias often originates from confirmation bias – you may remember when relying on your gut instinct led to a great hire, but not when it resulted in disaster.

3.      Similarity attraction effect

This is the tendency for people to look more favourably upon and seek out others who are similar to them. In the recruitment context, this may manifest in viewing candidates who have the same hobbies and interests as you or support the same football team more positively.

That might not be such a great problem if you’re drawn to people with a similarly strong work ethic to you. However, all too many hiring managers can be swayed by factors that have nothing to do with on-the-job performance.

4.      Halo effect

Do you presume that just because a given candidate is good in one way – for instance, is friendly and agreeable – they’ll also be good in other ways, such as in the sense of possessing the right technical skills for the role?

You may think you would never view candidates in such a way. However, many hiring managers fall into the trap of liking a candidate so much that they fail to carry out the required objective analysis of their job-related skills and abilities.

5.       Illusory correlation

If you’ve been asking those wacky interview questions that seemingly have nothing to do with the actual responsibilities of the role – such as “Show me 10 uses of a pencil” or “Which piece of fruit would you be?” – you might want to ask yourself whether you are suffering from illusory correlation bias.

This is the tendency to perceive a relationship between things – such as people, events or behaviours – even when such a relationship doesn’t exist. There is no evidence that ‘weird’ interview questions like the above, for instance, actually predict job performance.

How can such biases be eliminated?

Many ways have been tried of minimising bias in the recruitment process. Name blind CVs have become increasingly popular among certain big employers, while the use of video interviews in the early stages of screening can also help to offset discrimination by asking the same questions of every candidate.

Another way of helping to ensure that hiring decisions are not made due to personal or cultural bias is to keep a record of the reasons why candidates were rejected. This can be a good form of both internal and client feedback, and certain patterns in your HR analytics may show signs of bias.

It’s impossible to completely eliminate any trace of bias from your firm’s approach to hiring. Nonetheless, by bearing all of the above in mind, your company can maximise the likelihood of making the most impartial and informed decisions when seeking to fill its science jobs.

Why not click through to learn more about the varied recruitment solutions that we provide to our employer clients here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, including candidate screening?
How to Write a Job Description

The most recent Labour Market Outlook report issued by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) stated that the number of vacancies in the UK economy remains well above historical average levels, and this news should lead many science employers to consider whether they really are doing everything they can to inspire and attract candidates.

Your company’s approach to writing job descriptions is one key aspect that you may wish to examine. Writing a good job description is a very important part of any attempt to fill a vacancy, so how does one write a job description that the very best candidates will feel compelled to respond to?

Here are five top tips from the experts here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions:


1. Be clear and realistic about the role's responsibilities.

The most important part of a job description is the list of day-to-day tasks for which the successful candidate will assume responsibility. Don’t be vague when writing this list, but don’t try to cram too many duties in, either. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 8-12 key areas of responsibility.


2. Use an engaging tone.

Remember that the whole point of a job description - besides outlining the most basic details about the job - is to persuade someone to come and work for your organisation.

A dry and impersonal tone will cause candidates to lose interest before they have even finished reading the description. By placing the emphasis on where your company is going and what you can do for the candidate, you will make your description much more compelling.


3. Avoid discriminatory language.

Even when you don’t specifically intend to discriminate against anyone, the use of certain words and phrases in your job description can have that effect anyway, and this may restrict the range of candidates that apply for your vacancies. Bad news if you're trying to diversify your workforce!

As the GOV.UK website details, employers discriminate against candidates in a number of different ways, so you should take every measure to ensure that your job descriptions don’t prevent suitable candidates from applying for your vacancy.


4. Use terminology that candidates will understand.

Of course, if you’re advertising for a senior role in pharmacology, engineering, another specialised science sector like those that we serve here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, using certain industry-specific terms may be a good way to ensure that you only hear from qualified candidates.

However, if certain technologies or practices within your organisation are known by names that outsiders are unlikely to recognise, you could find yourself inadvertently deterring perfectly suitable candidates. Read your job description carefully and do your best to eliminate any confusing or ambiguous jargon.


5. Play it straight with the job title.

Required skills and day-to-day responsibilities should make up the ‘meat’ of your job description, but there are certain other basic elements that all job descriptions need if they are to be truly effective - and you need to get those elements right.

Consider the job title, for example. This definitely isn’t a part of your job description where you should be using any confusing or obscure terms. The job title should be something that all candidates will immediately understand; this will attract more interest, more, and of course more applications.


Are you an employer looking to bolster your science recruitment efforts? If so, visit the Hyper Recruitment Solutions website to find out how we can help you.

The productivity gap between the UK and other developed nations is undoubtedly one of the most troubling issues of our current economy.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has stated that UK workforces are 31% less productive than their US counterparts and 17% less productive than the rest of the G7 countries, despite the number of hours worked by Britons being similar to these other nations.

It is an issue that no organisation launching a science recruitment campaign should ignore - but what are five of the factors that are exerting the greatest influence on staff productivity?

1. Staff attitude

The people who you recruit to your organisation's science jobs need to have the right attitude, but all too often, employees do not enjoy their work and therefore spend more of their time watching the clock or thinking about the money than making a major contribution to their employers' fortunes.

Do your bit to improve employee attitudes by placing them in roles that play to their passions and strengths, in addition to formally recognising their achievements.

2. Ill health

Did you know that during 2014, sickness absence was an average of 2.8% of working time per annum, or 6.5 days per employee, costing employers an average of £16 billion?

Employee ill health is unquestionably a great drain on the productivity of UK workforces, with public sector organisations feeling the worst effects - a median of 3.5% of working time is lost due to sickness time in such organisations, compared to the 2.2% recorded for private sector firms.

3. Technology tools

It isn't just those organisations in more technical fields, such as information systems, that need to keep up to date with the latest technological developments that could benefit their employees' output.

Between 1995 and 2005, the IT revolution was found to be responsible for 0.6% of labour productivity growth and 1% of overall growth in Europe, the US and Japan, so you can rest assured that when your staffers are equipped with the right tools, they will get more done.

4. The 'higher ups'

Are you providing your workers with the supervision that they need to deliver the maximum productivity, not just answering their queries, but also encouraging, motivating and inspiring them, in addition to formally recognising and rewarding their achievements?

Unfortunately, all too many supervisors concentrate on the negative aspects of their employees' performances or don't keep promises to them, thereby eroding the respect that staff members have for them and therefore, their commitment to delivering the best work.

5. Downsizing and outsourcing

It may be tempting to save money by farming out more of your organisation's work to independent professionals or simply downsizing your company, but have you considered the effect that this has on existing staff members' morale?

If your current employees suspect that your firm is on a downward slide, their own focus can suffer as they contemplate their own position within the organisation and potential alternative career opportunities.

One of the most sure-fire employee productivity boosting measures will always be to simply recruit the best-suited individuals in the first place. Your organisation should therefore never underestimate the assistance that a leading science recruitment agency - such as Hyper Recruitment Solutions - can provide in your hunt for the best pharmaceutical, clinical and other science talent. 



If the term ‘research scientist’ sounds quite broad, that’s because it is – indeed, research scientists are active in almost every area of science. Nonetheless, whether you are interested in a career in geosciences, meteorology, pharmacology or something different altogether, it’s helpful to know something about what life as a research scientist generally involves.

Working in a lab is more exciting than it sounds

Before we go any further – yes, life as a research scientist very much lives up to the stereotype of being based almost entirely in a laboratory, although of course, that may be music to your ears rather than something to dread!

In any case, the range of employers of research scientists is extremely diverse, encompassing the likes of government laboratories, utilities providers, environmental agencies, pharmaceuticals companies, public funded research councils and specialist research organisations and consultancies.

Much the same can be said of the many responsibilities – as a research scientist, you could find yourself taking on tasks ranging from the planning and conducting of experiments and recording and analysing data, to the carrying out of fieldwork and the presentation of results to senior or other research staff.

What other aspects of the job do you need to know about?

If you are thinking of aiming for a career as a research scientist, it’s helpful to know what personal qualities and professional qualifications will serve you best in your quest. It should go without saying that research and analytical skills are vital, but you will also need to possess excellent communication and presentation skills and an ability to teach.

As for more formal qualifications, as outlined by the National Careers Service, a 2:1 degree in a relevant science subject is usually expected for entry. In practice, you will almost certainly need a relevant postgraduate qualification as well, such as a PhD or research-based MSc, particularly for permanent roles. Experience of working in a research setting could also aid your search for such science jobs.

Your life as a research scientist, i.e, working patterns, hours and environment will depend on the kind of employer for which you are employed as a research scientist. Those working in a university research department can usually expect a 35-hour, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday working week. If you work in industry, however, there may be a greater expectation that you fit in with shift patterns, such as in the evening, at the weekend or on public holidays.

Research scientists can look forward to good progression opportunities

There’s a good level of scope for career advancement as a research scientist. While salaries start at an average of about £14,000 a year, they can go up to as much as £60,000, such as if you progress from a scientist with research councils and institutes to senior research or laboratory management positions.

Research scientists in academic roles who are more experienced and have published original research often rise to the status of senior research fellow or professor, leading their own teams.

There’s a lot to learn about what life as a research scientist is like, as well as about how we can help you to effectively compete for science jobs. Get in touch with Hyper Recruitment Solutions today about the work that we do to assist talented graduates and professionals into rewarding science roles, or explore the National Careers Service’s guides to some of the most exciting related jobs in science and research

User Menu

Month List