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.   


In today's highly competitive jobs market, it's common for employers to have many highly suitable candidates for just one or two positions. This naturally raises the question of how they can better separate candidates, to which one of the most obvious answers is to ask more challenging interview questions.

As there's no substitute for preparation for your own next interview, here are 10 of the most difficult questions that you may be asked, and how you may best answer them.

1. Can you tell me something about yourself?

This is a question where it is so easy to slide into endless irrelevant talk about where you were born, your parents, childhood, family, personal likes and dislikes and so on. Instead, pick out brief examples of your personal and professional experiences that make you suitable for the position - or even have a 'lift pitch' ready to deliver.

2. Why do you think you would be successful in this job?

Don't just wander into general boasting about how brilliant you are - remember that this is a very specific question about what makes you suitable for this job, as opposed to others. Match your strengths to the characteristics that are outlined in the job description and person specification.

3. Why are you leaving your present job?

Like many questions that you may be asked by those conducting recruitment campaigns, this isn't too tough a question if you prepare well. Talk about the personal and professional growth opportunities, challenge or excitement of taking on this position, rather than whinging about your present or last employer.

4. Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?

There are two big risks with this question - criticising a past employer or incriminating yourself in relation to that bad experience. 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 a way of demonstrating your potential now.

5. What are your most and least favourite aspects of your present job?

Be more specific than just citing "a nice atmosphere" - something that relates to the position, such as your enjoyment of teamwork, is ideal. As for least favourite aspects... try to make it something as far away as possible from the responsibilities that you would have in this particular job, and make sure the answer illustrates either good performance or an ability to learn. 

6. Give me an example of when you handled a major crisis

Many candidates are thrown by just how dramatic this question sounds, so feel free to reframe it as "Give an example of when you coped with a difficult situation". Look back through your personal, professional and educational life and think of situations where you successfully dealt with an unexpected problem.

7. Give me an example of a time when you showed initiative

A big danger here is of stumbling into describing an idea that you had that you didn't put into action. It is therefore better to describe an idea that you did act upon, where you solved a problem by yourself and can back it up with examples of the positive consequences that such action had.

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

Saying that you want to be running the company or in the interviewer's role isn't a very insightful answer. Talk instead about your motivations and your understanding of your likely career path in this particular organisation or industry - this being very much a question where you will be expected to have done your employer research.

9. What can you tell me about this company/industry?

It's obvious advice to say that this requires extensive prior research, but again, it's true. Look at the company website, its 'About Us' section and any other details about the company's history, objectives and values that you can find. Write down some key points to tell the interviewer that show you are interested in a job with this company, not just a job.

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

This shouldn't be your cue to just say "no". Take the opportunity to end the interview on a decisive and memorable note that banishes any lingering interviewer doubts. Prepare some questions in advance about the company's culture or even what the interviewer likes best about the company, to demonstrate that you are interviewing them, 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. 

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 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 interview, the latter also comes with certain distinctive challenges - so don't forget the below advice when faced with one.

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 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. 



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.  


Described by Claude Littner as an ‘Australian Ricky’ - but did he live up to the reputation? 

 

It’s been another entertaining series of The Apprentice this year and no doubt we were all on the edge of our seats watching Bianca Miller and Mark Wright battle it out in the final task. I am sure most of us would agree that both candidates deserved to be in the final.

After a grueling 12 weeks, Mark Wright was finally crowned as the 10th Apprentice winner. And it came as no surprise; Mark showed himself to be a worthy candidate throughout the process should be congratulated on his outstanding performance. 

I am really looking forward to seeing another Apprentice winner embarking on a career in ‘selling a service’ as opposed to a commercial product. Mark’s business idea involves digital marketing and search engine optimisation to help push small and medium sized businesses up online searches. I can appreciate Mark’s business aspirations in terms of providing a service to clients/customers as similarly, my business idea was to offer a service.  

Mark should be respected for what he has achieved. His desire to start up a new business in a very competitive market place in another country was an extremely brave decision. I can completely relate to how hard it is to start a business in a crowded market place. However sometimes, its challenges like these that drive you even further to achieving your goals. 

I absolutely love watching The Apprentice and it’s no secret that year was especially exciting for me. I could never have imagined that I would be sitting on the opposite of the desk as the interviewer – when only two years ago I was an interviewee! It was a surreal experience for me. Having been a candidate myself, I can really appreciate how gruelling and intense the interview experience must have been for the remaining five candidates. 

Advice for Mark 

Lord Sugar has not just invested in Mark’s business idea; he has invested in him as a person. Mark has showed some incredible attributes throughout the 12 week process. He came across as having the right ‘people skills’ that Lord Sugar is looking for. Lord Sugar invests time and money in people who show they can commit to making their ideas happen. And having interviewed him myself, it was clear he not only had relevant knowledge, skills and experience he genuinely had the passion and drive to succeed. For those reasons, I am confident he will be successful. 

Final thoughts 

I graduated as a Biochemist back in 2006 and this fuelled my passion for a career in the Life Science sector. I then spent over seven years working in the recruitment sector on behalf of the science community. I really enjoyed working in the recruitment industry, talking to clients and candidates from the science field supporting science jobs / careers. 

At that moment in my career, I felt I had reached a point where I had the relevant qualifications and experience to set up my own recruitment agency. Those who know me, know that science is a subject I am extremely passionate about. My goal was to set up my own recruitment scientific consultancy. So in 2012 I applied for the Apprentice. Wow! What a life changing experience that was.

Winning the Apprentice and receiving that all important £250 cash injection from Lord Sugar meant that my dream became a reality. I was able to finally set up my own company, Hyper Recruitment Solutions. Two years on my ambition to develop the landscape of science recruitment and make a positive impact to the Science & Life Sciences industries is a reality. It just shows that with hard work, commitment and dedication you can achieve your goals. 

The movement you hear the words “You’re hired” your life instantly changes. I wish Mark every success with his new company and welcome him to The Apprentice family! Oh and Mark - don’t forget to think about HRS when you need to recruit for your future sales workforce - just give one of our friendly recruitment consultants a call and we will find the right people for you ;)

My advice to anyone who is thinking about setting up a new business, is to never give up on your dreams, always follow your passions. If you fail the first, second or third time, don’t give up. Think positive and keep going.

So if you’ve been inspired to follow your business dream why not apply for next year’s Apprentice. Think you’ve got what it takes to be Lord Sugar’s next business partner? Apply now what have you got to lose? 

 



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