Today’s candidates for science jobs in such fields as pharmacology, biotechnology and medical devices are generally savvy and understand the need to prepare well for an interview, including by researching their prospective employer.

The latter is vital not just for giving applicants a sense of what kind of company they could soon be working for, but also for helping them to confirm that this is definitely an organisation for which they would like to work.

After all, past research has indicated that 42% of workers are motivated by how well they get on with their colleagues, and 22% by how their manager treats them.

However, with even the most disreputable firms able to make themselves look good these days by having an impressive website designed complete with engaging written copy, the interview may be the first time you come into contact with your potential employer as they truly are.

In that case, what are the things that you need to look out for?

The premises

As you approach the site of your interview, you should consider the surroundings. Is the company’s office located in a decent area? Is the building itself well-maintained and presentable? What about the inside of the premises – are the bathrooms clean and is there somewhere to take a break at lunchtime?

Remember that you may well spend more of your waking hours at work than anywhere else, so it needs to be the kind of place where you can imagine yourself working comfortably for long hours.

The people

As you will need to do this anyway if you secure a role with this firm, it’s a good idea to talk to as many people as possible on the premises before you are called into the interview room, as this will give you a clue of the atmosphere there.

You should ask yourself whether the receptionist seems friendly, for example, or whether they seem overly busy, stressed out and inconvenienced by you being there. Look, too, at how other employees on site are interacting with each other – do these seem like people that you could work alongside for hour after hour?

The interview

How you present yourself at the interview is obviously vital, which is why we have previously blogged on such subjects as what your body language says during an interview. However, you shouldn’t become so focused on this that you fail to evaluate your potential employer.

You can gain a lot of clues about the company’s management culture by observing how the interviewer behaves. Did they turn up on time and seem relaxed, prepared and interested in you and your answers? Or did they leave you waiting and appear to be stressed and overwhelmed when they did finally arrive?

While you might not be working directly with this person if you do get the job, they are likely to be representative of the company’s broader culture, so any warning signs should be noted.

With as many as nine in 10 people expressing regret about rushing their career choice, it really is crucial to take the time at this stage to carefully consider your prospective employer’s merits. The interview may be the only time you directly interact with the company that could be your employer for many years to come, so you should be vigilant in keeping an eye out for good and bad signs alike. 

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