Interview Advice & Questions

A job interview can occur in a range of different ways and knowing exactly what the format of your interview will be, prior to it taking place, is absolutely vital to your chances of success. Interviews can be face to face, over the telephone, in the form of an assessment day or maybe even online in the form of testing / presentation. Whether you are going to your first ever interview, or you are a seasoned professional, the different methods of interviewing are constantly evolving. So making sure you know how it is done and preparing accordingly cannot be under-estimated. Even a discussion with a recruitment consultant can form the first stage of a potential interview process!
Science jobs interview advice

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One cannot be too prepared when it comes to an interview and some of our top words of advice can be seen below:
  • Know the interview format before it takes place. Speak to your recruitment agency who can tell you what to expect, when to expect it and what the potential pitfalls may be.
  • Dress smartly with a clean and crease free suit / dress, shirt and polished shoes. How you present yourself may be the way the interviewer will feel you will represent their business.
  • Engage with the interviewer as soon as you arrive with obvious eye contact, a welcoming smile and a professional handshake. First impressions go a long way.
  • Prepare questions to ask on the business, the job and the working environment. Showing an all round interest will help the client to feel your enthusiasm / commitment.
  • If you do not fully understand a question, or you misheard it, do not be afraid to ask for the question again. The worst thing you can do is guess what was asked.
  • Make sure you answer the question you are being asked and not what you think they want to know about you. By doing this it may raise concerns on your levels of communication or even to your expertise in the subject they were questioning.

Typical Interview Questions

These also can vary from client to client and will depend on whether or not the interview is based on specific skills / abilities, competency focused, requirement based or personality profiling. Your recruitment consultant can advise as to what to prepare for, they can provide typical example questions, and they can help to coach you through your interview preparations. Some typical interview questions are as follows:
  • What do you know about our business?
  • Why would you want to work for our business?
  • Where and what research have you done to find out about our company / current projects?
  • What do you think our company / job can offer you differently to your current one?
  • Why are you looking to leave your current / previous roles?
  • What would you say to your current company if they were to counter offer you upon resignation from the business?
  • What 3 words would your friends and ex work colleague use to describe you?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 1, 3 and 5 years time?
  • What are you main achievements to date? How do these relate to your our expectations in the job description and therefore how can you add value to the role?
  • What are our companies’ key values?
  • Provide us with specific examples of where you have previously demonstrated our core company values?
When it comes to questions which ask for ‘specific examples’ (similar to the last question mentioned above) this is where your preparation will really show. These types of questions are commonly known as Competency Questions or Behavioural Questions. Both of which are looking for you to demonstrate where you have done certain things in the past, and therefore relate it to the new position. These are a very powerful way for an interviewer to get a better insight in to your true ability in the work place, and being prepared for these types of questions can really maximise your chances of getting a new role.

When preparing for Competency based questioning it is important you have practised prior to the interview. This will ensure that you are armed with key specific examples of what you have done and you can then adapt these to the questions you are being asked.

It is important you do not use the same example for every question asked. Although certain things you have done will cover a broad range of skills by showing multiple examples to the same question, or different examples to each question asked, you will show the interviewer that you know your own CV and you can relate this to the job in question. This will show true interest from your side and provide the interviewer with all of the facts to make an informed decision on your chances of success in their role.

Key Competency Questions:

Give me an example of when you have worked in / managed a team to deliver a project?
  • How did you contribute to this team?
  • What was the outcome of this project?
  • Why is this a notable project to mention?
Give me an example of where you have worked with / managed a team with a difficult member(s) of staff?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • How did you handle this?
  • How would you do things differently if in this situation again?
What is your greatest professional achievement to date?
  • Why was this so significant?
  • What impact did this have to you / the team / the company you achieved it at?
Give me an example of where you have failed to meet a customer’s timescales / expectations?
  • Why did you fail to meet this and what would you do differently if it happened again?
  • How did you ensure this customer were satisfied / come back to you again?
Give me an example of where you have had to communicate with people outside of your team / division / department / company / country?

HRS Top Tip

An interview is a two way process! Do remember that you are assessing the new potential business / colleagues as much as they are understanding your suitability. For that reason you should remain calm as you are as much in control as your interviewer.

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