The start of a new
year heralds the promise of new beginnings; for some, that means new career
In fact, after some
well-earnt rest and fresh mindsets in full effect, January happens to be known
as the ‘recruitment rush’, with one
in five people looking
to make a move and tackle new career challenges.
Life Sciences industry is booming, with new jobs appearing daily (today, Meet has 754 open roles globally!). But, with Life Sciences graduates
doubling since 2016, there’s also some stiff competition, and lacking
preparation for an interview is one of the greatest faults you can make.
Luckily, if you’re
in the market for a new role in Life Sciences, you’ve come to the right place
because that’s our specialty!
It also means that
we understand how nerve-inducing job interviews can be; they’re your time to
shine, and yet you only have a small window to do so. As recruitment experts
and the link between Life Sciences organisations and talent, we promise to
prepare you as best we can. We want to help you stand out from the crowd and secure
your dream role.
So, if you’re in the
midst of furthering your career within Life Sciences, let us provide you with
our top tips, tried and tested techniques, and typical interview Qs to help you
ace each stage of the recruiting cycle and boost your chances of beating the
1. Get There In Good Time
This first tip might seem glaringly obvious, but
you’d be surprised at the number of candidates who end up rushing into an
interview – not ideal!
So, first things
first, confirm the address and time of your interview beforehand. Make a note
of it in your calendar and locate the interview destination on Google maps to
plan your route. Arriving 15-30 minutes early helps account for unforeseen
traffic delays, allows you some time to freshen up before heading in, and helps
keep a calm state of mind.
Of course, sometimes
things can’t be helped and are out of our control. If you do find yourself
running late, call your recruitment consultant immediately so they can call the
company on your behalf while you concentrate on getting yourself there.
Dress To Impress
A wardrobe complements any performance, and you
never get a second chance to make a first impression when it comes to job
In fact, did you
know that someone will make their minds up about us within the first seven
seconds of meeting? It might not seem fair, but it’s true, so when you’re
attending an interview, make sure you’re dressed smartly and professionally.
Failing to make the
correct self-presentation choices only signals to employers that you don’t care
about making the right impression. To avoid last-minute panic, we suggest
choosing your attire ahead of time, picking something you feel comfortable in,
and making sure it’s ironed. If you’re stuck on what’s appropriate, we say err
on the side of caution and stick to a neutral colour palette.
Do Your Homework For Technical Assessments
A common step in the hiring process in Life
Sciences, and for lab-based roles, quality assurance, engineering, and
scientific roles especially, is technical assessments. They’re used so you can
demonstrate your ability, and prospective employers can assess your technical
skills for the position to which you applied. Usually, this will be a lab test
or a Q&A session, so it’s absolutely essential that you do your homework on
the technical skills listed in the job ad.
understanding what will be expected of you, you’ll need to validate your
skills, experiences, and accomplishments listed on your resume. The interviewer
will expect to hear all about them, and you don’t want to fall at the first
familiarising yourself with your significant successes, including the
objective, deliverables, and core metrics, so you can talk about them with ease
and demonstrate where you’ve excelled, particularly with tasks related to the
role in question. We find the easiest way to ensure no vital information is
missed is by using the STAR method (explained below).
Get Curious About The Company
The Life Sciences industry is one of the most
innovative out there, and that means they never stop! Companies are
consistently working on the most advanced treatments and therapies, which means
that as an interviewee, you should keep up to date with what they’ve got going
on, from their product portfolio to their clinical pipeline.
Reading up on the
organisation’s background, business ethos, and news demonstrates your curiosity
and dedication to the opportunity and prepares you for any company questions
that might arise during the interview – which is highly likely!
Did you know that in
a poll of 1400 Hiring Managers, 9% cited a lack of knowledge about their
company as the most common reason why a candidate was not chosen for the job? That
means it’s time to get researching!
In order to provide
compelling answers to questions regarding the company and the role, you need to
understand their mission, values, products, and competitors. You’ll find a
wealth of information on their website, social media, press releases, industry
journals, and other media articles.
Take A Breather
When we’re nervous, it’s easy to ramble on or lose
our train of thought. Remember to take pause before answering a question so you
can structure your answer eloquently and effectively.
Taking a few seconds
to collect your thoughts might seem awkward, with each second feeling like an
eternity. But when we’re under pressure, time becomes distorted and what might
feel like forever to us often feels like a natural pause to the interviewer.
Speaking slowly and purposefully benefits not only you but the interviewer too!
importantly, pausing before speaking can project confidence and control, which
helps us better connect and is a key driver in leaving lasting impressions on
those interviewing us.
Prepare Your Own Questions
Interviews aren’t an interrogation; the key to
succeeding isn’t just about giving the right answers but also asking the right
questions shows you’re engaged, allows you to demonstrate your industry
knowledge and interest in the company, and can even elevate your position as a
candidate. Generally, the interviewer will anticipate questions about the
organisation, the department, and the role.
For many employers,
questions asked by the interviewee offer insight into the individual’s
character, emotional intelligence, and cultural fit, and oftentimes, it’s the
part of the interview they most look forward to.
Aside from relevant
questions about the role and company, we suggest gearing your questions towards
identifying what the potential employer is looking for in the person they’re
hoping to hire. Once you’ve identified the specific criteria, you then have the
chance to reiterate the skills, experience, and personality traits you have
that they’re looking for.
For more on
appropriate questions to ask at a job interview, scroll down to the bottom of
7. But Don’t Ask Questions That Reflect Badly On You
As a candidate for a Life Sciences role, your focus
in a job interview should be on impressing the interviewer with your skills,
qualifications, and capabilities of the job in question. As mentioned above,
you should be willing and prepared to ask some questions of your own, but be
wary that you’re not jumping the gun.
could be taken the wrong way if asked too soon. That’s not to say you can’t ask
these questions later down the line, but inquiries surrounding time off,
employee benefits, and salary can be assumptive too early in the interview
process. In fact, questions along these lines could be interpreted negatively
and even jeopardise an offer coming your way!
That’s because 10%
of Hiring Managers report asking inappropriate questions as the main reason
candidates weren’t selected for their job opening.
We suggest waiting
until you’ve been offered the job before asking questions along these lines;
then, once you have that information, you can make an informed final decision.
8. Sell Yourself
Some of us thrive off nerves, but for a large
majority, it can be easy to buckle under pressure. If you find you’re in the
latter camp, it’s worthwhile having a list of your key achievement to hand.
These should include what you’ve achieved throughout your career, how valuable
you could be to the organisation you’re interviewing with, what makes you stand
out from other Life Sciences talent, and why the company should hire you.
Because trust us, Life Sciences isn’t short for talented and skilled
In fact, 13% of
Hiring Managers say being unprepared to discuss achievements or give on-the-job
examples is a key reason why applicants are not chosen for the job, and another
13% say it’s because candidates could not answer questions directly.
To make things a
little easier, we suggest preparing notes for each ‘Task & Responsibility’
in the job description detailing your experience, achievements, relevant
skills, and prior situations that can relate to what they're looking for.
Stay Positive And Smile
Do you know that smiling produces neurotransmitters
that help fight off stress and reduce our heart rate? Pretty handy for a job
But aside from
personal benefits, smiling can go a long way in the hiring process. Ultimately,
your interviewer(s) are looking for someone who’s skilled and will fit in with
the company culture, so be yourself and show them why you’re so great to work
And while we’re on
the topic of positivity, remember it’s never a good idea to speak negatively
about anyone or anything in an interview – it will only reflect poorly on you.
Even if you’re unhappy with your current role, focus on the positives, such as
what you’ve learnt, how you’ve grown, and what excites you about the future.
10. Get To Know The Hiring Manager
As mentioned above, researching a company you’re
interviewing for is vital in your preparation. However, another brilliant way
to understand a Life Sciences organisation is to learn a little more about your
interview process, they’re the ones calling the shots. While they might not be
who you’ll report into in the future, their recommendations carry a lot of
weight, so creating a positive first impression will only win you some extra
To find out about
key stakeholders, scroll through their website and get searching on LinkedIn.
Aside from preparing you for the interview, it will also give you a better idea
about the company and the people that work there.
Typical Job Interview Questions You Should Prepare For:
1. Can you talk me through your experience and what you've achieved?
Try to keep this as concise as possible while
getting all your proudest and most noteworthy moments in there. This will be
different depending on your experience, but we suggest covering education, work
history, and recent job roles.
Can you explain
what an average day is like in your current role?
At this point, you can go into more detail.
Emphasise tasks and responsibilities that relate to the job you’re applying
Why are you
considering leaving your current position?
It’s key to remain positive here. Emphasise the
experience you’ve gained and focus on why you hope to expand your future growth
and opportunities elsewhere.
What are your key
Relate these to strengths mentioned in the job
application and give examples of when you’ve demonstrated them in a working
What are your
Be honest by
addressing your past weaknesses, but don’t forget to draw attention to how you
learnt to overcome them!
What excites you
about this role?
Research the company to find common passions and
values. Authenticity always stands out!
What is your
understanding of this position, and how can you add value? / What do you feel
you could contribute to this organisation?
Thoroughly review the job description and match your
skills and strengths to the job requirements.
What type of
management style do you prefer?
This is the time to focus on your flexibility. Give
examples of different working environments you’ve experienced and how you’ve
thrived in all different approaches.
The STAR Method
More and more
frequently, employers utilise behavioural interviewing in their hiring process
by examining your past and present performance to best predict your future
performance. The best way to prepare for these types of questions is by using
the STAR technique.
interviewer a short and sweet overview of the circumstances to provide some
context. This should be a specific event or situation rather than a generalised
description of what you’ve done in the past.
What was the project
you were working on? Who were you working with? When and where did it happen?
Then go on to
discuss the specifics of your role in the situation to demonstrate your skills,
knowledge, and attitude.
What did you need to
achieve? What were you responsible for? Were there any challenges?
At this point, go
into more detail explaining how you approached and completed your task to
really sell yourself to the interviewer. Even if you’re talking about a group
project, remember to keep the focus on you and only you.
How did you assess
the situation? What did you do? How did you do it? How did you work with others?
And finally, it’s
time to shine! Promote the positive impacts your actions had on the situation,
and if possible, make them quantifiable.
i.e. “I exceeded my
target by 20%.”
Examples of Behavioural Questions:
you tell me about a time you overcame a problem?
you tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership?
you describe a situation where you had a difference of opinion with a
superior – how did you handle it, and what was the outcome?
has been your proudest accomplishment to date?
you describe a time you had to sacrifice quality for a deadline and how
project have you been responsible for, and how did you organise the
necessary tasks, goals, paperwork, etc.?
do you feel would be the most common errors in a position such as this?
you describe two improvements you’ve made in your job in the last six
Safe and Smart Questions to Ask A Potential Employer:
attracted you to this organisation?
do you feel are the most challenging aspects of this position?
do you evaluate success?
there anything else you’d like to know about my experience?
this role affected by recent changes in pharmaceutical regulations?
is the long-term strategic vision of the company?
do you consider your major competitors, and how do you stand out from them?
you have any hesitations about me as a candidate for this position? (This
is your chance to quash any doubts the interviewer may have about you!)
Are you currently
looking for a new role within Life Sciences? We can help!
Check out our
job roles or get in touch and let one of our friendly consultants know
what you’re looking for so we can find your perfect match.