Top 5 Interview Tips to Prepare For an Interview as A Hiring Manager in Life Sciences

10-11 Minutes

As the demand for exceptional Life Sciences talent continues to soar, hiring managers are ha...

By Emily Davies

Senior Content Writer

As the demand for exceptional Life Sciences talent continues to soar, hiring managers are having to go the extra mile to identify and secure the best candidates for their jobs. 

It’s no secret that the war for talent in the Life Sciences sector has intensified in recent years, largely driven by factors such as an aging population, rapid digital transformation, and an increasing focus on personalized medicine. 

Although these trends are making it difficult for companies to attract and retain the high-quality candidates they need to ignite innovation and success, adopting the right recruitment strategies can help them overcome these challenges. 

Of all the strategies businesses leverage to bolster talent retention rates, one, in particular, has earned praise from companies and candidates alike, ensuring effective job interviews. 

In this blog, we’ll delve into why outstanding interview processes are essential in Life Sciences recruitment, as well as examine the top interview tips hiring managers in the sector should follow...

Why Are Effective Interviews So Integral To Life Sciences Recruitment?

Well, with news that the number of Life Sciences jobs is set to rise by 7% by 2028, it is certain that the demand for exceptional talent will only intensify. 

While the industry will undoubtedly benefit from this impressive growth, recruitment challenges like ongoing talent shortages and a lack of government funding may hamper efforts to attract and retain the brightest and best candidates. 

So, in an ever-more competitive environment, with many firms vying for the same high-quality applicants, the need to implement robust strategies for hiring top talent has never been greater. In fact, Life Sciences companies find themselves having to perform somewhat of a balancing act, weighing up candidate quality with the pressing need to fill critical roles. 

So, how can organizations attract candidates while ensuring that new hires are of the highest quality? 

Although there are several answers to this key question, this blog will focus on one of the most effective - conducting thorough, well-structured interviews

According to a study by LinkedIn, 83% of talent acquisition leaders report that interviewing is the most vital part of the hiring process. This is especially true for a highly specialized field like Life Sciences, where interviews provide hiring managers with the perfect opportunity to assess a promising candidate’s technical ability. 

From pharmaceutical companies to medical technology businesses, the Life Sciences sector is home to a wealth of innovative companies responsible for improving the health and well-being of people all over the world. But without the most exceptional talent at the heart of their operations, these businesses may struggle to make the meaningful impact they aim for. 

Here are the four key reasons why conducting effective interviews is paramount in Life Sciences recruitment: 


  • Hiring the Most Qualified Candidates

Effective interviews allow hiring managers to assess a candidate's expertise in Life Sciences-related areas such as biology, chemistry, or pharmacy. This ensures that they have the requisite expertise to contribute to cutting-edge research projects or regulatory compliance efforts.

  • Reducing Turnover

Recruiting the wrong candidate can prove costly, and in an industry like Life Sciences, the allocation of financial resources is key. By conducting effective interviews, businesses can accurately identify top-tier candidates who are more likely to stay long-term. 

  • Assessing QA and Regulatory Compliance Knowledge

Maintaining high levels of quality assurance and regulatory compliance is crucial for Life Sciences companies. Asking the right questions during an interview can help you assess a candidate’s grasp of regulatory requirements, adherence to best practices, and the significance of guaranteeing high-quality standards. 

  • Aligning Expectations

Interviews provide an opportunity to clarify job expectations, responsibilities, and company culture to both the candidate and the hiring team. This alignment reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings or mismatches between the candidate and the role.

Therefore, ensuring thorough, in-depth interviews is important for recruiting the right candidates for your Llfe Sciences jobs. Effective interviews can contribute to facilitating an elevated candidate experience, something that can dramatically boost talent retention rates. 

Want to learn more about the actions you can take to incentivize outstanding candidates to remain at your organization? Head over to 5 Strategies You Can Implement to Retain Exceptional Life Sciences Talent

So, What Are The Best Practices For Interviewing Life Sciences Talent?

For hiring managers looking to gain an edge over rival Life Sciences businesses in the war for exceptional talent, ensuring an efficient, well-structured interview process is necessary. 

In fact, research shows that 45% of employees in the US have rejected job offers because of negative interview experiences – an eye-catching figure that highlights just how decisive interviews can be to talent attraction and retention!

So, in an industry where the demand for exceptional talent is outpacing the supply of high-quality candidates, hiring managers cannot afford to neglect enhancing their interview processes. A failure to facilitate positive interviews carries several risks, including: 

  • Missing out on the most talented candidates

  • Reputational damage  

  • Wasted time and financial resources 

  • Reduced employee engagement 

  • Negative impact on diversity and inclusion

By following  best practices that we’ll outline in this section, your business will be well-equipped to avoid the damaging consequences associated with these risks. 

Remember, a job interview typically lasts no longer than an hour, so it’s crucial that you come away from any interview knowing you have accomplished two key outcomes; an accurate assessment of a candidate’s suitability for the role and an excellent candidate experience. 

Here are our top interview tips for hiring managers in the Life Sciences sector: 

1.    Understand The Job Requirements 

A fundamental part of preparing for a candidate interview is gaining a thorough understanding of the position’s roles and responsibilities. As the interviewer, you will naturally be expecting the interviewee to have an in-depth understanding of the position and your company, so it is essential that you are also familiar with the role. A solid grasp of the necessary qualifications, skills, and experience for success in the job will help you make informed hiring decisions. 

Knowing the position inside and out won’t just aid you in finding the perfect candidate who aligns with your firm’s goals and culture; it will also help you to provide clearer information for job applicants, leading to an all-important elevated candidate experience. 

There are various ways hiring managers can enhance their knowledge of the roles they’re hiring for, including: 

  • Conducting an Analysis of the Job 

A deep analysis of the job’s specifications is likely to help interviewers understand what sort of candidates they should prioritize. By identifying the position’s responsibilities, duties, and success metrics, hiring managers will be ready to make the right judgment calls on who to hire. 

  • Reviewing Past Performance

Evaluating the performance of previous employees who held the position can also improve your understanding of the job. To effectively review past performance, be sure to consider these key questions: What were their strengths and areas of improvement? What contributed to their success or shortcomings? Learning from the performance of previous post-holders can provide valuable insights into what is required. 

  • Collaborate with Stakeholders 

Engaging in discussions with other team members, department leaders, and other stakeholders will give you diverse perspectives on the position. This useful input can help you to clarify expectations, ensure alignment with business goals, and pinpoint any potential knowledge gaps. 

2.    Develop A Structured Interview Plan 

The importance of developing a well-structured interview process cannot be understated. As we noted earlier, the duration of an interview is normally around the 60-minute mark, a relatively short amount of time to evaluate a candidate’s potential. To get the most out of the interviews you conduct, having a detailed interview structure is a must for ensuring rigorous, objective assessments of applicants. 

Structured interviews offer hiring managers a number of benefits, including: 

  • Reduced Bias

Guided by a standardized candidate evaluation process, interviewers can reduce the chance of personal biases or subjective judgments. 

  • Positive Candidate Experience

Candidates generally have a better experience during candidate interviews, not least because they feel that they are being assessed objectively. 

  • Ensures Consistency 

Structured interviews normally feature a standardized set of predetermined questions. By asking every candidate the same selection of questions, hiring managers can guarantee that everyone is assessed on exactly the same criteria. 

  • Reliability 

As structured interviews have a standardized set of questions and assessment criteria, they tend to produce more reliable assessments of a candidate’s skills, experiences, and suitability for the role. 

  • Higher Validity

Structured interviews provide a more accurate assessment of candidates' suitability for the position by focusing on factors directly relevant to the role.

There’s much research in support of the notion that structured interview plans are advantageous for both hiring managers and candidates. In fact, according to data from Seed Scientific, 88% of HR managers believe that structured interviewing methods are the most effective. Additionally, LinkedIn found that unstructured job interviews are only capable of predicting 14% of a candidate’s on-the-job performance

So what are the steps hiring managers should take to develop well-structured interviews for Life Sciences jobs? Here are our top tips: 

  • Create a comprehensive bank of questions that covers a variety of topics related to the position, ensuring a mix of technical, behavioral, and interpersonal-related questions

  • Standardize the format and structure of interview questions using clear and concise language

  • Outline each stage of the interview, including the sequence of interviewers, duration of each section, and any breaks between segments

  • Provide in-depth training for other interviewers, covering subjects like how to ask questions and how to evaluate candidates based on standard criteria

  • Conduct a pilot test of a structured interview with a small group of employees, gathering feedback regarding its clarity, effectiveness, and relevance 

3.    Evaluate Technical Skills

Earlier, we alluded to the fact that Life Sciences jobs often require the post-holder to possess significant scientific knowledge and technical skills. As such, hiring managers must ensure that applicants can demonstrate the necessary scientific expertise, particularly in areas like laboratory techniques, data analysis, and research skills. 

The ideal candidate will not only be passionate about contributing to groundbreaking, life-saving innovations but also be able to demonstrate that they have the skills to produce tangible results. From troubleshooting experimental issues to developing cutting-edge approaches to complex issues, professionals in this sector routinely perform critical tasks that put their scientific prowess and technical aptitude to the test. 

Whether you are interviewing candidates for a laboratory assistant role, or a senior biotechnologist position, an accurate technical skills assessment is essential. There are numerous methods to evaluate these skills, including: 

  • Contact candidates beforehand to provide a portfolio showcasing examples of their technical work so you can ask them about it 

  • Ask questions that are designed to assess a candidate’s hard skills and scientific knowledge, such as “What experience do you have with common laboratory techniques?” or “How do you analyze quantitative data obtained from experiments?”

  • Ensure that your interview panel features experienced Life Sciences professionals who can offer perspectives on each candidate’s technical skills 

  • Conduct practical exercises that allow candidates to demonstrate how they apply their technical expertise in real-life scenarios 

  • Review candidates’ resumes and cover letters to ensure that the contents align with their interview answers 

4.    Ask Behavior-Based Questions 

Candidates who exhibit all of the necessary technical expertise should certainly be given serious consideration. However, it is equally vital to assess a candidate’s behavioral traits as well as their scientific knowledge and hard skills. Mastering scientific and theoretical know-how is one thing, but knowing how to apply this logic to real-life situations is another skill entirely. 

This is why it’ is so important for hiring managers to include behavior-based questions in interviews. According to research conducted by Albright College, behavioral interviewing is 55% predictive of future on-the-job behavior, whereas traditional interviewing methods are only 10% predictive. As we stated earlier, developing a question bank that features a mix of technical, behavior-based questions is key when interviewing Life Sciences candidates, and these figures perfectly illustrate why. 

In Life Sciences jobs where post-holders must exercise their problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills, having to effectively respond to unexpected, dynamic scenarios is a daily occurrence. This begs a fundamental question for Life Sciences businesses - what kind of behavioral questions should we be asking our interviewees?

Here is a list of behavior-based questions that will assess your candidates’ abilities and suitability for your role: 

  • Provide an example of a time when you had to think creatively to solve a scientific problem.

  • How do you handle situations when your initial hypothesis or plan doesn't yield the expected results?

  • Give me an example of a complex concept you had to explain to someone with a non-scientific background. How did you ensure they understood it?

  • Describe a situation where you had to balance multiple projects or tasks with competing deadlines. How did you decide which tasks to prioritize? 

  • Have you ever faced an ethical dilemma in your scientific work? How did you deal with it?

5.    Consider Soft Skills

Although demonstrating outstanding technical and behavioral attributes is crucial for Life Sciences jobs, the significance of soft skills should not be overlooked. Without effective communication, the ability to adapt, and efficient time management skills, professionals within this fast-paced sector are likely to struggle. Interviewers must dedicate a significant portion of interviews to evaluating whether candidates have the right attitude, work ethic, and interpersonal skills to thrive at their organizations. 

As we explored in Skills Gap: What Are The Most Sought-After Skills In Life Sciences & How Is The UK Bridging The Gap, possessing soft skills like a strong work ethic, integrity, and intellectual curiosity go hand- in- hand with success in the Life Sciences field. Excellent soft skills are indicative of someone who understands the value of collaboration, scientific endeavor, and the need for clear communication within the workplace. 

There are many questions you could ask to assess your candidates’ soft skills, including: 

  • Describe a time when you had to collaborate with individuals from different scientific disciplines. How did you ensure effective collaboration and communication?

  • How do you stay flexible when facing unexpected research results or challenges?

  • Can you provide an example of a time when you had to meet a tight deadline in your research? 

  • Tell us about a time when you had to troubleshoot an experiment that was not producing the expected results.

  • Have you ever had to deal with disagreements or conflicts within a research team? 

Ultimately, the kind of questions you ask candidates will entirely depend on the nature of your organization, but we hope that these model questions inspire you for your next interview. 


Effective interviews are crucial for successful Life Sciences recruitment, given the sector's increasing demand for top talent and the complexities of the roles involved. By conducting thorough and well-structured interviews, hiring managers can ensure they attract and retain the most qualified candidates while mitigating risks such as turnover and reputational damage. 

Key practices include understanding job requirements, developing structured interview plans, evaluating technical skills, and considering soft skills and cultural fit. By implementing these strategies, Life Sciences companies can enhance their recruitment processes and secure the exceptional talent needed to drive innovation and success in this rapidly evolving field.

Want a helping hand connecting you with top-tier Life Sciences talent? At Meet, we go above and beyond to create long-lasting partnerships between Life Sciences businesses and talented professionals. Whether you’re an up-and-coming Med Tech business or an established Pharmaceutical organization, our dedicated market experts and tailored solutions have the means to connect you with high-quality candidates who have what it takes to take your company to the next level. 

Reach out to us today to discover more about the market-leading solutions we offer, no matter what stage of growth you’re at. 

Book in a call with one of the team about your hiring needs.

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