If you, like many other students out there are beginning the job hunt, then we're here to help. We spoke to Clara Henry, Team Lead, Life Sciences at Sigmar Recruitment about her top tips for job interviews.
Now that the summer is well and truly over, a lot of you will be tackling the daunting prospect of securing your first post graduate employment role. You’ve overcome the first hurdle and have been identified as a suitable candidate and have been invited to interview. Interviews are a nerve wrecking for even the most experienced people, so it’s important to know the dos and don’ts. Here are my Top 10 interview tips that will help you land that dream job.
1. Be Prepared.
Know your CV inside and out and be able to discuss it coherently from start to finish. Since this interview is probably for your first role. most of the questions will concern your university degree. It is important to talk about any work placements or internships that you did while in college, your final year project and any other research/hands on practical work that you did. Practise saying this out loud because things often sound much better in your head than in real life!
2. Read the Job Description.
Make sure you have read through the specifications of the job and what it entails daily, so you can discuss why you will be suitable for role based on your studies and experience.
Often interviews assess particular competencies e.g. communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving skills, analytical skills, motivational skills - to prepare for this, first review the job description carefully and identify the skills and traits likely to be assessed and identify examples you could use to refer to. It is always best to use a specific example as opposed to being vague or general.
4. Do Your Research.
Make sure you have research the company and what they do. Look through their website thoroughly. Know your reasons why you want to work in this company.
5. STAR Technique.
The STAR (Situation Task Action Result) technique is a very good method to use when giving specific examples. What was the situation, what were you required to achieve, what actions did you take to achieve the task at hand, and what were the results of your actions. Well-structured answers are a key part of a successful interview.
6. “I” not “We”.
Use “I” and not “We” when answering questions. The interviewers want to know what YOU can do, not other members of your team/class.
7. Strengths and Weaknesses.
Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. For your strengths, use something tangible that you can back up by referring to an example. For your weakness, put a positive spin on it and show how you have improved on it, so that it’s not really a weakness anymore.
Always prepare 2 or 3 questions that you can ask at the end of the interview. These should be about the job responsibilities, the challenges you might face, the career progression within the company, the structure of the team or the company culture. Asking questions like these demonstrate your interest in the job. Stay clear of questions about salary or benefits, while these are obviously important, it might make the interviewer question your motivations for wanting the job.
Be confident but not over confident when going into an interview. Arrive on time and make sure you are dressed to impress. Make eye contact and offer a strong firm handshake to everyone in the room. Be enthusiastic and positive about the job and the company and refrain from any negativity about former jobs or employers. If they don’t believe you really want the job, they won’t offer it to you!
While it’s important to take an interview very seriously and do your research, you don’t want to come across as too nervous. Take a drink of water, listen to the questions that you’re being asked and take your time to give a thoughtful detailed answer. Being prepared and having practiced will help you get over those interview jitters!
Clara Henry, Team Lead, Life Sciences at Sigmar Recruitment. She is a life sciences recruitment consultant specialising primarily in pharmaceutical, manufacturing, medical device and technical roles within the life sciences industry. She holds an M.Sc. in Biotechnology. You can find out more about Sigmar Recruitment here.