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How to answer interview questions confidently

Rebecca Rich our consultant managing the role
Rebecca Rich our consultant managing the role
Posted: 08/09/2022

Practice makes perfect

When it comes to preparing for an interview, it is vital that you practice your answers. Even if you feel confident, it is common to get nervous in an interview, which can lead to missing quality moments in your career history that you wanted to emphasize.

Get a friend or partner to play the part of a hiring manager, while you rehearse your answers. Role-playing an interview will help ensure that you can deliver your responses confidently and include all the main points in a succinct, impactful way.

Practising with someone you do not know, like a recruiter, is a useful way to combat your nerves. Recruiters can also give you an insight into common questions that may be included or elements that the hiring managers are expressly looking for, giving you an edge in the recruitment process. We’ve found in our 20 years of experience in life science recruitment that our candidates are much more confident in their interview performance after a mock interview, it is one of our most common pieces of feedback from successful job seekers. 

Body language

Practising is also a useful way to check your body language. Professor Albert Mehrabian conducted a study on how communication is received from one person to another and his studies showed that 55% of conversations that are exchanged with positive body language will be perceived better.

Practising these body language tips can help make sure you leave an enthusiastic and lasting impression on your interviewer. A relaxed demeanour and positive body language help the conversation flow and help you appear more confident and reliable when promoting yourself in the interview.

Examples of positive body language:

  • Eye contact when explaining your answers
  • Smiling and open facial expressions
  • Upright posture
  • A positive tone of voice

If you are in a virtual interview, avoid moving your eyes around and try to look directly into the camera. This will help you appear more engaged in the conversation with the hiring managers. It may sound simple, but it makes an impact.

Reread your CV

“Tell me about yourself” is one of the most common first interview questions as a hiring manager will want to walk through your CV and gain a better understanding of your previous experiences and qualifications.

This is a great opportunity to confidently present your skillsets and explain elements of your CV in further detail. The interviewer will be conscious of inconsistencies in what you have written on your CV so it is vital that you remember what you wrote. Questions in the interviewer will likely be structured from what you have written in your CV, so it is imperative that you are prepared to explain the elements you included.

Confidently talking about what you included and being able to reference your experiences will make you stand out as a serious and credible candidate that is not just prepared to discuss their CV, but actively takes control in presenting their best foot forward. 

Prepare your responses

Interviews tend to be based on two types of questions: competency-based and technical questions. These aim to give the interviewer a rounded overview of your experience, personality, work ethic, qualifications and skills.

Competency-based questions are designed to draw out information on your technical and behavioural competencies and highlight how you deal with challenges and situations in the workplace.

Common examples include:

  • Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace.
  • Describe a project where you had to use different leadership styles to reach your goal.
  • What has been your biggest achievement to date?

The interviewer is usually looking out for certain keywords that match the profile of their ideal candidate. A useful way to prepare for this part of the interview process is to list all the competencies and skills that are required by the role throughout the job description. Then, think of two examples of how you’ve demonstrated each and prepare answers. Your answers should focus on you, not others involved in the situation and provide highlights rather than in-depth details.

One of the best ways to prepare your answers is to present them in the STAR format:

  • Situation: Briefly describe the context e.g., when, where, who and why – Don’t spend too long on this, you are just setting the scene
  • Task: Specifically describe your responsibility in the situation
  • Action: Describe what you did, how and why – remember to focus on your individual input
  • Result: Describe the outcome of your actions, giving quantifiable information if possible – this is the part to focus on

Technical-based questions are to ensure that you have the right skills and qualifications that are needed to excel in the role.  

Some examples from biometrics interviews

  • What development tools are you familiar with using?
  • What coding language have you previously used?
  • Tell me about any databases you have designed

Refresh yourself on some of the more technical language within your sector; showing that you are on the pulse of your industry will highlight you as an engaged and confident candidate in the process. If you can, find out what systems, tools or processes the company uses to really stand out.

Fail to prepare...

Ultimately, preparation is imperative; as the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, be prepared to fail. In the highly competitive industry of life sciences, you want to make sure you stand out for the right reasons so having succinct, impactful responses in your repertoire will give you the edge in securing the opportunities that will elevate your career; especially for more senior roles where confidence in your abilities and experience are a real benefit.

A positive interview not only increases your chances of securing the role, but by presenting yourself confidently, you have a better chance of securing a favourable salary or rate too.

Whilst it is difficult to fully prepare for what might be thrown at you, we consistently hear from our successful candidates that interview preparation, such as mock interviews and pre-writing competency responses, is incredibly helpful in boosting their confidence and enabling them to produce impressive answers.

Looking for your next career move? Take a look at the latest life sciences jobs on our website. If you would like further tips on interview preparation or to discuss opportunities available to you, let our recruiters know and they can give you the tools you need to stand out from other candidates and make a positive impression.

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