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The best STEM roles can be won or lost by the smallest margins.  The best person for the job often loses to the best interviewer.

Use our interview tips to support your promotion or career switch aspirations.

Read our hot tips and/or contact our consultants to improve your interview skills.  Win at interviewing!


1. First Impressions Count

Research suggests that a decision on who to hire takes place in the first 7 minutes of an interview. In order to maximise your chances you should pay close attention to how you dress and present yourself in this critical period. Some companies will require a specific dress code for an interview (If they are giving you a tour of the clean rooms for example) but if this is not in place then business dress is a must. You should also look at potential company policies and make sure you are already compliant with these; for example some companies, such as food production or pharmaceutical companies, may require that you do not wear any piercings. This could make the difference as to whether you get a tour of the manufacturing site after the main interview.

2. Be on time

Plan your journey ahead of time. If you have never been to the area before, then do a dummy run at the same time of your interview so that you know exactly what the traffic conditions are like. A 20 minute journey on a Sunday, could take an hour in rush hour on a Monday! Being on time is a major part of creating a great first impression.

3. The Interview Starts Before You Get into the Room

The interview starts before you get into the interview room. You have probably heard the story about the person who was rude to a stranger on the train only to see the stranger later in the day at the other side of the interviewing table. This could very easily be a true story and as well as being a good lesson for life should certainly be remembered on your interview day. A lot of companies now brief the reception staff before an interview, getting them to ask a couple of key questions while you may be off guard. You may even be observed from the moment you enter the car park, so no stealing the CEO's space because you are running a bit late!

4. Maintain eye contact

Interviews can make anybody nervous, including the interviewer, so maintaining eye contact sometimes is not easy. Good eye contact though has been stated as one of the most important things that an interviewer looks for and can make the difference between success and failure.

5. Practice your handshake

You don't want to squeeze the life out of your interviewer, but a good strong handshake can help you make a great first impression. Web to web for a handshake is the usual rule and you should always maintain eye contact. If you suffer from wet hands (Hyperhidrosis, nerves can makes this worse) then there is no problem taking a handkerchief with you and wiping your hands prior to your meeting.

6. Prepare for competency questions

Some companies will give you a clue as to what competencies they are looking for in the job specification (Teamwork, communication skills etc) so try to prepare answers for these in advance. A good method to use, is to follow the STAR approach (Situation, Task, Action, Result) and be sure to give real examples.

7. Learn about the company

This is a really important one! The more you know about a company, the better it can give you the edge over your competition immediately. Getting all your facts right about your potential employer does not only show the interviewer how you prepare but it also shows your level of eagerness for the role. If you have made plenty of notes about the company then don't worry about taking them into the interview with you.

8. Prepare some questions for the interviewer

If you have done your research on the company, then you may have some good questions to ask already. Try to avoid the standard questions about holidays and remuneration, but focus instead on what interests you about the company. It may be that they have an area of research that really interests you or they may be involved in some charity work locally. This question will again show off your research into the company, but it will also, more importantly show that you share the same passions.


It sounds cheesy, but a smile can do you the world of good in an interview. Not only does it make you feel better by releasing happy hormones through your body, it also encourages mirroring in others. Your smile will be infectious and if both you and the interviewer are smiling then the mood will be set for a happier interview.

If you have any specific worries about your upcoming interview or have any dreaded questions that you would like help to prepare for then please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced consultants.

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