How To Answer Interview Questions

Getting called for an interview is an experience that manages to be both flattering and scary all at the same time. An interview is a final step to getting a job offer and it’s normal to feel a little nervous. Our resident career coach Ann Ryan has successfully coached hundreds of Innopharma students for interviews in the pharmaceutical, food science and MedTech industries. Here she reveals her tips for interview success.

Be Prepared

One way to alleviate nerves and ensure you stand out from the competition is to be very prepared. “You can have a lot of academic knowledge but you might not be able to articulate it in an interview and really shine - that takes practice,” Ann notes. Make sure you’re covering the basics, “You have to know the job description very well and you have to know your CV very well too.”

During the career development module at Innopharma, students get the chance to really hone their interview skills. “Every student has a mock interview based on a job that they want to apply for,” Ann notes. “We don’t make it intimidating. We do it in small groups in front of the class so you get peer support and feedback.”

Industry-Specific Interview Process

Our career development module is focused on preparing students for the particular interview style they can expect from the pharma, MedTech and food science industries. A lot of the time, this means a competency-based interview.  “We spend quite a bit of time preparing for competency-based interviews,” Ann notes. “This consists of understanding your competence and how you can articulate it against particular areas like problem-solving and process improvement.”

Another interview approach is an assessment centre where candidates take part in group tasks and tests. “That can be very daunting if you’ve never heard of or experienced it,” Ann says. “We run an assessment centre type scenario and then do some aptitude tests as well to prepare the student.”

Know the Questions to Expect

There are certain questions that are almost guaranteed to come up in an interview. Ann recommends having your answers to these questions well prepared. For example, in most interviews, you’ll be asked to tell the panel about yourself. Ann explains, “That’s where they want you to talk you through your CV and talk about your skills and expertise. It’s a brief explanation of your career to-date so you should be able to summarise that concisely.”

Another favourite question is to tell them what you know about the role.  “That’s your opportunity to wow them and tell them all the things you know about what they’re looking for and solve their problem by telling them ‘I know what you’re looking for and I’ve done it, or here’s what I can do,’” Ann says.

“You need to really join the dots for the hiring manager or HR person, that’s your job,” she notes.  If you can do that and you’ve done the preparation for that it can really help with your nerves.”

Follow The STAR

When we’re nervous we often ramble or lose our train of thought. Ann recommends using the STAR technique to stay on track. “We use the star model, which means Situation, Task, Action, Result,” she explains. “If you prepare your answers in that format it can keep you guided, concise and to the point when you’re answering the questions.” And pay attention to the speed at which you’re talking. “It always helps to slow down a little bit,” Ann recommends.

Let Your Passion Shine

Finally, don’t forget to show how much you want the job. “One thing about an interview is that you’ve really got to be passionate because it could be the one thing that will push you over the line,” Ann notes. “Companies will hire for attitude and they can train for skills. So, when you come to the interview, let your attitude and passion shine through.”

Find Out More

Interested in finding out more about Innopharma? Why not browse our range of specialist courses or give us a call on 01 485 3346 to discuss your options.