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How to nail a job interview in the first 5 minutes

Job interviews are, for many, a necessary evil. You want to appear competent, answer all of the interviewer’s questions and not fall over. But to secure the job of your dreams, you need to truly impress, and this starts from the moment you wake up on interview day.

1. Get a good night’s sleep

It is impossible to function at your best when you are tired or stressed, so make sure that you get to bed early the night before your interview and get a good night’s sleep. Set your alarm to make sure that you will be up in time to prepare, review your CV and preparatory notes and ensure that you look your best.

2. Dress to impress

Choose an outfit that complements the style of the business for which you are interviewing. You will get a good feel for what is appropriate for that particular life sciences business by becoming familiar with their online content. When in doubt, tend towards the formal.

3. Travel in style

Make sure that you know how long it will take you to get to the interview. If you are driving, check that you know where to park and have a backup option in mind in case your first choice is unavailable. If you are relying on public transport, choose an earlier time than you would ordinarily. It is better to have too much free time ahead of the interview than to be rushing.

4. Project a friendly and confident persona

It is easier to dodge the interview nerves by maintaining a positive and confident outlook. Smile and make eye contact with everyone that you come into contact with, and if you need to stop for breakfast or a coffee on the way to the interview, greet the barista in the same manner that you would the interviewer. Consider this as practice for when you reach the interview.

5. Plan your conversation starter

It is quite likely that when you reach the interviewing organisation, somebody will ask you how your morning has been, or whether your travel arrangements went according to plan. This small talk allows you to engage and build connections, so use your time ahead of the interview to consider whether anything noteworthy or interesting has happened on your journey which could provide fodder for starting and maintaining a conversation.

6. Treat everyone the way you wish to be treated

From the moment that you arrive at your destination, ensure that you are friendly and polite to everyone that you meet. Greet everybody with a smile and a handshake if it is offered. Some early stage European biotech companies may have yet to relax COVID-19 protocols, so do not be discouraged if handshakes are not offered.

7. First impressions count

You should enter the interview room with your head held high and your shoulders back. Greet your interview panel as you enter the room and sit when indicated. Maintain open and friendly body language and try to project your enthusiasm at being invited for an interview.

8. Play the name memory game

It is very common for candidates to want an interview to start as quickly as possible so that they can get it over and done with, but interviewers will often engage in an element of small talk to help settle you, ready for the interview to begin. The lead interviewer will introduce everybody on the panel, so take note of their names and roles and aim to acknowledge each person by name at least once. This will play strongly in your favour.

9. Demonstrate your knowledge

If you are asked about why you have applied for this particular role, use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the business, its clients and its position within the biotech industry. Explain whether it is the level of venture capital funding that the business has secured that excites you or the opportunities that the business offers for pursuing a life sciences innovation. If you have relevant experience that will help a startup or scaleup business to expand, make sure you drop it into the conversation.

10. Stay on topic

Never be tempted to ramble or to disguise gaps in your experience with guesswork. Stay focused, answer the question that is asked and provide relevant examples of your competence. See our previous blog post about the STAR Method ( for guidance as to how to deliver a winning answer to a competency based question.

By adhering to these ten tips for interview success, you stand an excellent chance of making a winning first impression when you are interviewed for your next role with a biotech firm. Remember that although first impressions count and you should aim to impress within the first five minutes of an interview, the total time allocated to you will be nearer 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t be discouraged if interview nerves get the better of you at the start of the interview; just try to remain composed and concentrate on the overall picture.

Whether you need interview practice or the help of a dedicated life sciences recruiter to secure the job of your dreams, Scalex Consulting can help you. Our experienced team can guide you towards an appropriate role and provide the necessary interview training that will help you to stand out for all the right reasons. Book a consultation with us today.


If you found this insight interesting, we recommend reading How to Create the Perfect LinkedIn Profile in 10 Easy Steps

ScaleX Consulting offer trusted biotech business consulting and life science recruitment services, to help you take the next step in your journey.