Interview Questions to Make Sure You Get Better Candidates

interview questions to make sure you get better candidates

Hiring the wrong person can come at a huge cost to your business. This is especially true if you don’t realise for several months that you’ve made a bad hire, leading to negative effects that range from lost productivity to poor team morale, according to a global survey from CareerBuilder.

For this reason, as an employer it is absolutely critical that you do everything possible at the interview stage to ensure you have the right science, medical or technical candidate for your business. With this in mind, here is our guide to the four core groups of interview questions that should be covered in every interview.


Communication Interview Questions

STEM professionals often liaise with a wide range of different departments, teams, and agencies – both internal and external. Being able to communicate with all of these people effectively is key to succeeding in the role. Consequently, some of the most important questions to ask when interviewing Science and Medical professionals are those that assess the candidates’ communication skills. Likewise, organisation and attention to detail are also especially crucial in regulatory affairs, and these go hand in hand with communication. A good way to gauge these qualities is by looking at how organised and prepared candidates are for the interview itself.

Behavioural and situational interview questions are great tools to give you an insight into how a candidate might communicate in a crisis, or when faced with a certain challenge. Try asking questions such as “How would you respond if your manager gave you vague instructions?” or “Describe an experience where you had to work with someone you found it hard to communicate with, and how you dealt with that.” This is helpful because they give you concrete examples that allow you to evaluate how the person relates to others.

It’s also something that you’ll be able to pick up on just by talking to them. Do they get their points across succinctly? Do they communicate clearly, or are they relying on industry jargon and technical buzzwords to sound credible?

Problem Solving Interview Questions

Since Science and Medical professionals are a business’s greatest assets for ensuring the quality, safety, and efficacy of their products, analytical thinking and problem solving skills are essential qualities of a good hire. Successful science and medical candidates need to be able to approach problems pragmatically and be proactive enough to solve them independently.

This is another area where behavioural and situational questions can bring out the answers you’re looking for. An example of a good behavioural interview question could be “Can you tell me about a problem you encountered in a previous role, and how you went about solving it?” This will prompt that candidate to analyse their own experience and identify a case where they took the initiative. 

Situational questions encourage candidates go a step further and apply their problem-solving skills to the specific role, for instance “What are the key problems that you think our organisation faces, and what steps would you take to solve them?”

Pay attention to the way they deliver their answers – if they seem overly rehearsed or too good to be true, then this is a red flag.

Cultural Fit Interview Questions

Cultural fit is an enormous factor in someone’s success in a role; if they don’t connect with the rest of your team, they’re at greater risk of being disengaged, their performance will suffer, and it can also negatively impact the wider company culture.

A great way to assess a candidate’s cultural fit is to find out about their values and the way they tend to relate to others. Stage examples to see how they respond, and try to get an idea of their ideal work environment.

Key Questions To Ask: Culture Fit

  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a team most of the time?
  • Describe the management style that makes you feel the most motivated and engaged.
  • What are some of the positive aspects of your current work environment, and what would you like to change?
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with a colleague about the best way to approach a task.

The behavioural and situational questions outlined above will tell you a little bit about their values in the workplace. While these questions are a good starting point, you should also try and introduce the candidate to the team or show them around the office. Watch how they relate to people they meet and the way they react to the environment to see whether it’s a good fit for them as well as your team.

Technical Knowledge Interview Questions

To assess a candidate’s technical skills, it is important to see how a candidate applies their theoretical knowledge to the job. Using competency-based interview questions requires the candidate to substantiate their CV with real examples, assessing whether the candidate can really do what they say they can. When interviewing Science and Medical professionals, it’s useful to ask for an example of a project they’ve worked on, what their involvement was, what skills they used and what the outcome was.

One useful tool is to role play a scenario by posing a work-related task to the interviewee and asking what steps they would take to complete it in a real work situation. Additionally, it can be useful to have a member of your team sit in with you on the interview, and to ask further probing questions that are relevant to the day to day work required within the team. As far as red flags go, look for discrepancies between what the candidate is saying and what their CV shows you, and where there might be any gaps in knowledge that you can investigate more.


It’s vital that you ensure you hire the right person for your business, and these three interview question groups can help you obtain the information you need about each candidate. This is where working with a specialist recruitment agency can be especially valuable. 

As each of our recruiters at On Q Recruitment has extensive knowledge and experience of the STEM sector, we can not only provide input on a candidate’s technical ability, but also other key aspects such as the way they tend to communicate and whether they are likely to complement your organisation.

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