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Advice from Recruiters – Science & Technology

What should candidates expect to be asked in an interview? How can a candidate differentiate themselves from other applicants? What are science and technology companies looking for in candidates? Michael Kaplar, a member of our Science and Technology recruitment team, will answer these questions and more.

Q: Are any recent market trends affecting the way science and technology companies hire?

A: Prime Minister Abe’s economic policies that cut funding to research organizations, academic institutions, and government labs has had a widespread impact on the science and technology industry. Many of our clients have experienced drops in sales because their customers don’t have the money necessary to make purchases. This means our clients are making an effort to operate more efficiently, so they are hiring the staff to help them do so.

Q: What qualities are these companies looking for in a candidate?

A: Science and technology companies are primarily looking for candidates with PhDs. A scientific university degree, typically in biology or chemistry is very important. Biology has become an area that is seeing increased demand. Candidates should also be fluent in Japanese and competent in English. 

Q: In general, what have you found to be the most important factor in determining whether or not a candidate will be hired?

A: Candidates, as well as companies, need to be willing to be flexible. Sometimes, companies are looking for a candidate with very specific qualifications and that person may not even exist. Companies need to be willing to hire someone who checks most of their boxes and then train that person to fulfill any other roles they need filled. Candidates need to be confident enough to apply their skills in a new area and they need to display that confidence in interviews.

Q: How can a candidate differentiate themselves from other applicants?

A: Candidates need to focus on their achievements, as well as how they achieved them, in interviews. Anyone can list their previous work experience, but explaining what you accomplished at a previous job gives you an upper hand. Talking things like challenges you’ve overcome shows your adaptability and problem solving abilities.

Q: What questions should a candidate be prepared to answer in an interview?

A: There are a few questions that are almost guaranteed to be asked during an interview. Candidates should be prepared to answer why they are looking for a new job. Companies want to get a feel for why you’re leaving your previous job. Then, candidates should be able to explain why they are good for this particular job. Researching the position and the company and applying your experience to that information will give candidates a major advantage with this question.

Q: What are some common mistakes that candidate make during the hiring process?

A: Many candidates in this field can fit the shy and somewhat nerdy stereotype. It is important for candidates to be more outgoing and convey a sense of confidence. Communication is central to many jobs in this industry. Appearing quiet and lacking in confidence will often put companies off.

Q: What would be your most important piece of advice for someone who wants to change jobs in this industry?

A: I think it is most important for candidates to keep their options open. You might not be able to find the exact position you were hoping for because it may not exist. However, if you keep an open mind and are willing to try new things, you could find an equally fulfilling and enjoyable position. 

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