Top Interview Tips and More with Cpl Director, Judith Moffett

judith moffett cplWhat type of jobs do you recruit for at Cpl?
My team recruit for scientists, engineers, supply chain and construction specialists. In the science & engineering area, this includes qualified candidates who work in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical, Medical Device, Electronic, Food, Energy industries in either Manufacturing, Engineering, R&D or Clinical related roles. The specific roles we recruit for include quality assurance, quality control, microbiology, regulatory affairs, production, technical services, validation, process engineering, commissioning, qualification, maintenance, instrumentation, design, R&D and EHS.

In the supply chain area, the specific roles we recruit for include procurement, supply chain specialists, buyers, planners, schedulers, warehouse, logistics, category managers and CMO roles. In the construction area, we recruit for engineers, quantity surveyors, architects, estimators, property managers and contracts managers.

What strategies do you use to qualified candidates for the roles you recruit for?
Cpl uses their database predominantly to source qualified candidates. The Cpl database has over 1.3 million cvs with 31,000 additional cvs coming through each month. In addition, we use advertising, networking and referrals, Linked in, Facebook and Twitter to source candidates.

What really impresses you on a CV or job application?
A well formatted cv, with no spelling or grammatical errors. A cv should lead with a candidate’s education and then their most recent, employment experience and additional roles listed in chronological order. A candidate needs to create, a specific, tailored cv for each role that they apply for.

How should a candidate prepare for an interview with a top Life Sciences company-what are your top tips?
The key to an interview is preparation. It is important to cross reference your cv against the job description and have relevant, work-related examples to demonstrate your knowledge of the duties on the job description. Have at least four to five, different examples prepared. First impressions are key. Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early, no earlier, it will put your interviewer(s) under time pressure. Ensure that you wear a suit, ideally dark in colour (navy or black). Be first to offer a firm handshake (no limp fish!) and ensure you maintain eye contact. Say your full name when introducing yourself.

During the meeting, remember one thing…listen. Listen carefully to the question asked and keep your answer as relevant to the question as possible. Do not ramble or go off on a tangent. Watch for your interviewer’s facial cues to know when you have said enough.

A guaranteed question to be asked, is “What do you know about the company?” Or “Why do you want to work for this company?”. The candidate should research the company in detail. Not just what is written on the company website, but additional, research beyond the website. It is impressive if a candidate can relay information about a company’s current share price, know detailed information about any mergers or acquisitions, relay information on any recent awards and/or be able to discuss a company’s drug pipeline in detail.

It is important to give the interviewer(s) the impression that you want this job with their company and not just a job. Many people fall down on this question and do minimal, company research.

Another important part of interview research is to try to understand the culture of the company that you are interviewing with. Most companies will have their core values listed on their site. It is important that a candidate takes these into consideration during the interview and demonstrates through their answers, how he/she could fit in with these core values

Why should students consider a career in science?
Ireland has an incredible track record in the science area and for this reason there is a future of exciting, world class opportunities for science graduates in Ireland.
The Biopharma industry has made a capital investment of $8 billion in new facilities in Ireland, most of which has happened in the past 10 years. This is almost the largest level of investment in new biotechnology anywhere in the world. Currently, Ireland’s annual exports of pharmaceutical, bio and chemical provide is produce is valued at €55 billion per annum.
Ireland is the 8th largest producer of pharmaceutical products globally.
Currently 9 of the 10 top pharmaceutical companies and 17 of the top 25 medical device companies have significant operations in Ireland. Ireland has also become a very significant player in the biotechnology industry and several high, profile start up companies have established operations here in the past 12 months including Regeneron and Alexion.

What are some of the ‘jobs of the future’ that you have come across recently?
Technology is changing at a incredible pace. For any graduating in the next 5 to 10 years, jobs will exist that don’t exist now. For example, genetic counselling is an up and coming global area.

What was the last really great role that you recruited for, that would suit someone just graduating from college?
There are several great career opportunities that will suit someone graduating from college with 3 – 6 months, relevant experience. Examples include quality control analyst positions or junior documentation roles in a biotech, pharma or medical device environment. Graduates who choose degrees that offer an industry work placement, have a higher chance of securing a role when they graduate.

Stuck for rainy day activities?

DiceMaths is still viewed by many students as being one of the hardest subjects in school but something that really works as a way of helping to change that mindset is to expose children to maths in a more fun and interactive way. So why not combine learning with fun and try out some maths games with your child the next time you are looking for something to entertain them with on a wet day?

It doesn’t have to be complicated – Use simple materials such as used butter boxes and buttons and see how immersed your younger children will become in this simple yet enjoyable activity while learning how to count. Or for the ones that are a little older, why not try some of the old favourites such as Ludo or Monopoly Junior. Playing these games, children don’t even realise that they are learning something valuable that will help them later in life.

We are working with a number of schools in the Midlands who have recently decided to try out the Canadian ‘JUMP Maths’ Programme. JUMP Maths (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies), is a charitable organisation which focuses on new and more innovative ways to educate young people about maths. With origins in Canada, its mission is to encourage a love and understanding of maths in students and educators. The JUMP Maths philosophy is founded upon a belief that all children can be led to think mathematically, even if they may harbour some innate anxiety around it.  Many students face unnecessary fears when it comes to learning maths but the positive feedback we have had from teaching staff involved in the delivery of JUMP locally indicates that the programme is really helping to restore confidence in students!

Anything that combines STEM and learning with fun gets our vote 🙂



Your Favourite Science Fact!

D15192-0025We are trying to build our collection of science facts in advance of ‘Science Week’ which takes place in November from the 9th to 16th.
We already have a number of great favourite science facts which were submitted by some of our key speakers such as the following :

– The human body has ten times more bacteria cells than human cells.
– A neutron star (what remains after a Super Nova) is so dense that a portion of it the size of a sugar cube would weigh as much as all of humanity
– In 1941, penicillin was first used to treat a bacterial infection in a human being. However, because there was such a small supply of penicillin available at the time, all of the patient’s urine was collected and the excreted penicillin was extracted from the urine and re-administered to the patient!

We would love to hear yours! Please contact us and tell us something really interesting about science. It can be anything science-related because science is all around us in so many aspects of every day life. We look forward to hearing from you…..

You can email: Gillian Maunsell –

In Conversation with Dr. Fiona Walsh…


On November 11th,  a talk will be delievered in Athlone Institute of Technology called ‘TALES OF ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE’ by Dr. Fiona Walsh of NUI, Maynooth. We caught up with Dr. Walsh in advance of the festival to find out  what inspires her and to learn more about the types of projects she is working on…

What inspired you to work in a science related field?

I like the idea of going to work and not knowing what I’ll find out. I guess I’ve never really lost that but why question that most small children ask. I love the idea that we can find the answers to these questions ourselves and see if the answers that we were given in books or by teachers is actually true. Science for me is all about asking questions and then figuring out how we can answer them. The more questions I asked the more I wanted to keep going and find out more.

What types of research projects are you working on relating to antibiotics?

I’m interested in antibiotic resistance and antibiotic discovery. When we think of antibiotic resistance and antibiotics we usually picture a hospital or patient. But most antibiotics were produced by bacteria or mushroom type creatures in soil. The bacteria in soil and the environment have protected themselves from antibiotics for millennia. I’m interested in looking at how antibiotic resistance gets from its origins in the environment into bacteria in people as well as how the use of antibiotics in humans and animals affects the bacteria in the environment. This is difficult because we need to look at bacteria in soil, water and animals as well as humans and the world is a very large place.
Another project that I am working on is looking for new antibiotics in soil. The first antibiotics were discovered by looking at bacteria in soil using technology from the 1950s. I’ve updated these processes to use 21st century technology and science to look at soil bacteria that produce antibiotics.

Some people are nervous about giving their children too many antiobiotics, why is this the case?

Antibiotics are precious medicines. They will only work if they can stop the infection. The more we expose bacteria to antibiotics the higher the chances are that we will help the resistant ones to survive. This is true for all people, not just children.

Why is it important for NUIM to take part in such events as the Midlands Science Festival?

Maynooth University has a great science faculty and I think it’s important for people to see what research goes on in their region and in Ireland. For many people universities are places to go to get a degree, but there is another world within our universities that is expanding boundaries of science and finding out information that wasn’t known yesterday. This is an extremely important part of the university and one that the public should be able to hear about.

Are there are any specific challenges for women in science now?

Until there are an equal number of men and women as professors and leaders in science there will always be challenges for women in science. Identifying women that have made it to the top in science is difficult. I recently read an article about the way in which men and women read maps. The myth has been that women can’t read maps. The passage said that maps have been made by men for men for centuries. Once the maps were made by women there was no difference between the genders in ability to read the map. I think that this is also true of science careers, until women are visible as leaders in science we will have only one map of how to get to the destination of being world-class scientist.

What is your favourite science fact?

The human body has ten times more bacteria cells than human cells.

Selfie Festival Fun..

Paul CarrollWe are really gearing up for the festival now and the preparations are well underway. You can look out for us in a town, school, shopping centre, tourist spot and many other places near you in the coming weeks when we will be bringing our virtual brand ambassador, Curious Kim on tour around the Midlands and beyond! She even took a trip to Dublin last week to meet one of our festival partners, top recruitment company, Cpl! (Photo-Curious Kim with Paul Carroll, Business Development Director, Cpl)

We will be encouraging you to take selfies with Kim and then tweet them to be in with a chance of winning a prize. Why not get into the spirit of the Midlands Science Festival and help us celebrate science in the weeks ahead!


Gizmo-makers and heartbreakers!

MakerspaceMidlands Makerspace are a creative community who want to develop and share their knowledge and skills and they are offering a number of workshops on Saturday November 15th as part of the Midlands Science Festival..   I recently caught up with Conor Brannigan to find out more….

What is a Makerspace and who can use it?

A makerspace is like a hackerspace, only we prefer not to use that term to avoid certain “misunderstandings” about our purpose.. It’s a space available to a loose group of people with a variety of different interests. We have people with an IT background who like to build small robots, do some programming, and talk tech. Some of our members are interested in sustainability, that is, growing food locally and at home, repairing things rather than disposing of them, repurposing broken or waste items, ways to use less energy in day to day life, small scale power generation, and so on. Some of our members are passionate about teaching computer skills to young people in a group environment, and teaching them basic tech crafts, such as building electrical circuits, or fashioning fun items from LEDs and breadboards. It’s hard to define, but we, and some of our friends in the local artists group who host us, believe in community involvement and participation, particularly for those who may not have typical interests and hobbies. We want people curious about technology, we want people who like to build things and share skills, we want them out of their houses and meeting like-minded individuals to chat, and work on projects together in an informal group setting.

What is your role in Midlands Makerspace Conor?

I wouldn’t consider myself as having a set role in the group, I think that we take on different roles and play different parts as they become necessary. Generally, I find myself being a facilitator of sorts, liaising with our friends in the local art group who support and host us in their building, I manage some of the web side of things, call some of our meetings etc. At times, people ask me questions about electrical theory and practice, engineering, or renewable energy and I’m happy to answer those if I can, but truthfully, we’re all learning from each other. The roles of teacher and student interchange rapidly.

What inspired you to get into this particular area of technology?

If you mean my trade and engineering degree, when I was 17 I needed work, and I thought that electrical work used a bit of brains and would keep me cleaner than some of the other trades. Well, I was wrong about the clean part. I studied Mechanical Engineering and Renewable Energy because, at the time, I believed that with enough skilled people in this country, we could revolutionise the power grid and tap into Ireland’s massive renewable energy potential. I still believe that, correctly implemented and managed, renewable energy would create massive employment and attract a lot of foreign investment and manufacturing firms interested in operating and building products with green energy.

If you mean why and how I got involved with the Makerspace, it was through a chance encounter with Jules Fitzsimons at a meeting of the local artists group. We had a chat about our ideas, and set up the group together from there. Jules is a member of many voluntary organisations, including hackerspaces in Dublin, so he knew the model, and what was needed to set it up.

Can you tell us a little bit about your renewable energy projects?

We are still in the building phase of the group itself, as it was only founded earlier this year – and I have a proposal/brief up on our group forum, and we may add another one for hydropower soon. As a group project, I’m proposing that we build a wind turbine from scrap parts. I have the skills to do it, but up until recently, I was lacking a workshop to build it in. More than one kitchen table has been destroyed in the past.. We’ve been discussing it in our group recently, and just yesterday evening I got some good insight on the safety braking system from founder member Robin Grindrod, and a new member, Amy. Rather than just build a wind turbine, I would like to get more people involved, even working on the different components as separate projects. I’d like people to see how easy it is to build technology like this from freely available scrap, and see how they can begin generating their own power at home. Another founder member, Bianca, was looking into biogas digesters recently, but we have yet to flesh out the finer details of that project. 

Why are events such as the Midlands Science Festival important do you think?

Well, we want people to get out there with their interests. We want people to know that if you’re interested in science and technology, or just having fun building things, that there are like minded people out there that they might not ordinarily meet. I know, as well, that some of us believe that to find what you love doing, you need to try as many things as possible until you find the right fit. And the best time to do that is when you’re young, curious and open to new ideas. It’s imperative that young people meet science at an early age, get to try it on for size, get curious about it. People shouldn’t meet real science for the first time in a college or university, I think, they should experience it in their own spaces, and develop their passions before they try to pick a career path. We’re also fans of a big, inclusive community effort that celebrates knowledge and learning.

What advice would you have for young people considering a career in a Science or Technology area?

I could only give them the same advice that was given to me when I applied to AIT. Pick the course, pick the career that you would get up in the morning and do for no money whatsoever. Pick the thing that you’re passionate about, forget titles, pay, or status. And, the best way to find what you’re passionate about is to get out there and try as many things as you can, especially while you’re young. But, then, it’s never too late to start something new.



We Love Chocolate…..

chco event 2….So you can imagine how pleased we were when we recently heard that it can actually be good for you! Check out some of the best reasons we can find not to feel guilty about eating one of our favourite foods!

  • The amount of caffeine in chocolate is quite low compared to coffee and other things we sometimes claim boost one’s energy.
  • Chocolate is a natural painkiller.
  • Dark chocolate aids the “good” bacteria in your body.
  • Eating chocolate can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Chocolate’s scent increases the amount of relaxation-inducing brainwaves.
  • Regularly eating dark chocolate reduces ones risk of heart disease.
  • Eating dark chocolate can help protect your skin from being damaged by the sun.
  • The anti-oxidants in chocolate will keep you looking young

…And one of our favourite Irish scientists/friend to the Midlands Science Festival, Professor Luke O’ Neill, recently informed us that its just a myth that chocolate causes acne, so better again! Everything in moderation of course, but for now after a hard day’s work ….we are happy to tuck in!

Ploughing Fun..

PloughingWe really enjoyed our day today at the extremely busy 2014 National Ploughing Championships where we were promoting the upcoming festival with the help of our partner Laois County Council. Europe’s largest Outdoor Exhibition and Agricultural Trade Show, the National Ploughing Championships attracts on average 1,400 exhibitors and
over 200,000 visitors annually.

Special thanks to the Junior Einsteins Club, who performed for packed audiences in the Laois tent today. (photo)

Our virtual brand ambassador Curious Kim also came along to join in the fun and the whole event was a great success. This was a great warm-up for the festival which is getting closer and closer now so keep an eye on the site for events taking place near you! If you are a twitter user, you can also follow Curious Kim on her science adventures … @curiouskim1

The 2014 National Ploughing Championships will take place from 23rd to 25th September at Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois.


Creating a Buzz around Science…

j headshot

After weeks of running around trying to get a few important words from some of our key speakers, I felt it was time to grab a coffee with Jackie Gorman, the director of the Midlands Science Festival to find out what its all about!

Jackie, you are the inspiration behind the festival – the largest celebration of science & engineering in the Midlands. Could you tell us about your role as director of the event?

I don’t know if I’m the inspiration behind it but I’m certainly inspired by !! The festival has really grown out of a series of projects Atlantic Corridor has run over the years promoting science education with our local and international partners. The role of managing the festival involves everything from identifying potential speakers to creating new events and trying to find the right mix of activities for everyone from primary school children to the general public. It also involves working with partners, media, sourcing sponsorship and volunteers and making sure everything runs as well as possible. It’s only a small part of my overall role in Atlantic Corridor but it’s a very interesting piece of work as I find I’m as likely now to be reading New Scientist as the newspaper and some days, the scientific news seems a lot more interesting to me. I’m always noticing things and filing them away as a possible science festival event.

How did the idea for this festival originate?

The idea for a festival came about as a result of a couple of projects we’ve run in the area of science education promotion and specifically a number of science week events we ran in co-operation with science foundation ireland. The midlands is a large region and has never had a science festival and we felt there was a market there for such an initiative and in our first year, we attracted over 4,500 people to our events and had 33 events, so it seems we were right, people are interested in science. We were in fact overwhelmed by the reaction last year as it was our first year and at some events, it almost felt like people were just waiting for something like a science festival to happen as there’s amazing grassroots science activities happening in the midlands such as an amazing science club in Birr Library, the SPEAK organisation for gifted children, a plethora of coder dojos, maker groups, it’s amazing to be involved in trying to promote science in the region right now.


What are the core objectives of this festival?

The main thing is to create a buzz about science, not just in students but the general public and to help people to see that science is all around them and that it actually has an impact on our daily lives. It’s in everything from our mobile phones to our sun-creams. It’s about creating greater interest in science education and careers which of course benefits the midlands region in terms of being an attractive place to invest in. It’s also about creating a more scientifically literate public and this year that’s a theme we are really taking on board with some events we are doing with the UK organisation Sense about Science. Are all the events taking place in schools? No, we have a small number of events being hosted in schools but we also have events in colleges, libraries, bars, shopping centres and the idea is really to bring the science out to the public and make it fun and accessible. In a way it’s about engaging people with science and the wonder of science, without them even realising it is science as some people may have hang-ups and think they didn’t like science in school or it’s not for me but when people engage with events like alchemist cafes, they surprise themselves by really enjoying what they have learnt and of course they are learning without even realising they are. So whilst schools are important for us in terms of engaging with primary and secondary school students, it’s just one small part of the overall programme.

Who can attend the festival?

The festival is open to everyone and we have a great selection of public events this year. Particularly popular are the alchemist cafes which are really about having a public debate and discussion on issues in science. This year we will be covering topics such as diabetes, mental health, pseudoscience and how to be an informed consumer and our immune system and how it works. These are fascinating topics that everyone has an interest in if they think about it – we all want to be healthy, to have good mental health, to know how to make informed choices as a consumer. The festival is also very open in that we encourage people to come along and ask questions and share their views on science and how it impacts their lives. We have some amazing speakers and it’s a unique opportunity for people here in the midlands to ask questions and debate with some top class scientists. For example, Professor Luke O’Neill of TCD who has been a great supporter of the festival since we started, is back to us again this year and this year he’s even more a science super-star as he has just been listed in the top 1% of scientists in the world for his amazing research into the immune system.

How will the festival be helpful in helping to attract more young people into science related careers? Are there any specific events focusing on career guidance?

This is of course a core objective for us as the midlands region has one of the lowest rates of progression in the state to science and technology courses at third level and this has an impact in terms of the region’s attractiveness for investment as skills are a key issue in decision making about a location. We have a number of careers workshops with Cpl, a recruitment company which has a particular expertise in the science and technology sectors.  We also hope that the general fun events will also have an impact on people’s perception of science studies and careers as parents and teachers also have a strong influencing role in how students decide what to study and what kind of jobs they might like. I think it’s all about showing people the discovery, fun and variety that can lie at the heart of a career in science.

What is your favourite science fact?

A neutron star (what remains after a Super Nova) is so dense that a portion of it the size of a sugar cube would weigh as much as all of humanity. Brian Cox talked about this one day on his radio show and I’ve always remembered it, I think it helps to put life into perspective.

It’s never too late to fulfil your dreams…


Applied Science 1 RoryRory Duffy is a teacher in Colaiste Naomh Cormac in Kilcormac, Co.Offaly who runs a special course for adults who wish to return to education to study Science. We caught up with Rory to find out more about this course and its success to date…..

What is the name of the course you currently run for adults Rory and how long has it been in existence?

The course is called Applied Science/Laboratory Techniques (FETAC Level 5) and this is its fifth year of running.

Tell us a little bit about the types of people who take this course? Can anyone sign up to it?

The people who take this course come to us from a very varied background and age group. We have had people just out of school and people in their fifties. Some are students that didn’t quite get enough points to do what they wanted in college while others thought that they were too long out of education to go back. Some students have started studying third level then discovered they were on the wrong course for them and wanted to change. Others are challenged by a confidence issue rather than a question of ability. Everyone is able to with the right supports.

Do some of the students move on to other academic institutions after the course?

Everyone who completes the course can gain access to third level. We have links into AIT and past pupils from this course have become some of the best performers in AIT. Some students start off thinking that they will do the course to learn about science without plans to go to third level. Again, they soon realise that they have the ability to cope with third level. We also have students in Maynooth and other colleges.

Have you had many success stories and what types of jobs opportunities can people avail of after completing the course?

Every pupil that completes the course is a success story. No matter what field the students move on to, whether work or further education, the learning and experiences of studying applied science will add value to them. Critical and Scientific thinking are essential to problem solving strategies and that is more and more evident in today’s world.

What would you say to encourage more people back into education and particularly back into a science career?

As someone who only went to college aged twenty nine and who did his HDip at forty five, I would tell everyone that they might not believe it but they are no different to me. We all have the ability to achieve in some field but we may lack the belief to see it through. Come along to Applied Science Lab Techniques and try it. You might start to believe!

Why are events such as the Midlands Science Festival important do you think?

For me it makes complete sense to get people thinking in a scientific way as soon as possible. The science fair is an opportunity for pupils and schools to show science as being important in our lives. This exposure is important to normalise science study in our society and it helps encourage science as being fun. Because it is fun!