The Ultimate Guide to Acing HPLC Interview Questions and Answers

Are you preparing for an interview related to High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)? Whether you’re a fresh graduate or an experienced professional, mastering the art of answering HPLC interview questions can be the key to landing your dream job. In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive into the most commonly asked HPLC interview questions and provide you with a detailed understanding of the concepts, along with sample answers to help you ace your next interview.

What is HPLC and Why is it Important?

HPLC, or High-Performance Liquid Chromatography, is a powerful analytical technique used to separate, identify, and quantify the components of a mixture. It is widely used in various industries, including pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, environmental analysis, and chemical research.

The importance of HPLC lies in its ability to provide highly accurate and precise results, making it an indispensable tool for quality control, product development, and research. By understanding the principles and applications of HPLC, you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field, which is crucial for impressing potential employers.

Common HPLC Interview Questions and Answers

1. What is the basic principle of HPLC?

HPLC is based on the principle of differential partitioning of components between two immiscible phases: a stationary phase (typically a solid adsorbent material packed in a column) and a mobile phase (a liquid solvent or solvent mixture).

The sample mixture is injected into the mobile phase, which carries it through the stationary phase. The components of the mixture interact differently with the stationary phase, leading to their separation based on their affinity for the two phases. The separated components are then detected and quantified by a suitable detector, such as a UV-Vis, fluorescence, or refractive index detector.

2. What are the main components of an HPLC system?

An HPLC system typically consists of the following main components:

  • Solvent reservoir: Holds the mobile phase solvents.
  • Pump: Delivers the mobile phase through the system at a constant and precise flow rate.
  • Injector: Introduces the sample into the mobile phase stream.
  • Column: Contains the stationary phase where the separation occurs.
  • Detector: Measures the presence and quantity of the separated components as they elute from the column.
  • Data acquisition system: Records and processes the detector signals.

3. What are the different modes of HPLC?

HPLC can be classified into several modes based on the type of stationary phase and the separation mechanism involved:

  • Normal-phase HPLC: The stationary phase is polar, and the mobile phase is non-polar. Separation is based on polarity differences.
  • Reversed-phase HPLC: The stationary phase is non-polar, and the mobile phase is polar. Separation is based on hydrophobicity.
  • Ion-exchange HPLC: The stationary phase has charged functional groups, and the separation is based on electrostatic interactions.
  • Size-exclusion HPLC: Separation is based on the size of the molecules, where larger molecules elute faster than smaller ones.

4. What are the factors affecting HPLC separation?

Several factors can influence the separation efficiency and resolution in HPLC:

  • Column properties: The type of stationary phase, column dimensions, and particle size.
  • Mobile phase composition: The type and ratio of solvents used as the mobile phase.
  • Flow rate: The rate at which the mobile phase is pumped through the system.
  • Temperature: The temperature at which the separation is carried out.
  • Sample properties: The nature, concentration, and solubility of the sample components.

5. How do you optimize an HPLC method?

Optimizing an HPLC method involves adjusting various parameters to achieve the desired separation and resolution. Here are some common strategies:

  • Mobile phase optimization: Adjust the composition, pH, or ionic strength of the mobile phase.
  • Column selection: Choose a column with the appropriate stationary phase chemistry and particle size.
  • Temperature control: Modify the column temperature to influence the separation selectivity.
  • Gradient elution: Use a gradient of mobile phase composition to improve resolution.
  • Sample preparation: Apply appropriate sample pretreatment techniques to remove interference.

6. What are the common detectors used in HPLC?

Various detectors are available for HPLC systems, each with its own advantages and applications:

  • UV-Vis detector: Measures the absorption of ultraviolet or visible light by the sample components.
  • Fluorescence detector: Measures the fluorescence emission of molecules upon excitation by a specific wavelength of light.
  • Refractive index detector: Detects changes in the refractive index of the mobile phase due to the presence of dissolved solutes.
  • Electrochemical detector: Measures the oxidation or reduction of electroactive species in the sample.
  • Mass spectrometer: Identifies and quantifies compounds based on their molecular masses and fragmentation patterns.

7. How do you troubleshoot common HPLC problems?

HPLC systems can encounter various issues that may affect the quality of the results. Here are some common troubleshooting steps:

  • Baseline drift: Check for leaks, impurities in the mobile phase, or detector issues.
  • Poor resolution: Optimize mobile phase composition, column temperature, or consider gradient elution.
  • Peak tailing: Investigate sample solubility, mobile phase pH, or column degradation.
  • High backpressure: Check for column blockages, worn pump seals, or incorrect mobile phase composition.
  • Carryover: Perform thorough system cleaning or use appropriate sample diluents.

8. What are the advantages and limitations of HPLC?

Advantages of HPLC:

  • High sensitivity and selectivity
  • Versatility in separating a wide range of compounds
  • Quantitative and qualitative analysis capabilities
  • Automation and reproducibility
  • Compatibility with various detectors

Limitations of HPLC:

  • Relatively high cost of instrumentation and consumables
  • Potential for sample degradation or alteration during analysis
  • Limited sample capacity and injection volume
  • Potential for column fouling or degradation over time

9. How do you ensure the validity and reliability of HPLC results?

To ensure the validity and reliability of HPLC results, several measures can be taken:

  • System suitability testing: Perform regular checks on system performance using standard reference materials.
  • Method validation: Validate the HPLC method for parameters such as linearity, accuracy, precision, specificity, and robustness.
  • Instrument qualification: Regularly qualify and calibrate the HPLC system according to established protocols.
  • Quality control samples: Analyze known quality control samples alongside unknown samples for monitoring and corrective actions.
  • Data integrity: Implement measures to ensure data integrity, such as audit trails, electronic signatures, and secure data storage.

10. Can you explain the importance of HPLC in the pharmaceutical industry?

HPLC plays a crucial role in the pharmaceutical industry for various applications:

  • Drug development: HPLC is used for the separation, identification, and quantification of drug candidates and impurities during drug discovery and development stages.
  • Quality control: It is employed for the analysis of raw materials, intermediates, and finished drug products to ensure compliance with regulatory standards and specifications.
  • Stability studies: HPLC is essential for monitoring the stability and degradation behavior of pharmaceutical formulations under various storage conditions.
  • Pharmacokinetic studies: It is used to analyze biological samples (e.g., plasma, urine) to determine the concentration of drugs and their metabolites over time.
  • Bioanalysis: HPLC coupled with mass spectrometry is widely used for the analysis of biomolecules, such as proteins, peptides, and nucleic acids.


Mastering HPLC interview questions and answers is crucial for showcasing your knowledge and expertise in this analytical technique. By understanding the fundamental principles, components, modes, and applications of HPLC, you can effectively communicate your skills and demonstrate your ability to contribute to the success of your potential employer.

Remember, preparation is key. Practice answering these questions, familiarize yourself with industry-specific terminologies, and stay updated with the latest advancements in HPLC technology. With the right mindset and knowledge, you can confidently tackle any HPLC-related interview question and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

HPLC interview Question and Answer | Pharmabeej


What is HPLC interview questions?

Other questions to prepare for an HPLC interview Why do you use a guard column with your analytical or preparative column? What happens if your sample solvent is stronger than your mobile phase? Can you get a sharper peak by injecting your sample into a weaker injection solvent?

How do I prepare for a HPLC test?

The sample is mixed with solvents in varying dilutions and can be pre-filtered before the sample is put into the column to ensure purity of the results, where a sample has to pass through the column at a regular or fast speed a HPLC pump is used.

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