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Preparing for an interview? Here are 3 knock ’em dead answers!

When hiring for the pharmaceutical, biotech, or medical device industries (or really any industry) every decision maker learns one thing sooner or later:

Not everyone who interviews well makes a great employee.

The corollary is also true: Not every great employee interviews well.

We said this knowledge is picked up “sooner or later,” but honestly, we should have said that this lesson is almost always learned too late, but that’s a subject for another blog one of these days.

There are a variety of reasons this is true, but let’s share one of the most important contributing factors to this phenomenon. People who interview well are often great talkers. People who make the best members of a team are usually the best listeners.

So, how do you rate on those attributes? If you’re a great employee, but suffer a little unease at interviews, take a few minutes to go over some basics so you will be better prepared to offer engaging answers to interview questions that really reflect who you are. Let’s look at some of the questions and responses you’ll almost certainly be asked when you’re sitting across from a life sciences recruiter or a company hiring manager.

Disclaimer: This blog was previously posted by Seuss Consulting and has been slightly modified for Seuss Recruitment.

Tell us about yourself.

Often you will be given the opportunity to present a summary of your experience. This is a chance to cover some areas that may have been missing from the conversation, which you believe reflect well on you. Take about two to five minutes to:

  • Highlight what you enjoyed in previous positions,
  • Discuss what interests prompted you to move from one job to the next, and
  • Succinctly explain your success in the position that relates most closely to the job you are currently applying for.

Keep it short. It’s better to make it concise and engaging so it leads to a few questions afterwards rather than cover every detail of your life starting with your award-winning fifth grade science fair project.

Why do you want to work here?

Ugh. Really? In many cases you want to work “here” because “here” is where the job is, but alas, that’s not usually a suitable response. There are other variations of this question as well, such as “Why do you want this job?”

Let’s start with the first thing you must do when you’re serious about working for a specific company: Your homework. Check out the company’s website and all of its social media. Come armed with a few solid bullet points that serve as a connection between the company’s identity (brand) and your personality and professional aspirations.

If you have colleagues who have worked for or are currently working for the company, mention how highly they speak of the company. Perhaps we shouldn’t have to say this, but if these are friends who formerly worked there, make sure they parted on good terms.

If you don’t have a personal connection to the company, let the interviewer know that you’ve been following the company, including a good knowledge of the company’s presence in the social media. Also, discuss things the company has achieved or is noted for.

The basic rule here is to have a few tangible things to say and to include positive references to the company.

Why would you be successful in the position you are applying for?

This might be simply stated, “Why should we hire you?” In the previous question, the job was to highlight the company and then yourself, here it’s the opposite. This is where you sell yourself.

Whether you’re interviewing for a spot in pharma or biotech business development, project management or any other position, keep this sales principle in mind: Solutions are more important than features. Understand what problem they expect to solve when they bring you on board and discuss how you can help them accomplish it. If you enter the interview not clear on what the firm needs to accomplish, ask. It should lead to a good discussion for both sides.

Degrees, previous positions or specific skills outside of the context of their contribution to the solution aren’t helpful. Plus, they’re on your curriculum vitae, so you would be plowing old ground anyway.

Also, your research, recruiter or previous connections to the company should have introduced you to the company’s culture and if there is any doubt in your mind about the culture, make it a topic of discussion during the interview. For example, If working as a team is important, pull that into your conversation. Grab on to any important attributes. By the way, before interviewing, be sure you are, in fact, a good fit for the culture. Also, management will appreciate you having taken the time to consider your compatibility with the way they do business.

Interviews are “white-knuckle time” for many, but they needn’t be. Remember that you and the company you’re applying at have the same goal: a satisfied and productive member of the team.

For more information on advancing your career in the life sciences or for pharma, biotech and CRO recruitment support, call us for an an enjoyable conversation at +31(0) 20 29 00 016 or be sure to send us an email at: