The pharmaceutical industry has grown rapidly in the last few years. Modern technology and advancements in medical science have come a long way in such a short time. Innovations and discoveries are being made every day. As a result, pharmaceutical career opportunities are increasing and it is no surprise that many people are trying to land a job in the industry or reach new heights if they’ve been a part of it for a while already.
As with any growing industry, the competitiveness becomes greater each year, which is no different in the pharma industry. To remain competitive, pharma companies want to employ the best people. In this article, we will provide some guidance on preparing for an interview in the sector to ensure that you bring your A-game from the onset. This can be done in just three broad steps.
Step 1: Preparation (The Basics)
Preparing for an interview can be an arduous task. The most common action people undertake in response to being invited for an interview is guessing the questions they may be asked and trying to formulate the perfect answer to each. Although this is important, fixating on just questions is often people’s biggest downfall and can impact your interviewer’s perception of you before the questioning even begins. Here are a few pre-question preparation points to consider:
Confirm the time and place of the interview – This seems straightforward but ensures that you are fully aware of aspects such as which floor you should report to, who to ask for when you arrive, and who will be conducting the interview.
Plan your travel time – Following the above, ensure that once you know the location, you have taken the time to consider how long it will take you to get there and plan out your trip accordingly. Be sure to give sufficient time for any unforeseen delays like traffic.
Look professional – Pick out what you will wear in advance and try it on beforehand to ensure you’re happy with how it looks on you. Looking good and feeling comfortable is very important and will come across in your interview.
Print extra copies of your cover letter and resume – While you may have already submitted a copy of these during your application, you should not take for granted that the interviewer will have it on hand, especially if more than one person is interviewing you. It also shows that you’re proactive and well prepared.
Prepare a list of questions – Asking questions shows the interviewer that you’re serious about the position and have taken time to consider the role. Be sure to know these questions well and ensure that any that may have been answered already during the interview are removed when going through them with the interviewer.
Step 2: Research
Conducting your own research is vital! It is much more than typing the company name on Google and hoping for the best. Research is an in-depth process to discover relevant information and should be allotted the time and care to be done right. Here are some of the most important research areas you’re going to need to focus on:
The role – If you are new to the profession or industry, ensure that you understand the exact functions that will be expected of you, how your role will impact others in the business, and what lies within as well as outside your scope of work.
Research the company – As mentioned, this does not just mean doing a web search on the business name. Have a look at their mission, vision, and goals. Understand what their greatest values and challenges are.
The market – Figure out who their major competitors are and why. Consider the key differentiators between the companies, along with each of the strengths and weaknesses.
Look up your interviewers – If you already know who will be interviewing you, try to look them up. LinkedIn and several other social media sites can help you with this and will give you some insight into what type of a person your interviewer is in a normal setting. You can use this to your advantage during the interview.
Research employees and/ or past interviewees – Gaining knowledge from somebody that has had firsthand experience with the company is invaluable. Pick their brain about as many details as possible that can help with your preparation.
Once you have enough information, be sure to take a moment and revisit your personal achievements and how they can be related to the company you’re hoping to join. This will allow you to identify any grey areas and time to research remedies to fill any potential gaps in your qualifications, experience, and overall suitability.
You can start practicing if you’re well prepared for the interview. Here is a list of common pharma interview questions to help you, but remember, specific knowledge-based questions relating to the role you are applying for will differ from one situation to the next. Practicing by using mock interviews will help you identify such questions and master the more common ones.
Below are your basic interview questions that should not be overlooked. Don’t just think about the answers. Say them out loud and pay attention to how they sound.
- Why are you interested in working here?
- Name your strengths and/ or weaknesses
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your hobbies?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
Next, we will look at more situation-based questions. These may require a little more thought than the ones above because while they may seem general, they relate to you in the work environment and serve as a major part of your judgment.
- Discuss an accomplishment you are proud of.
- What are some of your leadership experiences?
- Give an example of a time when you went above your requirement for a co-worker or client.
- What can you offer the company that nobody else can?
- How do you handle pressure? Or this may be phrased in a situational context with you being asked, how/ what you would do in a certain situation.
The question below deserves individual attention because it’s fairly different from the rest and extremely important. You should use information from your research to meticulously construct a conclusive response to this question as it is often heavily weighted by interviewers:
What do you want to achieve or accomplish in your first x days/months of employment with the company?
The time period may vary, and the interviewer may ask about several different time frames – three months, six months, one year, three years, etc. They will be interested in seeing where you see yourself within the company and what you hope to achieve within that time frame to see if you will fit in with what they see for the company.
The pharma industry is desirable for many job seekers due to its rapid growth and the benefits many companies offer their employees. Landing a job with these companies can be extremely competitive and requires meticulous preparation to ensure you stand out from the crowd. It is normal to feel nervous, but by preparing well, you can remove some of that anxiety and replace it with confidence and a clear perspective of what’s expected of you.