We all hear about what things we shouldn’t do, say or wear when going for a job interview, but what about the interview questions we should be asking? Remember, a job interview should be a two way process - it is as much about you finding out about the company as it is for them to find out whether you’d be the right fit for the job!
A Life Sciences job interview is also a great opportunity to impress your interviewer by displaying your knowledge about the organisation and asking intelligent questions about who they are and how they operate.
Our advice is to tailor your questions to the specific research you have already carried out on the company – every client wants to know they have been thoroughly researched and that they are your preference. Aim to have at least 5 interview questions prepared to show this.
- Look into their values / USPs / specialist services – what can you see that they do that stands out and ask about it.
- Ask about their awards / pieces of work that they are sharing on social media / any company news that piqued their interest from a blog post
- Demonstrate your curiosity, research and to prove how interested you are in a role
- Discuss how you joining would benefit yourself and them.
Here are some ideas of the interview questions we think you should be asking at a Pharma or Life Sciences interview:
What do the most successful new hires do in their first month here?
This shows that you don’t expect to spend your first few weeks filling out paperwork, going through admin etc. – you’re eager to get stuck in and begin bringing your expertise to the role as quickly as possible. It also shows that you want to be successful in your career, are looking to learn from other people’s experiences and have the ability to quickly settle into a new role.
What is the biggest challenge the team has faced in the past year?
This question shows that you are aware that all companies have their problem and things don’t always run smoothly. By knowing what challenges the team may already be facing (or have just faced) you’ll go into the role with a stronger understanding of what to expect – that problem the department has been struggling with for the past few months won’t come as such a shock if you’ve had some forewarning about it.
What are the biggest challenges currently facing the team and how could my skills aid in solving these?
Similarly to the above, by asking how you personally could help it will encourage the hiring manager to envisage seeing you working for the company. It also shows that you’re keen to help others, the team and the company as a whole.
Why did you decide to work at this company?
Asking this shows that you have a keen interest in others – not just in speaking about yourself. It will also give you an insight into what type of person the interviewer is and will allow them to speak about themselves while giving a no-holds-barred sales pitch for the company. You could follow this question by directly asking how much the company has changed since they joined.
How do you deliver negative feedback?
Accepting that you will receive negative feedback at some point during the role, this question shows the employer that you understand that no one is perfect, that you are only human and that you will make the occasional mistake. It will also show you how the team works while pushing the interviewer to really think about how they would answer this difficult question.
What objectives would you use to measure how successful I would be in this role?
As well as knowing how you’d receive negative feedback it’s also important to know how your successes would be measured – knowing this will help you understand what it would take to advance in your career were you to be offered the position, as well as helping you see if they share the same company values as you would expect to work with. It also shows management that you aren’t afraid to be held accountable.
Why has the position become available?
Showing an interest in why the position is available will give you an insight into the company and the role – if the previous person has been promoted this will show that there is room for progression. If they were fired or quit this may show that they are underlying problems at the company or a reason for employees to feel unsatisfied.
What can you offer me in terms of development and support?
We always encourage candidates to enquire about training and development. What opportunities are there to grow professionally? What types of training do you run? This shows that you’ve got an interest in learning on the job to develop your skills and knowledge to benefit not only yourself but also the company as a whole. It also suggests that you're looking to stay with the business long term. This is something you need to find out for your own career also - if no training is offered you may need to think carefully about whether this is really the role for you.
Where does the job fit into the team structure?
“Team player” is a phrase thrown around far too often in CVs and cover letters but we all want to know what part we’d actually be playing within a team – How many people will I be working alongside? Will there be anyone above or below me? Is it a sociable working group? This is important information to know in order for you to understand whether this is somewhere you can see yourself working.
What are the company’s plans for the future? Where do they see themselves in 5 years time?
This is a great question to ask as it shows you’re also interested in the company as a whole. It’s always useful to know where the company is planning on going. Do they want to grow? Will they be employing more people to your team? Will this give you an opportunity for further progression/promotion? Again, the interview process is as much about you learning about the role as it is about them learning about you, and will give management a chance to sell the company.
Other great questions to ask at a Pharma or Life Sciences interview are:
What is the social culture like?
What are your long-term plans for the business? How does my role lend itself to that?
What is the progression like?
How has this role come about?
Who will be my direct report?
How should I measure success within this role?
What are my future colleagues like?
Where do you see this role in a years time?
What would you say makes you stand out within the Life Sciences industry?
We hope this article has been helpful and gives you more clarity about how to ask relevant questions at a Life Sciences job interview. If you’d like to find out more about anything we’ve discussed, please get in touch.
Looking to interview within Pharma or Life Sciences?
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