Interviewing for your dream role can be a challenging task, so we want to help you to navigate your application and guide you through the process. Here we have collated the insights and advice from our specialist consultants who have first-hand experience working with candidates across Pharma and Life Science sectors.
Pharma Market Research roles
A Typical Market Research Hiring Process
A two/three stage interview process is common within Market Research:
- A competency-based interview followed by a task proposal
- Second interview and task submission
- Potentially a final meeting to give you more of an overview of what it’s like to work in the company
Winning tips to take to a Market Research Interview
Put your recruiter to task
Your recruiter is very well placed to help and guide you through any tasks or presentations that might be asked of you by an interviewer. Our Senior MR Consultant, says: “We see tasks on a daily basis, so our insights can be very valuable in giving candidates the best chance of success.”
Showcase your skillset
Try and describe both quantitative and qualitative methods to show that you have a wide range of skills. Try and use recent examples and explain how you conducted research particularly effectively. Remember to be descriptive about the research experience you have carried out in previous roles. Specific examples are always better; gathering data on consumer demographics, preferences, needs, and buying habits in a particular field could all be good examples of your skillset.
Know your worth
Our Associate MR Director, says: “We’re in a candidate-short market right now, so it’s a fantastic time to look for a new job – there are more jobs than candidates. If you can demonstrate that you’re good at what you do, companies will pay good money to get you on board!”
Try to speak with enthusiasm. Show them that you enjoyed your research work, and try to refer to interesting conclusions (interpretations) of your market research.
Clinical Research roles
A Typical Clinical Research Hiring Process
The hiring processes when applying for a role in Clinical Research can vary depending on the role, but generally speaking, there are three stages:
- A telephone interview for an initial chat over the role/your experience
- A meeting between you and hiring managers for a more in-depth discussion
- A final task or presentation around the topic that’s relevant to the role
Winning tips to take to a Clinical Research Interview
Our Clinical Research consultant says, “Your past clinical research experience is incredibly important to any interviewer, so make sure that you are prepared with in-depth information from your past research and clinical projects.”
Your interviewer will want to ask you specific questions, and you should be well equipped to answer them. Questions are likely to be competency-based, so make note of any times when you faced a challenge and overcame adversity. Most likely, they will ask you about difficulties you’ve faced and how you worked with the rest of the research team. Have accurate and concise examples of real-life scenarios in your mind prior to your interview so that you can easily identify these when asked.
Market Access roles
A Typical Market Access Hiring Process
The hiring process in Market Access is generally based on the following four stages:
- An initial call or an informal chat with the employer
- Meeting with the hiring manager for a more in-depth discussion around the role and your experience
- Meeting with more senior members (directors etc.) of the company and there may be a task or presentation involved
- There also might be a final call with a senior team member to clarify or resolve any final discussion points
Winning tips to take to a Market Access Interview
Keep time in mind
When working with candidates in Market Access, our Senior Associate Consultant, has commonly seen poor time management negatively impacting her candidates’ job search. “Keep in mind the time limit you’re given for presenting your assignment.” When it comes to presentations, think quality rather than quantity but also be mindful of the time you have been given. It is important to show that you’re able to manage time well and finishing your assignment in a succinct manner is equally important.
Don’t push too hard
Being in a candidate-short market gives candidates some edge when negotiating for a role. But the goal of negotiation is to reach something that both the employer and candidate are happy with. Making unreasonable demands can all too often abate your chance of getting the role and could also compromise the employer’s impression of you.
Pharma Marketing roles
A Typical Pharma Marketing Hiring Processes
The three-stage hiring processes within these sectors can be relatively similar but vary depending on the seniority of the role:
- A phone call or virtual meeting to go through your experience, the role, and whatever questions you might have
- A second stage is more competency-focused and may require you to prepare a task or presentation
- Possible “signing-off” interview for a senior decision-maker (CEO etc.) It may also be an invitation for you to come into the office to get a real sense of the workplace and bring the role to life.
Winning tips to take to a Pharma Marketing interview
Honesty is key
Our Senior Associate Marketing Consultant, says: “Scenario questions require your relevant and honest answers; they can make a break your chance of securing the new job you’re pursuing.” Make sure not to deflect or avoid the questions, as this can be detrimental to the outcome of your interview.
Put them in the picture
Don’t sell yourself short when displaying your achievements; highlight what you’ve taken charge of with accuracy so the hiring manager has the full picture of your capability and potential. Stories and experiences are great, but numbers will be more memorable, particularly for digital marketing jobs. Back up your success and experience with data and metrics. Tell the interviewer how much profit you generated for your current company, explain how many advertisement clicks were generated from your ad campaigns, and how many followers you gained on the social channels you managed.
Stay in the know
The marketing industry is always evolving so it’s important to keep up to date with the latest software and technology. While in your interview, showcase your knowledge about the latest digital tools and trends in consumer behaviour. This will not only show the company that you’re a good candidate, but it will also confirm that you understand how to reach their target consumer.
Medical Communications roles
A Typical Medical Communications Hiring Process
- A writing/ editing test to get a better picture of your competency level
- An interview to meet the team will follow to discuss your experience
- Sometimes there will also be a final interview for you to meet more senior members of the wider team
- A call and informal conversation with the hiring manager to understand more about your experience and discuss the role in more detail
- A first interview usually lasts for an hour and involves 1 or 2 members of the team
- A writing test for the candidate to complete and return
- Second interview to discuss written work and final discussions
Client Service Roles
- A task to prepare a presentation relevant to the requirements of the role
- In the second interview you’d meet the hiring managers go through the outcome of the task, discussing the approach to the writing and any feedback
- Delivering your presentation, followed by a Q&A session. This stage is also a “panel interview” where you would meet more members of the team
Winning tips to take to a Medical Communications Interview
For a Med Comms role, your written and editorial competency is of course an essential requirement so the writing test is a decisive element in securing the role.
Follow the instructions carefully, don’t rush and always thoroughly proof read any submissions. Make sure your document is in line with the required length, composed with the correct layout and references, and addresses the right audience. Finally, you should always do your best to complete the test/ presentation and submit it within the given time frame.
Regulatory Affairs roles
A Typical Regulatory Affairs Hiring Process
A typical hiring process in Regulatory Affairs usually contains two/three stages:
- An introductory phone call to go through your experience, the role and whatever questions you might have
- A meeting with the head of department and/or the HR person
- Occasionally, the candidate would be asked to prepare a presentation, but this depends on the requirements of the role and doesn’t occur very often
Winning tips to take to a Regulatory Affairs Interview
Reel off your resources
Having a career in regulatory affairs requires you to keep up to date on new pharmaceutical research, drug advancements and medications. In your interview, provide actionable steps that you can take to keep track of recent advancements. You could also include specific resources that you can use to learn about new products.
Our Regulatory Affairs Senior Consultant, says, “Your recruiter may also want to know about any experience you have in obtaining legal approval for pharmaceutical materials using drug applications. Try discussing details about your specific experiences with new drug applications to demonstrate your knowledge of the application process.”
It may be useful to include a specific example of a drug application that you’ve filled out or you could share the estimated number of drug applications you've completed throughout your experience in regulatory affairs.
Pharma Sales roles
A Typical Pharma Sales Hiring Process
- A preliminary interview to go through your experience and skills relevant to the role
- After passing initial stage, you’ll be asked to complete an online personality profiling exercise
- An assessment involving a presentation on a business plan or clinical paper review. It can also include a role-play exercise and a competency-based interview
- You might also be asked to participate in a prioritisation or account planning exercise
Winning tips to take to a Pharma Sales Interview
Sell with passion
Our Pharma Sales Consultant, says: “I often see my candidates get into ‘interview mode’ where they rattle off great examples of their successes without showing enough research and passion for the role and the company they’re applying for.”
While selling your skillset and experience is vital, it works at its best when you tailor these elements to the particular role and company. You need to be able to articulate why you want this position and would be a good fit for it. Hannah says: “We’ve had some instances recently where a hiring manager had to choose between two equally brilliant candidates, and their final decision was driven by the candidate that they felt wanted it more.”
Your interviewer will want to understand how you have saved and made money within your previous roles. Attend your interview with some examples of ways you personally contributed to increased pharmaceutical sales. Back up your points. Before the interview, write three specific situations in your current or previous jobs when you attained goals. Example: “I increased the sales of X with my three-part strategy of…”
Healthcare Advertising & PR roles
A Typical Advertising & PR Hiring Process
A hiring process in Advertising and PR usually encompasses two stages:
- An informal chat between the candidate and a senior staff member who can sell the job opportunity and make a good impression on the candidate
- An interview involving a task or presentation relevant to the role you’re applying for
Winning tips to take to an Advertising & PR Interview
Our Healthcare Advertising Managing Consultant, says: “Where you claim success in your previous experience, you need solid examples to back it up.” And the STAR technique is a useful way of organising clear evidence of your skillset and selling points.
Tips to take to any Pharma interview...
Organisation is key
It’s not uncommon for candidates to look at multiple opportunities with various companies at the same time. Manage your job search properly so you wouldn’t struggle to recall an application when the hiring manager calls. Setting up an excel spreadsheet is a good idea to track your applications with notes and details for each application you’ve made.
Utilise your recruiter
If you are working with a recruiter, make sure they’re aware of any previous job applications and communication you may have had with the employer you’re now applying for. It’s to your benefit to inform the recruiter of any other applications you have in progress as they can use that information to speed up the hiring process.
Your recruitment consultant has inside knowledge about the role you’re applying for, the company and the interviewers so can be invaluable to you during the interview process. Make sure you ask as many questions as you need to benefit from their experience.
Don’t take preparation lightly
How you prepare tells the interviewers a lot about your character and your compatibility with the team. This may sound basic, but it could take more preparation than you think to show the hiring manager that you have a genuine interest in the role and the company.
At Carrot, our recruiters provide guides on various action points throughout the interview process as well as details about the role and the company; they’re also ready for any questions you may have at any point.
If you’re applying for an entry-level role, it’s also crucial to get a good understanding of the sector and the role. We have a guide for each of the sectors we work within; read about them in our Candidate Hub.
Our Associate MR Consultant, says: “Even if it’s for a preliminary interview, it’s always better to overprepare than to under prepare.”
Avoid rescheduling where possible
Applying for a job requires commitment, and repeatedly rescheduling an interview – especially at late notice – is detrimental to your chance of getting the role. Ideally, don’t rearrange an interview more than once.
Technical issues can sabotage a virtual interview but can easily be overlooked. So, be mindful of your setting when attending a virtual interview: Is the video conference software properly installed and ready to go? Is your laptop fully charged or connected to the power source so it won’t cut the call midway through? Is your background looking tidy and showing nothing that doesn’t belong in a professional setting?
Never underestimate the power of a first impression
Try to be prompt when replying to interview requests; it shows the employer how keen you are to pursue the role and gives them a glimpse of your organisational skills.
Your competency is just the first threshold to cross; the hiring manager would want to know you’re keen on the role. So, when answering questions, focus on the role and why you’re the right fit.
It’s ok to not know everything – honesty matters the most. Hiring managers would always prefer to know your true level of knowledge from the get-go than find out later in an in-depth exchange.
Go at your own speed
Sometimes candidates don’t take the time to really understand the questions they’re being asked, resulting in unsatisfying answers which decreases their chance of progressing through the hiring process. So, don’t rush your answers, make sure you understand the questions and work through your answers accordingly.
Asking in-depth questions shows the interviewer that you have a genuine interest and have really done your research. It also gives them a taste of your diligence and creativity.
You will most certainly be asked about the reason for applying for the role. And simply wanting to leave your current job isn’t a good reason for the hiring manager to take you onboard. Focus on why you believe you’d be a good fit for the role and what you can bring to the team and company.