The Inside Scoop on Biotech Interviews

At Key Corporate Services, one of our major divisions is Pharmaceuticals and Biotech. And, our Executive Recruiters and Search team specialize in placing elite professionals within these industries across the US and Internationally.

So, you can understand our interest when we read a recent article in about the type of questions Biotech companies ask when interviewing candidates. Depending on the approach, a variation of three types of questions may be asked.

Some Companies Ask the Standard Behavior-based Questions

As you might imagine, some ask the standard behavioral-based questions. Janice Chavers, Director of Eli Lilly Global HR stated, “We use behavior-based interviewing, which is based on the assumption that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.” These questions are in the format of “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a situation in which…”.

What Chavers was quick to add was that she also makes a point of asking the candidate “Why do you want to work for Lilly?” Candidates have to be able to expound (with some passion!) on WHY they want to work there.

Some companies ask questions geared to evaluate whether the candidate shares the same values of the company.

Finding employees that match the corporate culture is so important at some Biotech companies that the interview will focus on the applicant’s core values. Will the candidate embrace and share the values of the company and be a great fit? Regarding the interview process, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH “has a different approach that suits our values and corporate culture,” said Julia Loffelsend, PR and media representative. It’s important that the candidate “shares our values.”

Some companies will focus on competency-based questions.

Biotech giant Genentech focuses interviews primarily on competency. Questions will focus on prior experiences and how the candidate might react to certain situations. Applicants can expect to interview with several stakeholders to arrive at a complete picture of the candidate.Interview

Regardless of approach – all Biotech interviews will be evaluating candidates in three areas

Whether the focus is on behaviors, values, or competencies all Biotech interviews will seek to answer three questions. They are:

1. Can you do the job?
2. Are you going to “fit in?”
3. Can the company afford you?

If you are preparing for an interview with a Biotech company, remember the “basics” and prepare accordingly. Review any information available on their website and social media links. Seek to understand the culture and values and have a passionate statement prepared on why you want to work there and how you would be a great fit. Practice answers to those behavior-based questions you might be asked. Be able to recite past experiences where you solved problems or worked as part of a team to improve processes.

Going into a Biotech interview prepared for any angle the interviewer takes with solid answers will make you appear confident. And, you will show the positive attitude any employer is looking for!

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