Well, you’ve done it – you’ve been selected for the all-important interview for your dream job in the pharmaceutical industry! But does the thought of it fill you with adrenaline and a sense of challenge or fear and a sense of nausea?! The key to successful interviewing is in the planning - read on to ensure successful interviews – every time!!
1. What exactly are you being interviewed for?
The first step is to ensure that you fully research both the role and the organisation. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you fully understand the nature of the role you are being interviewed for? If you have secured your interview via a recruitment agency, ask your consultant to tell you as much about the role as they can. Have you been provided with a job description or person specification? Are you able to speak with the HR department of the organisation regarding the specific requirements for the role prior to the interview? Do you know anyone who is working or has previously worked in the department? If you have no previous experience in a similar role, research the job as much as possible so that you can appear knowledgeable. Try to get some first hand experience by talking with someone who works in the field or, better still, arranging a work shadow. A note of caution – beware of job titles! Throughout the industry there are many different titles for the same job and different job descriptions with the same titles – try to find out as much about the actual role before the interview to save being embarrassed or disappointed.
- Do you know anything about the company? Research the organisation in as much depth as possible. If you have access to the internet, find their website. Many companies will happily send you a copy of their most recent Annual Report on request – write or telephone their Public Relations department. If the organisation is in the service sector (e.g. a CRO), ask for a copy of their promotional material and familiarise yourself with their service offerings.
- What are the companies major products and what’s in their pipeline? Currently marketed products can be obtained from an up-to-date copy of the British National Formulary or Mimms. Annual reports and industry periodicals such as Scrip will be able to give you an insight into product pipelines.
2. What will the interviewer want to know?
The prime purpose for an interview is for a prospective employer to assess your suitability for the role that they are looking to fill. The interviewer will generally be looking to identify evidence whether your experience and skills match those required for the role and whether your personality and behavioural style will fit with the culture of the existing team and organisation.
- Skills and Experience Interviewers will ask questions designed to determine whether you have the necessary skills and knowledge to do the job. Be prepared to give real examples of when you have used the skills you claim to have. If you have no experience of the role for which you are being interviewed, prepare some example of where you have shown transferable skills in your career to date outside of the work environment.
- Personality and Behavioural Styles Interviewers will also want to know whether you will fit with the culture of their existing team. They will want to explore your drive, motivation and ambition. Are you a team player or autonomous? An extrovert or an introvert? Are you a natural leader or do you prefer to be directed? These and other personality styles can be shown via your answers to questions about your reactions to and feelings about past events. Prepare some examples of where you have received feedback on your different behaviour styles. If you are asked to describe yourself or your strengths and weaknesses remember one thing - be honest! Nobody is perfect - providing you have a good description of what you do to minimise your weakness they shouldn’t count against you!
3. Practical preparation
There will always be a number of practical issues which will be discussed at interview – relocation, salary, availability etc. Decide on your requirements before you get to the interview rather than appear vague or ambiguous when you are asked the questions. Make sure you have located any documents that you have been asked to bring, such as your educational certificates and driving licence. It is also useful to take a spare copy of your CV and a small notebook so that you can jot down any important information during the interview. Make sure you have all the contact details you need – address, telephone numbers and the names of the interviewer(s). If you need them, have directions of how to get to the venue, including arrangements for parking or how to get there from the nearest rail station. Plan your route carefully and ensure that you will have plenty of time to get there – allowing for unforeseen delays! The night before the interview prepare the clothes you intend to wear – iron shirts and blouses, polish shoes and if it is winter, don’t forget to check that your overcoat is looking presentable. Try to get a good night’s sleep! Sooner or later the day will dawn and you’ll have the opportunity to put all your preparation to good use!