CY Partner’s guide to interviewing within pharma and biotechnology

The pharma and biotechnology industries are highly competitive, with recruitment agencies being inundated with candidate enquiries each week. They are constantly evolving and growing, thus they are challenging yet desirable industries to work in.

Pharma and biotechnology are very different to other sectors and if you are determined to either commence or build a career in either, the task of landing the perfect role for you can be daunting.

The first step to securing your dream role is acing the interview. So, we’ve put together a useful guide with a few tips and tricks to help you make a great impression:

Do your homework

It’s highly likely that the interviewer will ask you about your knowledge of their establishment, so it’s crucial to show that you have done your due diligence. Look at their website, learn about their products or services, read reviews online and visit their social media platforms. It is always good practice to research what a company does, what their values are, and what differentiates them from their competitors. Be ready to talk about how these align with what you are looking for.

Prepare insightful questions to ask at the end

It’s important to demonstrate your interest in the business and role by carefully preparing a handful of questions to ask at the end of the interview. This also substantiates your engagement throughout the discussion and proves that you are serious about the position.

Be prepared to answer questions about why you are interested

This will require some careful consideration: Are you changing gears? Do you wish to gain experience in a new field? Are you looking to grow your career?

Dress to impress

Consider how this organisation would expect you to dress for an interview. The initial face to face meeting is your first opportunity to make a great impression, so aim to dress in a similar fashion to the prospective employer’s dress code. Casual attire is usually acceptable when working in the pharma and biotechnology industries, however you may wish to step it up a notch for this stage in the recruitment process.

If you are attending a virtual interview, make sure that your background setting looks professional, you are in a quiet environment with no distractions and have a strong and stable internet connection.

Specific preparation for a technical interview

For those looking to pursue a career in the pharma and biotechnology industries, there will be an array of skills you’ll need to develop an aptitude for, such as data analysis, statistical computing, process validation and laboratory equipment. It’s likely you’ll also need to possess sound project planning, strategic thinking and creative problem solving skills, in addition to an understanding of regulations and legal matters.

Know how to sell yourself

Prepare an elevator pitch that packs a punch, and use it to reply to questions such as ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘why do you feel you are a suitable candidate for this role?’ Make sure you have a list of your key achievements to hand and take examples from your CV that prove that you will be able to hit the ground running. In your pharma and biotechnology role it’s likely you will need to exhibit superior analytical skills, so make it clear that you have taken the time to analyse the job specification.

Nail that first impression

Your presence, the way you introduce yourself, how you shake the interviewer’s hand, and how you interact in the initial conversation will all impact the outcome of the meeting and convey how confident and enthusiastic you are. Be punctual, smile, maintain a calm and professional demeanour and pay attention to your body posture.

Demonstrate your scientific knowledge and skills

If you have a well-established scientific background, be prepared to talk about this in depth. For pharma and biotechnology roles you will need to evidence a certain level of expertise, and you should be prepared to provide intricate examples of your experience that highlight why you are the best option for the role in question. You will need to show that you possess core technical and scientific knowledge in the specific area you are applying to work in.

Empathise your leadership skills

To stand out above the competition, you will also need to show that you are capable of conceptualising, planning and executing research projects. Hiring managers will want to see proof that you collaborate well with others, and that you are capable of contributing new ideas that will lead to advancements in your research. Be prepared to provide examples of projects you have previously led that resulted in positive outcomes.

How CY Partners can help prepare you for interview success

As a professional staffing agency we love working with job seekers to help them win their next exciting career move. We understand that the job-hunting process is full of peaks and troughs, so we aim to simplify the process and improve interview performance.

Just some of the measures we take to help the efforts of interviewees include:

  • Offering advice on the company and informing job seekers on the interview process, including what to expect and strategies for standing out
  • Conducting practice interviews, helping job seekers to sell themselves and make a great impression in the interview
  • Offering advice on typical questions to expect and how best to respond
  • Providing feedback to individuals after each stage to ensure they are fully prepared for the next interview

Finally, it’s always a good idea to contact your consultant to let them know your feedback from the interview and if you have details of the hiring manager, follow up with a thank you note.

If you feel overwhelmed about how to start or develop your journey in pharma and biotechnology, or if you would like training on your interviewing technique, CY Partners can help. Contact us here.

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