For Every Interview
Preparing for each and every interview is essential – there are some basic steps you should follow every time. As a minimum, follow the tasks below to make sure you are making the most of every single interview opportunity.
Think about your research falling into three separate categories:
Yourself – know your strengths and weaknesses for each role. Be confident in your personal pitch as this can form the basis of an answer if asked: “Tell me a little about yourself”.
The company – research the company, their products, and their history. It’s not uncommon to be asked to outline what you know about a company at interview. As well as that, it’s also important that you find a company that you’ll be happy working for.
The interview process – knowing what to expect from this interview and the rest of the interview process allows you to confidently address each task in turn.
For more details on each of these three areas, check out this article on how to prepare for an interview.
Now, back to the interview related tasks…
Ask About the Interview Process
First up, always ask about the interview process and confirm specific details of the interview. Getting a phone call to say you have an interview is great but if it takes you by surprise, then you can be left afterward not really sure what you’re facing. So have a few set questions prepared that you want to be answered about any interview you are offered.
- Who is conducting the interview and what is their position within the company?
- What format will the interview take?
- How long is the interview expected to last?
Knowing these sorts of things allows you to prepare effectively and go into the interview with confidence.
Revisit Your Network & See who’s Relevant
Take another look over your network and see if there’s anyone particularly relevant to this job that you could talk to. You can also search for the company on LinkedIn and it will show you any connections you have that work there. Reliable first hand information is like gold in interview preparation.
Consider Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Consider your particular strengths and weaknesses for this role and how to address them.
What experience do you have that lines up against required skills? For each of the skills mentioned, think of an example that shows you have that skill. Practice talking about this experience in a clear and concise way – leave the interviewer in no doubt that you ‘tick that box’.
But similarly, what requirements for the job are you not so well matched to? Are you lacking in experience, missing the desired qualification or have a gap in your CV? The good news is that if you have been called for an interview, then it is not an absolute deal breaker. But you have to have a concise answer that addresses the point – don’t leave yourself rambling and making excuses.
Ideally, you should prepare a response that tackles any concern they have and minimizes it in their mind. This might be by showing strength in a related area/skill, showing a willingness to learn or simply by being able to explain why something occurred and why it won’t be an issue again.
Research the Company
Researching the company is an absolute necessity for every interview.
You want to show genuine enthusiasm for the company in the interview but you also need to be sure that the company would be a good fit for you. Do its values tie in with your own? What are their priorities and are they things you are motivated by?
You can find lots of useful information using search engines, news aggregators, social media pages and, of course, talking to people.
For some guidance on the specifics of how to achieve this simply and effectively, try filling out one of our interview preparation forms for every interview you secure.
Think of Some Interesting Questions
If there is one thing you can be sure of in an interview, it’s that you will be asked if you have any questions for your interviewer. Make sure to prepare some in advance and, if possible, reference some of the things you learned while researching the company.
A couple of carefully considered questions will show genuine interest and enthusiasm for the job. You should never be in the position of saying no when asked if you have any questions.
Resist the urge to ask about salary, holidays or benefits in a first round interview. Try to stick to areas such as company culture, the environment in which the company is currently operating or about the team you’d be joining.
Attend the Interview Well Prepared
If you’ve followed the above steps then all that’s left is to attend the interview well prepared and confident! Of course, there is a lot we could say about how to conduct yourself in an interview, how to answer different sorts of questions or what to expect from different sorts of interviews – but that’s too much to go into here.
For some general pointers, have a look through our 10 mistakes to avoid at interview.
Ask for Feedback on the Interview
Ideally while you’re still in the interview, ask for some feedback on your performance. Try to get a sense of what were considered your strengths and what were considered your weaknesses.
This is useful because it allows you to see any barriers to getting this job – which you then have the opportunity to address in a very direct way.
It also lets you see how you are presenting yourself to employers. If there’s something you are not making clear or an area where you are falling short, it should be obvious from their response. You can then alter your approach for the next interview you secure, making sure you don’t keep making the same mistakes.
Make note of your own interview feedback as well. As soon as you can after leaving the interview, sit for a few minutes and make some notes about the interview.
You might consider noting:
- What questions you felt you answered well (the interviewer responded well to)
- What questions you felt you didn’t answer well – maybe it took you a little too long to make your point or you didn’t pick your strongest example
- Any questions you weren’t prepared for or that caught you off guard
- Things the interviewer suggested were your strengths as a candidate
- Anything the interviewer drilled-down on or asked several questions about (this could be a sign they thought you had a weakness in this area)
- Anything the interviewer directly addressed as a weakness in your application
- When they said you should hear about the outcome
By doing this, you can identify the things you’re doing well so you can keep doing them (!), as well as the things you could improve on, so can do so before your next interview.
Follow Up on the Interview
Always follow up appropriately after your interview – an email direct to the interviewer, later that same day is the ideal scenario. This ensures that you make another impression on the hiring manager, allows you to make a couple of quick ‘key’ points and reaffirm your enthusiasm for the job.
If you’re stuck on what to say, try the following format:
- Thank them for their time and for the informative conversation
- Outline any questions you feel they had about your suitability and take the chance to answer those again
- Confirm your position as their ideal candidate
- Thank them for their insight into the company and the role
- Highlight one area that you’re particularly excited by – a specific duty, the company 5-year plan, anything really
- Tell them you’re looking forward to hearing from them soon
- List your contact information
You should also be clear on when you’ll hear the outcome of your interview. If that time comes and goes, it’s appropriate to send a polite email ‘checking in’ with them about the status of your application. Just be sure you don’t overdo the follow-up and make yourself memorable for the wrong reasons!
So there you have it – our step by step guide to finding a job in pharma. As you can see, there’s a lot of work involved. It will likely take you many applications and a lot of time, and a clear process is key! But the good news is, that it’s worth it – the pharmaceutical and medical device industries are a strong and reliable sector, jobs are highly paid and the product of your day’s work could literally be life-saving.
If you’d like to discuss your suitability for a role in the pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing industries, contact us for an informal chat.