Interview skills

So you’ve been called for an interview! Or you are just reading to find out how to prepare. Either way, you’re at the right place for interview prep.

There are a few basic things you should keep in mind:
  • Prepare with others by practicing questions and answers.
  • Research your interviewer, the company, and the position.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume
  • Dress for success.
  • Arrive early
  • Be extremely courteous and respectful to everyone you meet. Being rude to anyone, especially clerical assistance, could disqualify you as a candidate.
  • Stay positive and calm.
  • Send a thank-you letter (or email, as needed or appropriate) to your interviewer.

In general, you should have 2-4 potential responses for each of the following potential questions:
  • Why are you interested in this industry? (Note: not the company specifically, but the industry as a whole.)
  • Why are you interested our company/organization? (Note: be specific!)
  • What are your strengths/why should we hire you? (You should be able to back up your reasons with examples.)
  • What is the most analytical position or project you have done? (Give concrete examples).
  • Can you give me an example of when you had to manage interpersonal conflicts?
  • Why shouldn’t I hire you/what are your weaknesses? (Your example should not be fatal. At best it should be neutral. Focus on how you are working to improve yourself.)
  • What is your 5 – 10 year goal?
  • Give an example of how you worked on a team.
  • Do you have any questions? (You should have a question that is not generic. Be specific about that company, current company happenings, deals, etc.)

Other questions you should keep in mind:
  • What are the most important things to you in a job?
  • What would you like me to know most that is not in your résumé?
  • Give me an example of a situation where you demonstrated leadership.
  • How flexible are you?
  • How creative are you? Give an example.
  • Describe the ideal position in our firm.
  • Who else are you interviewing with?
  • How do you feel about travel?
  • Why do you think you are qualified for this position?
  • What did you like most/least about each position you held?
  • What courses have you liked most? Least? Why?
  • What are you learning that will help you in your work with us?

Difficult Questions:

One of the more difficult questions you will face is about your weaknesses. The key to answering difficult question is to make your answers

  • True
  • Not lethal to the interview
  • Something you are working to improve (and you can provide examples for how you are improving yourself)

For example, if you are applying for a position as a lab tech, you can have your weakness be public speaking (since you probably will not be asked to do much, if any, public speaking). Then you can discuss how you come to SBN events to become more comfortable in networking. If you are applying for a public relations position, you can talk about how your quantitative skills are weaker than you would like.

More questions you might encounter
  1. What do you see are the major opportunities/challenges facing the biotech/pharma industry in the next five years? How might these be addressed? How are they being addressed (by our company; others)? 2. Tell me what you know about the biotech industry—how it is structured, who are the key players, etc.
  2. What specific skills do you think are required for someone to be successful in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry? What sort of a role do you see for yourself in our company—now and in the future?
  3. What are the key factors that go into determining the price of a new drug/biologic? What are “system economics” and how are they determined?
  4. Which technological breakthroughs (current and expected) do you think will have the most dramatic impact on the field of biotechnology over the next decade?
  5. What are the key issues in distributing drugs/biologics to underdeveloped or developing countries? How can these best be addressed?
  6. What are some of the major differences between biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies? How are these two industries working together? Competing against each other?


Source: President & Fellows of Harvard College

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