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Old 23.09.2011, 12:47
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Pharma interview help

I just found out that I was invited for an interview at a large pharma company. I am thrilled and nervous right now. Why am I nervous? The position is different from what I have done in the past and the interview is shorter than what I am used to so I don't know what to expect. Can anyone give me advice?

Some more info: my background is mostly biochemistry with only a little bit of molecular biology, potential job is molecular biology. Additionally, I have always been on the research and drug discovery side, this job is development. These are changes that I have wanted for a while. I have a bachelors degree and 7 years of experience. I know I can do the job but I need to brush up on some stuff.

My concern is that my past interviews have been at Bay Area Biotechs (where we relocated from) and they have been intense. 4-8 hours long, sometimes a presentation, usually a quiz that had questions like what is the Km formula, what does that tell you about the reaction, who won the Nobel Prize in whatever year (no joke, I still have one of the quizzes). Should I expect a similar grilling? And if so, can anyone give me molecular biology questions they would ask?

My interview is only 2 1/2 hours and only 1 hour with my potential boss and another scientist. I really want this job so any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 23.09.2011, 14:10
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Re: Pharma interview help

Hi I am a former scientist (Mol Biol/Biochem - these days work in IT) and have had experience of interviews in UK and US (GenenTech in Bay area etc). But have no experience in Pharma in Switzerland. I know exactly what you mean by a day long interview in US ( I used to get interviewed by almost 10 people in a full day and had to sometimes present a seminar). I guess if your interview is 2.5 hours, you won't probably be expected to present in front of a crowd. But may be not as straightforward as UK interviews and something between US/UK style.

If I were you, I would brush up and read up on skills/assays etc most relevant to this group. See if they have published any papers (although rare for pharma) and read the Materials and Methods section as you are most likely to repeat the same techniques during development. The website may also give some clues. Also need to convince them that you love it here and are committed to stay. Highlight any of your past achievements, including your contribution to any past publications.

It is natural to feel nervous about the interview as no two jobs are ever the same. The main thing is the ability to learn and pick things up fast - something you will need to impress them with during the interview.

Also if you are a native English speaker - which I assume you are - bear in mind the interviewer may not be as fluent as you. So step down a little and talk slowly and professionally, so they won't miss any of your words whilst avoiding patronizing him/her. This way they will feel more comfortable hiring you as communication won't be a worry. Also if you don't understand them, don't hesitate to ask them to repeat.

Finally Good Luck!! and keep us posted on your progress if you so wish.
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Old 23.09.2011, 14:45
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Re: Pharma interview help

Is this a Pharma located near you (i.e Lucerne)? Is it a phone or a face-to-face interview? If it is a phone interview, and it is booked for 30min, it will be probably what they call "a screening". You will have to answer a fixed set of questions and explain a bit your career path and motivation for this job. If your changing from a lab coat into a business suit, you most likely will have to explain why do you want to change your career path.

Good luck
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Old 23.09.2011, 20:35
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Re: Pharma interview help

Thank you for the replies. I will still be in a lab coat, just a different kind of science. The interview is a face-to-face interview near Luzern.

Since I am not really sure what to expect I am going to prepare like I am preparing for a Genentech interview...essentially be ready for anything and everything. It is a lot of work to do but I hope I will be better off in the end.

Since we moved I have been trying to slow down my speech and speak in simpler words-no contractions, slang, sayings, etc. I will post an update as soon as I have one! Thanks again!
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Old 23.09.2011, 20:44
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Re: Pharma interview help

Quote:
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My interview is only 2 1/2 hours and only 1 hour with my potential boss and another scientist. I really want this job so any help is greatly appreciated.
I had to admit, I was rather shocked when my current job flew me all the way out here from Seattle for a 2.5 hour interview.
They wrapped up around lunch time and I'm sitting there thinking 'What? You're done? What? Is this a trick?'
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