Genentech Splashes into 2010 with Positive Job Growth Expectations: Exclusive Interview with Talent Acquisition Leader
By Suvarna Sheth, BioSpace.com
Genentech is hiring and expects to continue to fill new positions in 2010. As of January, the company has over 500 openings in an array of areas, ranging from associate director, principal scientist, and quality control specialists to research associates.
The anticipated employee headcount growth rate for the company in 2010 is similar to last year's and remains in the mid-single digits.
With so many opportunities abound, there are also many different channels for talented individuals to enter the organization. Genentech uses targeted recruitment and directly or indirectly sources candidates. The company uses Web 2.0 tools, social networking, and its own career site to recruit candidates. Additionally, referrals are a big source of externally recruited talent.
“We have a lot of very technically specific positions,” says Amanda Valentino, associate director of Talent Acquisition at Genentech, “and we have a lot of strong candidates that come to us,” she says. If the right candidate doesn’t come to the door, Genentech goes out to find them, also known as direct or indirect sourcing.
Valentino says the company still directly sources as many candidates as it has done in the past. She says the current number of applicants is “terrific,” but she doesn’t necessarily describe the applicant pool as saturated.
So, what are they looking for?
Valentino says her team has to make sure the candidates coming into the interview process are the very best. She says Genentech does a lot of early interviewing over the phone to make sure they’re bringing in top notch candidates. “The bar has to be really high all the way through the process,” she says, “you have to have a high caliber process to hire a high caliber person.”
Specific interview questions are hard to gauge because they vary from group to group. But in general, smart, creative people who are passionate about the mission of the company are what hiring managers and talent acquisition professionals at Genentech are looking for. “Even if groups are different, all hiring managers are looking for that same profile,” Valentino says.
All candidates that come to Genentech need to be up for a rigorous interview. “Be prepared to answer questions that are thoughtful, know about the mission of the company, what we’re here to do, and absolutely know something about the position,” Valentino says.
The number of interview rounds a candidate goes through varies depending on the position. “We definitely want the process to be a good one for the candidate—that’s really, really important for us,” Valentino says, “so we aim for the smallest number of interviews as possible and make sure that everyone gets to weigh into the important decision.”
As demanding as the interview process can be, candidates don’t have to worry about facing trick questions. “Genentech is a pretty straightforward place,” Valentino says, “and our interview process reflects what it’s like to work here.”
Valentino says physical appearance absolutely does not come into play when recruiting a candidate, “we focus on people’s skills and abilities; we focus on their experience,” she says.
Valentino advises candidates to get a good night’s sleep, come in with questions prepared, ask the questions you want to ask, and make the most of your time with the people who you are interviewing with. “Keep your answers direct, know something about the science, and have a good time,” she advises, “Most importantly, be yourself.”
Over time and experience, recruiters like Valentino are also skilled in discerning whether candidates’ replies to interview questions are authentic or not. In her experience so far, she has not come across a candidate that has given false information. All candidates also go through a thorough background check.
There are some common questions that recruiters get from interviewees; those are typically about benefits and company culture. “They want to know what it feels like to work here,” says Valentino, “and what it’s like to be an employee here based on the things they’ve heard.”
Valentino says one way people can distinguish themselves during an interview is by demonstrating that they are problem solvers, and have a healthy aptitude for taking on risk.
She recalls a recent interview candidate who distinguished herself by preparing a strategy for a certain project. “That really stood out to me,” Valentino says, “it showed a lot of thought, a lot of initiative, and it showed me she understood the role she was interviewing for.”
Valentino says it’s a risk anytime you’re going to put something like that out there, but it showed her the candidate was willing to take that risk. “Bringing something unique to the table at the interview is important,” she says.
In the end, Valentino says Genentech is always looking for the very best talent out there—and that’s really what it boils down to.
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