Beware: 3 Spooky Job Interview Questions That Matter

Published: Oct 31, 2013

biotech jobs post your resume Help employers find you! Check out all the jobs and post your resume. Beware: 3 Spooky Job Interview Questions That Matter

October 31, 2013

In a competitive life sciences job market, some insight and preparation can greatly help you through the job interview process.


Competition for the best jobs for best jobs for biopharmaceutical professionals is high, and candidates really have to show that they embody the employer's needs at a job interview. With that in mind, some of the questions coming up at interviews these days can be challenging to answer, but with a little foresight and preparation, an interviewee can perform excellently through the process. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the biotechnology/pharmaceutical is a rapidly changing job market, so candidates need to be on their toes. Here are three examples of questions commonly asked at interviews for biopharmaceutical professionals.

1. Can you tell me about something that you changed in practice? What went well and what would you do differently next time?

Competency-based questions are common at interviews, especially for senior positions. They are designed to tease out the practical skills that a candidate has and also test whether the person being interviewed has insight into their behavior. For this type of question, preparation is essential. A candidate will need to think about something they changed in the research environment. It can be something small because these changes and innovations often have the biggest impact. Having an idea of what did not go well is not designed to trip up a candidate at an interview. It is aimed at seeing whether someone can learn from their previous experience and not repeat the same mistakes. After all, no one is perfect.

2. What is it that gets you out of bed every morning and motivates you to come to work?

According to the Department of Labor, employers look for people who can demonstrate enthusiasm for the job. This does not mean having an overpowering and smarmy attitude at an interview. Instead, an employer with good interview techniques will tease this out of a candidate. Asking a subtle question about what motivates a person to come to work can be very revealing, especially if it's followed by a long silence. In the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, research and development often requires enthusiastic professionals to be passionate about for example, finding a cure for cancer. This question often reveals a lot about a candidate's attitude as well, which is important to assess during the interview. Many of the complaints have to do with people in laboratory not passionate about what they are working on, and it is important for an interviewer to screen out potential problem employees.

3. Tell me about a difficult scenario at work and how you dealt with it.

If there was one question designed to look at competence in dealing with a challenging scenario, this is it. For those in the life sciences environment, a laboratory is full of people with personalities, from the bullying scientist to a disgruntled research assistant to an arrogant director of research and development. Knowing how to overcome a difficult situation reveals emotional competence and an ability to deal with some of the softer skills required in a fast-paced workplace. This goes beyond being book smart and is an integral part of working in a team and with people. Those who have never had to encounter a difficult scenario in the workplace are either very lucky or have little insight into their own and other people’s behavior.

When preparing for an interview, it is helpful to have some practical scenarios reflecting the skills in the job description and, particularly, where an example might be needed, such as a job requirement stating, “minimum one year of experience in a laboratory setting is required” or “experience assisting in quality assurance.” Honesty and openness is the best policy, and a little preparation will ensure that a candidate has the right genuine answers for the interview questions.

Find more life science jobs here!

Check out the latest Career Insider eNewsletter - October 31, 2013.

Sign up for the free weekly Career Insider eNewsletter.

Related Articles
* Blow Your Interviewer Away With These 10 Questions
* Heed These 6 Job Interview Etiquette Tips
* Tactics for Handling the Behavioral Interview

Back to news