What Does It Take to Get Hired by Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb?

Published: Sep 01, 2017

What Does It Take to Get Hired by Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb? August 31, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Competition for top jobs at top companies can be fierce. It’s not that difficult to determine what they typically want in their employees—good educations, finely-honed skills, stellar work experience, hard-working, reliable, and if at all possible, affordable.

Although that is all true, it’s not likely to be helpful when looking for a job with these two companies. Here’s a look at two big biopharma companies and tips for getting in the door.

1. Johnson & Johnson

When thinking about Johnson & Johnson , or J&J, as it’s probably better known, it can be useful to remember that J&J isn’t really a single company—it has approximately 250 subsidiary companies. J&J is big. Those 250 companies operate in 60 countries and sell products in more than 175 countries. And in 2016, Johnson & Johnson brought in a whopping $71.89 billion.

A while back, in 2004, Scott Wadsworth, then a Research Fellow at J&J Pharmaceutical Research & Development, told StudentVision that one of the criteria for hiring at J&J was, “Whether or not skills fit the position, publication record, enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity, verbal skills, and interest in our project/company” are keys. Wadsworth is now the director of Program Management, U.S., for Envigo. Communication, intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm are undoubtedly still desirable traits at J&J. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Glassdoor polls people on corporate interviews. It ranks J&J’s interview process as being average in difficulty and about 65 percent of those pooled had a positive experience.

One poll participant who accepted an offer as a Platform Director, said the interview process took over four months. It began with a phone call from a recruiter followed by a call from the hiring manager. “Afterwards, there were two onsite interview days spaced about one month apart. The second interview onsite required a presentation.”

One of the interview questions was focused on a “case study based on analyzing a real-world problem from the company and providing an interpretation of the data and a recommendation.”

Another poll respondent applied and accepted a position for an internship in its Jacksonville, Florida facility. The interview lasted 90 minutes and was a standard behavioral-style interview with technical questions. An example was, “Describe a situation where you did something wrong and what you did to correct it.”

On the other hand, a candidate for a Director position who declined the offer of the job, described the interview as both a negative experience and a difficult interview. The process took more than three months. The respondent said the interviewers had a condescending attitude, they talked a lot about diversity, “but are definitely age discriminators.”

Although it’s hard to sift through the variety of responses about employment at J&J, one in an Indeed.com forum, presented a response that brings up something to consider when thinking about working at Johnson & Johnson: “Each separate operating company (over 200 within J&J) has its own culture and rules (Good and bad). Often they conflict when trying to cooperate and leverage as J&J.”

The gist of that is that J&J is so big and so diverse, it’s difficult to point at one company within the overall company and say, “That represents the whole.”

2. Bristol-Myers Squibb

Headquartered in New York City, Bristol-Myers Squibb employs more than 25,000 people and in 2016 brought in $19.4 billion in revenue. The company’s primary therapeutic areas are cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular, diabetes, hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis and psychiatric disorders.

Martyn Banks, then a Group Director of Lead Discovery & Profiling at Bristol-Myers and now an Executive Director, gave StudentVision in 2004 advice on getting hired: “Be honest. Don’t give the answer you think I want to hear. Normally we have a series of people interview candidates and some candidates tell a slightly different story to the same question from different interviewers. We do compare notes. Don’t argue with the interviewer. Speak clearly but don’t be verbose. Present a positive nonverbal style. Be interested, ask questions, and seek clarification.”

On Glassdoor, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s interview process was ranked average in difficulty and 67 percent of respondents indicated a positive experience.

A Project Manager who accepted the offer at the company said, “The interview was set up by a recruiter and was provided an answer within three days of whether they wanted you back for another interview if an offer was made.”

The candidate indicated the experience was “neutral” and it was an average interview. Interview questions included, “Take us through your resume,” “How do you deal with difficult clients?” and “Tell us about a recent favorite ad and why.”

Another candidate, this one for an Analyst who accepted the position, indicated it was a positive experience but a difficult interview. “It was lengthy, but a very good experience throughout the interview process. It was an overall good experience. They responded in a timely manner. People involved in the interview process were very friendly.”

An example of an interview question was, “Tell us about one conflict that was resolved by you.”

Reviews by people who work or worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb on Indeed trend toward the very positive. One respondent, a former Enterprise Portfolio & Project Manager, wrote, “One of the best companies to work for. Work-Family balance is great at BMS. I was very fortunate to be part of an awesome team. The workplace culture is very nice. One of the most enjoyable parts of the job was the short commute to work and flexibility provided.”

Of course, one respondent, a former Biologics Process Operator in Syracuse, N.Y., wrote, “All politics and terrible management. The only way to do anything there is knowing someone and following stupid orders given by undeserving and moronic management.”

However, a former Associate Director, Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) in Plainsfield, N.J., wrote, “Would recommend. Meetings with customers, I learned oncology needs a lot of education along with health economics and outcomes research. Hard part of the job—getting some decisions made, large organization with many levels. Most enjoyable—the people, the work and the customers.”

Now brush up your CV, practice your interviews and good luck!

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