This is the Average Interview Process Time for a Biopharma Job

Published: Nov 09, 2017 By

Scientist Watching Time

How long does it take to go from application to job offer at a typical life sciences company? It varies from industry to industry and company to company, and the answer is commonly: Not-as-soon-as-you-hope to Never.

Glassdoor ran a survey this year, and found that the average hiring time is 23.8 days, slightly longer than the 22.9 days it established in 2014.

The survey found that the government—presumably the federal government—had the longest interview process, averaging 53.8 days, with most of the companies who were considered to have the longest interview process more typically in the mid-20s. Biotech and pharmaceuticals came in at 28.1 days, which was the fourth longest, but not dramatically different from the number 3 spot (Energy & Utilities, 28.8 days) or number 2 spot, Aerospace & Defense (32.6 days).

Average Interview Process Time for a Biopharma Job

INDUSTRY
TIME
Government
53.8 days
Aerospace & Defense
32.6 days
Energy & Utilities
28.8 days
Biotech & Pharmaceuticals
28.1 days
Nonprofit
25.2 days
Media & Publishing
25.2 days
Travel & Tourism
25.1 days
Farming & Agriculture
24.9 days
Manufacturing
24.6 days
Internet & Tech
24.4 days


The shortest processes were in Restaurants & Bars, with 10.2 days, which really does sort of undercut the idea of walking into a business, applying for a job and getting an offer right then and there.

The application process at larger companies often includes a significant wait period between submitting your application (typically online) and getting called in for either a first interview or a phone interview. These initial steps can be followed by a skills test, a group interview, a presentation, and an offer, which are often followed by a period of time when there is a verbal offer, an official letter, physical/drug test, orientation, and finally starting the job.

Interview Tips

There is basic advice for job interviews, including dressing appropriately, showing up on time, bringing a copy of your resume and other materials such as letters of recommendation, job reviews, etc., making eye contact, and having a firm handshake.

Ellen Clark, head of Clark Executive Search, who specializes in recruiting only senior level PhD and MD candidates in the life science industry, offered some advice on the interview process particular to life science professionals.

1.  Science Expertise

 That is, after all, what you’re being recruited for, and the competition can be fierce for top talent. Clark wrote, “Candidates must emphasize their science expertise as well as answer all the usual interview questions regarding strengths, weaknesses and leadership skills. Obviously, scientists and doctors will discuss their current scientific or clinical work in as much detail as is legally allowed.”

Candidates need to be factual, but to also express their passion for their work. “They should remember that they joined the life science industry because they wanted to help cure diseases through drug discovery,” Clark notes.

2.  Seminars

This is quite different than many other industries. Scientists are often required to present a seminar about their work to the company they are applying to. One common concern is how much confidential information they might accidentally divulge. “I tell them my clients are not trying to engage in competitive spying, but simply are after a sense of their grasp of the subject matter and their ability to present scientific information in front of an audience,” Clark wrote.

You don’t necessarily have to create a new presentation from scratch. You can use something you’ve already presented at a conference or workshop. In fact, that might be better, because you’ll be more relaxed and confident about the material. It’s also common to be more nervous about questions that might be asked than the presentation itself. In that case, know your subject matter thoroughly and think through what possible questions might be asked or have a trusted colleague listen to your presentation and offer potential questions.

Also, don’t concern yourself about the number of people who attend your seminar. It varies from company to company. Sometimes an open invitation will be made while other times only a few select people are allowed to attend. It doesn’t correlate with the company’s enthusiasm for you as a candidate or your presentation.

3.  Table Manners

Sometimes the interview process goes on for some time and the candidate is invited for dinner or a meal that will precede the seminar. Clark says, “So interviewees should refrain from eating anything messy like pasta or soup. This sounds so silly and obvious but I have interviewed people with stains from a meal and I mark them down for this.”

4.  Nondisclosure Agreements

Confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) are just part of the industry now—many industries—and you should come to expect them. Clark notes, “There are times when companies need to discuss their research with job applicants because people need to understand there is good science behind the company before they will consider a move.”

5.  Isolation

Often, even in an all-day interview process, you will be in a single room and meals may be brought in. Clark writes, “Usually this is to protect the applicant’s confidentiality since the science world is a small one and scientists all go to the same meetings and know everyone in the field.”

This can be both tiresome and unnerving. Try to hide any irritation you might feel. The company is trying to protect your identity as well as to protect themselves.

6. Dress for Success

This can be a little tricky, particularly if you’re looking at Silicon Valley companies, where the dress code is often casual. Clark says, “Dress for business but do not be overdressed. It is important to fit in to the company culture. Most of my positions are not board room positions and do not require the appearance of a Wall Street executive. However, appearance matters. A suit and tie are required for men. Women need to dress conservatively.”

A Few Thoughts on Interactions

Aside from the more technical side of things, most recruiters and human resource professionals focus on behavioral-based interviews. Common questions include:

· Describe a situation where you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way.

· Provide information about a time you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.

· Give an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.

Janice Chavers, director of Global Human Resources for Eli Lilly and Co., told BioSpace, “In addition to those behavior-based questions, I always ask why someone wants to work for Lilly. If I could just offer one tip, I would say people need to know why they want to work for a particular company—and show some passion. Quite a few people I have interviewed have not been able to provide a strong answer.”

Another tip is to ask your interviewer questions. First interviews aren’t the place to discuss salary and benefits generally (unfortunately), but it is a place to ask questions about the company and what your role would be.

Good questions to consider asking include:

· How can I make a difference for the company or the company’s clients or patients?

· How much control will I have? How much decision-making responsibilities?

· What would my first assignment be? Where should I start?

· Why is this job open?

· What’s great about this job?

· What kind of promotion opportunities are there?

· Can I have a copy of the job description?

· Could you describe the company culture?

There are many others, but these show an interest in the company that is directly relevant to what your life as an employee might be like.

Now make sure your resume is in good shape and good luck!

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