How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Pictured: Two people sitting at a table talking to

Pictured: Two people sitting at a table talking to

SeventyFour/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Preparation is key to ensuring one stands out in an increasingly competitive job market. We asked an expert for tips.

Pictured: Two people sitting at a table talking to each other/iStock, SeventyFour

The job market appears to be cooling somewhat after the labor shortage of the past few years: In the third quarter of 2023, the U.S. saw a dip of 3.6% in hiring across all sectors. The situation is starker in the case of the biopharmaceutical industry, where newer companies have faced a shortage of funding. Although the pharma sector is expected to continue to grow—reaching a record high of approximately $1.9 trillion by 2027, according to a 2023 IQVIA report—new job postings in the industry decreased by 39% compared to Q3 of 2022.

Despite this slump, a Forbes report on hiring trends in Q4 placed healthcare and life sciences (including the pharma industry) in the top five sectors where companies plan to hire people.

So, while biopharma jobs are still coming open, candidates may face more competition for them than in recent years. BioSpace talked with a recruiter about how people can ensure they make a positive impression at the interview stage.

Deploy Illustrative Anecdotes

Every recruiter brings their unique style to the table when interviewing a candidate. No matter what the approach is, they aim to get to know candidates better, including their skill sets, strengths, achievements and professional goals.

We asked BioSpace Recruiting Manager Greg Clouse, who has nearly three decades’ experience in pharma recruitment, how candidates can best prepare for an interview.

One of the first steps Clouse suggests is to go through the job description and figure out whether the company’s requirements for the position align with your existing skills. Do some background research about the company, the scope of the role, and ongoing projects that might be mentioned in the job description. This will help you formulate and prepare answers for technical and soft skills–related questions the interviewer might pose. The best way to demonstrate your abilities during an interview is to provide examples of how you have applied those skills in your past projects.

Interviewers expect candidates to tell these success stories confidently and concisely, including how they dealt with barriers and setbacks, and to articulate major takeaways from these scenarios. It helps interviewers to not only understand candidates’ backgrounds, but also gauge their style of accomplishing tasks, problem-solving skills and their ability to influence outcomes.

Candidates should also keep in mind that an interview is a two-way assessment. Interviewers prefer when candidates do research beyond the job title and ask questions that take a broader perspective on the role. Since most biopharma companies are working toward innovation that can improve people’s lives, a candidate curious about how their role can have an impact shows the interviewer that they are passionate about the position.

What Not to Say

Candidates don’t always need to have an answer to all the questions interviewers pose in order to stay in the running. Clouse stressed the importance of being truthful when you don’t have experience in a particular area. But, he said, people should avoid saying “No but I am a fast learner” during an interview.

“So, when they say, ‘Do you have experience with this?’ ‘No, but I’m a fast learner and I’m sure I could pick that up quickly.’—What the company heard you say was, ‘No, I don’t know how to do that,’” Clouse explained. “But if people come up with parallels in the [field] that you can show, it sometimes minimizes the fact that you don’t have experience.”

For instance, if an interviewer asks about your experience with a particular instrument that you haven’t worked with, you might start with what you know about the instrument, the go on to talk about your experience with a different instrument used for the same purpose, and conclude by expressing your eagerness to work with X. This shows the interviewer that you have a clear idea of the fundamental concepts and keep yourself well-informed about the latest developments in your domain.

No matter how well-prepared you are, the interviewer will likely pose an unexpected question. When that happens, take time to evaluate the question. If needed, confirm with the interviewer that your understanding of the question is correct. This will help in formulating a better answer. Still unsure of the answer? Communicate that with the interviewer and express your eagerness to learn more about the topic.

Sanjukta Mondal is a freelance writer based in Kolkata, India. Reach her at

Sanjukta Mondal is a freelance writer based in Bengaluru, India. Reach her at