Pharma | Biotech | Medical Devices

In today’s candidate-driven marketplace, Life Science specialists are interviewing you as well as showcasing their skills and talent. Hiring Managers who can inspire confidence in their company and the role they need to fill have far better chances of signing Top Talent.

After interviewing hundreds of candidates for senior roles within the Life Science industry, we have compiled a list of the top 8 questions top talent are likely to ask the hiring manager during the interview.


1. What role will I have on the team?

The job description explains only so much. Top candidates are looking for opportunity to advance personally and professionally. For example, in this role will I have the chance to show team leadership, creative problem solving, working independently or will it allow me to work across functions or therapies? We recommend you take the time to explain in detail what the candidate’s role does and does not offer.

2. Why is this role important to the team and/or company?

Candidates may ask this question to explore the different levels of engagement they can expect. Is the team in a strategic therapy area? What esteem does the role have within the company and within other business units? What kind of investment is being made into this therapeutic area or product? Candidates who ask this question are trying to learn if they will be in a high-energy, growth environment or if they will need to use their influencing skills to get the investment needed to deliver on their goals.

3. Who will be my colleagues?

Good candidates will want to know who they will be working with and the types of personalities they will be collaborating with. Because in our industry, it’s common to spend more time with one’s colleagues than one’s spouse or partner the best way to answer this question is to have 1 or 2 of the team members make an appearance during the interview, even a brief one. If that’s not possible, be knowledgeable of team members they’ll be working with and be ready to tell one or two of their stories to give the candidate a sense of their personalities.

4. What would I be doing that makes your job easier?

This is a tricky question, and it has two motives—the person interviewing is hoping to find out who is going to put pressure on them and what they will need to do to keep the other team members happy. A top talent will use your answers to learn what are the immediate problems of individual colleagues (and the team) which they will be expected will solve and will be looking for ways they can add immediate value to the team.

5. What other important skills do I need for this role?

This is an easy one and probably something you are keen to assess the candidate for as well. The candidate is asking what sort of soft skills they need for this role. Do they need to be a good mediator, play devil’s advocate, be a patient listener, mentor or quick to inject a bit of irony or humour to a tense situation? The candidate is not asking you to open Pandora’s box, they’re trying to find out if the soft skills they have will be a good fit and appreciated.

6. How does this company measure success?

Stating up front how someone in this role will be evaluated gives your potential hire a better idea of whether or not they can meet your expectations. Get specific on what and how results are measured: is it based on company or individual achievement, what are the specific KPI’s they will need to reach. Give them examples of the work habits of people who have held this position in the past and whom the company rewarded and considered successful.

7. What are you expecting of me at the end of my first month, in 6 months, a year?

Chances are good you already have a clear idea of what the person taking on your role will need to achieve in the first few months and within the first year. The candidate is trying to understand if their past skills and experience will allow them to meet the goals you have for them so be as clear as possible. Listen closely to their reactions because high-performance candidates are used to being challenged and hitting their targets and will give you a good impression if they believe they can deliver or not.

8. How do you experience the company living up to it’s mission?

Research tells us that employees are happiest when their goals align with those of their employers. Candidates ask employers this question to make sure you both want the same things and are committed to driving towards a common goal. So many companies post a mission statement and values on their website but don’t live up to them. If you are asked this question, take the opportunity to get philosophical and tell the candidate what you love about working at your company and why they were invited to interview. The more you can show a top candidate that there is a good fit between the company and themselves, the better your chance of them accepting your offer.

If you are planning to interview candidates and would like a list of potential questions you can ask them, Download our free MTS Talent Guide: How to Hire Contractors and Interim Managers in the Life Science Industry This free guide will give you a list of key questions you should be asking candidates to ensure you are hiring Top Talent.

What every Life Science Director needs to know about hiring Interims in the Pharma, Biotech and Medical Device industry

Kelly Brändli, Founder and Managing Director of MTS Talent services has over 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry. Since 2010, she has grown MTS Talent into Switzerland’s leading Life Science interim staffing provider, supplying high-caliber Marketing & Medical Affairs Talent on an interim and contract basis.

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