Interviewing in the Bio-Pharma Industry

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Part 3 of a four-part series:

Part 1 — The Telephone Screen
Part 2 — The Face-to-Face Interview
Part 3 — The Scientific Presentation
Part 4 — The Offer Stage

Part 3 — The Scientific Presentation

The presentation portion of your interview is make-or-break. If your scientific presentation is poor, it is highly likely that you will not get the job you are interviewing for. To avoid this misfortune, there are 3 things you can do to increase your chances of success.

1st — Ask the hiring manager for guidance on choosing your topic
2nd — Practice, practice, practice
3rd — Anticipate questions and prepare answers

1st — Ask the hiring manager for guidance on choosing your topic

Don't be shy about calling or emailing the hiring manager for advice on topic selection. If the hiring manager is excited about your talk, it is very likely that the rest of the group will be too. This direction will also help you understand what subject matter is relevant to his or her group's focus. To some hiring managers, it might not matter what you talk about. These hiring managers are using the presentation to evaluate your communication skills and assess how you field questions. However, as you interview for more senior level positions, what you actually choose to talk about will be evaluated, and the best person to put you on the right track is the hiring manager. Your asking for help on topic selection shows you are interested in fully preparing for your interview.

Generally, hiring managers appreciate presentations in the following format:
  • Statement of the problem or project.
  • Identification of the expected outcome or theory.
  • Description of the methods and tools used and results of those "tests."
  • Discussion of the problems or obstacles encountered, either expected or unexpected.
  • Outcome and, if different from expected outcome, why.
If at all possible, compose your scientific data in this way. It will allow the attendees to see how you think through a process and overcome obstacles, a skill everyone in the bio-pharma industry is interested in.

2nd — Practice, practice, practice

Be sure your presentation is peer-reviewed and one that you have given several times before. If this is a new presentation for you, take the time to give the presentation as many times as possible to your colleagues or scientific friends, and make sure to solicit feedback from them. You are better off knowing the truth about your presentation before you get into an interview setting.

It is also important to know your audience. Because there will likely be employees from all parts of the organization at your presentation, be sure to speak at a level that everyone can understand. Therefore, when practicing, invite people to your presentation that are both junior and senior to you.

3rd — Anticipate questions and prepare answers

Preparation for the question and answer session is key. During your practice rounds, encourage your peers to ask questions and write down those that were asked. Reflect on those questions and come up with clear and concise answers. This preparation will help you avoid giving only yes or no answers on the day of your interview.

Hopefully you will not be asked something that you don't know the answer to, but if you are, never make up an answer! State that you would like to think further about it and get back to them with the appropriate response. If this happens, do follow up with that person after the interview with a reply.

If you are interested in learning more interviewing techniques, please visit, where you can buy "I Would Consider Any Reasonable Offer," the only guide devoted exclusively to interviewing in the bio-pharma industry.
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