PhDs very often fail job interviews due to the lack of preparation. Most expect technical questions and underestimate the questions related to the soft skills. We compiled to most challenging interview questions made by pharma companies while hiring PhD candidates.
What is your main weakness?
Questions about your weaknesses also help the interviewer understand how self-aware you are and if the identified weaknesses are an obstacle to perform well in the job.
Be careful when sharing weaknesses. You want to be honest, but also make a positive impression. Be ready to answer on steps you are taking to improve on your weaknesses.
Below some suggestions of weaknesses to provide based on the job you are interviewing for which also does not knock you out:
- Discomfort with leaving a task or project unfinished
- Too detail oriented
- Impatience or frustration with underperforming staff
- Internalizing and overthinking the problems of clients, advisors or peers
- Lack of certain technical experience
- Public speaking or presentation to large groups – most of the jobs will not require you to do it
- Too demanding with yourself
- Taking on too many projects at once
Watch the Free Online Course in Interviewing for Pharma Jobs in order to better understand other type of trap questions
Why did you choose us as a company?
Employers want to know which of the candidates truly researched about the company in advance. If you show up to the interview without knowing some basic information, you will leave an impression of someone not committed. Research facts as:
- Company vision, mission, culture and strategy
- Portfolio of products and services
- Main markets and customers
- Latest news
Once you did you research, make sure to match your qualifications to it. An example of a good answer would be “I’m aware that your company is expanding to Southeast Asia. Having a ten year experience in international sales in Asia and Pacific region, I am convinced that I can help your company transition to this market and achieve its goals”.
This shows that you’ve done your research and that you have the skills set that the company need at that particular time.
What is the biggest mistake you ever did?
The interviewer asks this question to learn how you handle challenges and how you improve your weaknesses. One question the interviewer might ask about past mistakes is, “What have you learned from your mistakes?”.
The best way to answer this question is to talk about a specific example of a time you made a mistake. Briefly explain what the mistake was. Emphasize what you learned, or how you improved after making that mistake.
Some mistake examples:
- Failed an experiment due to lack of proper protocol documentation/details
- Missed to review the latest results with your advisor and obtain his/her input
- Article submission was rejected in important paper due to prior peer and advisor reviews
- Underestimated the time plan to perform the next series of experiments
When talking about what you learned, try to emphasize skills or qualities you gained that are important for the job you are interviewing for. During the interview preparation, make list of mistakes and the key learning of each of them. Then close it with the step you made to improve them.
Further answers can be found in this session Interview for Pharma Jobs.
What to do when you have a conflict with your boss?
This question is to test your ability to deal with complicated situations and how to deal with conflict. A common mistake candidates make is to say they avoided the conflict and/or did not try to correct their bosses.
The best to explain how you have dealt with it, which can demonstrate first hand your ability to handle conflict situations. Try to paint a picture of the encounter and how you acted in a professional and polite manner. Some examples:
- Inquired (without finger pointing) what could be done better in that specific situation
- Established open communication and transparent feedback culture with the superior
- Agree on actions to avoid the situation to happen again
- Listen carefully to his/her point of view and try to interpret how he sees the issue
Where else you are interviewing?
In general, it is a good idea to avoid stating that this job is the only one you are considering. Your marketability can be brought into question if you are not attracting attention from other employers. Your also changes.
Often the best approach is to mention that you are exploring a number of other similar options in the company’s industry. It can be helpful to mention that a common characteristic of all the jobs you are applying to is the opportunity to apply some critical abilities and skills that you possess.
For example, you might say “I am applying for several positions with IT consulting firms where I can analyze client needs and translate them to development teams in order to find solutions to technology problems.”