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3 Ways to Fix a Flawed Interview Process

3 Ways to Fix a Flawed Interview Process

As a life sciences professional, interviewing candidates is an important final step in what may have been a long hiring process. Getting the right hire can mean the difference between building a “good” team vs. having a “great” one.

However, at many companies, HR leaders and team managers haven’t updated their hiring procedures or taken the time to customize the recruitment process.  In the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” guise, many organizations go through the same basic routine they’ve done for years and fail to make the changes that would result in more effective interviewing and, therefore, stronger teams with less turnover.

While it’s not necessary to completely start from scratch when it comes to your interviewing techniques, it’s important to understand that markets shift, applicants change, and, especially during COVID-19, systems for interviewing and onboarding have become more flexible.

The following are three danger signs to watch out for – with suggestions on how to remedy your processes:

     1.      Your Interviews are Too Short and you’re all asking the same questions

A short interview – of 20 minutes or less – is not only insufficient to learn all of the necessary information about a candidate, it’s also disrespectful. Candidates spend weeks researching organizations, filling out applications, and doing their due diligence. To arrive at an interview only to walk out of the door less than half an hour later is anticlimactic at best, and harms your company’s reputation at worst. Adding to the insult of a short interview, interview teams are often not assigned to focus on areas of competence or skill and default to redundant, predictable, questions that fail to uncover a candidate’s true capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses.

Solution: Try not to rush things. Learn a little bit about them and their interest in the role before you dive into prepared questions. Candidates should have time to ask questions throughout the interview, not just as it’s wrapping up, and you should ask follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of their background and skills. You’ll learn more about the candidate and be able to assess their strengths and weaknesses. Develop a Behavioral Based Interview format where interviewers are assigned competencies and values that resonate with the role. This will allow useful assessments that can be benchmarked against other candidates.

 

     2.      The Interview is Your Only Hiring Tool

Interviews should not be the sole basis of a hiring decision. An interview shows managers how candidates behave in a professional setting, but they provide little evidence of what each individual brings to the table. Some people may interview well and be a great fit on paper, but they may not fit in with the team culture. Others may interview poorly, but have great technical skills that your team needs. This is especially true for highly skilled positions in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences industries.

The entire application and interaction process from first interaction through references should be used as an opportunity for evaluation of candidates.  Attention to detail, timeliness can be assessed through email interactions as an example. Carefully worded reference questions can reveal weaknesses that may have not been apparent: ”Is there any additional training or development that candidate name  could benefit from in his/her development?” or “Why do you think candidate name wasn’t promoted, or left?” both allow opportunities for the reference to supply details you may not have uncovered yourself during the interview process.

Solution: Once you’ve narrowed down your selections to a handful of qualified individuals, you should find multiple ways to assess their skills and experience.  For example, if you’re hiring a life sciences writer, it doesn’t make sense to judge them purely on their personality or conversational skills. Examining each candidate’s portfolio of work or asking them to do a brief writing example would demonstrate if they’re right for the job. Similarly, if you are hiring a lead Scientist who will need to present data, ask them to prepare a short presentation and Q&A session.  Assess written follow up emails for both timeliness and attention to detail. Don’t ask cookie cutter reference questions that “check the box.” Instead ask questions that probe at the heart of candidate competency.

 

     3.      Only HR Personnel Conduct Interviews

Counting on only the HR department to interview and recommend the final candidate could lead to a poor hire. As capable as they may be, HR won’t know as much about the job as someone who has hands-on experience.

Solution: While HR can do the initial screening, hiring managers should conduct the follow-up interviews since they have the best understanding of the position’s requirements and the current team’s strengths and weaknesses. Most human resources professionals recommend that at least three company stakeholders become part of the  interview process, including the position’s direct manager, the manager’s boss, and the team’s relevant members.

 

Conclusion

Not every interview technique and process works for every company.  No two job applicants are the same, and no role is identical because a company’s needs change over time and so do roles and responsibilities. By being willing to look at your systemic flaws and adapting to what works and what doesn’t will help you attract and hire the best employees.

Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries.  To learn more, visit our website today!

Taking the Confusion out of Working with a Recruiter

Taking the Confusion out of Working with a Recruiter

If you’re a candidate looking for a career in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and Life Sciences industries, recruiters can help you locate and land the position you’re looking for. They can match you with employers and roles that are perfect for your skills, interests, and values. They also have access to open positions that you won’t find on job boards and can help prepare you for the interview process.

But did you know there are many types of recruiters – and recruitment firms – out there? Knowing the right one to engage with can be confusing, and understanding their roles can go a long way toward ensuring a successful and timely job search. One thing to keep in mind: you should work with a recruiter that understands and is experienced in the type of position you’re looking for.

Here are four types of recruiters to consider depending upon your specific need:

  • Contingency Recruiter

When a job candidate gets hired, the recruiter gets paid. That’s how it works for contingency recruiters. Their fee is “contingent” upon one of their candidates being successfully hired. So if a contingency recruiter finds you a job, he or she is paid either a flat fee or a percentage of your first year’s salary by the company that hired you. Normally, you don’t have to pay a fee.

Remember, recruiters are NOT working for you – they work for the client with the job opening. However, if you’re the right fit for the position, they’ll work hard to get you in the door.

  • Retained Recruiter

A retained recruiter has an exclusive relationship with an employer. They are hired for a specific period of time to find a candidate for a job, generally for senior-level positions in a company or for positions that are difficult to fill. They are paid expenses, plus a percentage of the employee’s salary, regardless of whether the candidate is hired. As a job seeker, you don’t have to pay a fee. Retained recruiters work very closely with the client to find the best person for the job with exactly the right skillset and experience.

  • Corporate Recruiter

Corporate Recruiters work in-house for a company’s HR department and are paid a salary and benefits just like any other employee. They often have titles such as HR Manager or Hiring Manager. Their job is to find new employees for the company they work for – usually large companies with many hiring needs.

  • Temporary / Contract Staffing Agency

Temporary (temp) agencies find employees to fill temporary jobs for their clients. Temps are often hired when companies have a rush, short-term projects, or to cover vacations or illnesses. When a temp agency places you in a position, they pay your wages, taxes, insurance, and benefits and charge the employer an hourly rate for your time. Many temp agencies are set up so that if an employer wants to ultimately hire a temporary worker full-time, the agency can handle that as well.

Summing it Up

Working with the right recruiter, who’s experienced working with job seekers in pharma/biotech, can help take the stress out of your job search. By understanding your skills and experience – while also having a firm grasp of the job market,  industry, and open positions – a skilled recruiter could be exactly what you need to further your career.

How Science Grads Can Get Hired by Biopharma Companies

How Science Grads Can Get Hired by Biopharma Companies

A career in Biotech can be very rewarding. It’s an industry that develops cleaner energy sources, furthers medicine and cures, and develops higher-yielding crops to feed the world’s growing population.

Whether you’ve spent the past few years working on a Ph.D. or are about to finish your first degree, entering the biotech industry is an alternative to the more conventional life-science paths that lead through medical school or end in academia.

But it can be tough to know where to begin. And with the uncertainties caused by COVID-19, it can be hard to identify current job opportunities. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin your new career:

  • Do your Research

With any job, it’s important that candidates do proper research – not just about the job they’re applying for, but about the company they’re hoping to work for. Target companies you’re interested in reaching out to and check out their websites. See if you know anyone who may work at the companies and reach out. Get an understanding of what the organization does, their corporate culture, the leadership group, etc.

  • Find a Mentor

Whether it’s a professor or an established professional in the field, a mentor can go a long way toward helping new grads get their feet in the industry door. Identify one or two potential mentors that you feel you can build and nurture long-term relationships with. Mentors can be advantageous in advancing your career, providing sage advice and guidance based on their experience and expertise.

  • Build your Network

Just like doing good science takes collaboration, so does building your career.  Build a strong network for both career growth and increased learning.   A network of peers can be a valuable group to brainstorm with, glean best practices from and learn about new technologies.

  • Be Aggressive but Be Patient

It may be difficult for new grads to do, but not jumping at the first job offer can be the key to finding a great job. Students with STEM degrees are in the driver’s seat in the current economy and don’t need to settle for an immediate job offer. Pharma/biotech companies aren’t always the first on campus, so be patient and use due diligence to find the right role. When you arrive at the interview, ask questions about the job expectations and responsibilities to get a good feel for the position.

  • Accept an Internship

As a newly minted grad, what you’ve done (work experience) is often more important than what you know (degrees, awards, etc.). An internship that allows you to work in your chosen field will enable you to gain a practical understanding of what it’s like in the real world. It can also provide opportunities to build relationships and show potential employers that you have work experience – giving you a head start vs. the competition. Lastly, some companies hire interns once their term has been completed.

A Final Thought

If you know a biotech career is right for you but aren’t sure what type of position would be best, it’s important to reach out to the industry professionals. Creating a network of working professionals can help you decide on your career path. Also, working with an experienced biotechnology recruiter will remove a lot of the time and stress in finding your first job – and the right one.

 

 

A Basic Interview Preparation Guide For Your Hiring Team

A Basic Interview Preparation Guide For Your Hiring Team

As important as hiring the right candidate can be, many employers or hiring managers don’t consider the ramifications of being ill-prepared for the interview process.

While inviting team members to interview the job seeker should be encouraged, the fact is, everyone may not be prepared for the process. The interview team can be distracted by their jobs and not have time to get ready to meet the potential new hire.

Just like candidates spend time researching the company, interviewers should be ready to evaluate candidates properly to avoid making costly hiring mistakes. Good preparation pays off: Here are some tips to ensure you and your team are properly prepared to meet your candidates.

1. Know your Candidates

Sitting across from a job seeker without having reviewed their resume or background can mean that important questions won’t be asked. And also shows the candidate that you’re not taking the interview seriously. By knowing the person’s background, you’ll avoid asking for information they’ve already provided. Be prepared beforehand by reading the resume and making notes of key points concerning their skills and experience. You can then use interview time to elaborate on these points or ask for the new information you need to help with your evaluation.

2. Plan your Interview Questions

Before the interview, you and your team should prepare a series of questions built on behavioral question models. Examples of how to phrase these include:

• “Tell me about a time…”
• “Give me an example of when…”
• “Walk me through…”
• “Describe for me…”

Questions constructed around these examples offer the potential for answers that say a lot about a candidate’s personality and interpersonal style. They can also spark a meaningful discussion that leads to the interviewer’s deeper understanding of past situations, tasks, and results the applicant has experienced.

3. Give Everyone on the Hiring Team a Role

Giving each member of the interviewing team a role helps them focus and enables them to have a specific goal for the upcoming interview. Providing a direction will also ensure your interviewers will be prepared with questions that will meet the goals set out for them. For example, each member could focus on a key piece of experience criteria or on the desired behavior.

4. Use the Same Criteria for Each Candidate

Be sure you and your team apply the same process and ask the same questions during each job interview. This approach enables you to gather information uniformly and make the next step — evaluating how well each person does — that much easier. It can also help minimize unintended or unconscious bias and other negative factors that may creep into the interview process.

A Last Word

The interview process is crucial in helping you find the right candidate. You need to assess their strengths and weaknesses quickly, but even more importantly, you need to evaluate whether they’ll be a good cultural and professional fit. A well-prepared interview team can give you a complete view of the candidate – helping to ensure the right hire!

Sci.Bio is a leading recruitment and search firm based in Boston. We specialize in finding and hiring the best talent to fill temporary openings, long-term positions, and executive roles in the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, and the Life Sciences industries. To learn more, visit our website today!

Is Another Degree Necessary After Your PhD?

Is Another Degree Necessary After Your PhD?

life science careersby Clifff Mintz.  There was an interesting article in Science Careers Magazine this week entitled “Should you consider another degree after your PhD.” The article traces the journey of several people who earned PhD degrees in science-related fields who transitioned into new careers including law, regulatory affairs, business development and science writing.

The gist of the article is that if you can afford the costs of earning another degree, it may be worth it for persons with PhD degrees who want to get “out of the lab.” However, based on my own experiences and those of the persons mentioned in the article, most graduate students and postdocs lack the financial resources to enroll in professional degree or certificate programs after completing their PhD programs. Consequently, most of the people showcased in the article were able to leverage unpaid internships and volunteer work into new jobs that paid for additional training or professional degree programs.

I have long posited that obtaining another degree after a PhD degree may not be in a  best interest of PhD degree holders for a variety of reasons. First, as mentioned above, the financial obligations of a degree or certificate program may be too onerous  or unrealistic for graduate students who worked for minimum wage for many years to obtain their PhD degrees; the funds simply are not available. Second, by the time a PhD degree is award and postdoctoral training is completed, most science PhD degree holders are in their mid 30s to early 40s and ,in many cases have families,which may not be conducive to going back to school full time. Also, who wants to be a student for most of their adult lives? Finally, the mere exhaustion and stress associated with spending close to 10 years in a laboratory may discourage even most ambitious individuals from pursuing another degree or certificate. Put simply, there may not be “enough gas left in the tank” to obtain another degree in the hopes of possibly a changing a career trajectory.

Based on my experience as an instructor in a program offered to PhD students and postdocs who had already decided that a research career was not for them, internships, volunteer work and an unrelenting pursuit of an alternate career is probably the best way to navigate a career change. What I observed about all of the students in this program (over 70% of them obtained non-research jobs after completing their PhD degrees with no postdoctoral training) was that they were highly motivated and did whatever was necessary to network and leverage the resources offered to them by the program (which included mixers, invitations to professional meetings, and guest speakers outside of the research world including pharmaceutical executives, venture capitalist, medical writers and clinical study managers) to get “where they wanted to go”.  For example, one student, who was interested in regulatory affairs, went to the dean of her medical school to get the funds necessary to go to a national regulatory affairs meeting rather than attending an annual society meeting to present her research findings. Today, she is a director of regulatory affairs at a major biotechnology company. Another student, wrote reviews for an online financial services company regarding the technology behind various private and publicly traded biotechnology companies as a graduate student, now works for a financial service company as an analyst. Finally, another student who was interested in technology transfer was able to leverage an unpaid internship in his university’s technology transfer office into a full time job (he is now a director of the office).

The bottom line: while obtaining another degree or certificate may better position you for a possible career change, it may not be emotionally or financially possible or likely. That said, rather than fantasizing about what may have been if you simply chose law or medicine or business over a graduate career in science, you best shot at changing the direction of your career may be to identify alternative career options and obtaining the necessary skillsets, qualifications and real life experience to make it a reality, Once you have identified those things, the next step is to devise a financially-viable plan to obtain them and then spend the majority of your waking hours successfully implementing the plan. It won’t be easy but as the old adage goes “if there is a will then there is a way.”

Until next time……

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!