Author: Cliff Mintz
Telephone interviews are an inexpensive and quick way for employers to screen prospective job candidates, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Generally speaking, employers use phone interviews to verify that a candidate’s personal information, qualifications and skill sets in his/her curriculum vitae is correct, accurate and consistent with what employers may have learned about an applicant online. Another use of phone interviews is to determine whether or not a job candidate has the requisite oral communications skills required to perform the job that he/she applied for.
To increase the possibility of a face-to-face, job candidates can do a variety of things to prepare for and optimize his/her performance during phone interviews.
- Use a landline. You don’t want to risk having problems with cell phone service. It is irritating for employers to conduct interviews if the call breaks up frequently or is dropped. If you don’t have a landline or access to one, make sure that the telephone interview is conducted in a location with as much cell phone service as possible.
- Keep your resume and job qualifications readily available. In fact, lay out all of your materials in front of you before the call. This includes your resume, notes about your career objective and skill sets/qualifications for the job and anything else you think may be helpful during the interview.
- Steer clear of distractions. Find a quiet place to interview and stay there! There shouldn’t be any noise in the background to distract you or the hiring manager. However, it is understandable that this can be tricky if you have young children at home who need your attention. When you set up your interview appointment, try to schedule it for as precise a time or window as possible. That way, you are able to avoid possible distractions.
- Speak slowly and clearly. When you speak to people in face-to-face situations, you are better able to understand what they are saying or asking because you can see their mouth move and observe their body language. Of course, neither you nor the interviewer will be able to do this over the phone. Therefore, it is important to speak clearly and more slowly than you would if you were talking face-to-face to him/her. If you cannot hear the interviewer, politely ask him/her to repeat a question. If this doesn’t work, blame the poor sound quality on your phone and say “I’m really sorry, it’s hard to hear you, and the volume on my phone just won’t go up!”
- Beware of jokes or sarcastic remarks. Jokes or sarcastic remarks that may be deemed harmless in face-to-face conversations can be misinterpreted during a phone interview because an interviewer cannot see your body language or facial expressions when a comment is made. Also, an employee who is sarcastic or prone to joke telling may not be considered professional to some hiring manager. Therefore it is a good idea during a phone interview to maintain your professionalism; stay on target with the interview topics and focus on the key information about you that will get you hired.
- No eating, drinking or chewing gum! While eating, drinking and chewing gum are typical things that people do, none of these activities should be performed during a phone interview. They can interfere with your ability to communicate and are considered to be unprofessional behaviors (unless of course you are working through a lunchtime meeting after you are hired).
- Turn off all electronic devices. The goal of a telephone interview is to tell a prospective employer that you are serious, focused and keenly interested in the job that you are interviewing for. There is nothing more annoying, disruptive or rude than hearing an email alert or vibrating phone during a conversation. If you want to get invited to a face-to-face interview, then turn off all electronic devices (tablets, laptops, televisions etc) before the telephone interview begins.
- Prepare questions ahead of time. At the end of many telephone interviews, hiring managers typically ask whether or not there are any questions. Therefore, it is a good idea to have some. Asking questions signals to the interviewer that you did your “homework” about the company/organization and are seriously interested in the job opportunity. Some examples of questions are: “What is the start date for the job?” “What software/equipment will I be using?”
Remember; do not ask about salary or benefits. These questions are best left for face-to-face interviews. However, if the interviewer asks about salary requirements then you should be prepared to provide an answer. Typically, it is a good idea to provide a salary range and if you are reluctant to offer that information it is acceptable to say “a salary commensurate with persons with my qualifications and years of experience.
Using these recommendations to prepare for an upcoming telephone interview will signal to prospective employers you are professional, serious and extremely interested in the job opportunity. And, hopefully, your performance will be sufficient to garner an invitation to participate in a face-to-face, onsite job interview.
An update on trends and career paths within the industry
Author: Gabrielle Bauer
If you had to pick a single word to describe the life sciences industry, “change” would be a safe bet. A continuous stream of medical advances keeps the industry on its toes at all times. If you’ve cast your lot with the life sciences, you can expect an exciting, occasionally bumpy, and never boring ride.
Life sciences is an umbrella term used to describe all branches of science devoted to R&D in human, animal, and plant life. This broad designation makes room for companies specializing in pharmaceuticals, biomedicine, biophysics, neuroscience, cell biology, biotechnology, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals, among others.
Individuals working in the industry may settle into careers as research scientists, lab technicians, clinical research associates, research assistants, medical science liaisons, industrial pharmacists, and bioinformaticians, to name just some possibilities. Stepping further from the core of the industry but still under its generous umbrella, some people may find their niche as medical writers, medical illustrators, health policy analysts.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have stopped the world, but it didn’t stop the life sciences industry. On the contrary, the industry had a rare opportunity to surpass itself. To cope with the crisis, organizations that normally competed against each other partnered to accelerate research and distribution of vaccines. While the development of a new drug takes 8.2 years, on average, the novel COVID-19 vaccines made it to prime time in less than a year.
These efforts allowed the industry to stay strong and vibrant. In the early weeks of the pandemic, while many other markets were dropping like stones, biopharma companies quickly regained their transitory loss of valuation.1 In March 2020, multinational biotech giant Regeneron Pharmaceuticals saw its shares increase by 10% while the company worked on Covid-19 treatments. Just over a year later, the overall biotech market (measured by revenue) is ringing in at $135 billion, representing a 4% year-to-year increase.
The pandemic also upturned health providers’ working environments and styles, creating additional needs for digitally transferable imaging technologies and software platforms that facilitate remote care delivery. A lot of players got in on the action: in 2020, corporate funding for digital health reached a record $21.6 billion globally, up by 103% from the previous year.2 Pharma and biotech companies have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this momentum.
What comes next
If expert predictions are any indication, the industry won’t be slowing any time soon. The rising life expectancy and aging population in the US have increased the incidence of age-related illnesses and the demand for medical care.3 In addition to better and more cost-effective treatments, the industry has an opportunity to develop curative and preventive interventions.
Some of the growth will come from analytics, a newer branch of life sciences that uses sophisticated techniques to analyze data and devise strategies to meet population needs. Valued at $7.7 billion in 2020, the global life sciences analytics market size is expected to grow at a compound rate of 7.8% between 2021 and 2028.
Even after the pandemic subsides, health systems will continue investing in care models that allow for virtual visits and home testing technologies.2 And the proliferation of companies specializing in third-party services, such as contract research organizations and patient support program (PSP) providers, will make it easier than ever for smaller pharma and biotech companies to outsource key processes involved in a drug launch.
Top trends to watch for
● Personalized medicine: customization of treatment based on genetic/genomic information
● Immune focus: treatments that target specific immune pathways or give new life to a failing immune system will multiply
● Data integration: Smart technology will help integrate data from different sources (e.g. MRI scans, laboratory tests), helping doctors choose the right treatments
● Digitalized assessment: online assessment, diagnosis and treatment will become increasingly common and will help equalize access for patients
● Collaborative innovation: Biotech companies will increasingly join forces with other scientific organizations to push the R&D envelope
● Value-based pricing: Pricing will become increasingly tied to the real-world effectiveness of a drug or other health product
Life sciences underpin the human experience. As long as humans need healthcare, the life sciences industry will remain strong and withstand threats that collapse other sectors. You’ve come to the right place. Sci.bio will be pleased to help you go further.
As the number of COVID-19 cases drop and social distancing measurements relax, in-person networking events will start returning. For many scientists and science students, their understanding of ‘networking’ is at best a foreign concept with no applicability to their career path, and at worst they think there’s something almost underhanded about schmoozing your way into a job.
Unfortunately for those scientists, networking is critical to securing jobs inside and outside academia. For STEM students and postdocs who are uncertain about their future career path, networking can provide opportunities and insight that academic mentors are unavailable to provide. But the good news is networking doesn’t have to be awkward or embarrassing. In fact, it can be informative and fun.
Here are some tips and tricks that any scientist – or introverted person – can use to help network more effectively.
What is networking?
A common misconception about networking is that it’s all about trying to get a job. Networking is a conversation. It’s about forming a mutually-beneficial professional connection. When defined like that, you can see networking takes place all the time on a large and small scale. A 5 minute conversation with a visiting lecturer is networking, but a 5 minute conversation at a family BBQ can be networking, too! Presenting a poster at an international conference is definitely a networking situation. Research collaborators and colleagues within your department are network contacts, but any people you meet and interact with have the potential to be network contacts as well–you never know who other people know.
Networking rarely yields immediate results: it can take months (or years) for the benefits of networking efforts to show. Recruiters at the mixer you attend may not know of suitable job openings right then, but several weeks later when a job opportunity arises they may – if you networked successfully – remember your name.
Because of this, it’s helpful to begin networking 6-12 months before you finish your PhD or postdoc, the earlier the better. It takes time to build connections and become comfortable networking with others.
Getting the most out of networking events
While a lot of networking can happen organically, dedicated networking events are a great opportunity to meet new people you wouldn’t otherwise encounter within an academic research setting. These events might take place in conjunction with symposia and conferences, or be organized by professional societies.
Before arriving at a networking event, think about your career goals and how other attendees could help you. Are you actively looking for a job? Or still trying to figure out what you want to do? Distill your objectives into a couple of sentences and get comfortable explaining them.
“During my first networking event at a career fair, I was nervous and not quite sure what to expect or talk about. After a few interactions I realized that all I had to do was introduce myself, have a candid conversation, exchange contacts, and then I had a networking connection.” Carter Lewis, Sci.bio Recruiting Associate
Despite the fact you need a game plan, it helps to go into networking events with an open mind. Everyone in the room has the potential to help you meet your career goals, or introduce you to new opportunities you hadn’t considered. Show the same level of interest and courtesy to everyone you meet, and find out what you can about their job. What do they enjoy about their work? How did they get into the field? What advice would they give to someone looking to break into the field? While you may not be interested in biotech consultancy, perhaps a labmate is considering such roles and would benefit from any insights you can relay.
As scientists, we tend to be very detail-orientated and thorough when talking about our work. In networking situations, people may not be familiar with your field and could be pressed for time, meaning you must be concise. Develop a ‘high-level’ elevator pitch that describes your work quickly in broad strokes. If the other person wants to learn more, they’ll ask follow-up questions.
When talking to someone new, avoid monopolizing the conversation. Pause and ask questions. It doesn’t sound like much, but simply seeming interested in other people is one of the best ways to leave a good impression. Don’t forget to think about what YOU may be able to offer THEM; networking and building connections goes both ways.
The great thing about networking events is that everybody who attends wants to have a conversation with you! Even if you’re naturally more reserved, there are many people in the room, such as recruiters, who enjoy meeting new people and are experienced at navigating these kinds of social interactions.
Business card and follow-up
“Thanks, it’s been great talking to you – here’s my contact information.” You don’t have to devote a lot of time to any one person at the networking event. If it seems like you don’t have much to say to each other, it’s fine to politely bow out of the conversation and look for someone else to talk to. Be sure to collect the other person’s contact information and share yours. Business cards are the traditional hallmark of networking, but some people generate QR codes that link to their LinkedIn profile or online CV. At virtual events all you need to do is drop your contact info in the chat. Most people who attend networking events are open to connecting electronically afterwards. You can also send a short email the next day thanking them again for their time and re-emphasizing how much you enjoyed talking to them.
“Even if [recruiters or my new connections] didn’t have an immediate job opportunity for me, I still had someone that I could reach out to in the future.” Carter Lewis, Sci.bio Recruiting Associate
As mentioned above, networking doesn’t immediately bear fruit. You want to cultivate your network over several months; interacting with new connections on LinkedIn (e.g. commenting on their posts) and keeping your name fresh in their minds without becoming a nuisance or spamming them. Maybe this new contact knows one of their contacts has a job vacancy, or perhaps they can help you with something unrelated to your job search? Either way, you won’t know until you’ve made the connection!
Networking can appear daunting, but recruiters at Sci.bio are happy to help you expand your circle of contacts and take your career to the next level. Get in touch with us today.