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The most dreaded interview question

The most dreaded interview question

This most popular question that always seems to be tripping prospective employees up for years – whether they’re applying for jobs at the local store or at Google. There’s no guaranteed-to-land-you-the-job answer to this question, but there are certainly wrong ways to answer, and ways that will increase your chances. The first step, is to understand why you’re being asked the question?

interview questions

The WHY

Usually a pharmaceutical or biopharma interviewer is looking to see a few things when they ask you about your weaknesses – first, they’re looking for self-awareness. Are you knowledgeable enough about yourself to understand and appreciate where you’ll fit well within a role, and where you might need to develop? And are you comfortable enough with yourself to admit those areas? This is more of development and confidence question over anything else.

This is one of the most well-known interview questions out there, so a pharmaceutical interviewer may also be looking to make sure you care enough to have prepared to answer this question. If you don’t have something ready for them, that could be taken as a red flag.

There are ways you can answer this question! 

DO NOT ANSWER –

EVERYONE has weaknesses – so never say “I don’t have any weaknesses.” It’s not bold or confident; and will be exactly what an interviewer is looking for to eliminate someone from the process. Part of the strength of your answer will be your honesty – being able to admit that you may not have every single skill you need to dive into the job straight away. Employers aren’t looking for someone to do the job perfectly immediately – they’re looking for people who are able and willing to learn and grow into the role and work on their weaknesses.

Keep your answer honest, but make sure to explain it well and lead into how you’re going to overcome the weakness.

Finally, don’t pick a weakness that is obviously a strength. Working too hard or giving too much attention to detail aren’t weaknesses unless you explain why. This is a common mistake interviewers make.

Be confident in your answer

interview questions

How should you answer –

The best answer to this question has two parts. First, the admission – state your weakness, explain why it’s a weakness, and keep it realistic. After that, you have to explain how you plan to overcome that weakness, if you haven’t already. Use the question as an opportunity to explain how you hope to grow and develop in this new role.

An honest admission is what you should keep in mind that’s swiftly overcome by a solid plan that ends up demonstrating further value. This doesn’t have to be a question that might trip you up – think about it as an opportunity to explain how you’re hoping to learn and grow in your new role.

Being prepared and honest will show your strength

Top 10 quick tips for your phone interview

Top 10 quick tips for your phone interview

Many life science companies in pharmaceuticals or biotechnology begin the interview process with a phone ‘screen’ to discuss the job opportunity with a prospective employee to determine if the individual is a good fit, and also to gauge his or her interest in the position. Pharmaceutical Recruiters and hiring managers alike use phone screens as quick and convenient ways to weed out candidates. Here is a quick overview on some of the things you can do to prepare for your phone screen.Michael Scott The Office

  • Do… Prepare.  talk to the recruiter or client about the role and what’s expected; dig around the company’s website and make sure you do your research about the business. See what you can find out about the interviewer on social media, press releases, research articles, etc.. Make a cheat sheet so can write down some good questions prior to the call.
  • Don’t… Get flustered if things don’t always go perfectly. If you make a verbal mistake, pause a moment, take a breath and regroup.  If the interview starts late use the time wisely to continue to prepare or read some more about the company.
  • Do… Chase. If the call hasn’t yet come in 10 minutes after it was scheduled to start, call your contact or email the interviewer. Most interviewers are busy and sometimes they need a quick reminder.
  • Don’t… Take the call while driving or where you could be interrupted. Make sure you are focused and in an appropriate location/quite place with zero distractions.
  • Do… ask clarifying questions if you’re not sure of your direction or if it sounds like the same question is being asked twice. You want to make sure you have given yourself the best chance possible and you can only do this by answering the questions correctly.
  • Don’t…let anything distract you. Listen very closely and try to picture what your interviewer is asking. You won’t have visual cues to aid you and you won’t be able to see their face or body language. Pay attention to verbal cues, intonation and inflection,
  • Do…Slow down, speak clearly, make certain to not over talk. Answer the question concisely yet completely
  • Don’t… make jokes or use sarcasm to make a point. This REALLY needs body language to work and you’ll never be able to gauge what your interviewer thinks. Usually, a phone interview is in the beginning stages of the process and you don’t want to make the wrong impression too soon so play it safe and keep it neutral
  • Don’t… close the interviewer by asking how you’ve done. Unless it went stupendously well, it’s unlikely the interviewer will tell you then and there what they think of you. Its a mark of desperation.
  • Do… ask what the next step will be. It shows that you’re invested, and will be a great test as to how you performed.
  • Do… stick to time. The interviewer’s probably got a whole stack of people to talk to after you, and by running over you’re making them late, which is never going to give them a great impression.

If you are they type that gets nervous, have a career counselor mock interview you a couple of times and ask you some difficult questions. This practice will allow you to better express yourself when the real one happens and will allow you to build confidence.phone interview

End positively. If you really want the job, end the call on a positive note. indicate that you appreciate the interviewer’s time and offer to be available if they have any additional questions.

Telephone Interviews: A Guide to Success

Telephone Interviews: A Guide to Success

by Clifford Mintz

cartoon ringing telephoneTelephone interviews are an inexpensive and quick way for employers to screen prospective job candidates. 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. Finally, and perhaps more nefariously, telephone interviews can allow employers to garner insight into a job candidate’s race, ethnicity or national origin (this can easily be discerned by accents speech patterns and colloquial use of English) and immigration status.

In today’s tight job market, an outstanding command of the English language and permanent residency or US citizenship are what many American employers prefer in permanent full time employees. However, this does not mean that well qualified, non-native English speakers will not be invited to participate in a face-to-face job interview 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.

These include:

1. 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 land line or access to one, make sure that the telephone interview is conducted in a location with as much cell phone service as possible.

2. 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 that think may be helpful during the interview.

3. 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.

4. 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!”

5. 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 is 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.

6. 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).

7. Turn off all electronic devices.  The goal of a telephone interview is to let 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 then hearing an email alert or vibrating phone during a conversation.  If you want to get invited to face-to-face interview, then turn off all electronic devices (tablets, laptops, televisions etc) before the telephone interview begins. 

8. 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 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.

While these recommendations cannot eliminate employer bias or job discrimination, using them 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.

Until next time…

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