Day 4: How Critical Skills Impact The Interview

In this week’s series, we’ve looked at the critical skills valued by professional organizations, and how your awareness, experience and success in demonstrating those skills with accomplishments can give you a leg up on your competition.  There are two specific criteria that are always at the top of the list when hiring managers consider new candidates for scientific/technical positions:

  1. Can you do the science- Colleagues of mine who have held senior positions in biotech and pharmaceutical companies consistently tell me that the first (and often easiest) assessment is whether the candidate is fluent in the science.  You are recognized for your scientific accomplishments, and mastery in your area has taken years to develop.  Hiring managers recognize that this knowledge and mastery cannot be taught quickly, and so their first evaluation of a candidate is to ensure that mastery is there.  “I’ve got plenty of technical people who can teach my new hires an assay or technique.  But I don’t have the time to teach them the science” is a typical viewpoint.  As critical as this mastery is, the likelihood that your mastery will uniquely make you stand out compared to other PhDs with extensive experience in the same area is unlikely.  So that brings us to the second essential qualification:
  2.  Beyond scientific mastery, the next essential evaluation is, “will the candidate fit well with my team?” Universally, hiring managers comment on how proud they are of the teams they have assembled.  The ability of the team to work together, to put aside personal ambitions for the good of the team’s goals, demand high quality work, and be willing to give and accept constructive criticism are all essential ingredients.

In preparation for the interview, develop well-constructed brief examples of your scientific mastery and your business and social skills, all with accomplishments.  Use “STAR” as your guide in constructing your answers.  What was the Situation, what Task did you have to undertake, what Action did you take to address the challenge, and what was the Result.

So, during interviews for a technical position, in response to the question “Why should we hire you?” convey both your scientific mastery as well as your business and social skills and accomplishments.  The former will put you in the pool of candidates to be seriously considered.  The latter will get you the job!

Leave a Reply