5 Things to Do to Prepare for Your Pharma Interview

You are a physician who has gotten an interview with a pharmaceutical company.  Congratulations!  Making that leap from clinical practice to pharma can be challenging, so the fact that you secured an interview is definitely an accomplishment.  You will want to prepare—no, over-prepare—so you can highlight how you have the skill set to meet the company’s objectives during the interview.  Taking the time to do this is the best possible way you can stand out as a candidate.

Assuming you are interviewing for a clinical development, safety, or medical affairs-type position, here are 5 things you should do before your interview

 1.  Research the company’s drug pipeline and marketed products.

The drug pipeline is the group of drug candidates that a pharmaceutical company has under development at this time. The candidate products may be at various points in development that can broadly be grouped in 4 stages: discovery, pre-clinical, pre-approval clinical trials, and finally post-approval.  Clinical trials have four distinct phases that can be described at a high level as follows:

  • Phase 1 – first in man studies to assess dosing, pharmacokinetics and side effects
  • Phase 2 – proof of concept studies to assess efficacy and safety
  • Phase 3 – pivotal trials to understand efficacy, benefits, and risks
  • Phase 4 – post-approval trials to further understand efficacy, particularly in special populations, and also long-term safety.

Understand from your review of their pipeline and marketed products what conditions their drugs are aimed at treating.  Brush up on those conditions if needed and be prepared to speak to your knowledge and experience with those conditions.

2.  Review the company’s recent and ongoing clinical trials.

Go to www.clinicaltrials.gov and search for trials involving the company’s products.  You can see completed trials and ongoing trials.  Get familiar with the design of their trials.  What are the comparator products used in the trials?  What kind of subjects gets enrolled into the trials?  Have you taken care of patients that meet eligibility for their trials?  Be prepared to share your experience with those patients.  Where are the trials being conducted?  Do you have connections with the investigators and sites involved in their development programs?  If the trials have been completed, review the results and publications that were generated.

3.  Get familiar with the company’s products from a regulatory perspective.

For marketed products go to the Drugs@FDA   and look at the current product labels.  Also have a look at the official drug label, medication guides, and post-marketing requirements.  Browse through the summary documents that were published when the drug was approved.

If the drug is in development, do the above for drugs in the same class as the ones they have in development or the drugs already approved to treat the indicated condition.  Also look to see if there are regulatory guidance documents that govern how development programs should be conducted for drugs to treat a certain condition.  Example– Guidance for Industry Acute Bacterial Skin and Skin Structure Infections: Developing Drugs for Treatment.  You can find guidance documents here.

4.  Scour the internet for news and updates about the company

Most companies have an area on their website dedicated to press releases and events.  These are usually intended for consumers and investors.  Get familiar with those.  Also go to Google and search on the company name under news to read what is there.  You will usually find a lot of good business information there.

5.  Learn as much as you can about the people who are going to interview you.

Google them.  Review their profile on LinkedIn.  Learn as much as you can about their background and career path.  Find out if you have things common—birth place, alma mater, professional connections, or even hobbies or interests.  You never know when you might be able to work those things into the conversation and create a better connection.  Do you know someone who knows the person who is going to interview you?  Give them a call and find out what the person is like.

Yes, it takes time to prepare for an interview.  Doing so is important to show you are truly interested in the job.  Even if you are not sure if you are interested in the job, it is worth putting forth this effort because it makes it clear that you are not just a busy doctor who is only interested in what this company can do for you.  (Remember, at the interview, it is not about you.)  The interviewer will be impressed that you came prepared!

Do you have an upcoming interview?  Let McKain Consulting help you prepare!