Skip to content

The Best Biotech and Life Science Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates

Finding the perfect hire for your Pharmaceutical, Medical Device or Biotech opening is critical. You’ve reviewed countless resumes, have your selection narrowed, your interview team in place and are ready to get started. What’s left to do? Compile a list of the best life science interview questions to ask your candidates. Here are some of our recruiters’ favorites that should be included.

Regarding the Specific Life Science Company or Opportunity

  • What makes you interested in our company / pipeline / products and why?
  • What do you know about our company and the product pipeline?
  • Which drug / device in our portfolio has you most excited to work with us?
  • What makes our company stand out over other Pharmaceutical / Medical Device / Biotech companies?
  • (For someone coming from outside the industry) What is it about working in life sciences that interests you in working for us?
  • (Moving from pharma to medical device, etc.) What is it about working on this particular therapeutic / research that interests you in working with us?
  • How would you improve our product or trial?

About a Candidate’s Specific Pharmaceutical / Medical Device / Biotech Experience

  • What is the most complex or challenging study you have worked on? What did you do to overcome the obstacles or challenges?
  • How did you get your start inside our industry? (This acts as an effective way to set a conversational tone for an interview.)
  • What made you become interested in clinical research? -or- How did you hone-in on clinical research for a career?
  • What protocols and standards have you worked under (i.e. HIPPA, SOX, ISO, 21 CFR Part 11, etc.)?
  • Has clinical research ever unfavorably impacted the development of one of your projects? What did you do in response?
  • Describe your lab experience in detail. -or- Tell me about your research.
  • How much hands-on industry experience do you have versus academic, undergrad?
  • What’s your level of knowledge in (specific technology, equipment or lab techniques)?
  • What stages were the companies in where you previously worked? Were any experiencing tremendous growth or pressure to enter the market quickly?
  • How did your role help prepare your former company in going from a trial to a regulated space?
  • Where would you start if building a test / trial / model?
  • Which biotechnology are you most experienced with?
  • How do you evaluate data prior to starting a project? What is your process?
  • Have regulations created challenges to any of your projects? What did you do?

About the Life Sciences Industry

  • What are your thoughts on the current landscape of Life Sciences given the world (i.e. Brexit / economy / Covid) at present? How do you think this will affect the industry and the way we operate?
  • Where do you see the industry going in the next five years and what is driving this change?
  • What do you feel is the most significant development in Pharmaceuticals / Medical Devices / Biotech in the past few years?
  • In the Biotech vertical (early-phase Biotechs), utility of the employee is key to achieving success for the product development team towards the clinic. Please describe instances in your career where you have provided utility/ flexibility for an employer to achieve its milestone goals.
  • If you could work on any specific treatment or cure, which one would it be and why?
  • How do you stay appraised of regulatory changes in our industry?
  • What has you interested to work in this industry and why?

And, of course, no list of interview questions would be complete without some of the basics. Here are some of the timeless questions to help ascertain your candidates’ experience and potential cultural fit.

General Job Search Questions

Experience, skills and background

  • Explain a time when you ran into a problem and how did you solve it. Be specific!
  • Explain your experience/education level.
  • How would you describe your top three skills?
  • Let’s go over the last few jobs you had and why you left each and how you came upon finding them?
  • Tell me about your day in the job you have now. -or- What does a typical day look like for you?
  • What do you like most / find most rewarding about the job you are in and the company you work for? Conversely, what is it you dislike or find least rewarding?
  • What was your most significant contribution in the role you are in now?
  • Tell me what your worst job was and why.

Work style and personality

  • Have you found you work better with a hands-on or hands-off manager? -or- How do you like / prefer to be managed?
  • What motivates you? -or- What are you passionate about?
  • What differentiates you from fellow team members? -or- What can you bring to this role?
  • How would your last manager describe you?
  • What would your manager say about you if asked about your performance and overall contributions to the team?
  • What would a colleague or client have to say about working with you?
  • Describe your perfect job.
  • What kind of culture do you thrive in?
  • Tell me about your biggest challenge.
  • (For smaller companies/start-ups) How do you feel about wearing multiple hats, being asked to perform outside of your comfort zone or needing to take charge?
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Questions about the job, company or candidate’s job search

  • What is it about this job that is most exciting to you?
  • Are you considering or pursuing other types of opportunities?
  • What do you know about our company?

Photo credit: Canva