Why do job interviews make us feel really nervous, even if we know we’d be great for the job? Nothing makes me more uncomfortable in life than interviewing for a job. As much as I prepare for an interview in advance, I never seem to feel confident. Often times, the mere thought of being on the answer end of an interview question makes our nerves run wild. This is because it can be hard to remain genuine while talking yourself up for hours. It’s important to keep in mind that your employer is judging your personality in addition to your qualifications. I just recently interviewed for a great position in Pharma (and landed it!) so these tips are still fresh in my mind to share with you all. I hope that you find this helpful!
Be prepared for these 3 questions
In my experience, and I’ve interviewed for many positions in the pharmaceutical industry, these questions have ALWAYS been asked. I believe these questions apply to any industry, not just Pharma. They have also helped my boyfriend, who is interviewing for attorney positions. Study up on your answers ahead of time, do not just wing it!
Question: Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned from this experience.
Employers don’t want to hear that you failed and couldn’t pick yourself back up. This is one of those questions where you must turn a negative into a positive. Be honest, be genuine, and come out stronger than ever.
Example response: “I wasn’t able to complete a project on time because I wasn’t aware of the timeline from the start and got bombarded with other work. This taught me a valuable lesson for the workplace and strengthened my organizational and time management skills.”
You’ve just proved you came out shining with this response. Add some more detail of course.
Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years (hence, long-term goal)?
Make sure this is aligned with the job you are interviewing for. Don’t reach too high, but don’t sell yourself short. 5 years is quite a long time, so if you are a determined, hardworking individual, you can move up the ladder quickly. Don’t be afraid to voice your goals. Prove that you are a leader!
Example response: “Before focusing on a specific job I want to attain, I want to master my current position and learn everything there is to know. That being said, if I excel in my current role, I would like to work towards a managerial position.”
This can obviously be tailored to your aspirations and goals, but I thought it was a good way to express that you are a go-getter and want to move up in the company.
Question: Tell me about a time when you’ve come across a difficult coworker and how you handled it.
You want to emphasize that your focus should remain on the job or tasks instead of focusing on each other’s differences. Also express that you are the kind of person that looks for ways to minimize friction by being upfront and honest. You have to be able to set aside your differences in the workplace and learn to compromise with difficult people.
Example response: “An example of a time I’ve dealt with a difficult coworker is a time I felt that I was taking on the pressure of two people’s jobs. My coworker was not working as hard as I was, and I was forced to voice my frustrations. I was assertive, honest, and asked for help. In response, my coworker was willing to work with me and take some of the workload off my shoulders. We were able to divide the work between the two of us, without having to go to management.”
This is merely an example that expresses you are calm, you don’t start fights, and you don’t run to your manager without trying to resolve the problem on your own.
Question: What are your strengths/weaknesses?
You have to really sell yourself on this one. If you need help answering this question, ask your coworkers, friends, and family how they would describe your strengths in adjectives. Sometimes an outside perspective will surprise you. This is also good approach in the event that a manager reaches out to one of your references about your personality and how you are in the workplace. Remember, when you’re asked about your weaknesses, be sure to give them a genuine answer and follow it up with how you’ve dealt with this weakness. Once again, you need to be able to turn a negative into a positive!
Strengths example response: “I have strong communication skills, work well in group settings (important for big companies), am able to efficiently problem-solve, and I’m also motivated (as opposed to flustered) in fast-paced environments.”
Weakness example response: As Michael Scott would say, “I work TOO hard”. But no, really be honest about this one and think of a weakness you struggle with. For some, it’s giving a presentation, for others it’s being in a stressful situation. Your interviewers will appreciate your honesty. As long as you work towards improving your weakness, you are fine.
Question: Why do you want to leave your previous job?
Example response: “I want more professional growth, new challenges, and additional responsibilities. This position is more aligned with my long-term career goals.”
If you want to leave your current job because of some sort of conflict, I’d hold off on saying this. Keep it professional.
Know the ins and outs of your resume
There’s something about your resume that sparked the hiring manager’s interest, so you MUST know everything you put on it and be able to speak about the projects you were on. I know that we all fluff up our resumes to make them sound more important, but do not lie. You do not want to be caught in a lie when a manager asks you to talk about your past experiences.
Now that you’ve prepped your interview responses, you must also prep your mind, appearance, and overall attitude.
The week of:
- Pick out your outfit and make sure it is ironed and tailored to your liking. You want to pick out something conservative (see my latest interview outfit below).
- Get your nails done. You want to look sharp and professional. Get a light, appropriate nail color.
- Have questions for your interviewers prepared in your padfolio (invest in one, it adds to your professional image!)
- Bring copies of your resume on resume paper. You’re a boss lady (or man), you need to look official!
The day before:
- Rehearse your final 30 second “Tell me about yourself” answer. This should include:
- Your current job and primary focus:
- A previous relevant job
- Where you went to school if you’re a recent grad (maybe you’ll bond over the same alma mater)
- Why you want this position and how it fits your career interests
The day of:
It’s the big day. You’ve worked hard and it has finally led up to this moment. You were chosen amongst many other candidates to be interviewed and it’s time to prove you are the best person for the job! Some tips for the day of your interview:
- Don’t drink too much caffeine; stick with tea if coffee makes you jittery. Coffee tends to heighten my anxiety sometimes when I’m in a stressful situation.
- Bring a bottle of water. You will regret not having water with you if you are sitting in a room talking for 2 hours straight. If you are nervous during the interview, a sip of water can be refreshing and will calm your nerves.
- Try to walk in there with a positive attitude. Leave your nerves behind. I know that this is easier said than done, but trust me. You’re nervous because of how bad you want it and you’re afraid to mess this up. But go in there, trust yourself, and own it! Know your worth and keep in mind that you are perfectly qualified for the position and that is why they picked you to interview!
The day after:
- Send all of your interviewers’ thank you letters. Make sure to express your interest once again, and even mention a specific thing that peaked your interest about the job.
— Style Tips —
- Make sure you keep it simple and don’t overdo it with your attire. Look sharp and professional. I tend to lean towards nude pants, a blue button-up shirt, blazer, and nude heels (see photos below).
- Tame your hair! I have curly hair, so I always blowout my hair for a more polished look.
- Put on some light makeup. You don’t need your highlight on fleek this time, ladies. Tone down the eyeliner, the shadow, and the lipstick. My interview makeup (a photo of my usual interview makeup is at the end):
- Eyes: Primer, light brown eyeshadow, thin eyeliner, mascara
- Face: Face primer, foundation, light blush, light bronzer/contour, setting spray
- Lips: nude/light pink lipstick
I hope you, or perhaps someone you know finds this post helpful! Happy interviewing and good luck!
Interview makeup (don’t mind my hair, or outfit)
Top: from loft, can be found here
Blazer: Purchased at H&M a couple years ago, a similar one can be found here