By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com
We all make mistakes. Some go relatively unnoticed (like the time I wore similar yet mismatched shoes for most of the day). Others are downright embarrassing but quickly forgotten (bathroom tissue inadvertently tucked into waistband, anyone?). But when it comes to hiring for your biotech or pharmaceutical organization, any error—from using an old job description to skipping a reference check—can balloon into a huge problem down the line, causing reduced productivity, loss of revenue and damage to staff morale and company reputation.
Before you advertise your next research associate, product manager or scientist position, consider these tips to keep your hiring process free from mistakes.
1. Review and update the job description.
Job duties naturally change as biopharma companies evolve. Add to this the consolidation of responsibilities that occurred at many organizations that downsized during the recent recession, and it’s very likely that the previous description for the position in question is no longer accurate. Review it—preferably with the employee who is leaving—and adjust the job duties accordingly.
2. Solicit internal candidates and referrals.
Want to enhance employee loyalty and improve staff retention while filling your positions? Of course you do—and it can be as easy as using the opportunity to promote from within. If no one is interested in climbing the ranks—or you need to fill an entry-level position—ask your team for referrals. Just make sure all candidates follow the same application and review process to ensure you find the best professional for the job.
3. Require employment applications.
In addition to submitting a resume and cover letter, ask your scientists, project managers, and QC analyst candidates to fill out an employment application. While this is an additional step that some may loath to complete, standard applications ask for information that many professionals do not include in their resume—such as their previous salary and the reason they are leaving their current position. These details can be helpful for narrowing the candidate pool.
4. Respond to candidates quickly.
The best biotech and pharma professionals don’t have to spend long looking for a new job. If you delay the interview process—until you’ve received a certain number of applications, for example, or reached an arbitrary date—you risk missing out on top-notch candidates. At the minimum, schedule a phone interview with promising professionals as quickly as possible.
5. Ask open-ended and behavioral questions.
Oftentimes, the best indicator of a process development engineer, statistical programmer, or clinical trial associate’s future performance is how he or she has responded to challenges in the past. Whenever possible, avoid interview questions that can be answered with a “Yes” or “No,” and focus instead on queries that illuminate previous experiences and behaviors. For more insight into possible questions, check out Five Behavioral Job Interview Questions You Must Ask.
6. Clearly communicate next steps.
What do life science job seekers hate more than worrying about interview attire? The silent phone or empty email box. All too often, today’s employers keep candidates in the dark when it comes to next steps. Some never even bother to send rejection letters, content to leave applicants in limbo for eternity. Keep your top choices interested by clearly communicating the next steps in your hiring process—and when they will be taken. And protect your company’s reputation by treating all professionals—even those who don’t fill your requirements—with respect.
7. Always check references.
Yes, you may encounter human resource professionals who refuse to answer many of your questions due to internal policies or legal concerns. However, most are willing to confirm dates of employment, title of position and ending salary in addition to responding to this key question: “Is (professional’s name) eligible for rehire?” If the answer is “No” or “I’d rather not say,” it could be a red flag you need to address with the applicant before making a hiring decision.