Hobson Prior, part of Acacium Group, is pleased to announce that Acacium Group has completed the acquisition of US-based life sciences and regulatory affairs consulting company Dunn Regulatory Associates.The acquisition strengthens Acacium Group’s international life sciences division whilst enabling Dunn Regulatory Associates to benefit from the group’s global resources.This partnership will benefit both sides immensely, increasing resource capability and providing a wider service offering, which will further develop our client relationships.Paul Strouts, Life Sciences CEO, says, “We were very impressed by Dunn Regulatory Associates’ business and their shared values of improving lives by supporting innovative businesses in the global life sciences sector. We are delighted to welcome them to Acacium Group, where they perfectly complement the existing range of services provided by Hobson Prior. Together our access to brilliant talent in the life science sector and combined focus on people first will underpin everything we do, whether deploying workforce or delivering services for clients.” For more information, contact email@example.com.
The life sciences industry thrives on talented, highly skilled professionals. There is a high demand for candidates with niche skillsets and specialist expertise on a global scale. The recruitment market has evolved, and high demand candidates often have multiple companies vying for their services. How can biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical devices, CRO and other life sciences businesses ensure that their job offers are competitive within the market? How can life sciences businesses, from start-ups, SME’s right through to global enterprise leaders ensure their job offers and benefit packages meet the demand candidates are looking for? We asked the candidates We surveyed 1238 life sciences professionals, asking them to rank the core job motivators that are most important to them. The options given were:Flexible HoursWorking from HomeCompany ReputationCareer Progression and leadershipAbility to work on an exciting projectSalaryLocationOther The results What job motivator is the most important to you? Career Progression and leadership - 34% Ability to work on an exciting project - 23% Salary - 13% Ranked responses: 1st choice: Career Progression and leadership - 27% Ability to work on an exciting project - 20% Working from Home - 14% 2nd Choice: Salary - 22% Career Progression and leadership - 16% Ability to work on an exciting project -14% 3rd Choice: Salary - 21% Company Reputation - 14% Ability to work on an exciting project - 13% View Full ReportView Full Report Key TakeawaysThink of their career journeyAcross practically every category split within the survey, “Career progression and leadership” was most frequently ranked as the number one core motivator.This implies that the majority of candidates are looking to climb the career ladder and want to see growth in their job title and responsibility when considering moving into a new role. The vast majority of those surveyed have over 10 years’ experience in the industry (58%), potentially highlighting that established professionals are looking to join a company at a leadership level that matches their credentials.With that in mind, it is important that companies highlight the career opportunities, growth and leadership impact of their vacancies in their job descriptions and offers.For lower seniority roles – These candidates are likely looking to progress so highlight the career development or training available through your vacancies. What are the potential internal career paths in your business? What projects have previous hires gone on to lead? Focus on the growth potential of the role in aiding their career.For high seniority roles – Often, in senior leadership, professionals can plateau within their company hierarchy. For example, if a business already has a head of biostatistics or director of regulatory affairs, then highly skilled professionals may find themselves stuck until their superiors move on. Perhaps you can offer these positions or create new leadership opportunities to fill this void – this is especially useful for smaller businesses to promote to top talent as a chance to take a leading role. Salary is still coreUnsurprisingly, “Salary” featured as one of the most important features of a job offer, often receiving a majority across second and third ranks. However, the way salary was ranked may reflect how many candidates find discussing salary expectations uncomfortable – a common theme our recruiters experience.When asked to choose just one motivator, salary was the 4th popular option (13%), yet when asked to rank the most important motivators, salary consistently appeared as either the 2nd or 3rd most important factor for most candidates, by a comparatively staggering margin. This boosted the scoring for salary to be the joint highest ranked option on average.Whether through humility or other reasons, this disconnection between salary being highly ranked, but rarely given the top spot, might suggest candidates may downplay how core salary is to an opportunity. Ultimately, salary has a leading role in determining a candidate’s decision to accept or reject an offer and is a common complaint amongst Talent Acquisition teams where undisclosed salary expectations can derail an outstanding interview process.Knowing the salary expectations and market standards for a competitive salary is important to attract talented individuals, who know the value of their skills. Whilst a lower salary offering may be boosted with benefits and leadership opportunities, it is important to be offering a reasonable remuneration.As a core aspect of recruitment, Hobson Prior produce salary benchmarking reports for our clients to aid in their talent acquisition. For salary benchmarking regarding specific job titles and locations, contact the Hobson Prior team. Increase in flexibilityDemands for more flexible work/life balance have been increasing amongst candidates for several years, although the market has been slow to adopt some of these perks.With many experienced candidates needing to balance family responsibilities, it is no surprise that “Flexible Hours” and “Working from Home” were highly ranked, specifically in biometrics and regulatory affairs.Many companies have adapted some form of flexibility in response to the global pandemic. With workers having a chance to experience working from home, perhaps some will not want to return to being in the workplace full time, which may have impacted the popularity of these options in the survey.The ability to work form home when expecting a delivery, help with child care responsibilities or even leave early to take a parent to a hospital appointment, understanding your potential employee’s need for work/life balance can set you apart as an employer. Company culture and vision are keySomething we consistently find within life sciences recruitment, which is supported by this survey’s result, is that professionals in the life sciences community take pride on working on projects and with companies that are actively making a difference.“Ability to work on an exciting project” consistently features in candidates first 2 rankings as a core motivator. Effectively highlighting your company’s visions and impact on improving patient solutions and scientific innovation is an impactful way to inspire candidates to want to be part of your team.This is particularly key for smaller companies. Establishing your company’s mission and culture allows your business to stand out against global industry leaders. Whether it’s delivering an orphan drug to target specific diseases, developing new technology that makes treatments simpler or producing trialled and tested medications that patients rely on can really help to inspire the purpose behind your business and encourage professionals to want to be part of that vision. Relocation is possibleA frequent issue life sciences companies find is that while some locations are best suited for their labs and offices, these places are not necessarily accessible to the top talent they need. As life sciences becomes a more global market, companies can widen their searches for talented professionals on an international level.There may be an assumption that finding talented professionals that are willing to relocate may be difficult. However, “Location” rarely appeared in candidates top 3 rankings for priorities in the survey. In fact, generally, location consistently appeared towards the middle and lower rankings out of the 8 options we gave.Similarly, when asked if salary or benefits would encourage them to consider relocation 61% and 58% (respectively) answered “Yes”.The biggest concern raised amongst candidates is that they would need to know that there is support and a good quality of life/opportunities. Many raised the importance of knowing there would be opportunities for their spouses and children if they relocated. Providing information and support with understanding the local customs, schooling, taxation, housing and migration processes etc. can be a useful way to ensure potential candidates are aware and excited to prepared for the opportunity of moving to a new location.
Losing your job is a frustrating and confusing time. Not only are you concerned about your career and financial future, but redundancy can have an impact on even the most skilled professional’s confidence in their performance. With the global pandemic impacting virtually every industry, the life sciences industry has been no exception. Redundancy is not exclusive to the pandemic though, with the temperamental success of scientific development, company mergers and acquisitions, as well as the rise in automation and robotics across the industry, many professionals are faced with the potential of job loss. It is rarely an ideal scenario and redundancy has a physical, financial and mental impact. In recruitment, we assist many professionals who have gone through redundancy and have cultivated these top tips to ensure a smooth recovery from redundancy: 1. Assess and reflect To attract the best talent within the industry, it is important to understand what encourages life sciences professionals to take a new job. We asked over 1,280 life sciences professionals what was their key motivator for changing job, and the top three results were:Business financial pressure? Acquisition? Industry changes? Technology replacing processes? It is key not to take redundancy personally, particularly if the reasoning is out of your control. However, if your redundancy is due to industry trends or upcoming adoption of automated methods, you may need to revise how you promote your skillsets or even investigate up-skilling yourself. Similarly, this is a useful reset on your career; consider what you like and don’t like from your previous roles. Redundancy often inspires a more critical look at the type of role and company you want to work for – rarely in a career do we get an excuse or opportunity to shift direction, so reflect wisely. 2.Find Closure Once you’ve recognised the reasoning behind the redundancy, its key to make peace with it. As a business decision, it was likely out of your control and not to be taken personally. The psychological and mental blocks from doubting your skill sets can have a detrimental impact on your upcoming recruitment processes and even seep into your next roles. It is easier said than done, but it is important to accept the situation, address any lessons learnt from the process and divert your energies into making the best of the situation. Redundancies are not rare in the life sciences field or in recruitment processes – in fact, they can be an advantage if they allow you to refocus your personal career goals – so will certainly not hold you back if you do not let it. Optional: Take a break Much advice on redundancy will champion taking time to reflect and find a hobby etc. Whilst it is true that a career break may be a timely and beneficial opportunity, it is entirely optional. We have worked with many life sciences professionals who have proactively found, interviewed and accepted their next position before their official redundancy end date. If you wish to take time to recuperate, retrain or even retire, this may be a good time to do so, however, this is not the option for everyone and in some cases an unavailable option for those with financial or visa concerns. 3. Do your research Where do your skills lie best? Understanding where your experience best suits the market places you in a strong position to make worthwhile steps in securing your next role. This is particularly important if you have been in permanent employment at the same company for a while. What has changed within your industry? What are the most desirable skill sets to promote? Who is hiring and what recruitment methods do they use? How does an enterprise-level pharma differ from emerging biotech businesses? Geographically, where are the best jobs? The life sciences industry is consistently evolving so it is important that you know how recruitment practices and employment expectations have adapted, especially if you’ve been out of the job market for a while. 4. Consult your options How does your situation impact your options? If you need secure employment as soon as possible, you may need to reconsider your options. Would you be more suited to contract work than permanent? Could you relocate to an area where your skills are in demand?Would a smaller, emerging business provide more opportunity? Traditional ideals of finding a permanent job at an established business are not always viable or the best option so it is key to not only consult alternatives, but actively research and pursue them. 5. Prioritise job hunting like a job The networking, searching, preparation and application processes is a full-time commitment. By channelling the same discipline to job hunting as you would a job, you are investing in your recruitment prospects. Up-skill yourself, engage in your network, research what names in the industry are achieving and how innovators are emerging. The more you apply yourself to being a available, knowledgeable and keen candidate, the more you will stand out to recruiters and hiring managers. 6. Network, network, networkIt’s not what you know, but who you know – the cliché is built on truth. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of 85% of jobs are filled through networking. Ensure you are well engaged with your industry peers, at the very least on LinkedIn. Engage former employers and colleagues, reach out to companies and industry peers for advice. Some businesses will run career fairs or networking events for redundant employees – take advantage of all networking opportunities ahead of you. At best, you may secure a new position and even at the worst, your name will be further embedded within the industry as a viable candidate and you may get some good leads on where to focus your applications. 7. Contact a specialist recruiter The importance of a network is core when it comes to job hunting and a recruiter effectively introduces you a breadth of hiring managers and companies specifically looking for professionals like you.Be sure to look for a specialist recruiter, particularly within niche aspects of the life sciences market. Generalist recruiters will likely not have the relevant connections or credibility in the industry to connect you with relevant opportunities. For roles in cell and gene therapy, specialised biologics or various pharmaceutical regulatory practices, it is important that your recruiter understands and respects the demand and the market and the skill sets you have on offer to best represent you. There is no place for pride when working your recruiter, be clear on your situation, your expectations and your career aspirations and they will be able to effectively represent you to the hiring personnel that matter. CASE STUDY: Helping a candidate recently made redundant line up a new job before his last day 8. Update your CV and professional profileIt may have been some time since your CV or LinkedIn profile have had a refresh, so it is paramount that you review how you are selling yourself to the industry. CV – Prioritise tangible evidence of success over generic soft skills. Highlight your results, including figures if you have them. As the first introduction many hiring managers will have of you, it is key your CV best reflects your unique value and proven experience. Your recruiter will be able to help you ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.Tips for making your CV stand outHow to write a CV for a manager/senior positions LinkedIn – Even if you’re not using LinkedIn, recruiters and hiring managers are and they will likely look you up. Update your profile to show your progression and successes. You can attach papers, achievements and references to your profile to add to your credibility. Also, be sure to set your account to actively looking for opportunities to attract recruiters and hiring managers. How to optimise your LinkedIn profile for job offers Cover letters – Whilst it is key to cater your covering letter to the position and company you are applying to, having a default template you can adapt will help save you time during the application process. Portfolio – If you have won awards and accreditation, published papers, featured on podcasts or have any other engagements within the industry, you can include these in a portfolio or appendix to your CV to further promote what you have achieved throughout your career. 9. Be realistic, accountable and empathetic with yourselfRedundancy is a mental and physical drain and you will likely see ups and downs in your career recovery. Whilst it may seem you been thrown into an inconvenient situation and need to hit the ground running to secure a new, better job as soon as possible, it is important to effectively process the situation. Everyone will respond differently to redundancy, but patience and self-awareness will help anyone in this situation: Be realistic in your goals, self-imposed timelines and shortcomings. Job hunting is unpredictable, requires persistence and you will likely face some knock backs, but these are not career-defining or a reflection of your potential. Hold yourself accountable for engaging the market, lessons you may learn along the way and for completing applications and responding to recruiters and application processes. And be empathetic to yourself and the mental toll redundancy can have, taking time to rest, recover and enjoy a balanced routine outside of your job hunt. Redundancy is usually looked at in hindsight as a blessing or a challenge that helped you get to where you need to be, but that does not diminish the frustration and challenges redundancy poses. Hiring managers within the industry respect the lack of control skilled professionals have when it comes to redundancy, so by recognising your skill sets and connecting with your network, redundancy should not have a major impact on your career’s journey.
The changes to IR35 are due be introduced in April 2021 and are set to have a large impact on the UK contracting market. The changes were initially scheduled to take place in March 2020 but due to the global pandemic they were put on hold. The delay has provided contractors and companies extra time to ensure they were prepared for the change in how a contractor’s IR35 status will be determined. Companies were already preparing for the initial April 2020 deadline and through working with numerous life sciences companies, we have been able to see a range of approaches. As 2021 quickly approaches and companies need to revisit their IR35 preparations, we want to share some of the key lessons we learnt from 2020. What are the changes? The legislation itself is not changing, however, the parties responsible for assessing a contractor’s status and deducting/reporting the tax has been revised. Under the current legislation: Where a contractor is operating via their own personal Service Company, they are responsible for making the Status Determination and confirming if they are in or outside of scope of the current IR35 rules. The liability sits with the contractor. Under the revised legislation: The client will be responsible for assessing and providing the Status Determination on whether the contractor falls within scope of IR35. The liability would shift to the client who will be responsible for communicating this decision down the supply chain until it reaches the “Fee Payer” i.e. the entity paying the PSC, which is usually the agency. Once a status determination has been received by the Fee Payer, they are responsible for applying this decision. Where the assignment is out of scope, the Fee Payer will pay the PSC gross and the contractor will be responsible for paying the correct tax to HMRC. There the assignment is in scope the Fee Payer will be responsible for: Deducting PAYE and NICs and paying the PSC the NET valuePaying the Employers NICsReporting the deductions made via Real-Time Information Lessons learntHaving worked with a broad range of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices companies and CROs throughout the preparations for IR35 in late 2019/early 2020, we had a unique insight into the various methods, successes and pitfalls in the planning. These are some of the core lessons learnt from 2020: A Team Approach Many companies had delegated one core lead for their IR35 preparations, but the ones that saw a more successful preparation process where those that had multiple internal stakeholders involved. “It’s definitely not too late to start making changes and to start implementing what has to be done and one of those key things is undoubtedly ensuring that you have a robust IR35 project team internally, where everyone within that project team understands what their responsibilities are. In terms of the project team, we found out very quickly that it’s too much for one individual to take on themselves…”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior Communication was a core influencer in determining successful preparation. Knowing how many contractors will be impacted, contacting each section of the supply chain and ensuring all parties were aware of their responsibilities and decisions being made should not be underestimated. It was the companies that were willing to invest time and resources to these processes and engage their contractors, consultants and their peers in the market. “From the approaches that were good from our clients and the industry, in particular, were those that were open and transparent and shared not only their concerns with us, but with each other, whether it be forums or conferences – those that were open to their concerns and then their solutions definitely fared better than those that didn’t.”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior Communication channels crossed With many variable unknown and several businesses at different stages of their preparations, there was a lot of rumour regarding how contractors may be impacted in comparison to their peers within the life sciences contracting market. As is the nature of contracting, there is a level of separation with the end client they are providing services for and contractors, which led to contractors questioning their recruitment agencies, different stakeholders within the business as well as their peers to try and find answers. Without a clear line of communication, this caused problems, as described by Interim Biometrics Team Lead, Mike Masoomi: “Lots of contractors are used to liaising directly with their consultant or their agency that they go through. Others have a more direct line of communication with their line manager or in some cases other stakeholders in the company that they’re contracting with."And what I experienced last year is that a lot of contractors are having half of their conversations internally with the client that there providing services to and the other half with us and that causes a lot of issues and what we need to make sure in 2021 one is that the agency the end client and the contractor all set a clear channel of communication so we can all reach the same objective and that is that all parties are happy and well informed.”Michael Masoomi - Team Lead for Interim Biometrics Recruitment at Hobson Prior This lack of consistent communication ultimately led to frustrated contractors, who were unclear if they were now in or out of scope, how this would impact their income and livelihoods, as well as how and when they would receive this information. This was particularly frustrating as more companies revealed their plans and contractors engaged within the market were receiving mixed messages from their industry peers. Blanket statements cost more than they saved The biggest area of contention we saw in the IR35 preparations in 2020, was how companies dealt with determining the status of their contractors. In order to save time, some companies decided to use a blanket approach of defining all their contractors as in scope, however, as we witnessed first-hand, this often caused more problems than it resolved. “With the disputes process, one thing that we did see and that we’ve learnt from the process last year, was that the organisations that made blanket determinations actually received more disputes than any other that we saw so retrospectively the idea of maybe saving time, worked as a hindrance and actually cost them time net in the process when you look at it as an overall.”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior We saw more disputes regarding status determination from contractors working with companies that had used this blanket approach. Whilst this was a helpful test for the 45-day review process, the time and resources required to deal with the influx of unexpected appeals from contractors challenged the initial reasoning behind taking a blanket statement approach. As well as an increase in disputes, there were other impacts to this method of determining all contractors as in scope of IR35. Reputational impact Another unexpected backlash from companies that took a blanket approach for determining contractor status under IR35 was the impact this had on their reputation across the UK life sciences contracting market. “The organisations that made blanket determination […] actually started to deter candidates from applying to contract projects there as they wanted to ensure that if they did have the possibility of operating outside of the legislation, then they at course could.” Many contractors we worked with were concerned that the determination process was being transferred from their control, so it is unsurprising that there was frustration when they were not being included in the determination process. “What I found most interesting was that it wasn’t just contractors that disagreed with the determination, it was actually contractors that didn’t feel listened too or valued and that was the biggest reason for them looking elsewhere.”Michael Masoomi - Team Lead for Interim Biometrics Recruitment at Hobson Prior There are numerous factors that can impact a status determination position and with contractors’ payment on the line, unclear communication and neglect complicated many previously amicable working relationships. Opportunity to impress Conversely to the above, Hobson Prior found that the companies that engaged their contractors throughout the process and ensured clear and timely information raised their profile within the industry. “Those organisations and those that we partnered with that were really open and transparent to help and that consulted with their contractors on a one-on-one basis actually became hubs for talent. People that were in the industry recognised those organisations as ones that did treat IR35 with the seriousness that it deserves and then they wanted to work for these companies.”Elliot Tiffin - Vice President of Global Contract Services at Hobson Prior With a lot of uncertainty and rumours across the life sciences market, organisations that could provide an organised process and engaged contractors were more appealing and many contractors we worked with were actively seeking opportunities at companies which has a robust IR35 plan in place. Adapting for 2021 The core lessons we’ve seen from the 2020 deadline preparations revolve around one core aspect of the changes to IR35: making status determinations. From this, the advice we’ve been emphasising with our life sciences clients with contractors in the UK is: Ensure your IR35 team has the resources and support neededEstablish transparent communication channels for contractorsEngage contractors throughout the process, adopting a case-by-case approach if possibleEmphasise your understanding and awareness of the impacts to contractors and demonstrate this support with clear guidance and timely updates Of course, collecting all contractors and exploring each of their status factors on a case-by-case status is not to be underestimated, which is why Hobson Prior has developed a Status Determination Tool. This tool allows organisations to determine status and utilise IR35 experts to ensure all factors are considered when determining whether a contractor falls in or out of scope of IR35. Backed by a specialist, award-winning team, the tool provides more than an algorithm and allows our clients to provide contractors with timely and accurate determinations, which in turn promotes better communication and more support in their preparations for April 2021 See how Hobson Prior’s IR35 status determination tool can help life sciences companies best prepare for changes to IR35 by contact our team at IR35@hobsonprior.com
You’ve worked hard to secure your degree, or maybe even an MSc or PhD. You managed to secure a job at an established and well-regarded academic research institution. You’re working tirelessly on complex projects, often alongside professionals from the commercial sector. It’s time for the next step in your career, an opportunity to work directly for a sponsor. You’ve gained a lot of skills through your education and previous work, so you enter the job market, feeling excited about your career prospects and proud of your achievements.Only to find that it’s not enough.You get rejection after rejection, informed (or more often not so) that you need more commercial experience to secure a job in the commercial sector. But how can you get that experience if no one will give you a chance?Sound familiar?Don’t lose heart. In my line of work as a life sciences recruiter, I’ve seen many candidates with similar stories and there is a way forward.Here are my tips:Play to your strengthsMany of the companies within the clinical space originated within academic institutions, so academic experience is well regarded, especially by biotech’s; it’s just about finding the best suited company to you, where you can add value. It’s important to consider your strengths: What therapeutic areas and phase of research have you been most heavily involved with?Where could you apply your knowledge base?What was your degree in, your MSc, your PhD?Really take time to consider this. Manager’s love to know that you’re passionate about a particular area of research (ideally this is in line with the company you are applying to) and where you might be able to add value.Pay attention to the finer detailsJob roles in an academic setting are often broad and varied, comparable to a biotech setting. You’ll likely have collected experience across a range of areas, so fill out your CV with as much as you can – even the little things that you think are self-explanatory. It all counts, and it could be the difference between an interview or a rejection. Some top tips:Be specific about your project experience (phase of research, therapeutic area, whether you were in a support or lead role). A clear summary of this can be useful, as well as details in each role entry. A sentence or two summarising your key achievements in each position can be really helpful – where did you go above and beyond? Detail any sponsor exposure you’ve had through your projects – have you worked on a commercial study? What interactions have you had with sponsors?Keep realistic expectationsDon’t jump too soon – make sure you’ve gained as much as you can from your current role and place of work before launching your career into industry. The industry is competitive, there will be other candidates applying to the position, so the more related experience you’ve had, the better.Think about whether now really is the right time to be making a move, what else could you do to expand your skill-set? Could you push for that promotion? How could you build your knowledge base?Persevere and stay curiousBe persistent – don’t lose heart. Applying for jobs can become a full-time job in itself, but don’t be discouraged (as best as you can) by rejections.Chase up your applications, ask questions – ask your colleagues, your ex-colleagues, your brother’s girlfriend’s Dad, who you heard works for GlaxoSmithKline. There’s always something to learn. Ultimately, those who are more persistent and eager to pursue opportunities will be more likely to find what they’re looking for.So, to recap:1. Play to your strengths2. Pay attention to the finer details3. Keep realistic expectations4. Persevere and stay curiousRemember, everyone has to start somewhere in their industry career. There will be an opportunity when the time is right, for yourself and for your future employer. I have helped numerous candidates with this move, and it is worth the wait!If you have any other questions or would like to discuss this further (and the opportunities that I have on at the moment) then please contact me on Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second interview can sometimes be the final stage in the interview process. They are often conducted by line managers and decision makers, so it is important that the right questions are asked. The first interview should have clarified enough soft skills and experience to warrant shortlisting the candidate to progress to this stage. Second interviews usually involve more targeted and specific questions, relating to hard skills and how the candidate would fit not only in the vacancy, but also the dynamics of the team and company they are joining. Questions will vary based on the role, the candidate and whoever is conducting the interview, but there is a general pattern that follows second interviews. Questions will usually fall into one of the following categories: Anything from the earlier stages that needs clarifying At this stage, the candidate has impressed enough with a CV, a cover letter, an initial telephone call and/or a face-to-face interview. There may still be some aspects from these stages that need confirmation, particularly if the second interviewer wasn’t present at the first one. Some questions you may wish to consider include: “In your last interview/on your CV, you mentioned XXXX, could you tell me a bit more about that?” If you are addressing something from the past, providing context will help the candidate understand what it is you need clarification on and not repeat what you already know. “Do you want to revisit anything from the first interview?” Framing the question like this gives the candidate the opportunity to clarify themselves or highlight something they didn’t get to in the first interview. This is a useful icebreaker and can relieve some tension for the candidate to revisit something they’ve been worried about from an earlier stage of the process. “Do you have any questions about the business or the role since your first interview?” In a multi-stage interview process, the candidate may be involved in other interview processes or have received new information since the last conversation. This is a good way to break the ice and ensure they are still confident your company is a good match for them. Questions specific to the role With the general soft skills being the focal point of the first interview, a second interview focuses more on the specific benefits a candidate will bring and how they will add value to the business through the roles. This is particularly important in the niche skills and understanding required within different aspects of the life sciences industry. “What are the first three things you’d look to change/implement if you started tomorrow?” This is a useful way to see the value the candidate will bring to the business and their understanding of the role. how much the candidate understands about your business. They may not know too much about the inner workings of your business, but you’ll be able to see their thought process, priorities and might even get some useful feedback on your existing processes.” “What should our company be doing?” (alternatively, what are our competitors doing that we aren’t?) This highlights what the candidate knows about your market, the competitors and what industry trends are transforming the market to keep businesses competitive. Are they aware of trends like AI, recently released research or new regulations that would impact the role they are interviewing for? Also, you might get some good insight to evolve your business too. N.B. – Often, candidates can feel tripped up by questions about change. While it may be a sign of leadership for them to confidently highlight issues, some may need encouraging if they are afraid of bad mouthing the processes of their potential new employer. “What type of impact did you make at your last role?” This is a useful way to see if they are results, people or process driven. Keep an eye out for if they respond with stats and numbers for their results, talk about new efficient processes or if they focus on managing teams and working with their colleagues. This will give you insight into what they value and how they measure their success. “We are currently implementing XYZ, do you have experience with this/how would you tackle this?” Using active scenarios gives a useful insight in how the candidate would take on the challenges your business is currently facing. Listening to their thought process will enable you to evaluate the candidates based on actual situations they’ll be up against and may also give you some good insight into the issues impacting your teams too. “What do you know about our product and services? Have you worked on something similar before?” Similar to the above question; how much research has the candidate done into your business? More importantly, how much experience do they have in the area of the industry that your company will be focusing on? These live examples are good ways to simulate conversations you will be having with them as a future employee. “Tell me about a time a project’s deadline changed and you had to adapt” Real world examples are useful ways to see how a potential future employee deals with certain scenarios. Pick a stress point that may occur in their role to evaluate their response to unexpected or stressful situations. Personality and culture compatibility The second interview is usually conducted by someone who will be working in close relation to the new employee so this is a great opportunity to get a feel for how they would be to work with. Successful hires rely on the candidate being compatible with the team and company culture they will be joining. “What is your preferred management style?” As well as highlighting their personal management style and experience, this question will help you understand how compatible the candidate may be with your current leadership structures and review culture. “How would you describe yourself in one sentence? How would your friends describe you?” It’s a staple interview question. Asking how others would describe them may lead to some interesting insights about their personality. “What do you get up to outside of work?” A staple interview question – a great icebreaker and allows you to hear more about the person behind the professional. If you have similar interests, this can relieve a lot of tension in the interview process. “In your previous role, did you work more as a team or on an individual basis?” Asking if they prefer to work as a team or individually will likely result in the answer “I work well in both”. Asking about their previous experiences will give a better indication of their preferred way of working and how they talk about their previous teams. Expectations and logistics Depending on how many stages are left in the interview process, the second interview will give you a good gauge on your final hiring decision. These questions are key to ensure that the ideal candidate is not only able to accept a potential offer, but also what expectations they may have from working with you as an employer. “How long is your notice period?” A very simple question that confirms the earliest start date and if the candidate has any obligations or leave that may impact this. “Just want to confirm; do you know what salary this role was advertised with?” Asking about salaries in interview is a divisive topic. Some interviewers will ask upfront, others may prefer to briefly cover the topic and discuss in detail at offer stage. It is important to understand the candidate’s expectations as this may impact your offer. “Have you looked into the logistics of relocating/commuting to * LOCATION*?” Roles that require relocation will likely have been discussed in the very early stages. This question highlights both how seriously the candidate has researched the required move and encourages conversation around any concerns. “I know you’ve mentioned you’re ok with the amount of travel involved in this role, did you have any questions about this?” Questions about travel will likely have already taken place if it is core to the role. This question confirms the candidate’s ability to travel and invites any concerns or negotiations they may have that may influence your decision. Questions that encourage their input It is very easy forget that it is not just the interviewer assessing the candidate, the candidate is also determining if they want to join your company too. Ensuring they have a chance to ask questions and showing awareness of their decision will give them a good opportunity to ensure they are excited to potentially join your team and give you the chance to alleviate any concerns they may have. “What question should I have asked you, but haven’t?” May seem like a trick question, but this is a great way to encourage the candidate to highlight a key point they want you to know that didn’t come up already. Give the candidate a chance to sell themselves. “Is there anything from your current/previous companies that you think we could benefit introducing here?” Industry insight is key to keeping ahead of the game. Not only will this highlight more evidence of how the candidate operated in their previous employment, it may also give you some ideas that can improve your business operations. “Is there anything about the role or company that concerns/worries you?” A simple question, but key to ensuring both you and the candidate leave the interview with the information you need to make an informed decision. This gives you the opportunity to clarify any determining factors or highlight any points that may need to be negotiated before a potential offer. “Do you know much about the culture here?” This is a leading question to set you up into your sales pitch for the company and the role. It is important that you sell the opportunity, benefits and culture. N.B. Remember, great candidates will be in high demand with other job offers, so it is important to highlight the benefits of your company, particularly in the competitive recruitment field of life sciences. Looking to hire life sciences professionals?For more information on our recruitment solutions for interim and permanent vacancies, you can contact our dedicated client services team here, or upload your job description directly.
Hobson Prior continues global expansion within life sciences recruitment support Life science recruitment company Hobson Prior has further expanded its global presence this month by opening a new office in Cape Town. This is the second international office the UK-based firm has opened in 2020, after establishing itself in Basel, Switzerland earlier this year. As life sciences recruitment partners for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical devices companies around the world, scalability and global coverage have always been key to Hobson Prior’s success. With clients from around the world and a headhunting and candidate network spanning several continents, Hobson Prior continues to grow its international presence throughout 2020. International presence Hobson Prior prides itself on delivering expert recruitment solutions to candidates and clients around the world, covering the core life sciences hubs and beyond. It is through these international connections that they have access to the highest calibre of candidates and can headhunt rare and nicely specialised talent. Notably, Hobson Prior has placed life sciences workers in over 30 countries in interim and permanent positions. Also, Hobson Prior’s interim recruitment team hit a landmark 200 live onsite contractors across Europe amidst the global pandemic. “The current global situation has proven the possibility of embracing more remote working, particularly on an international scale,” comments Patrick Forster, Managing Director of Hobson Prior. “As our network and internal coverage expands, we can continue to connect life sciences professionals with the companies that need their services and offer innovative and efficient recruitment solutions for our clients”. Global expansion This year, Hobson Prior relocated their Switzerland office from Lausanne to Basel. They also secured a SECO interim recruitment license, enabling them to payroll Swiss contractors and provide compliant interim recruitment services to Swiss clients directly from their Basel office. This has enabled them to improve their solutions for clients, as well as support international businesses source talent to launch new sites within Switzerland. Most recently, they’ve helped US based clients overcome the challenges of hiring in Switzerland from the states, using the recruiters based in Basel to impart their knowledge and experience of the Swiss candidate market. Introducing Hobson Prior Cape Town Following the Swiss move, Hobson Prior is also opening a new office in Cape Town, South Africa, expanding their team to establish themselves within a new continent and ensure they can continue to provide expert international support to their life sciences clients, wherever they may be.South Africa is home to sites for many biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmitheKline, Pfizer and Sanofi and is a growing hub for development within the life science. This new office aims to support Hobson Priore's global efforts and ensure they can support their clients with recruitment solutions, regardless of time differences. “These steps are key to Hobson Prior’s plans for sustainable global growth and will empower us to continue our mission to provide exceptional recruitment solutions to candidates and clients across the life sciences sector, on a truly worldwide scale”Patrick Forster- Managing Director, Hobson PriorFor more information on Hobson Prior’s international recruitment solutions, please visit the employers section of the website or contact the client services team directly:Email: email@example.com Telephone: (+44) 01892 612612
The life sciences industry relies upon the talents of often niche specialisms, where the number of qualified and experienced candidates can be limited. With a high demand for rare and specialised professionals, it is easy to get to know a lot of the names and faces within some sectors. As an interviewer, you need to ensure you’re conducting fair and unbiased interviews not only hire the best candidates for the job, but also to avoid breaching employment laws. However, this can be become more complex when you have an existing knowledge or awareness of the candidates. Firstly, how do you know the candidate? We meet people in lots of ways within the industry. It is this level of relationship that will ultimately determine how best to address the interview: Networking/Professionally People you meet at industry events, through a company collaboration or perhaps they’re a respected name in the field, won’t necessarily create a conflict of interests. That said, depending on the closeness of your professional relationship, any prior relationship could invite some biases, so it’s important to remain consciously impartial. Previous employer/employee Having experience working with the candidate before will give you valuable insight into their performance, but may also complicate the interview process, as it will be more difficult to remain impartial. Family or friend This relationship is likely the most problematic for an interviewer. Whilst it is certainly possible to be impartial, this may be considered a conflict of interests and could lead to accusations of nepotism or bias. It’s important to follow procedures to protect yourself in this scenario. Internal promotion Perhaps someone from your team is going for a management role or someone from elsewhere in the business is looking to join your team. Depending on your close working relationship, you may find complications in remaining impartial, impacting the fairness of the process for you and your colleague. Balancing the needs of the company, your responsibility as the interviewer and your connection to the person being interviewed can be a tenuous task. Here are some core considerations for how to interview someone that you know within life sciences: 1. Inform your HR team It is best practice to tell your HR team if you are planning to interview a candidate that you have previous connections with. Even what you may consider to be an inconsequential connection can have ramifications, so it is best to protect yourself and ensure you have followed internal procedures. Your HR teams will have a greater knowledge surrounding legal and ethical issues you may not be aware of and will protect you from potential conflicts of interest. Be honest about how you know the candidate and the extent of your relationship with them. 2. Assess whether your involvement is needed How important is it that you conduct the interview? Is there someone else who could take the interview on your behalf? Even if you know you’d be fully professional, it may be easier to defer to colleague and avoid the potential pressures and awkwardness by not being involved. If you do choose to conduct the interview, ensure you are with a colleague and a HR representative if possible. This will protect you and your friends from breaching company policy, as well as guarantee there is an impartial second opinion. It is also worth considering the interviewees thoughts; interviews are stressful enough without the potential pitfalls of knowing your interviewer. Asking if they would be comfortable to be interviewed by you or offering an alternative interviewer could reduce some of this stress. 3. Establish boundaries early Addressing the issue head on will be the quickest and most effective way to clarify the process and dispel any concerns about your involvement, as well as make clear that you will remain professionally impartial. Give a clear explanation on:How you will conduct the interviewHow they will be assessedWho will be involved in the decision-makingHow your existing relationship will (or rather will not) impact the proceedingsThe post-interview process and that you will not be able to influence the outcome Be honest and upfront about your relationship with them and address the elephant in the room. Perhaps give them an alternative interviewer option if it is a friend or an existing colleague. This should relieve tension and set the tone for an impartial and hopefully positive experience for you both. 4. Examine your biases and ethical dilemmaPrepare your response to scenarios before going into the interview. How will you react if they keep bringing up your relationship to them or if they reference personal issues you have a connection to? Highlight areas where your relationship with the candidate could put you in an ethical quandary. For example, if you know the candidate is underselling their skills or not using an example that would help their cause, would you raise this? Would it be unfair to say something on their behalf or to lead the questioning to give them an advantage? Conversely, what if you know them to always be late to social events outside of work, could that create an unfair bias against their professional performance? What if they say something you believe to be untrue? Would you call them out? Could it be your unconscious bias? A useful question to ask yourself to avoid bias is “would you ask this to another candidate?”. A second opinion is always useful to protect your and your friend’s interests. You can defer to them to help you avoid these ethical issues. 5. Evidence over experienceA sure-fire way to protect yourself from any accusation or bias based on assumption from your existing relationship, is to ensure that you have evidence for anything you inherently believe about the candidate. You may know the interviewee has exceptional leadership qualities from working together previously or from how they’ve lead teams outside of a working environment. However, without tangible evidence of this in the interview, you open yourself to criticism on your judgement. Whilst it would be unethical to ask leading questions, the responses they give will be more valuable to the interview assessment. 6. Prepare for the conclusionOne of the pitfalls of interviewing someone you know, is the inevitable questioning of the result. Having established boundaries early on, you should be in a good position, but it is useful to have responses ready. If the candidate is unsuccessful, there may be impacts to your relationship outside of work, or even a complaint about your involvement. Be sure to communicate the decision process with your friend and be transparent about your involvement in any decision-making processes. If the person you know is successful, you may have colleagues or other interviewees question the legitimacy or fairness of your interview. Even if you’ve followed all the procedures or even had a HR representative take over the process. Address concerns of your teams ahead of time and create a positive narrative about the new employee. Keep an open door to discuss any concerns that come up and keep an eye out for how the team dynamics are affected. Ultimately, the life sciences industry is fuelled by networking and collaboration. Having trusted and proven professionals on your team is a bonus and, although there may be some ethical issues to be aware of, having a previous relationship with people joining your team can be a huge advantage to productivity and success. Provided you keep an impartial position and follow procedures, interviewing someone you know can be no different than conducting an interview with a complete stranger. Looking to hire life sciences professionals?For more information on our recruitment solutions for interim and permanent vacancies, you can contact our dedicated client services team here, or upload your job description directly.
OverviewCompany: US based biotechnology company, looking to expand within European markets Role required: Medical Directors, Executive level Recruitment situation: Our US based client was looking to launch a new site, based in Geneva. They needed a medical director with experience across all stages of clinical development. The role had been open for 12 months, but all their previous candidates were more focused on late phase rather than the who process. The situation We were approached by a US-based biotechnology company that needed a senior director to join their executive team in their new Swiss site. The role was a strategy focused role, where the chosen candidate would be responsible for overseeing the programmes through all stages of clinical development as well as taking a key role in the leadership team. They had been working with recruitment companies, but they were unable to find medical directors with enough experience across the phases of development. As such, the role had been open for 12 months and was limiting the development of their Swiss entity. Based on our global experience aiding companies across the world source candidates on an international level, we were approached to help source potential candidates on this role. As a senior and critical role that had already experienced disappointment for the client, we referred them to our executive search team and began the process of identifying the optimal. Hobson Prior executive solutionThe initial focus was to identify which candidates had already been interviewed and why they were not offered the final role. By understanding the client’s minimum requirements and identifying where unsuccessful candidates had been sourced allowed us to minimise future unsuccessful submissions. As part of this process, we worked closely with the client to identify pre-existing role models within their business and the industry. Utilising our advanced recruitment software, we were then able to isolate candidates in Switzerland with similar education and employment history as they would have the skillset required for the role. Our European team began proactively headhunting our extensive mainland network. By utilising our contacts, we were able to collect referrals of skilled professionals that matched our client’s criteria. We were then able to build a pool of potential candidates and pre-interview each candidate before submission to ensure we only put forward those that would benefit our client. We worked closely with their US team to facilitate the phone interviews and follow-up face-to-face interviews, ensuring that despite the time difference, all parties were aware of the process and maintaining effective communication. The resultFollowing a successful interview period, a candidate from the UK was offered a role within 5 months of the role being with us, a 60% decrease from the previous attempts. Based on the success of this process, we found another candidate who was offered a similar roe in their European team two months after the first placement. By working with our executive team, they were able to expand across Germany and the UK, with the qualified medical directors they needed. We dramatically reduced their time to hire and they have gone on to create and addition third and fourth role to allow more of the candidates we sourced to join their team. To learn more about our recruitment solutions, you can view our employers section or upload a job description to our client services team. Hobson Prior Interim Recruitment Our interim solutions are customised to ensure we provide you with fast delivery and high-quality candidates. You’ll also benefit from additional services to ensure efficient turnaround.Local candidate pools Same day search International contractor support Pre-assessed submissions Full compliance and support Click here for more information
Switzerland is one of the most popular places for a pharmaceutical company to establish a new site. Global industry leading companies including Roche, Novartis, Merck and Celgene have a large presence within Switzerland and there is continued interest from international biotech and pharma companies, particularly from the US, to open new sites within the country. Over 40 new biotechs and pharma companies established themselves in there in 2019, so why are so many pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland? Why are European pharma companies concentrated in Switzerland? Switzerland’s relationship within Europe Over a third of Swiss exports come from the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry and the territory has established itself as a leading hub for life sciences development within Europe. With over 250 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies based across Basel, Zurich, Geneva and other core cities in Switzerland, there is already a proven and well-resourced access to talent, resources, funding and clinical development within the country. Similarly, being geographically close to other leading life sciences hubs within Germany, France and Italy provides Switzerland a very beneficial position to expand a life sciences business. Switzerland and the EU and EMA Switzerland is not a member of the EU or the EEA (European Economic Area), but maintains a confidentiality agreement with the European Commission and European Medicines Agency (EMA) through the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic). Similarly, the sovereign state maintains a strong connection to the European Union with a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) for good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliance, as well as strong ties to the FDA. This unique political and commercial position can be advantageous for pharmaceutical companies to have a presence in this booming market that has more financial and political freedom, whilst ensuring strong connections to the EMA and FDA global markets. Top life sciences talent from Switzerland A core consideration for any site selection is ease of accessibility to top talent within the industry; ultimately, it is a strong workforce that drives success in pharma. Attraction and retention of talented professionals relies on the appeal of the country and its cities, the quality of life and understanding of local customs and employment laws. Whilst it is difficult to quantify analysis for employee potential and happiness in their environment, Switzerland ranks highly across numerous studies in workforce satisfaction and quality of life. Switzerland and access to talent Switzerland has consistently ranked highly in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which measures and ranks countries based on their ability to grow, attract and retain talent. Switzerland was ranked first place in the GTCI 2020, with notably high rankings in employee retention, enabling employees’ development and encouraging personal growth. With a particular focus on how AI and adoption of technology have impacted the index in 2020, Switzerland’s high ranking demonstrates a promising consideration of innovation alongside talent attraction and business development Similarly, the country ranks highly for many aspects of workforce skills in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness report 2019, with 1st place rankings in extent of staff training, quality of vocational training and skillsets of graduates. Switzerland is also home to 4 out of 100 of the Times Higher Education top 100 universities worldwide, with 7 in the top 200 universities, promoting Switzerland’s reputation for education and research. Strong performance in these areas highlights the promising growth Switzerland has in attracting top talent internationally, as well as producing skilled workers within its education system and employee development. Switzerland and quality of life for employees Switzerland scores highly in employee retention on the GTCI 2020, suggesting a satisfactory lifestyle provided for potential employees. This is further supported by Zurich’s position as 2nd, Geneva as 9th and Basel as 10th globally on the Mercer Quality of Living Index 2020, which reviews quality of living standards in line with typical compensation packages. The combination of all these factors, alongside the proximity to other leading life sciences hubs in Germany and France, suggest Switzerland can be a highly beneficial place for skilled professionals to establish their career across biotechnology and pharma, enabling Swiss based pharmaceutical companies access to talented individuals, at a local level, across a range of specialist fields. “Practically all the specialist life sciences candidates we work with are aware of Switzerland’s appeal within the industry. There is no shortage of talented professionals already based or looking to locate to the vicinity so there is often a surplus of viable candidates.” Matthew Vickers, Principal Consultant for Swiss Clinical recruitment at Hobson Prior. “In fact, it is often more difficult for the companies we work with to compete for the attention of this talent, particularly if they don’t know the swiss recruitment system.” Switzerland’s investment in R&D With biotechnology and pharma making up 40% of Swiss exports, Switzerland has the largest export surplus of pharmaceutical products worldwide, producing 88.4 CHF billion in pharmaceutical industry exports in 2019. It is no surprise that Switzerland invests heavily in its research and development schemes to ensure continued growth and innovation. Around 7,000,000,000 CHF was invested into R&D from Swiss pharma companies in 2018, with continued investment and innovation across the pharma and biotech spaces within Switzerland. This led to the development of multiple new start-ups as Switzerland continues to continue to build its life sciences industry. As a core industry, the country is very supportive of its innovators. Switzerland and innovation Switzerland ranked number 1 against EU countries on the in European Innovation Scoreboard 2020, which assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of national innovation systems within the EU and neighbouring countries. With Switzerland globally renowned for life sciences innovation, the pharma industry is likely to have contributed significantly to this. For life sciences, Switzerland’s commitment to funding innovative ideas provides a great advantage for pharma development. The registration process for obtaining a license for a new pharmaceutical product from the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products is one of the fastest in the world and with one of the most sophisticated healthcare systems, it lends itself to efficient pharmaceutical development and clinical testing. With leading biotechs specialising in new technological advancements such as cell and gene therapy, CRISPR and AI integration across the life sciences, the country’s influence in life sciences is visible on a global scale. With a landscape centred on innovation and scientific development, many pharma companies enjoy the benefits of being based there. Switzerland and future stability Through investment in innovation, Switzerland ranks highly across core areas of future development and readiness for changes and advancements within the life sciences industry and across the global business outlook: 1st for change readiness - 20191st for growth promise indicators - 2019 1st for economic freedom in Europe - 20202nd for global resilience - 20203rd for world competitiveness - 2020 Whilst the future is never fully certain, with strong investment and dedication to promoting its life sciences, Switzerland appears to be at the height of pharmaceutical development and with no plans to slow down. Switzerland as an international investment Overall, there are various reasons impacting a pharmaceutical company’s decision for a site location and Switzerland has established itself as a proven global leader in many of these aspects, including talent attraction, investment into innovation and pharmaceutical success. With a large focus on the life sciences and pharma as a core export, it is unsurprising to see so many talented professionals - educated within Switzerland or living locally - and numerous start-up labs and biotech research teams establishing themselves across the country. It is also unsurprising that many growing companies in the pharmaceutical industry who are looking to expand internationally, choose Switzerland as the location for their sites including Hobson Prior, who have a team based in Basel. It is worth noting that, as with any international expansion, the customs, expectations and processes for recruitment within Switzerland can vary significantly.“We see particularly with US pharma companies looking to build teams in Switzerland, they can come across difficulties with time differences and slight differences in processes that makes it difficult to secure top talent in a competitive market.“With so much competition for strong candidates, we help them promote their career opportunities and navigate the local nuances of the typical Swiss recruitment process”.James Inwood – Client Services Manager at Hobson Prior For more information on hiring life sciences professionals in Switzerland as part of an international expansion, you can contact our Swiss recruitment team, or read our case study following how a US company launches its Swiss office despite the time differences and different hiring culture.