Candidate Resources

When Lateral Moves are not Lateral

As a recruiter in the Pharmaceutical Industry, one of the most frequent phrases I hear is, “I’m not interested in making a lateral move.” Sometimes I hear that someone would only make a job change for a certain level position or a certain title. I understand the spirit behind these comments because we all want to show progression in our careers, but let me invite you to consider expanding your view about how seemingly lateral moves are sometimes not lateral moves at all.

In my time as a recruiter, I’ve helped more than 600 people make job changes, and I would guess that about 90% of them were “lateral moves” based on title. I would guess that the majority of those candidates were not in-between jobs but employed with another company performing the exact same function. So, why would so many employed people take jobs at other companies for seemingly lateral moves?

Why would so many employed people take jobs at other companies for seemingly lateral moves?

Let me explain this way. In the 2018 Major League Baseball Season, the Red Sox ended the year with 108 wins and won 2/3 of their games, truly amazing, the best team in baseball during the regular season. In their same division, the Baltimore Orioles had the worst record in baseball, only winning 29% of the time. Let me ask you this, if the shortstop of the Orioles got to move over to play shortstop for the Red Sox, would that be a lateral move? It’s the same title…Short Stop, not senior shortstop or executive short stop.

I would argue that this is not a lateral move at all. He is going from the worst team in baseball to the best, likely getting some financial incentive to do so. Even though the title is the same, he has greatly improved this situation, advanced his career, and improved his resume. Let’s flip this baseball analogy on its head, would the shortstop at the Red Sox, leave to go play shortstop for the Orioles (So, the same functional job) simply because they were willing to give him a bigger title, like executive shortstop…or Tall Stop!

Here are three factors that would make a move to another company, even at the same title, not a lateral move:

Company Positioning

If I look at the resume of two people doing the same job at two different companies, I evaluate them differently based on where they work. Right or wrong, I view the person at the well-known company as better than the person at the no-name company. Clearly that is not always the case, but if I’m being honest, that is what I do. So, if you can go from no-name company to well-known company, even in the same role, that is not a lateral move.

Scope and Experience

If we think about the shortstop analogy, the Red Sox’ shortstop is going to have different opportunities than the Orioles’ shortstop. For instance, the Red Sox’ shortstop may gain valuable play-off experience and learn to handle a heightened amount of pressure while playing on a bigger stage. In the same way, sometimes, even a role that is lateral will expose you to a bigger scope or responsibility and perhaps afford you to new learning opportunities. If you gain these valuable assets while performing the same job at a different company, it is not a lateral move.


I’ve seen candidates make moves that were lateral in title and lateral or downward in compensation to gain an experience that was part of their career strategy. As an example, I’ve seen people move laterally to gain Immuno-Oncology experience, or managed care experience, or some other experience. But they key is that they weren’t actually lateral moves because they were on-strategy. These moves were progressive even though their title or compensation didn’t change. Also, I've seen people take a lateral move or even a downward move when they've made the personal decision to relocate to a new area. So, if you make a purposefully move that is on-strategy to the career you want to build, it is not a lateral move.

When we consider just these three things, and there are more, we can see that there are scenarios that on the surface may seem lateral but they’re not. So, the next time we talk, let’s talk about what would be a career enhancing, progressive, on-strategy move for you. I look forward to that, thanks!

About the Author

Too Much of a Good Thing: Is Your ambition or confidence costing you?

In the interview setting a candidate can actually have too much of a good thing.  What do I mean?  Well, there are qualities that most people would classify as a good quality, but if a candidate interviewing for a job has too much of that quality, it can work against them.  I wanted to highlight two qualities that can quickly turn from positive attributes to negative ones in an interview setting:  Ambition and Confidence. 


Ambition is a wonderful and admirable quality, and so I am not saying that ambition is bad.   Also, most hiring managers would see a healthy amount of ambition as a desirable attribute in a new hire.  Yet, I do see some candidates where their ambition has worked against them and has actually cost them the job offer. 

Overly-ambitious candidates can be difficult to manage when their unrealistic expectations for career advancement cannot be met by the company.  When the promotion train doesn’t move quickly enough, the employee begins to feel frustrated, which could lead to an array for challenges for the manager.  To avoid all this, managers tend to avoid hiring apparently over-ambitious candidates.

I would advise potentially over-ambitious candidates to avoid a potential trap that happens in interviews.  If the interview takes a turn where future positions and bigger roles within the company are being discussed, my advice is to bring the discussion back to the job that is available and at hand.  Otherwise, the company may see the candidate as not truly interested in the role available today.  Managers generally don’t want to hire people who are only concerned about how the manager’s available role positions the candidate for the next step in their career.  The take-away is to focus on the role that is available today and do not allow your ambition to sweep you away and cost you the job. 

My advice is to bring the discussion back to the job that is available and at hand.


Like ambition, confidence is an attractive quality that in proper amounts is seen as admirable.  Yet too much confidence is perceived as arrogance, which is not admirable at all.  Managers want to hire people who have enough confidence and ego-drive to be resilient and decisive employees, but conceit and self-importance can poison a team environment. 

Humility is the antidote to arrogance.

If you feel like perceived arrogance is a challenge for you when interviewing, remember that humility is the antidote to arrogance. Perhaps try to express that you’re impressed with others’ accomplishments versus trying to impress them with your accomplishments. Exercise active listening versus dominating the conversation.  My favorite quote about humility comes from CS Lewis, who said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”  When I meet a candidate who is good AND humble, I know that my clients are going to want to hire them. 

One way to counteract both over-ambition and arrogance is with gratitude.  An overly ambitious person may come across as unappreciative for the opportunities they’ve been afforded and the one at hand.  An arrogant person may not fully acknowledge other people’s contributions to their success.  A humble and grateful person is always well-received in an interview. 

Showcasing a proper balance of these qualities can help you tightrope your way to a job offer.  If you have too little of these qualities you can certainly lose the job offer, but the more common problem is that candidates have too much of a good thing.  I hope this information helps you develop a balanced approach for your next interview. 

About the Author

Thank-You Note Protocol

Here’s a question: What is the proper thing to do following an interview in regards to thank-you notes? I’m convinced that thank-you follow-up correspondence is critical, but I must say I don’t think it gets you the job. Although this alone won’t get you the job, this alone can certainly cost you the job.

I want to share with you a real story that happened recently. I had a candidate that narrowly beat-out his competition. The winning candidate was being a very tough negotiator, and the company was getting turned off by his demands. I recommended that they offer the job to their runner-up candidate. The response for the hiring manager was, “I would, but I never got a thank-you email from her. I’d never hire someone that doesn’t have professional follow-up skills. How can I trust her to follow up with our customers?”

When you are crafting a Thank-You note, here are a few must-haves:

-Timely— Send the email within 24 hours. If you don’t, it could be perceived that you’re not interested.

-Grammar– Essentially, the management team is evaluating your ability "two" communicate with "there" customers. So much of communication nowadays is written, so demonstrate strong writing skills. If at all possible don’t send it from your phone. Check it twice before pushing send. Common mistakes are the wrong version of two/to/too, there/their/they’re, as outlined above. Beware the grammatical errors that don’t show up on spell check! Another common error committed in thank-you notes is not using full sentences (Will look forward to hearing from you).

-Appearance— Formatting is also a big deal. Remember, you’re not sending a text message. You’re essentially sending a formalized letter but through email. Have a salutation (John,), paragraph breaks, capital letters (believe it or not this is a common problem), and put something at the end before typing your name (Regards, Thanks, etc.).

Although this alone won’t get you the job, this alone can certainly cost you the job.



*When should I send a “handwritten” thank-you note?*

Here's an idea: use email thank-you notes up until the final interview, and then after the final, send a handwritten note. When you are preparing for the final interview, bring with you the cards you are going to send expressing your thanks. When you’re sitting in the airport on your way home (while you’re in the same city), write the thank-you note and send it from the airport. That way, the company you’re interviewing with will get them in a timely way. If you wait until you get back home, and then wait for the USPS, it might get to them long after they make their decision. Alternatively, have the notes written before the interview and leave them with the company's receptionist on your way out the door. I’m completely fine with sending email thank-you notes after the final interview as well. In fact, you should probably do both email and handwritten thank-you notes if you reallywant the job.

*If I interview with 8-10 people, should I send them all thank-you notes?*

The best practice would be to target the top 3-4 decision makers for thank-you notes. For instance, send an email to your new manager, their manager, HR, and a peer if applicable. Here are the tricks of doing this well. Definitely, customize each email. You can email each person directly; you don’t need the recruiter to send it along for you unless the recruiter advises otherwise. If you are going to email your new manager’s boss, make sure you say good things about your potential new manager to avoid any feeling that you are going around them. At the end of the thank-you note to your potential new boss, ask him/her to send your regards/thanks to others that were part of the interview panel. My disclaimer is that the above advice is for individual contributor roles. If you are going for a management or C-Level position, thank everyone you interviewed with, even if it’s an army of people.

*What should be in the thank-you note?*

This depends on where you are in the process. The first thank-you note to the hiring manager should include thanking them for their time, the reason the job is a good fit for what you are looking for, how your skillsets meet their needs, and an affirmation of interest (I look forward to meeting you in person). The second thank-you note (after the face-to-face), also thank them for their time investment and show more excitement about joining the team, with a close to meet more team members/get a final interview (I am even more excited about the role than I was before meeting you, and I hope to meet the rest of the team soon.). Remember, your new manager isn’t going to burn up political capital bringing in a bunch of his/her colleagues to interview you if there is even a slight perception you’re not fully interested.

The Takeaways:

The takeaway is the thank-you email is a forum to express your interest and demonstrate your writing ability. Simply put, do it and do it well. With so much talent vying for every position in today’s market, don’t let something as trivial as a thank-you note stand in the way of you getting the position.

About the Author

Logistical Fit: Handling Compensation Questions

In previous articles, I’ve addressed three-of-the-four assessment areas companies use in evaluating hires.  As a review, the previous areas are Motivational Fit, Functional Fit, and Cultural Fit.  The fourth element is Logistical Fit.

A person can "fit" in every other way but then the whole thing can blow up purely based on logistical issues.  Logistical Fit has two main elements: Start Date and Salary Expectations.  

At some point in the interview process, you want to disclose any extended vacations you have planned for the remainder of the year or any that will delay a potential start date.  Also, you want to disclose if you’re obligated to give a notice that is longer than the customary two-week notice of resignation.

The other element, and the biggest element of Logistical Fit, is compensation.  There is a lot of buzz around if candidates should disclose their earning history to employers.  My advice is to learn the laws governing your state and know what your rights are.  

My advice is to learn the laws governing your state and know what your rights are.  

Ultimately, there are two questions you need to be prepared to answer.  They sound similar, but they are vastly different.  The first question is: What are you earning now?  This is a factual question that deserves a factual response.  I would recommend that you lay out everything…base, bonus, stock, LTI, 401K match, vacation, and car benefit....everything.  The reason I recommend this is because it is in your best interest.  Companies simply want to understand what you’re earning now because that is a starting point to figuring out the appropriate offer to extend you.   

Companies simply want to understand what you’re earning now because that is a starting point to figuring out the appropriate offer to extend you.   

What you're currently earning is one of three factors in determining your offer, so factor one is what you’re currently earning.  Companies don’t want to offer candidates the same or less than their earning because no company wants their offer to be turned down. 

Factor two is internal equity.  What that means is that companies are obligated in some respects to pay people who have the same experience and qualifications who are doing the same job relatively the same salaries.  So, if you’re earning WAY more than people with like experience in the company, that may be a problem.  If you’re currently making WAY less than people with like experience in the company, you may very well see a substantial increase due to internal equity.

The third factor is how well you interview.  If you knock it out of the park and they feel they just have to have you, well then that may marginally increase your offer.

So again, lay all your cards on the table when asked about what you’re currently earning.

The trickier of the two compensation question is: What are you looking to make?  The salary expectations question that we all love…  Now unlike the first question that was factual, this one is in the subjective zone.  There are two schools of thought on how to handle this tricky question. 

The first is to just simply tell the company what your expectations are, but maybe shoot high in case they attempt to widdle it down.  Again, this is just one school of thought, and you are certainly welcome to handle it that way if that aligns with your thinking.

The other school of thought is to keep it in the subjective zone.  Take their subjective question and punt back a subjective response.  People in this school of thought have the stance that if you name a salary that is too high you might turn them off from offering you the job AND if you name a salary too low, you might leave money on the table.  People who prescribe to this philosophy will advise you to respond like this:

  • “I’d be looking for something fair and reasonable, reflective of the scope of the position.”
  • “I’d be looking for something competitive and in-line with what I’ve earned in the past.”
  • “I’d be looking to be paid commensurate with my experience and equitably with the rest of the team.”

I want to be clear that I’m not advising you either way on this.  Answering this type of question is purely based on how you want to handle it.   There is no right or wrong necessarily, it is just up to your level of comfort and your style.

If the company feels that they can afford you, that you can start in a reasonable amount of time, and that there are no other potential impediments to you taking the job, then they will consider you a Logistical Fit.  And on the road to getting the job!

About the Author

The Art of the Preface

One luxury I have as an executive recruiter is that I get to interact with some world-class communicators. I have truly benefited by hearing how these exceptional people express their ideas. I’ve noticed that the best communicators have a disarming way of asking tough questions. They have an artful way of prefacing their questions so that the other party knows exactly why they are asking. This translates well into the interview setting, and so I wanted to explain it further.

One of the toughest questions I have to ask candidates is what they are currently earning. Most of the time, I am inquiring within minutes of introducing myself. The next time you are at a dinner party and you meet someone new, within the first five minutes of meeting them ask what they W2’d last year. As you play that scene through in your mind you might be filled with anxiety. I know how you feel, because I have that feeling several times a day.

To alleviate this anxiety, I have to do an excellent job of prefacing my question before asking it, and this is the way I like to do it, “John, I want to bring to you only the most relevant and career advancing opportunities. I would never want to bring an opportunity to you that was too junior financially and waste both of our time. So, with that said, can you give me some direction about how I should screen out positions for you in regard to money?”

If I ask the question this way, the usual response is, “Well, I certainly don’t want to make less money than I am now, and my base salary is…” Because the preface was utilized in such a way, I didn’t even have to directly ask him what his salary was. Now, let’s make this work in an interview.

They have an artful way of prefacing their questions so that the other party knows exactly why they are asking.

Root Question: How will I be evaluated?

If you ask this question, what might be going on in the interviewer’s mind? Perhaps they are thinking that you are running from unreasonable metrics. Maybe they would be thinking that you’ve had trouble meeting expectations before. My suggestion is to preface your questions artfully to avoid any mystery about why you’re posing the question.  An artful preface can eliminate an over-analyzing hiring manager from potentially reading too much into the question.

The Preface: I strive very hard in my current role to exceed expectations. It means a lot to me exceed the goals that are set for me, and so, what does one need to do to meet expectations in your organization—and then how have you seen people exceed expectations?

Of course, you might use different language, and that’s fine. The key take-away is that there is no mystery about why this person is asking the question. In the end, this person will find out not only how they will be evaluated but how to be a superstar. Also, you have dissolved any chance of them speculating that you are asking for any negative reasons.

An artful preface can eliminate an over-analyzing hiring manager from potentially reading too much into the question.

Root Question: What is the territory?

If you ask this question, what conclusions might the interviewer be prone to infer? Maybe they will assume that you have travel limitations. A candidate’s questions uncover their concerns or what is important to them. If travel and territory is of major importance, the interviewer is going to want to find out why OR they are going to invent a reason. Why not just share the reason with them?

The Preface: Over the years, I have had the great privilege of getting to work with the top thought leaders in the Southwest Region, and as you can imagine, those relationships are meaningful to me. I know this role is supporting the Southwest, which is exciting, but how does XYZ define the Southwest exactly?

Again, this is just an example. The key thing is that with the preface it is clear that the question is about impact and has nothing to do with travel. Plus, the preface strengthens your candidacy, whereas going without it may weaken it.  Also, not using a thought out preface leaves the door open for the potential for speculation as to what is behind the question.

These are a few examples of how prefacing your questions can clear up confusion and avoid the chance of speculation while strengthening your candidacy. I’ve been saying for a few years now that the better the questions, the better the candidate. The consistent feedback I get on the best interviewers is that they had the best questions. I’m confident that prefacing those questions will make you a stronger candidate instantly.

About the Author


FAQ: Breaking into an MSL Role

As an executive recruiter specializing in Field Medical Affairs, you can imagine how often I am approached by aspiring Medical Science Liaisons as they attempt to break into the MSL role. Though the frequency is very high, I encourage every emerging MSL to make an introduction to our firm, and I truly wish I could field every call and email.  If I did, that is what I would do all day every day, and so I wanted to create a video with the most common topics and questions that come up in the conversations I do have.

How Do I Break In?

Clearly, it is challenging to break into your first MSL role because so many companies require previous MSL experience.  What I’ve found is the introductory MSLs that are eventually hired have an identifiable therapeutic expertise that would bring the company immediate value.  Additionally, the best MSL candidates work at key centers because the company is going to want that person to utilize pre-existing relationships.  I also see clinically trained pharmacists who are heavily involved in speaker programs targeted for MSL hires even without prior MSL experience.  I've rarely seen retail pharmacists break into the role during this highly competitive time, and also, I've infrequently seen PhD candidates get the job without significant post-doctorial experience. 

Other topics addressed in the video are:

  • Why am I not hearing back from companies and recruiters, am I doing something wrong?
  •  How often should I expect to hear from a recruiting agency?  How often should I follow up?
  • Does my willingness to relocate increase my chances of landing a role?
  • I don’t have a therapeutic expertise, but I can learn it…is that enough?
  • Would any job in industry help me eventually get an MSL role?
  • Would taking an MSL-like role in the Diagnostics or Device space help me transition to Pharma?
  • Should I invest in an accreditation or certification programs, or MSL training seminars?
  • Should I consider a “contract MSL” role?

I hope the answers to these frequently asked questions are satisfying as you look to begin your career as an MSL.  As stated in the video, please connect with the entire TMAC Direct team and join our private LinkedIn Group called "TMAC Direct - TheMSLRecruiter".  I look forward to tracking your career.  Thanks!

About the Author

How to Break Into Management

As an executive recruiter, I get posed a myriad of questions by candidates. One of the more common lines of questioning is centered on how to get into management from an individual contributor role.

The typical conversation goes like this:

Me: “Well, Mr/Mrs Candidate, I have a great understanding of your background. What about your interests? What can I find for you in the marketplace that you currently don’t have in your job?”

Candidate: “I’m not interested in making a lateral move, but I would consider taking a hard look at a management position. Do you have any management positions on your desk?”

Me: “Have you ever managed a team of (specific function) before?”

Candidate: “No, but I’m ready to.”

Have you ever caught yourself in this conversation? If so, keep reading…

Me: “I understand that you are open to looking at management positions and that you are probably ready for that next step in your career. The unfortunate news is that whenever a company asks me to fill a management role, a prerequisite to even submit a candidate is for them to have previously managed within the specific function.”

Candidate: “I managed 12 people when I was a Director of Pharmacy before I got into Industry, so I have management experience.”

Me: “That sounds like an amazing experience, and I’m sure that experience helped you break into industry. I’ve noticed that when companies are looking to hire managers of (specific function), they want candidates who have managed people doing (specific function).”

Candidate: “That’s kind of a catch-22 isn’t it? I mean, how can I get a management job without management experience in (specific function)? No one is born with management experience; they had to be given a shot at some point right?”

Does this sound familiar? If so, keep reading…

Me: “It’s true, new managers break in occasionally. The thing is that they typically (9-out-of-ten times) do it within their own company. So, as you evaluate your situation, if there isn’t a road to management for you, it might be time to get on a different path.”

Candidate: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Well, think of it like this. Think of your current company as an elevator. If you want to get to the 9th floor, but the elevator you’re on only goes to the 8th floor, then you might want to consider changing elevators. I know it isn’t easy to leave your current elevator. There is some inconvenience and risks associated with getting out of your elevator, walking across the room to another bank of elevators, evaluating those new elevators, and getting in a new one. The thing is that one of them might be going up. Does that make sense?”

Candidate: “I think so. So, you’re saying that if I don’t have a career trajectory that is going up at my current position that I should make a lateral move to a company who can set my career trajectory aimed at where I want to go, right?”

Me: “Essentially, yes, but predicting which elevator is going up isn’t easy.”

Candidate: “Well, how do I even begin to do it?”

Me: “This would be my advice— look at the org. chart. There is a structure that I see where one-to-two years later they are beginning to promote their people. I’m getting the sense that you want this promotion to happen soon, so this is the org. chart I would seek. The company has a VP, a Sr. Director (both in-house), and then it goes all the way down to the individual contributor. They don’t yet have field-based management in place.”

Candidate: “Yeah, but aren’t those companies risky?”

Me: “Every company is risky these days. If you truly want a shot at management quickly, this is the org. chart to look for. It’s true though, you usually would be joining a company about to launch their first product and with limited infrastructure. As long as you evaluate the company and product and make a smart decision, you will be okay. When the launch goes well, and they expand, you will be grandfathered in and considered for a management role.”

Candidate: “A friend of mine went from an individual contributor at his company to a manager of another company.”

Me: “I’m not saying it is impossible; I’m just saying it is very unlikely. In the cases I’ve seen where someone has gone from an individual contributor at one company to a manager of another company, someone high up in the new company hand picks them.”

Candidate: “Interesting, that is what happened in my friend’s case.”

Me: “In my career as a recruiter, I’ve worked on filling countless manager roles. In that time, only two of them were not current managers. The reason those two were filled with non-mangers is because the money they were offering wasn’t at a level that would attract a current manager. They both changed levels, but for a very incremental salary increase.”

Candidate: “I had no idea that my expectations were so off. If you hear of a really good company that is building a team and is looking for senior-level individual contributor, keep me informed. Let’s evaluate together if it’s an elevator that is going up!”

I hope this dialogue helps you see how you might break into management. Remember, there are exceptions to every rule. Even as I’m writing this, I am thinking of a few people I know that didn’t go the route outlined above. I must also disclose that their stories are the rarest of exceptions. If you’d like to discuss this topic live, my line is always open. If after reading this, you want to catch the next elevator going up, let’s set up a time to talk.

About the Author

Is it Time for a Job Change?

Most would agree that making a job change is a big decision.  Should such a big decision be made solely on “gut?”  Is there a methodology we can employ to help us analyze if our pain points and whether another opportunity is any relief for that pain?

Allow me to introduce the CLAMPS Model.  The CLAMPS Model is the model we use here at TMAC Direct to assess the motivators a candidate has in making a job change, but this model can also serve as a self-diagnostic tool. 

C - Challenge
L - Location
A – Advancement
M - Money
P - People
S – Security

C-Challenge:  Some of the candidates that call my office know they want to make a job change but cannot pinpoint why.  It is just a feeling they have.  When they cannot clearly articulate why they are looking to change jobs, I immediately ask them if they still feel professionally stimulated with their job.  I dive into the age of their product. Are they bored with it?  Is there very little new data coming out?  If they have lost their professional passion for the product line, you can sell them on the excitement surrounding your new drug or your bustling pipeline.

L-Location:  Most of the work I do is helping companies fill field-based positions, so the more relevant word is “Territory.”  Is their territory too large or too small?  Are they traveling too much?  Is their territory too small for the metrics they need to hit?  If it is a “Location” issue, it usually manifests in commute time.  A territory size or commute time can cause some significant pain that, at times, can be alleviated with a job change.

A-Advancement:   Everyone understands that no company can promise future promotions.  What I sell when I speak to candidates who are looking for advancement is the possibility and opportunity of advancement.  If “Advancement” is one of their pain points for making a job change, then it has become obvious that your growth is maximized at your current company.  Most candidates who desire advancement want to know that they AT LEAST have the opportunity to grow.  They are looking for a higher ceiling, an elevator that goes up from where they are.  If growth is desired, and it becomes apparent that your company doesn't afford the opportunity, a job change is something to consider.

M-Money:  Believe it or not, money is rarely a pain point voiced when I go over the CLAMPS Model with candidates.  It only becomes a factor when we get close to an offer, and then suddenly it is very important.  I have come to realize that compensation issues are tied to ego and decisions made in the offer are psychological—they do not want to feel they got a bad deal or left money on the table. The dissatisfaction of what a company offers a candidate, even if they do accept, lingers for years.  When someone is dissatisfied about compensation, I usually hear two things: “I know I’m underpaid” or “I took a hit to come here.”  A low salary will not necessarily make someone actively look, but it will keep them actively listening to openings in the market.  

P-People:  Who you work with becomes your "work family."  All candidates have worked in great and also dysfunctional work environments, and so they are evaluating companies by how they organize the interviews and treat them in the interview process.  They have nothing else by which to assess the people in your organization. The best companies take a careful look at what they are projecting to prospective employees, because “People” is one of the main reasons candidates want to change jobs.  

S-Stability:  In the Pharmaceutical Industry, stability is merely a perception.  Nearly any company at any time can be subject to a buy-out.  Because of this, most employees are used to the volatility in our industry, but still, stability is a desirable thing in a future company.  On the flip side, instability is the #1 reason why candidates make job changes.  

Key Take-Away:  The CLAMPS Model will help you diagnose your pain points and if the opportunity you're considering is a remedy for that pain.  

I encourage you to watch the corresponding video to learn more about the CLAMPS Model and how it can help you to assess if now is the right time to change jobs.   I hope this information is valuable to you, and I’d be open to discussing your career at any time.

How to Prepare for Cultural Fit Questions

One of the keys to mastering the in-person interview is handling Behavioral Based Interview (BBI) questions.  Sometimes BBI questions are called “situational questions,” “Targeted Selection,” or “STAR questions”.  These types of questions are most often used when companies are trying to assess if the candidate would be a Cultural Fit.

In the Pharmaceutical Industry, many are trained to interview in the BBI/Targeted Selection style.  Once this trend was recognized, a way of answering these questions was quickly developed, and that model is called the STAR model.  I’m not sure who came up with it, so I can’t give them appropriate credit.  I’m certainly not trying to take credit for the model.

STAR stands for S-Situation T-Task A-Action R-Result.  I’ve read that other interview coaches have tweaked the STAR model, and one I encourage people to use is a similar model called SOAR, S-Situation O-Obstacle A-Action R-Result.  So much of what makes us the winning candidate is not doing a task but overcoming an obstacle.  The reason this STAR/SOAR model was created was to give the interviewee an easy way to keep their answers efficient.  Remember, no one hires a rambling generalist.

Winning candidates are good storytellers and can do it succinctly.  Imagine how effective your interview would be that if for every BBI/Targeted Selection question they asked you, you could pull up a video clip of you in that situation.  Essentially by using this model you can create that video with words.  Great interviewers can create images in the interviewer's mind, and the interviewer can actually picture them in the job.

BBI/Targeted Selection Questions are most often using when trying to assess Cultural Fit. Below are some common themes on which companies base their questions. The above video goes into detail about each one.

Here is some coaching on the STAR/SOAR Model:

-S-stands for Situation.   Explain briefly the situation you were in.  Also, let the S remind you to be specific and succinct.

-T/O-stands for Task or Obstacle.  They want to know that you can handle the curveballs that are thrown at you on a daily basis.  In my experience, I don’t see many interviewers asking a bunch of task-oriented questions, and that is why I chose to take out the T and replace it with an O in most cases.  So, briefly talk about the obstacle that you were presented with, and demonstrate that you are someone who can overcome obstacles.

-A-stands for Action.   Transition into describing the action you took in overcoming the obstacle.  Again, stay brief and positive.  Remember, good storytellers get the job.  The actions of the story are what create the images in the interviews mind.  They are asking BBI questions to find out what you DO in situations.  In the action section, you are explaining what you do, so do a great job here.  Try using phrases like: “So, what I did was”, “My strategy for overcoming that was”, etc.

-R-stands for Result.  This is where you talk about the result of your action, and we are looking for a positive outcome.    This is a key part because so many candidates don’t know how to put a bow on their story and wrap it up.  Try using phrases like: “So, what happened was…”, “The result was….”,  etc.

Other keys to success in answering BBI/Targeted Selection questions:

-Keep your answer succinct

-Give only one example

-Use “I” statements.  They are not hiring your last company, so avoid saying, “We did.”  They want to hire you, so say “I did.”  Of course, this is bad advice if you're giving a team example.  

-Never use hypotheticals, like “What I would do is.”  They don’t want to hire someone who could hypothetically do this job; they will hire someone who has successfully done this job.  Finding out if that is YOU or not, is the whole reason these questions exist.

BBI/Targeted Selection Questions are most often using when trying to assess Cultural Fit. Below are some common themes on which companies base their questions.   The above video goes into detail about each one.

I hope this quick tutorial about how to use the STAR/SOAR Model to answer BBI/Targeted Selection questions has been helpful in preparing for Cultural Fit questions.  Remember to think of these stories long before the interview, so you don’t have to think so much on the fly.  If you can handle these BBI/Targeted Selection Questions by being a succinct storyteller, there is little doubt that you will be seeing an offer soon!

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Four Puzzle Pieces of a Functional Fit

One of the four core assessment areas in every interview is something commonly called 'Functional Fit.' By the time a candidate is being interviewed in person, the hiring manager has already made the assessment that the candidate could do the job or is a Functional Fit. So, why the need for this video?  

The key thing to remember is that everyone interviewing for the job is also a Functional Fit, and this video is a guide to help you articulate your fit better than your competition.  My best advice is to think of Functional Fit as four separate puzzle pieces, that when assembled, creates an image of a great hire.

My best advice is to think of Functional Fit as four separate puzzle pieces, that when assembled, creates an image of a great hire.

The corresponding video will help you understand those four puzzle pieces and their importance.  Some interviews are structured where in one monologue you can describe each piece and how you’re a Functional Fit.  Other interviews don’t allow the forum for you to lay out your Functional Fit all at once, so the savvy interviewee brings the puzzle together over the entirety of the interview.

I am confident that if you remember to explain how you have each piece of the puzzle, you will pass with flying colors in the Functional Fit Assessment. I hope you find these tips valuable as you prepare for your next interview. If you would like to discuss interviewing techniques further, feel free to reach out anytime.

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