So you are all set for your medical writing interview and believe you have prepared enough to impress any interviewer. But yet, could there be something that you may not have thought of? Following the below mentioned simple steps and considering each of them as an important aspect of a successful interview will make your job interview more satisfying and remarkably improve your chances of getting hired. Although some of these steps may seem insignificant to you, they could in the eyes of an experienced interviewer be deal makers or deal breakers. All companies want to hire the best people and they are looking for reasons to not hire you. Don’t give them any and you will get the job. Let us now look at what you must focus on most, before, during and after any medical writing interview:
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW:
1. Ensure your cover letter and CV are impressive. Copies of all documents that you carry including your cover letter & CV must be pleasing to look at. They should have a professional look with proper formatting and must be error free. Any minor spelling or grammatical mistakes are enough to turn-off your interviewer and land a negative impression of you. Most experienced human resources professionals and senior medical writers state that poorly formatted cover letter and CV, in addition to grammatical errors are the most common reasons for not calling candidates to the interview desk even if they fulfill the qualification and experience requirements. If you have completed any medical writing training, do specify it clearly in your CV.
2. Know as much as possible about your prospective employer. “Why did you apply for a position in this company?” “What makes you interested in this job?” are questions that you will be most certainly asked during the interview, so prepare well to answer them. Interviewers like it when candidates successfully demonstrate that they are genuinely interested in a position within their company.
3. Carry your portfolio / sample work. Preparing a neatly arranged portfolio is a must for any medical writing job seeker, especially those who have some experience under their belt. A portfolio allows your interviewer to actually see and quantify your accomplishments in writing.
4. Introspect and expect a lot of questions. Before you attend a medical writing interview you must prepare answers to some of the most common questions asked related to your interests, previous jobs, strengths, weakness, accomplishments, ability to handle stress etc. You can see one of our earlier posts about common medical writing interview questions here to help you prepare better. Keep your answers simple and genuine. It will be helpful if you introspect for a while and gaze into your past to find answers to them. You may even surprise yourself with the number of relevant positive experiences (examples) that you may recall which can be shared with the interviewer should the need be. These can be related to your previous accomplishments which you may have forgotten, situations when you handled multiple projects etc. Do not try to fake your answers. Should the interviewer dig deeper you will inevitably be caught!
5. Be ready to ask questions. Interviewers like candidates who appear interested throughout the interview and ask questions towards the end. Asking questions demonstrates that you were listening actively throughout the interview and are also a testimony to your genuine interest in the job and the organization.
6. Expect to write. For any medical writing position, a writing test is almost always a part of the interview process. Although you may have good vocabulary and speaking skills, the interviewer also needs to ensure that you are good at writing too. During the written test you may be asked to rewrite an article or to find mistakes in a set of documents. Expect just about anything!
DURING THE INTERVIEW:
Throughout the interview stay confident and be at your best. Your overall personality, the way you speak, your body language, the way you shake hands etc, all create an impact.
1. Show the employer that you are intelligent, independent, dependable, honest and full of enthusiasm. Avoid bragging and overstating about yourself. Do not try to take credit for accomplishments of others and never speak bad about your previous employer (if any). These are major turn-offs for any interviewer which decrease your chances of getting hired. Your aim must be to be as pleasing a personality as possible.
2. Dress for the occasion. A job interview is a formal process, so ensure you are dressed formally in a business attire. This is your first impression so ensure it is good. For men, a dark color suit (dark blue, grey, black etc) with a nice subtle colored shirt and a tie that compliments is most preferred. Women must wear something that is modest and acceptable in a business environment. Again a dark shade business suit is most preferred.
3. Feel at ease and be yourself. Don’t let your nervousness show by staying calm and maintaining eye contact with the interviewer throughout the discussion. Do not try to intimidate or overwhelm though ;-).
4. Control your actions. Avoid fidgeting with your hands, pens, briefcase etc and don’t keep looking around the room. Do not appear disorganized or hijack the question asked by the interviewer. Avoid talking too much or too less.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW:
1. Thank your interviewers. Your interviews have taken time out of their busy schedule to interview you, so thank them for this. Although some people like to hand write a thank you note for the interviewers but a thank you note sent using an email is also acceptable and is in fact gaining popularity. Thank you notes must be sent within the next few days following the interview.
2. Patience is the key. Companies take time to hire new people as they interview a lot of them and finally settle for those who seem to be a right balance of qualification and skill. The time span between your interview and you being contacted with a job offer can vary from days to months. Write a follow up email to your interviewer or give a call after about a week of your interview completion reminding them that you are awaiting their decision. Do not contact them over and over again as doing so can backfire. Don’t give up hope and continue believing in yourself. If you performed well in the interview, you will be offered the position you were interviewed for.
All the best for your next interview!