It was a Monday morning a steaming coffee mug was waiting for me on my study table and motivating me to continue my job hunt even though I was exhausted with interviews. I made some space on table for my laptop and started my job hunt, I had just gone to New York for site interview and I was sending out Thank you note to my interviewers and suddenly my phone rings………..
HR Manager: Hi I am Sam, calling from Norwich Pharma Services. Am I talking to Miss Asmita?
Me: Hey hi Sam, how are you doing?
HR Manager: I am doing good how are you doing? By the way I have a good news for you Asmita.
Me: I am doing fine Sam, oh is it? what is it? (By that time I had figured it out that it is regarding job 😉)
HR Manager: You have been selected for Research Assistant position and you will be working under Kevin Manager of Method development and Analytical services. Your joining date will be 21st August.
Me: Oh that’s an awesome news Sam!!! Thank you so much for the offer and you made my day. I have just sent you a thank you note regarding Friday interview. (I was smiling continuously 😊)
HR Manager: Oh thank you dear looking forward to meet you. I will send you further information via e-mail. Congratulations again!!!
The interview day: Friday 28th July 2017
It was 7:50 AM I was professionally dressed and sitting at the visitors area near the front desk waiting for HR manager to come. I was totally nervous from inside but continously smiling and observing the people who were entering from the front door.
HR manager comes at around 8:04 AM gives me a brief introduction about himself and he observes me from top to bottom, takes me to the interview room. I was sitting in the room waiting for my manager to come.
At 8:10 AM
QC Manager: Hi, I am Jim Manager of Analytical department. How are you doing today? How was your journey?
Me: Hello Jim, I am doing great. Journey was really good but little bit tiring.
QC Manager: Oh great then lets start. Tell me something about yourself?
Me: I am Asmita, a recent graduate form Campbell University. After my Bachelor’s I took 2 years of industrial experience in Cipla Ltd. & Pfizer Inc. I was working in a Quality Control department, I was introduced to industrial environment during these two years and could learn so many important aspects of Pharmaceutical industry. I could improve my analytical skills during this time and then I thought I should acquire some more knowledge and explore myself to the new culture, I decided to go for Master’s. I learned so many things during my master course like time management, research, meeting deadlines, report writing and list goes on. Now, I am here in front of you seeking for an appropriate opportunity where I could apply all my knowledge and experience. 😊
QC Manager: Oh thats really great! Something more about yourself which is not there in resume?
Me: Oh yes of course, I am a professional Basketball player too.
Interviewer 1: Professional (he was little skeptical) means you used to get paid for playing? I personally don’t play basketball but I love watching it.
Me: No, not like that I was representing my school at state and district level.😃
QC Manager: What do you think will be able to manage change? Because this place is kind of secluded and there is no city near by.
Me: Oh yes of course. Let me tell you one thing Jim, the place where I stay is more secluded than this. I think it won’t be that difficult for me because coming to totally new country was a big change for me if I can adapt that then this is manageable.
At 8:30 AM:
HR Manager: Why do you want to relocate for this job? and will you be able to survive in winters because it will be very cold here?
Me: Very first thing this is an excellent opportunity for me to explore myself in Research area and in a new state too. Being form North Carolina I have hardly seen snow and I am really excited to see it!!! I have so many winter clothes in my wardrobe and I am not using them (and I smiled, I was trying to make myself comfortable by cracking jokes in between)
HR Manager: What is your definition of success?
Me: According to me success is efficiently working with co-workers and bringing up new ideas.
HR Manager: What is your salary expectation?
Me: At this time opportunity is more important for me than salary. 😊
At 9:00 AM: (Team Interview) (Senior Research Scientist and Senior Research Associate)
Interviewer 1: Hi, how is it going so far?
Me: Its going really well and I am enjoying it!
Interviewer 1: So, by looking at your resume it seems that after Bachelors you took some experience and then again came for masters. Why did you land up at Campbell University? Were not you satisfied with your previous job? or was it so monotonous that you thought to go for masters?
Me: I was totally satisfied with my previous job rather I was enjoying it and yes it was monotonous but I got to learn so many things during that period. As I was working on tablets I thought of doing some research in tablets itself. I found one professor from Campbell University he works on tablets. I followed his research for some time and then I approached him regarding my interest working under him. I think this thing landed me here at Campbell. I feel so glad that could be a part of such an awesome school.
Interviewer 1: That sounds really great! we did not know that there is school called Campbell and its providing such good course.
Me: (Gave a good smile with proud and confidently replied) May be Campbell is producing some good scientist 😎👩🏼🔬 (both of them started laughing and again I made myself comfortable in front of them. I was totally nervous from inside but I did not show it on face, rather I was showing them that I am enjoying it)
Interviewer 2: Basically this is a Method Development lab and not a research lab so you will have monotonous work. Do you think you wont get bored of it?
Me: I can totally understand what you are trying to convey me. But trust me doing research is also a monotonous work. The word itself tell us that it is REEEEEsearch my advisor always say this to me and motivates me. In my thesis I have done each and every procedure six times because my advisor needs data in six replicates. So, I think I know what monotonous is and I will be able to manage that work with less error.
Interviewer 1: You have mentioned that you know Good Documentation Practices (GDP) and you have faced some audits too. So, give me an example of GDP.
Me: Writing with pencil is not allowed in GDP either blue or black ink is acceptable. (There are so many examples but this example was well explained that I know throughly about GDP) (Interviewer was so happy with this answer because this is really small example but nobody notifies it quickly. He smiled and looked at me) (I guess I answered what he expected)
Interviewer 2: Do you have any questions for us?
Me: Yes, How is your experience with the company?
Interviewer 1: Oh its really great experience! I have been here for seven years and I think I have got huge learning experience here. Well, timings are flexible here working environment is really positive. I am enjoying here.
At 9:30 AM: Lab tour and interview with Senior Research Scientist.
He introduced himself and started checking out my resume throughly.
Interviewer: Ok Asmita then tell me the definition of CGMP.
Me: These are the Good Manufacturing Practices which ensures product quality.
Interviewer: As you have previous experience in Dissolution could you tell me how many types of dissolution are there?
Me: There are total seven dissolution types but I have worked with only type I & II. USP type I is basket while USP type II is paddle.
Interviewer: By any chance do you remember the USP chapter number for dissolution?
Me: (I was surprised with this question, it was totally unexpected. I have read that chapter so many times but I have never paid attention to the chapter number. I tried to recollect it by my photographic memory) I think its USP <711> but I am not sure about it. Is it correct? 🤔
Interviewer: Yes, its correct. (It boosted my confidence one level up!!!! and it was so important at that time)
Interviewer: What type of HPLC did you handle? and if I give you an HPLC to run will you be able to run it?
Me: I have used waters and Agilent HPLC’s. As I have learned theory of HPLC during course work and handled instrument during research. Given a training of a week or two I will be able to handle HPLC independently.
Interviewer: Do you know which series of HPLC did you use?
Me: No, actually I can’t remember it now.
Interviewer: Ok, lets go for the lab tour. (During lab tour, he was asking me all possible questions regarding instruments which were there. I was curiously checking out all instruments there were some advanced instruments I found and I was really curious about it so, I asked him some questions regarding those instruments.)
At 10:30 AM: (Team Interview) (Senior Research Scientist and Senior Research Associate)
Interviewer 1: What you think what are your strengths?
Me: I think I am very organized and detail oriented person. I believe in planning and execution. So basically I plan my day early in the morning, I have a habit of making to do list for every day and I try to complete all tasks on that day itself. I prioritize my work by doing this.
Interviewer 1: (She laughs) It is not going to work here then. Because you get so many things at a same time here.Even in the labs, if you are working in some area and somebody comes and puts their mess at your place how would you react?
Me: I have worked in much bigger lab than this where at a time 200 people used to work. So, I think I have gone through such kind of situations. If such thing happens I would keep myself calm and try to focus on my work to be more efficient. I would try to maintain professional relationship with co-workers.
Interviewer 2: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Me: I am ambitious but would not switch job after joining, rather I would try to grow with company. Five years down the line, I see myself in in responsible position where company treats me as its asset and gives me an opportunity to be a part of an important decision. ( I had prepared this answer so well and I could answer it perfectly.)
Interviewer 1: What is your weakness?
Me: As I said I am organized sometimes I become to particular about it that my friends or roommates get irritated with it. The other weakness is I can’t say no to anyone if someone asks me for help and I end up taking more tasks than my capability. I am working on it by telling people that I have some other important work to do once I finish that I can help them out.
Interviewer 2: What you like most in the lab?
Me: I like performing analytical test in the lab meanwhile I love doing documentation. Because documentation as important as performing an experiment.
At 11:00 AM: Director of Method Development
(This was the last session and I was so exhausted by smiling continuously and answering almost same questions again and again 😪)
Director: (He was checking my resume and he almost underlined each possible sentence on the resume and he was all set to ask me question) You have experience in Analytical you did master’s in formulation why do you want to come to Analytical?
Me: Even if my master’s is in formulation analysis of that formulation was an important part I could learn. As i have past experience in analytics I am the most suitable candidate for this position because I have handled almost all instruments which are here.
Director: How will you handle a conflict with co-workers?
Me: I think I would try to keep calm and take very professional.
Director: You have mentioned that you did a Forced degradation study. What is Forced Degradation Study?
Me: It involves conditions more severe than accelerated testing. For example Thermal condition, Oxidation, Hydrolysis, Photolytic.
And it was done at almost 11:20 AM. 😅 I think this was the very first interview lasted for almost 3 hours.