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interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 12:18 pm
by RV
Hello all, I have come across great advices and topics on this forum that are very informational and helpful for career improvement. I would like to present my case here and seek advice from people on this forum. I joined a job three months ago after my ph.d. After spending three months in the job, I felt that it's not a goof fit. So, I started to look around and managed to get an interview at a large pharma company. HR sent me an application that i need to hand in when I go there for interview. I am asked me to fill in the salary I am expecting. I need your advice on this as I do not want to keep it low or high either. can I tell HR person that I would prefer to put off the discussion about salary until the decision is made?
The other problem is when I fill in the work history. There is a little box that needs to be checked to contact my present boss now or later. I do not want them to contact him as I am doing this with out his knowledge and want to keep it that way until I get the offer. I do not want to jeopardize the current position. what do I tell HR person in a way that I do not sound too negative.

thanks in advance

interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 12:53 pm
by Leigh
I have some of the same issues, so I can't wait to hear what people suggest. I have put negotiable on the apps- to avoid any numbers. So far I haven't had the guts to check the don't contact my boss box, because it makes sense they will want to talk to my current employer.
I hope it works out for you.

interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:03 pm
by Derek McPhee
Negotiable is OK for the salary thing but I don't see the problem about checking the "don't contact current boss". Everyone understands how this works and companies are probably not going to check references until well along in the hiring process anyway. We only check references when we are through all the interviews and are considering making an offer, and even then we sometimes give people time to give notice before contacting a previous employer. Besides, many companies are not going to give more than confirmation of job title and employment dates as a reference anyway.

interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:43 pm
by Drew Parrish
I think I put something like "commensurate with experience" or something on my application - just don't give a number.

Also, I should probably tell you that I did check the "don't contact current employer" box, and the hiring manager (my now boss) did anyway. Whoops! Since I hadn't told my postdoc advisor I was applying yet, that was lots of fun. I think that only HR pays attention to that request, but the hiring manager seems to feel free to call anyone they want.

interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:01 pm
by Derek McPhee
The hiring manager might not have seen the HR form - only a resume. I have sometimes had to remind HR to pass on how people have answered specific questions to avoid this faux-pas.

interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:44 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Ray V.

I think you've had some good advice. Pass on the requested salary data, after all, "he who speaks the first number, loses." Also, you do NOT want to give permission to talk to your boss. If there is a "later" box, check that one. Just write "salary commensurate with experience" or something equivalent for salary. Good luck and let us know how you do!

Dave Jensen

PS. I had to modify your posting name because we don't use "handles" here. You are welcome to change it back to any name you would like, but not a chat room handle. Thanks!

interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 7:15 pm
by Kevin Foley
As Dave said, leave the salary box blank, and ask that they not contact your current employer. Pretty standard stuff.

Regarding the salary box: where you will run into trouble is that HR (and maybe the hiring manager) will definitely ask what your salary expectations are. Most candidates fold at this point and blurt out some half-considered number. As Dave said, “He who speaks first, looses!”

Your response to this inevitable question should be: "I expect that you will offer a salary that is commensurate with the contributions I will make to your company. However, if you want to provide a salary range that you have in mind for this position, I will be happy to confirm that we are in the general ball park."

Whatever salary is mentioned, your answer should be “Yes”. Once you have an actual job offer in hand, everything is negotiable.

Be sure you don’t lie. HR has sneaky ways of figuring out what you make! Liars don’t get jobs.

If they press you on your current salary, point out that it is not relevant, and that you expect to be compensated based on the value of the contribution you will make in your NEW job, not your OLD job. If they don't like that, who cares? HR never makes hiring decisions, hiring managers do. And most hiring mangers don't care a whit what you will be paid. They are more interested in hiring the best person for the job, no matter what they cost.

But as I said, only 1 in 20 candidates has the guts and skill to stand up to even a newbie HR staffer, let alone a car salesman!


interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 9:02 pm
by Derek McPhee
I beg to differ on some points of Kevin's response.

Most companies will already have a salary range in mind for a particular position. There are all kinds of reasons for this, but the main one is plain and simple: same pay for same job. This figure is probably not very negotiable, although there may be some wiggle room in the fringe benefits area (vacation, stock options, etc). No company I am aware of (and I have been in industry for 20+ years) will go back and renegotiate salary after a job offer is made (except for perhaps the aforementioned perks and maybe a signing bonus if they really, really, want you). I have yet to see an offer letter that did not spell out in great detail the salary and benefits. I must also disagree that hiring managers don't care what you are paid - while they may (should) want the best person for the job, it ultimately comes out of their budget and they have to work with that fact. Said this I do agree 100% with Kevin's statement that previous salary is totally irrelevant to a current job offer - what matters is the amount of $ whatever skills you bring to the company at that moment are worth to the company.

interview at a pharma company

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 12:56 am
by Dave Jensen
I think the difference between Kevin's comments and DJM's is that difference between biotech companies (Kevin) and large pharma's (DJM). Large pharma companies will be less likely to negotiate anything (they are usually "first offer, best offer" employers).

Dave Jensen, Moderator

Kevin: how HR checks salary ?

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2006 6:02 am
by Val