We are often asked for interview advice. While the recruiter you are working with may give you specific advice regarding your upcoming interview, here is some general advice that should help you prepare:

In advance of your upcoming interview, the number one bit of advice we can give you is to prepare and know the drug and its value to the market. It shows your initiative, intellectual curiosity, and your interest in the role.

For phone interviews, please get to a quiet place without distractions. If possible, please don’t drive while conducting the phone interview. Companies want to know they have your full attention.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. To the best of your ability, know the drug and/or pipeline, the company (particularly, their core values -interviews are often shaped around them), the competition, the market, and be ready to show that you have thought through how you will successfully take on the main objectives of the role. It shows initiative. You may want to think through or even write out a 30/60/90 day plan. Wear a suit and bring a few copies of your resume.

Some interview styles are conversational and some are behavioral-based formal interview questions. Be ready for questions that start with “tell me about a time when you….” or “what would you do if…”. Be concise in your responses but be ready to provide details and be prepared to give specifics when requested around your exact role in the situation/accomplishment, the challenges, the recognition, the results, what you learned, what you could have done better, etc.

Always have short stories ready to tell on a variety of topics that would include accomplishments and challenges, BUT be ready to dive into details when asked.  Although there’s a place for “what would you do if…” questions that ask for a theoretical / philosophical answer, most interviewers want real-world examples of what you’ve already done in the past.  A good talker can wax eloquent on grand strategies and philosophies, but the best interviewers can show, with specifics, how they’ve put those strategies into practice in the past and how they’ve resulted in a strong track record of success.

If you are interviewing for a position of leadership, many topics will be covered but at a minimum be prepared to provide detailed examples (be concise but be ready to provide details) of building teams, developing and implementing strategy, leading through change, leading through adversity and ambiguity, developing people, hiring, firing, etc.

Interviewing always involves a balance between communicating the value you would bring to the organization based on past experiences and accomplishments and maintaining humility and teamwork-related attributes. Don’t feel like you have to keep talking to fill a short period of silence. Please don’t use bad language. You would be surprised how often we hear that feedback from clients who are offended or more likely, concerned customers may be offended. Either way, it often leaves a poor impression.

If you have changed jobs more than once or twice, be ready to explain why, as well as why you are interested in this role. Be honest but my suggestion would be not to answer those questions with reasons which might include “I was bored” or “ready for a change”, “I wanted to improve financially”, “I hated my boss” (or anything too negative about your previous company), etc. Companies tend to like team players that don’t have personalities that are too cocky or overly assertive.

The hiring manager is generally trying to answer two questions in their mind. First, will the candidate likely be successful in the role? Second, will we enjoy working with this candidate and will they fit well within our team & culture?

All candidates are evaluating the company, the opportunity, and the hiring manager during the interview process and that’s a good thing. But if the primary “vibe” the interviewers get from you is “tell me why I should be interested in this job/company”, then unintended or not, that might communicate the message that you aren’t very interested, didn’t do your homework on the opportunity, and might not be worth further consideration. We’ve seen such candidates decide after an interview that they are really interested, only to learn that their apparent lack of interest during the interview caused them to be passed over. So be sure to find the right balance between evaluating the career opportunity and expressing genuine interest in it.

Have 2-3 questions ready to ask when given the opportunity, but my suggestion would be not to make it about compensation, benefits or anything self-focused, that can be addressed later. Ideally the question would lead back to the value you would bring to the organization in this role.

If you are interviewing for a sales position, we suggest asking about any remaining concerns about your ability to be successful in the role so that you have a chance to address those concerns. And finally, don’t forget to ‘close’ the interviewer at the end of the interview.

Get business cards and send thank you notes/emails after the interview, preferably within 24 hours to confirm your interest, and remind the interviewer of your fit for the role and company. Contact us if you need their contact information. Read your email at least twice before sending to catch typos.

Please contact the recruiter you are working with after the interview to debrief so that we can follow up with the hiring manager.


Our firm thinks a lot of Lou Adler who provides interview training for candidates and hiring managers. Here’s a 15 minute video we think you’ll find very helpful before your interview. If you can’t view it (common on mobile) see the link at the bottom.


Any interview advice by Lou Adler is worth considering:


How to answer the question….


Here’s another somewhat humorous article:


If the video link above won’t work, here’s an alternate video on youtube. Skip to the 25:15 mark for interview advice:



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“David was hired to recruit our first senior commercial oncology hire. As well as being very focused in terms of his knowledge of candidates in this space, I have never experienced a more detail-orientated approach to candidate selection and interview (and subsequent write up). David’s output is excellent.”
PHILIP A. • Biotech CEO
“I have worked with COSI over the past five years to recruit and hire several oncology marketing directors both in the US and in Europe. COSI identified top oncology candidates and was the most productive recruiter in assisting me in building a world class team. Because of their specific expertise and breadth of contacts, I heartily recommend COSI to potential oncology focused clients seeking superior commercial talent. I also found COSI’s integrity, business approach and commitment refreshing.”
GREG G. • Biotech Marketing Dept Head

“I met David Collins and Commercial Oncology Search, Inc. back in 2011 while I was searching for a new oncology marketing position. Based on that successful experience I have continued to employ their services, most recently using David’s team to expand our current oncology sales force. The latter was a successful national expansion that was accomplished well ahead of an aggressive schedule.”

Pete K. • Regional Sales Director