The Ideal Interview Process in Biotech Recruiting

How long should the interview process take at a Biotech? The average interview process in the United States in 2014 was 23 days which is a 10 day increase over 2010. The average length of the interview process in Biotech was just under 30 days in 2013. There are a lot of factors in play that determine the length if the interview process but what our recruiting agency (we specialize in Process Development, CMC/Reg Affairs, Manufacturing, Project Management, and Quality) has found is that the longer the process is drawn out, the more opportunity there is for one or more of your candidates to rescind their interest in the position. Having a timely and pre-determined process is the best way to keep the candidate engaged in the role and the company.

In an ideal situation, we submit a candidate to an HR rep for one of our clients and they will jump on a phone screen with that candidate within 72 hours. If the candidate is moved forward to the next stage, we would the attempt to schedule a phone conversation with the hiring manager within 5 days of the initial phone screen. After that, we would hope that the candidate can be brought in for a face to face interview within 5 business days for local candidates and 10 business days for candidates that need to fly in. We would then ask for a hiring decision to be made within 72-96 hours after that if all the stars are aligned.

Following these guidelines, the hiring process would take a maximum 20 days from first phone screen until decision. This does not account for time spent recruiting on the position prior to interviews, or negotiating an offer during the offer stage.

Factors in play include size of organization, whether it is public or private, size of the talent pool (waiting for find and interview other qualified candidates), HR procedures (reference checks, skills tests, management/leadership tests) location of the hiring company (is it in a hub or not), the competitiveness for the skill set.

Having a long drawn out interview process can be a turn off for a high performing candidate. It might be indicative of the decision making culture of the organization or could be interpreted that the company is not that interested in the candidate. The candidate cold simply lose interest in the position or lose the desire to leave their current employer. The old adage “strike while the iron is hot” is a good way to motivate the hiring company to keep the process moving forward in a timely manner.

Talent in Biotech is quite fluid and there is a lot of startup play in the industry. Competition for talent is fierce and as a result, there are two main hubs in the USA where established and startup biotech organizations flourish. The Bay Area and Boston/Cambridge host some the the best scientific and technical talent in the world and having a competitive interview process can be the difference between success and failure for an organization. You don’t have to reinvent the interview process in biotech recruiting but you do need to be timely.

 Paragon Search Group is an American biotech recruiting firm specializing in permanent positions in Process Development, CMC/Reg Affairs, Manufacturing, Project Management, and Quality for companies ranging in size from startup to Fortune 50.

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