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All things Pharma


The assessment centre process explained

The pharmaceutical industry’s recruitment processes are notoriously rigorous. What does the crucial assessment centre stage involve?

Pharma recruiters and hiring managers are looking for the best of the best and they have many ways of rooting out elite applicants. The assessment centre is a key part of the recruitment process, so it’s important to know what to expect and be prepared.

“The assessment centre is designed to assess your suitability for the role outside of the formal interview process,” says Sam Grove, Commercial Director, Oberoi Consulting. “This is done through a number of different exercises.”

The process is intense, taking anything from an afternoon to two days. You need to stand out from the crowd – you’ll be in the company of six to eight other applicants and competition is fierce.

“Competency-based interview questions are designed to target specific competencies pivotal to the role,” says Sam. “Where possible, use the S.T.A.R. format when answering: situation, task, action, result.”


What to expect from the assessment centre

Kelly Davis, Executive Recruitment Consultant; Bucks, Berks, Oxon, South West, South Wales; CHASE, says: “Every company will have its own approach to running the day, however, there are certain exercises that may be included.”

These are:

Case study

A fictitious case study about a company or brand with a specific business challenge that needs to be addressed.

Pre-prepared presentation

To demonstrate a clear line of thinking addressing challenges, objectives, consideration of options, recommendation, pros and cons, stakeholders and timed plan of action.

Group exercise

The company is looking at how you interact with colleagues and go about resolving challenges.

Psychometric testing

To profile your personality type to ensure that there is a good cultural fit between you and the company.

Role play exercise

Looking at your style of sales technique and how you interact with customers.

Competency based interview

The company is looking to get to know you and how you have demonstrated certain competencies in previous roles and situations.


What will I be judged on?

“Sprinkled throughout the content of the case study and wider assessment will be competencies you are being measured against that the employer will regard as critical to perform in the role,” says Kelly.

For example, if you’re applying for sales and marketing-based roles, the judging criteria could include:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Planning and organising
  • Customer service focus
  • Influencing others
  • Delivering results
  • Working together.

“Regardless of the chosen topic, the number one piece of advice I give to all my candidates is to try to research and prepare yourself in advance of the day,” Kelly advises.

Remember, whatever the outcome, feel proud of how far you’ve come. “The assessment centre is the final stage of the recruitment process. Getting this far is an achievement – this is your opportunity to ask questions,” counsels Sam. “Above all, be yourself. Don’t forget to ask for feedback, whether you are successful or not.”

Go to chasepeople.com and oberoi-consulting.com

Want to know more? Check out our guide to surviving assessment centres

Looking for more career advice? Read hereCareers & graduates

Related articles:

Top 5 job search tips

5 hobbies you need on your CV

What do pharma sales recruiters look for?

Find your dream role at PharmaJobs.co.uk

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Amy Schofield
Amy Schofield
Amy is Special Editions Editor at Pharmafield. She is an experienced journalist and editor of both digital and print content across healthcare, technology and careers. 


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