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How To Recruit High Performing Life Science Managers

November 22, 2016

by admin


Competition in the life sciences for top-performing managers is fierce, with companies understandably trying to attract those with a proven record of success.

However, it’s not quite as simple as considering someone’s past record, as over-simplifying your candidate search in the blind hunt for high achievers can risk leading to issues of culture fit and even lack of suitability for the role.

After all, just because someone produced great results at their last life sciences company, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll do the same in the role that you’re offering.



A laser-focus on past results doesn’t take into account three considerations that can radically impact how well the person will succeed in the role.

1. Your expectations and the particularities of the role.

What does success in the role look like to you? Who worked well in this role, and who didn’t? What traits do you consider the most important?

What does the team need from their manager? For example, do they work well under a more ‘hands-off’ style manager who quietly encourages and lends support where required, or do they respond better to a highly involved manager that is very present and strongly drives performance?

How much support will senior management offer to this new manager?

All of these questions are intensely important when establishing who the right hire really is—and it’s not something you’ll learn from a candidate’s CV, no matter how impressive their past results are. Spend some time thinking about this before compiling the job description, and keep it centre in your mind when conducting interviews.


2. Culture. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of hiring a candidate that will fit well with the existing culture. It’s been proven that new hires whose values match the organisation’s values not only fit in more quickly, but over time are also more satisfied in the job and intend to stay with it longer.



So consider your culture when advertising and interviewing for the role. Is there genuine autonomy and innovation in the company, or is that just something you say in the job ad to attract top- quality candidates? Is it a relaxed culture, or more formal?

What is the pressure like, and what kind of work-life balance is possible? How do you think the team will react to this candidate who is sitting before you? Can you see issues of resistance forming? Take the time to imagine how the person will fit into the culture.


3. The candidate’s expectations and career aspirations. Talented managers will generally be deterred by insufficient remuneration and benefit packages, and they will almost certainly reject the role or move on quickly if they find there’s no clear career advancement. It’s important in the interview to communicate opportunities for advancement and any training and development schemes in place.


So what can you do to attract the high performers that are truly suitable?

a. Spend time considering the requirements of the role from a team-specific and cultural perspective.

b. Create an impeccable job description. Both wide-ranging and specific, the description should give the candidate an excellent picture of their day-to-day duties, their responsibilities, the reporting system, the expectations of success, and the culture.

c. Consider asking your most valued team members to sit in on the interview, and ask for their opinion of the candidates. A transition where the top-performers already approve of the new manager often delivers a successful outcome.

d. Ensure that your salary and benefit packages are at least on par with competing companies.



e. Enlist the services of a specialist recruiter, and communicate as much information as possible about the role, culture, and expectations to them so they can whittle down the hunt for the best candidates on your behalf.


Candidates are often hired on the basis of past performance in similar roles, but no two companies—or roles—are precisely the same. By relying overly on past success to the detriment of matters of culture and suitability, you may think you’re ‘running the same experiment’, but you may get wildly differing results.

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