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The SMR Group Blog

Marketing & Sales Recruiting in Biotech: How Many Candidates Is Too Many?

March 6th, 2015

Hiring for marketing and sales positions in biotech creates unique challenges. The right candidate will have a strong scientific background or ability, excellent communication skills and outstanding sales skills. The more technical your product, the narrower your field may be, but you need enough people in your interview funnel to ensure you select the best candidate.

How many is too many?

Some employers will say as many as it takes to get the right match. But interviewing excessively can make it tougher to remember each candidate individually. Depending on the quality of the applicant pool, many businesses will interview eight to ten candidates in the first round and narrow the second round to two or three. In biotech, the numbers may be smaller because your qualifiers are more stringent.

How can you ensure you interview just the right number of qualified candidates to make an educated decision?

Attract the right people

Write your job posting to detail the essential skills, experience and education you expect from candidates. The tone and style should reflect your corporate culture to bring in people who will fit into your organization. And be honest about what it’s like to work there. If your team typically puts in a lot of extra hours, don’t shy away from saying so. Those who are unable or unwilling to go beyond 9-5 will opt out of applying.


You know that you’re looking for certain skills and personality traits in a sales and marketing biotech professional. Why not test for both before taking the time to interview candidates? Each unqualified candidate you interview can cost you two hours of productivity. Why not winnow out the underqualified up front?

Phone screen

Starting with a phone screen is a win-win for you and the candidate. Typically, phone interviews run about 30 minutes or less – a small time investment for you both. It’s considerate of currently employed candidates as well, because they can schedule the time on their break.

Screen for hard skills, interview for soft skills

It’s often said that the best employees possess both hard and soft skills. What’s the best way to quickly screen and interview for these abilities? Focus on hard skills in the screening process. The ideal candidate will be smart, easy to work with and fit well into your organization, but the ability to do the job must come first.

Rely on a specialized recruiter

When you partner with a firm that really understands the biotech industry and what makes a marketing or sales professional successful, you can trust them to narrow the field for you so you only interview the best people.

At SMR Group Ltd, our experienced recruiters can help you recruit and screen sales and marketing candidates more effectively to quickly identify the talent you need in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device industries. Contact us today to learn more.

Keep Employees Accountable to Watch Them Grow

February 27th, 2015

What makes a business grow?

For many managers, work hours are filled with strategizing, developing new processes, and implementing technological changes. While these tools can help organize and facilitate growth, they don’t make a business grow on their own. It’s the effort of the employees who use them that makes a business grow.

Managers who know that growth comes from effort have seized a golden opportunity: the chance to support and foster that effort, and thus to maximize the productivity that comes from it. Managers who make it a priority to hold employees accountable for specific, measurable results, and to provide feedback on employee work, have unlocked the secret to growth.

How to Hold Employees Accountable

“Accountability” can sound intimidating for managers and employees alike. But it doesn’t have to be. Instead, treat accountability like a form of collaboration and guidance. You’re not calling employees on the carpet for not being perfect enough; instead, you’re showing them exactly what they need to do in order to maximize their own productivity and professional fulfillment.

To turn accountability into a win-win situation, take these steps:

  • Specify what your company means by “accountable.” Benchmarks for employees are typically measured on one of two scales: quality of results and timeliness. Decide which applies in each situation or task the employee handles, and clarify what you’re looking for.
  • Put it in writing. A clear, written explanation of the expectations for each employee allows him or her to refer to the guidelines whenever needed. It also prevents misunderstandings and miscommunications.
  • Make sure staff have the skills they need. Trying to hold an employee accountable for a result he or she is not adequately trained or prepared to execute is a recipe for frustration and failure. Make sure staff have the training and knowledge they need to succeed. Touch base with your recruiter regularly as you become aware of new skills, experience, or knowledge candidates will require in order to succeed.
  • Focus on delegation and feedback. Once staff know what is expected of them and they have what they need to do the work, managers should delegate the task itself. Instead, focus management energy on giving focused, constructive feedback. This tells employees exactly what they need to do to succeed in the future, allows them to work more efficiently, and signals that their bosses are aware of their efforts and want them to succeed – all of which improve both productivity and morale.

At SMR Group Ltd, our experienced recruiters specialize in connecting employers in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries with the top sales and marketing candidates in these fields. Contact us today to learn more.

Spotting Red Flags When Hiring: Part 1 (References)

February 20th, 2015

Navigating the list of potential red flags during the hiring process can be tough, especially when time is of the essence. Spending just a few moments learning the biggest red flags at each stage, however, can save significant time and money when it helps hiring managers avoid a bad hire in favor of a candidate who will do the job well and “fit” within the company’s structure and culture.

This week, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest red flags that might arise during the reference-checking process. Hiring managers who find themselves hearing any of the following from a candidate’s references would do well to proceed with caution:

  1. The reference is entirely positive. The candidate who has never made a mistake or who meshes perfectly with every other human personality does not exist. While it’s always possible to get one reference who simply adores a particular candidate, if every reference on the list has nothing but positive feedback on every aspect of the candidate and his or her work, it’s time to think twice. Honest references will be able to discuss both strengths and weaknesses in a realistic way. Ask what the candidate can improve on, and don’t accept “nothing” for an answer.
  2. The reference contains no specifics. Vague reference comments or recommendation letters are the very definition of the saying “damn with faint praise.” When a reference can’t explain why they praise a candidate’s attendance, attitude, work ethic, performance, or motivation, chances are good that either the reference does not know the candidate very well, or some less-than-glowing information is missing from the picture.
  3. The reference’s comments contain long pauses, evasions, or refusals to answer. How a reference approaches your questions can say as much as the words used to answer them. A reference who pauses for a long time when asked a question, for instance, may be struggling to frame the answer constructively – which may mean the answer is worse than the words used make it sound. References who evade a question or don’t answer it directly may also be attempting to cover up important information, or they may simply not know the candidate well enough to help you. And a refusal to answer can be a clear red flag if not a single reference will talk about the candidate’s skills or attitude.

At SMR Group Ltd, our experienced recruiters specialize in connecting biotech, medical device, and pharmaceutical companies with the best sales and marketing talent in the field. Contact us today to learn more.

To Attract the Best Sales Talent, You Need to Sell to Them

January 30th, 2015

It’s not difficult to get responses to a posting for a sales position – it’s likely that you will be inundated by resumes and calls. What’s more challenging is attracting top performers – outstanding talent who can make a significant impact on your bottom line from day one.

How Can You Sell Top Talent On Your Opportunity?

Significantly improve your job postings. These should be marketing pieces that speak directly to potential hires, not just dry job descriptions. Read the rest of this entry »