I was introduced to a company by a recruiter. While I liked the hiring manager (Sr. Dir), on the phone interview, at the face to face interview, and on a follow up call, he criticizes my current employer as having lots of people doing non-value added work. He worked for the company that bought my employer 15+ years ago.

I work for a big pharmaceutical company and the company I interviewed with is a generic. I challenged the Sr. Director on this criticism saying my half of the company was all about moving things forward. At the interview, I gave a seminar. We ask candidates toso  this too, so we can evaluate their data skills and presentation skills. We don't judge the topic since people come from different backgrounds. Yet their VP judged my topic. He attacked me saying it was just a high school science project, I'd never go to a conference again if I work there. Further told me in the hallway that most people from big pharma crash and burn at their place and numerous other put downs. Later that day, to the recruiter, and to me on the phone, the Sr. Director said he's against treating candidates like that, but the VP does it to everyone. Sr. Director did tell me one concern: could I give up the innovation stuff I presented if I were to work there? What I presented wasn't stuff I do all the time, it's stuff I'm allowed to present because it's been presented at a conference. Turns out, the actual job is similar to what we do (not much more innovative). Yet at the interview, no one asked me about my work or how I do it.

I left the face to face interview not sure if this was the job for me. That's how I felt after the phone interview too. The only benefit is moving higher on the leadership ladder. And generics develop products faster too. The work did not seem as exciting as my current job. Makes me more thankful for my job, but I am  tired of the politics. Taking this job would require a relocation to a lower cost of living state, require wife to find a new job, and she'd lose her state funded ~$12k/year disability services. I am concerned the Sr. Dir is transferring his negative experience when he worked at my company on me. Every job I've had (three + grad school), the employer REALLY wanted me for my creativity, initiative, problem solving skills, and experience, whereas these folks don't seem as eager for my talents.

They told me at the interview that they had just found a candidate with 15 years of generic experience. Recruiter left me a message yesterday that this candidate has declined their offer and I might get an offer soon, but not sure if it will be as high of a title. Any thoughts, anything I should ask, should I try to keep my option open, or trust my gut and decline?

mattpalmer's picture

If you're getting a poor opinion of a place during the hiring process, that should be a pretty big red flag.  People on both sides are supposed to be on their best behaviour at this stage.  Imagine what things might be like once everyone lets their hair down.

At the very least, catalogue all of the things that are putting you off, and craft questions that will allow you to get the information you need to either confirm or ameliorate your concerns.  If you just tell yourself "I'm sure it really can't be *that* bad", you're setting yourself up for a potential disaster.  Sure, your current place doesn't sound great, but at least it's the devil you know.

steveboss's picture

is this the only job in town? Are you going to ignore your gut reaction twice? Remember the interview is for you to flush out whether you should work for that company, and by what you've written, I'd say it may not be. Sure, in the interview they may posture and try to spook you, but at some time, if they want you they should make you feel that you've survived the gauntlet and are welcome into their fold. If they haven't, then something is off here and I would keep looking. Just my opinion based on your story. At the very least, I would talk to the VP and Sr Dir and clear the air--otherwise some issue may be lurking, and you want a clear slate or a positive start with these two. Also, remember the recruiter is focused on you signing, the sooner the better for his/her interest, not necessarily whether this company is a match for you.

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

Agree with both of the above.  Let's put it this way - I've often taken someone out of the hiring process based on a bad "gut feeling".   I think its a perfectly valid reason to say "no" in an artificial reality such as the interview process.   There's no reason why that shouldn't work both ways.

Or let's put it another way - the risk of saying no is less than the risk of saying yes.



markwalsh99's picture
Training Badge

 It doesn't sound as if there is a sufficiently compelling reason to move to this job. And if you're tired of the politics at your current employer, will it be any better there...? Doubt it.


GlennR's picture

If you're still undecided after reading the above, I'd suggest the old Ben Franklin close. Sit down with a piece of paper, draw a vertical line down the middle. List the pros on one side and the cons on the other.

TNoxtort's picture


Thanks for your replies. Here's the scoop on the current situation and the other opportunities so you can help me see through what the recruiter is saying.
Over the last few years, I've posted that many people had doubted my current drug project: if it would work, and how I had planned to test it. Well, in 2012, my innovative methods showed I had invented something better than a product advertised on TV that makes billions of dollars per year. Since there was no money for full safety testing, I negotiated a low cost one that showed it was definitely safe. We had two human studies, and I took on clinical and regulatory roles to make sure it was done right, as well as my role of ensuring the material got there in good form. For one, we met a timeline that was triple the speed of accelerated. While I only lead the team and no one officially reports to me, I've had one person for this project who I have 1:1s week, give feedback, and coach, and I'm really impressed with her abilities at this point.  
However, there's still a lot of negative behind the scenes talk. People complain that I'm doing things outside of what our department does, or outside the traditional paths -- but this project scientifically needed it. In 2011, I volunteered to be laid off, but they refused me (too many people that do what I do had already left). A very negative department manager who gave me a lot of grief in 2009 became part of my chain of command in August. Back then someone told he was mad at the world. He also hates my boss. I met with him multiple times, for several hours each time going over the project and data in great detail. Yet in October he attacked me for what he called "obvious" things that feels should have been done years ago, and disagreements he has with team decisions made years ago (which I still think are right). He told me he thinks my project is mistake after mistake after mistake, and thinks I wasted money running those innovative tests, since other departments should have run them. They cost $700k, my dept head paid for it, and my SVP proudly presented those results a few weeks ago. Anyways, just announced, this negative guy is retiring in a few weeks.   
Because I was bothered by how he treated me, I agreed to the phone interview for this job. I've known the recruiter for 6+ years. That's Job #1. There was also Job #2. Same recruiter. Very far relocation for Job #2. Not sure after the phone interview. Reluctantly agreed to the face to face interview. Recruiter told me they were ready to hire me, they'd move fast, and my goal was to determine if I fit there. Said I may not even have time to consider Job #1. Recruiter was pushing me to Job #2, I think, because he had Candidate #1 for Job #1 (who has now declined it). Anyways, at that interview I liked they had new molecules and diseases. Did not like it they seemed very fast paced. At the end of the day, after meeting 14 people, and asking tough questions, I just wasn't sure it was worth a coast to coast relocation. Decision: they loved my seminar, but because my answers and thank you letters were too long, felt I would not fit in to the fast paced environment. Also they didn't like all my questions. NOW, recruiter told me he gets more rejections from that company than anywhere else. First time in my entire life I've not gotten an offer from a job I interviewed for.  
I was travelling to a vendor of my innovative studies and discussed these opportunities. They pulled me aside and said they were thinking of creating a business development position, and my name kept coming up as a possible name: someone who knows what vendor does, who is well connected in the industry, who lives near where I live, and who would not mind travelling to, coincidentally, where my parents and wife's parents live to visit companies there. So that's Job #3. No word yet.  
Then a different recruiter called me about a position at a cigarette company. I finally agreed to the phone interview. It sounded SO COOL. They need a pharmaceutical person because it is a smoking cessation technology that will require FDA approval, but lots of creativity to develop test methods and due to uncertain regulation. The interviewer actually asked me HOW I do work, which I appreciated. Location: where I used to live and loved, near my wife's parent's house, 600 miles from current location. Meanwhile, my vendor said they have inside information that this technology is harmful and my wife was concerned that with no other pharmaceutical companies there, if the technology didn't work out, I'd be doing tobacco. Anyway, that company decided not to move forward with a face to face interview.  
So in the last three months, four opportunities came to me without me doing anything. Back to Job #1. The recruiter called me today and said they are interested in me. However, he only wants them to make an offer if he knows I'll accept within 7 days or so. I told him that is tough. Notice similar language as Job #2. Before the holidays, I chatted with my dept head and he said to talk to him in January about his plans to restructure the department and possibly be on his leadership team.
Pros of new opportunity (Job #1):
Leadership team / promotion
Accomplish more and no shortage of projects
Lower cost of living town
Seems people liked me
Get to learn more dosage forms
No more resentment that efforts at current employer are not recognized
Move closer to my wife's parents (7 hour drive vs 13 hour drive), same distance to mine
Cons of new opportunity
Leave my current project
Didn't care for how Vice President acted towards me
Hiring manager (Sr. Director) did say he has a temper but is working on it
Leave the very nice place we live, with all the good medical care
Leave security of my position
Longer hours / more pressure / hectic
Won't attend conferences anymore or get to publish
Less innovation because it is a generic, more about copying
No pension at new job, and they match less in 401k
No retirement healthcare (if I last to 55, 18 more years, I get subsidized medical insurance for life)
No holiday shutdown
Wife has to leave her nice part time job (pays 1/3 of my salary)
Wife loses 15 hours a week of personal assistant paid by state due to her disability
Wife loses her unvested amounts in her retirement plan (she vests in Sep 2013)
Potentially increased healthcare costs for wife based on new medical insurance

jrb3's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

My reaction on this:  Just because it's good for the recruiter doesn't mean it's good for you.

Are you considering job #1 just to escape a bad situation at current position, which will be changing positively in 3-4 weeks?  You'll need a (eye-raisingly) significant raise in overall benefits (including retirement) to replace what your household currently has, which normally means a similarly significant boost in responsibility and time required.  Though it sounds so far like you've already done the latter. :-)

Depending on whether you want to try for 55 at your current position if all went at least okay, perhaps you can confer a bit with the SVP who glowingly presented your results for some idea on the long-term?  Not "going over the head" of your department head -- ask him to introduce you, even join in -- but to get background, confirm consensus on trends, and better interpret and handle the "negative comments".  Is this just the usual griping of people out-competed, the corporate anti-bodies starting to muster a resistance response, or signals indicating shifts within company/market?  Believe me, if your efforts are directly responsible for (say) 1% of net profitability in a very large company, you have leverage to get the environment adjusted to improve that profitability.

Heck, if it's "just the politics", maybe hire Mike or Mark from here to coach you in your improvements in handling things. :-D

TNoxtort's picture

 Thanks for the reality check.

First, I think the content of my current work is so exciting. Late at night, when I should be in bed, sometimes I'm analzing data because I'm thrilled that I had a creative instinct, I found people who could do it, I came up with a design, I found neat ways to analyze it, and developed this invention. And I'm excited that the two non-PhD  ladies that help me on this project are similarly excited, that they understand it, and they are doing work comparable to that of a PhD.
I am only considering Job #1 because I can get an "official" leadership position, which I don't have now. However, I am the leader of my team, and not just the pharmaceutical team, but the overall team, I'm at the center of this project, and I have two ladies that work with me on this project even though they don't officially report to me. I am also looking because I feel I do all this work, and everyone still thinks I'm wrong, but that could be politics.
I actually have hired a coach to help me over the last year, on and off, with the politics. The griping has to do with past merger, tightening of budgets, and the corporate resistance. My coach thinks the key is building a relationship with my dept head. she thinks I shouldn't pay attention at all to my boss, who changes her mind everyday, and is not well regarded in my department. She thought this real negative guy at first was credible, and she's disappointed with how he has acted since late October. But he'll be gone in a few weeks. The SVP definitely knows me and my work, but she has cautioned me against approaching him with anything negative. At her suggestion, at the Christmas party, I thanked the SVP for presenting my work and asked if he need anything else. He said he wants to see good data in humans. My dept head and I are going to meet with him next week to talk about some concerns with how that study was designed.
About profitability, like all big pharma companies, our patent on the billion dollar drug will expire. My project is to replace it when it does. Due to the competitive market, it has to be better. So far, my tests show it will be. It also has to be protected with patents. I have applied for one patent, that may not may not stand up in court, and am working on the second that we are certain will because the results were so surprising. However, this disease area is considered a lower priority. With money tight, and no one realizing how long it will take to develop this, the company may choose not to fund this project due to expense or not getting done in time. I think they'll make a decision later this year based on the human study, though the human study wasn't the best design. SVP is pushing hard for this project to get funded and if so, I'd be so excited to lead my part of it till the end.

TNoxtort's picture

 I talked to my coach yesterday and she wonders if my attraction to this job is just because I'm too attached to what my performance rating will be. Performance ratings are one big political bell curve game, and she thinks I'm too attached to it. They are having the discussion today, but I notice it is not on my boss's calendar. If she's not invited, then this negative guy and everyone else is discussing me, and they all feel negative / jealous towards my project and I'm doomed. I'll be honest, then I want to leave, even if it is the wrong reasons.

I spoke with a scientist at Job #1. He says he enjoys the work and finds it challenging, but confirmed the VP acts in that jerk way all the time, and there is a lot of pressure from timelines at the this company.

Meanwhile, I have not heard anything from the recruiter. This is what I don't like about this recruiter. When he's got a job, he's talking about moving fast. When he doesn't have good news, he doesn't really call (and doesn't really call me back, though I have not called him). Maybe Job #1 has decided they don't want to move forward anymore.

TNoxtort's picture

Just an update in case anyone is listening. I talked to another recruiter who had worked with candidates that came from this company. Some liked it, but one person he told me left because there was no room for creativity because of this same VP that was mean to me at the interview. Not a good sign. Meanwhile, for various reasons, the hiring manager and recruiter haven't been able to touch base. And this week is the last week of the guy who is retiring who gives me a hard time. And I am just so excited by what I do and what I've discovered. I know Mark and Mike advice always saying you want an offer...but let's see.