Every company, large or small, has its own culture. And with that culture often comes a specific approach to hiring. A great culture fit is arguably one of the most important aspects of retaining amazing employees. Some companies, for example, have a reputation for asking fairly odd questions, like: “How many Jelly Beans would fit in this room?” However, most biotech companies still stick to more standard behavioral-based interview questions, such as: “Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.”
Let’s take a look at what type of experiences job seekers should expect with one of the world’s top biotech companies, Amgen.
Headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Amgen was founded in 1980. It employs about 20,000 people worldwide and in 2017 reported $22.8 billion in total revenue and returned $6.5 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Its products are marketed in about 100 countries worldwide and focus on six therapeutic areas: cardiovascular diseases, oncology, bone health, neuroscience, nephrology, and inflammation. Amgen is one of the world’s leading biotech companies. Amgen is a values-based company, deeply rooted in science and innovation to transform new ideas and discoveries into medicines for patients with serious illnesses. Moving into 2018, chairman and CEO Robert A. Bradway claims, “With strong volume-driven growth for our recently launched products and a promising new product pipeline, we are well positioned for future growth.”
The company has a history of strong culture in support of the community. For example, on Dec. 11, 2017, the Amgen Foundation pledged $500,000 in support of victims of the Southern California wildfires that were ravaging the state. The foundation also agreed to match donations made by company staff globally who wanted to contribute their own money to qualified Southern California wildlife relief efforts.
Participants in Glassdoor’s rating system provided an overview of Amgen’s hiring system. In summary of 1,700 reviews, 69 percent of interviewees indicated the process was positive, with it described as “average” in difficulty. The top 3 ways of securing an interview came through the help of applying online, utilizing a recruiter or earning an employee referral.
A person who applied for a Scientist I position in Cambridge, Mass., who did not receive an offer, noted it as a positive experience. “I applied through an employee referral. The process took five weeks. Two phone interviews—one with a hiring manager and one with HR. Onsite interview after phone interviews. Onsite interview consisted of dinner the night before and an all-day interview the next day. Interview comprised of a 45-minute seminar followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session. The remainder of the day was on one’s own, lunch, and included a 30-minute knowledge quizzing session.”
Another candidate who interviewed as an undergraduate noted it as an average interview and a positive experience, saying, “I applied online. The process took two weeks.” It included 30 minutes of behavioral interview questions with 10 minutes for questions at the end. “Very relaxed interview with a lot of time at the end for questions, so make sure to prepare some questions of things you would like to know more about.”
Across all GlassDoor reviews, some of the most common questions interviewee’s were faced with include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about a challenge you faced and how you tackled it.
- Why Amgen?
- What is your five-year plan?
- Given a dataset, what would be your approach to derive insights?
- Describe a time you did something that went against popular opinion.
Amgen offers staff members a “Total Rewards Package”, which includes a competitive base pay and bonus opportunities, excellent benefits, an outstanding work environment, and the chance to grow both financially and professionally. Most comments on the company’s page spoke about the impressive 401K plan, followed by vacation and paid time off. The company is stated to offer two 1-week long “Holiday Shutdowns” around the 4th of July and Christmas holidays.
Associate Scientist in Thousand Oaks, California. This position comes from the Amgen Genome Analysis Unit, which is seeking a Sr. Associate or Associate Scientist in the field of molecular biology to join the NGS wet-lab team. The candidate will work closely with an energetic team to execute NGS experiments and generate high-quality data by using the cutting-edge platforms of advanced sequencing and/or single-cell analysis. Qualifications include a Masters Degree in Molecular Biology, Genomic Science, or related fields. The company is also considering a Bachelors Degree in Molecular Biology if the candidate also has at least two years of scientific related experience.
Scientist – Pharmacokinetics & Drug Metabolism in South San Francisco, California. The position calls for a Ph.D. or a Master’s degree and four years of experience, or a Bachelor’s degree and six years of experience. Preference is for a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical, chemical or biological science and two years of drug discovery and development experience. The candidate will apply cell biology and protein biochemistry to protein therapeutics Target-Mediated Drug Disposition (TMDD) and the impact of TMDD on drug catabolite formation.
Principal Scientist – Neuroscience in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The individual will lead a team of scientists and associates in generating rigorous decision-making data and pharmacodynamics model systems and managing off-site Charles River Accelerator Development Laboratory (CRADL) vivarium facility. Requires a Ph.D. and three years of experience, a Master’s degree and six years of experience, or a Bachelor’s degree and eight years of experience.
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Read Amgen GlassDoor reviews here.
Read Compass Consulting’s GlassDoor reviews here.