Getting Hired: GlaxoSmithKline

It goes without saying, perhaps, that what a biopharma company wants in new employees is skill, reliability, ambition, and a touch of charisma wouldn’t hurt. But aside from that,

individual companies may have specific things they’re looking for during an interview or in a new staffer.

Here’s a look at GlaxoSmithKline, a science-led global healthcare company, and a look at what its like getting your foot through the door.

Headquartered in Brentford, U.K., GlaxoSmithKline employs about 100,000 people in more than 150 countries. Of those, more than 11,000 work in R&D. The company develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, vaccines, oral healthcare, nutritional products, and over-the-counter medications. Its three product divisions are prescription medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products. In 2017, the company sold nearly 800,000,000 doses of vaccines and had three significant drug approvals.

According to Glassdoor, the difficulty of the GSK interview process is about average, with 68 percent of those responding claiming they had a positive experience.

One respondent, who did not get the job, indicated they were originally screened by a team member by telephone followed by a virtual interview with the director and team managers that included a 15-minute presentation. These were followed by an in-house interview that was almost a full day and included one-on-one interviews with team members and directors. The respondent indicated that the interview was difficult and that the interview questions included, “All the STAR format questions you could possibly think of.” STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result and is a form of behavioral interview technique.

In STAR interviews, the interviewer asks the subject to cite a recent challenge and/or situation, identify the task they were required to achieve, what they did (Action), and what the results were.

As with any company, interview processes vary. One candidate who accepted an offer at the end of their interview process claimed, “The process was easy. Mostly a behavioral interview with some questions regarding past experiences.” However, overall, the difficulty of interviews was rated as “average” from respondents. also has a number of reviews and profiles of GSK interviews. An applicant for GSK’s Chemical Engineering Graduate Program wrote, “This is one of the most difficult telephone interviews that I have had. However, this was my second time in three years having a telephone interview with them. The first was for an industrial placement, whilst this was for a graduate program. From this, I can confidently tell you that they do not change the questions.”

They appear to be very standard questions, such as “Tell me about your greatest challenge,” and “Tell me about a time you worked with someone difficult.”

They then followed up with a set of 10 true or false technical questions. After that, there were two additional technical questions, which included, “Describe the procedure for a risk assessment,” and “GSK has been manufacturing a tablet and it is showing signs that the dissolution rate may be decreasing. What are the possible reasons that this is occurring and what actions would you take to rectify the situation?”

In 2011, Claire Thomas, now Senior Vice President of Human Resources, was interviewed by The Telegraph and was asked what advice she would give to people hoping to join GSK. She said, “I like to see breadth in candidates’ CVs early in their careers. The more diverse their experience working in different functions or industries, the better.”

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