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Previous GSK graduate interview questions and how to approach something like them

Before you arrive for an interview with GSK, you’ll need to have done this essential preparation:

  • Reviewed GSK’s competencies
  • Reviewed the interview process at GSK
  • Read about GSK’s assessment centres.

On the day of the GSK graduate interview

The face to face interview with GSK usually takes place at the assessment centre, in amongst a number of other activities. The day is themed: candidates are asked to take on the role of an employee at a fictional pharmaceutical company and behave as though it were a normal day at work.

Tip: It might feel counterintuitive, but it’s essential to be yourself in this kind of exercise. GSK states that it would expect to see candidates approach each task with a keen interest and to be self-aware – they want candidates to take an honest approach, rather than pretend to be someone they believe the company is looking for.

The basics of a GSK graduate interview

Both the phone and assessment centre interviews with GSK are primarily competency-based, though applicants to technical roles (ie those which require a specific degree discipline) should be prepared for some technical questions.

Here are some previous GSK graduate interview questions, with advice on how to approach something like them.

GSK question: Tell me about something that motivated you and what you did about it.

Approach to take: Note that this is about something specific that motivated you, rather than a more general motivation question that could be answered in the abstract. Your example should be something that you pursued independently, rather than something you were required to do (such as university work) – self-motivation is a core competency sought for most of GSK’s graduate schemes.

An example that relates in some way to GSK’s mission and values would also be particularly good; if you were motivated to raise money for a humanitarian charity, or to help out at a local school, this would tie in nicely with GSK’s mission ‘to improve the quality of human life’, as well as its corporate responsibility initiatives. Be sure to explain why it was important to you, but don’t forget to include the outcome – this is a good opportunity to show that you ‘enable and drive change’, as per the company’s ‘achieving excellence’ competency.

GSK question: Describe a time when you worked with someone you didn’t get on with.

Approach to take: Teamwork is an important part of GSK’s business: the process of developing new products and bringing them to market relies heavily on various different functions working closely together, so a collaborative spirit is vital.

In answering this question, you need to show that you recognise that establishing a team environment isn’t always easy and that it can be difficult to work alongside someone you don’t particularly get on with. More importantly, you need to show that you are willing to work on this and that you can put aside personal differences to ensure a harmonious working environment.

GSK is interested in the language you use when approaching people and your ability to understand other people’s point of view, so be sure to include specific details of this.

GSK question: Why did you choose your degree course?

Approach to take: This is slightly similar to the motivation question in that it is designed to find out a bit more about you and the kinds of things that interest you. It’s also an opportunity to discuss your career choice and to show that you’ve thought carefully about your reasons for applying to GSK and this particular programme.

If your degree subject is relevant to the career path you have chosen, great – go into some detail about what motivated you to choose this course, where your interest in the subject started, and what research you have done to confirm that it’s the right career for you.

If your degree isn’t relevant to the career path, explain why you initially chose this degree and what made you change your mind about pursuing a career in this area. Above all, let your enthusiasm show.

GSK question: Describe a time when you changed a process to make it more efficient.

Approach to take: There are a number of different GSK competencies that you can bring into your answer here: enable and drive change, continuous improvement, and flexible thinking being among the most important. The best way to approach this is be as structured and detailed as possible. Include information such as:

  • How you came up with the idea
  • Any research you did
  • What information you had to consider when forming your idea
  • Whether your solution worked immediately or needed adapting
  • What the outcome was (include figures or other quantitative details where possible).

Try to highlight your ability to think innovatively, as this will reflect an understanding of the need for new ideas in GSK’s business. Remember that efficiency is very important in the consumer goods industry and that GSK has highlighted this as a key strategic priority – try to explain the benefits of improving efficiency in this case, and how your idea added value.

GSK question: What can you bring to GSK?

Approach to take: This is an opportunity to really sell yourself, and it’s a particularly important question for candidates applying for customer-facing roles where they will be expected to make pitches to clients early on in their career (such as sales).

Often, recruiters use this kind of question to gain more information about the candidate and to assess their communication skills. Although it’s a very open question, try to include at least some of GSK’s competencies in your answer; don’t forget to include any competencies sought for the specific programme you’re applying to, as well as the high performance behaviours, as this will help show how you’re suited to both the company and the role. Be specific when answering: give examples of how you have demonstrated each competency, such as how your position as a society treasurer honed your analytical skills.

GSK technical interview questions

As well as competency questions, candidates applying for science, engineering or IT roles should expect some technical questions about their area of specialism. These can take several different forms, including multiple choice, true or false, and hypothetical questions.

While the exact nature of the questions will vary by role and business area, some previous technical questions have included:

  • The flow rate within a pipe decreases if you double the pipe’s diameter. True or false?
  • How would you carry out a risk assessment before starting an experiment?
  • Tell me about a major project you completed at university.
  • How would you investigate the reasons for a decrease in the dissolution rate of an active ingredient in a tablet?
  • Infrared spectroscopy can be used to measure bond vibrations within a molecule. True or false?

With technical questions, the most important thing to remember is to be honest if you don’t know the answer; if you can make an educated guess, or explain how you would find out the answer, this is a much better strategy than making something up. You should also explain the reasoning behind your answer as this will help demonstrate your understanding of the subject matter.

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