Navigating a job interview in the industry: A guide for new applicants

How to prepare effectively, understand the company culture and evaluate the fit from both sides.

EACR member Danilo Maddalo, Principal Scientist at Roche/Genentech Inc, gives his top tips to consider when preparing for an interview for an industry-based research position.

Navigating a job interview, especially in a highly competitive industry, can be a daunting task for new applicants. Beyond showcasing your technical skills and experience, it is crucial to determine if you will fit into the company culture and the role. This is key not only for the company, but also for the candidates, to make sure the job turns into a very positive long-term experience.

Here’s a few points to take into account to help you prepare and succeed in your next job interview.

Effective preparation

  1. Understand the job description: Carefully review the job description and highlight key responsibilities and required skills. Match these with your experiences and identify areas where you excel. This will help you tailor your responses to demonstrate how your background makes you an ideal fit for the role. If the job description is too general or there are points that would deserve some clarification, bring it up during the interview to get a better sense on the role
  2. Prepare for common interview questions: Be ready to answer questions about your past experiences, strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. Practice responses that highlight your relevant skills and achievements. For example:
    • “Can you give an example of a successful project you managed and the impact it had?”
    • “How do you handle tight deadlines and pressure?”
  3. Showcase your adaptability: Industries often value candidates who can adapt to changing environments and learn quickly, in other words the ‘trainability’ of people. Highlight instances where you successfully navigated change or learned new skills rapidly. This demonstrates your potential to grow within the company.
  4. Clarify expectations: Ensure you understand the expectations for the role. Ask questions such as:
    • “What are the key challenges someone in this role would face?”
    • “What does success look like for this position in the first six months?”

Understanding the company culture

  1. Research thoroughly: Before stepping into the interview, conduct extensive research on the company. Visit the company’s website, read recent news articles, and follow their social media channels. Pay special attention to the company’s mission, values, and recent projects. Understanding the company’s ethos will provide insight into its culture and what it values in its employees. However, be aware that company culture may vary from department to department
  2. Analyze employee reviews: Websites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn offer reviews from current and former employees. These reviews can offer a glimpse into the day-to-day environment and overall workplace culture. Look for recurring themes in the feedback to get a sense of what it’s like to work there. If you are interviewing for a position in a team, ask the team members about the managing style of the hiring manager or aspects that matter to you.
  3. Observe the interview environment: During the interview, be observant. Notice how employees interact with each other and the interviewer’s demeanor. Is the atmosphere formal or relaxed? Are the employees enthusiastic and engaged? These observations can help you gauge whether the work environment aligns with your preferences.
  4. Ask insightful questions: Prepare questions that reveal more about the company culture. Some examples include:
    • “Can you describe the company culture and what it’s like to work here on a daily basis?”
    • “How does the company support professional development and work-life balance?”
    • “What are the team dynamics like?”
    • “What is the turnover in the team and why do people leave?”

Evaluating fit from both sides

  1. Reflect on your priorities: Think about what is most important to you in a job. Is it career growth, a collaborative environment, or a good work-life balance? Compare your priorities with what you have learned about the company and the role.
  2. Trust your instincts: Pay attention to your gut feelings during the interview process. Did you feel comfortable and welcomed? Were your questions answered thoroughly and honestly? Your intuition can be a valuable guide in determining if the company is the right fit for you.
  3. Follow up thoughtfully: After the interview, send a thank-you email to express your appreciation for the opportunity. Mention specific aspects of the interview that resonated with you. This not only shows your enthusiasm for the role but also gives you another chance to reflect on the interview experience.


Navigating a job interview in the industry involves more than just presenting your qualifications; it’s about ensuring a mutual fit between you and the company. By thoroughly researching the company, preparing strategically, and evaluating the fit from both sides, you can increase your chances of securing a role where you will thrive professionally and personally. Remember, the interview process is as much about you finding the right company as it is about the company finding the right candidate: it is a two-way street that both parties need to go through.

Good luck!

About the author:

Danilo Maddalo, PharmD, PhD
Principal Scientist at Roche/Genentech Inc
Department of Translational Oncology
South San Francisco (CA) – USA

Danilo Maddalo leads a research group at Roche/Genentech (South San Francisco, USA), in the Translational Oncology department. His work emphasizes preclinical development using diverse in vivo models, particularly focusing on Somatically Engineered Mouse Models (SEMMs). These models are instrumental in validating therapeutic targets and assessing the anti-tumor effects of new drugs, facilitating the translation of scientific discoveries into clinical treatments.