Formed in 2000 as a direct result of the merger between Glaxo Wellcome PLC and SmithKline Beecham PLC, GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) is a leading healthcare business at the forefront of global pharmaceuticals and science. The company is one of the most popular and competitive in terms of recruitment, as it is a highly respected company with excellent benefits and career prospects, providing a number of opportunities for graduates hoping to progress and move up the career ladder in the pharmaceuticals industry.
The core values of GSK are integrity, respect for people, transparency and the delivery of products that are patient-focused. As an employee, you are expected to share these values and implement them fully across all areas of work. Furthermore, the company invests a substantial amount of resources in recruitment to attract and appoint the best candidates for each role. GSK aims to provide a supportive environment and one that cares for its employees, offering numerous progression, learning and development opportunities to help staff reach their career goals and achieve their aspirations. Consequently the company has developed a thorough selection process to ensure that only the most committed and driven candidates join the organisation.
The first stage in the application process is to complete the GSK online application form, which will ask you to outline your experience, qualifications, training and any key skills or areas of expertise. The form will also ask several competency based questions, so it's important that you take your time and adequately prepare your responses. In order to complete your GSK application form successfully, you'll need to check the closing dates, undertake research into the right programme that you wish to apply for, and conduct a thorough review of the key competencies required for the role or programme that you are submitting the application for.
The application form consists of 'motivation questions’ or competency questions, which need to be addressed fully, with responses provided in around 300 words. The competency questions typically include things such as your interest in working for the company and your career motivation. To answer this set of questions properly, you will need to carry out some research. Start by thinking about what specifically attracted you to apply for a job with GSK. Perhaps it is the brands that they work with, the possibilities of international job opportunities, or their commitment to research and development.
Secondly, think about the values of GSK outlined earlier in this article and try to relate them to your own values and experiences. If there are specific products within GSK that interest you, write about these. That could include, for example, recent product developments or health initiatives. Your career goals may also be another point you may wish to mention, where you hope to be and how you intend to reach your goals through employment with GSK.
The second competency question will often ask you about the reasons why you have selected a specific programme or area of the company. Try to relate your answer to your key skills, knowledge and areas of expertise, and provide a practical example of how you can deliver results and contribute to the vision and objectives of the company. As the GSK graduate programmes offer rotational work, you will get the opportunity to work in three different areas of the business. Talk about your interests and the different areas of the business that you would like to explore. Also mention how your experience or academic qualifications have encouraged you to apply, whether you are looking for a customer-facing role or perhaps a more technical brief. It is important to relate your answers to the business area; discussing technical issues if you are looking to explore finance won’t produce the strongest answer for example.
Take your time to answer these questions properly. It is always advisable to draft them in a word processing document first and then copy them into the application form once you are completely happy.
After successfully passing the application stage, you will be invited to complete one or several online aptitude tests to determine your suitability for the post or programme. The objective of these assessments is to assess whether you have the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the areas of the company that you wish to join. The tests are varied in nature but they should take approximately 20 minutes to complete (although you do not have to complete them under any time restrictions).
Once you have undertaken the general aptitude test, the assessments will start to get more tailored, depending on the department in which you wish to work. The numerical reasoning tests will provide you with a list of questions which will get harder or easier depending on how you answered the previous questions. Although the test is not timed, the length of time you take to complete the assessment is recorded, so the assessors can determine your ability to work quickly and accurately. The aim of the numerical assessment is to identify your ability to understand and process numerical data, such as calculating percentages, for example.
The final test that you will be expected to complete assesses your English-language skills and your capacity to synthesise written information. Some questions may ask for an answer which is true or false, whereas others will provide a paragraph of text and ask you to determine whether a statement is true or false. Another type of question will include sentences with missing words, which will assess your spelling and grammatical skills.
This test is not given to all candidates. It is a non-verbal assessment where you will be given a series of shapes but with one shape missing in the middle or at the end of the sequence. You have to identify the missing shape. The test determines your ability to solve problems and apply logic.
The Values Fit Assessment is a type of personality test which measures how well your values fit with those of GSK. For each question, you will be presented with value statements about what is important to you at work and asked to select which are the most and least important to you.
If you have never undertaken a psychometric test before, it is always a good idea to do some practice. There are plenty of websites online where you can complete tests for free, such as JobTestPrep and Assessment Day, which will ensure that you are properly prepared and you don’t go into the actual test not knowing what to expect.
Once you have completed the online tests with success, you will be asked to attend a first round interview.
The GSK interview may be a regular one, or a telephone interview or video interview. They are an opportunity for the company to determine your suitability as a candidate and for you to express your interest in working with GSK. Additionally, they help the company to determine your motivations and experiences that may add value to their business.
If you are asked to participate in a video interview, the questions will appear on screen and you will have one minute to think about your answer and then 2-3 minutes to record your response. There are four or five questions that you will be expected to answer and common questions include:
That list is by no means exhaustive. Draft your responses to the above questions and do your research to explore as many different types of questions as possible ,so that you go to the interview adequately prepared.
If you pass the interview stage, you will be invited to the final interview element: the assessment centre. At the centre you will be asked to participate in a number of activities, all designed to simulate what it’s like to work for a leading healthcare organisation such as GSK; you'll meet new employees and learn about the company and its operations. There are two group exercises and a one-to-one role play activity, and perhaps a presentation too. The assessment centre is the last phase in the recruitment process and is the one where you will have to demonstrate your ability to respond to a variety of situations or challenges.
The first element to the assessment centre is the completion of a GSK ability test. You will be assigned to a group and then provided with a set of scenarios based on the duties that you would be expected to undertake if appointed. This test is very similar in nature to a situational judgement test, as you are asked to assess situations and then provide a viable way forward.
The group exercise will follow and will determine your ability to work as part of a team. An exercise will be set and you will be responsible for collaborating with fellow candidates to work toward a collective solution.
A role-play activity follows, which assesses your skills in responding to workplace situations. You will be provided with a little background information to the scenario and then be assigned a role and a set of objectives which you will need to achieve throughout the activity. Manager and assessors are common types of roles that you will be asked to play out in this activity, and it is your opportunity to illustrate your negotiation, leadership and analytical capabilities.
A GSK written exercise will follow (very similar in nature to an in-tray exercise) which evaluates how you prioritise work, solve problems and coordinate your time and workload effectively.
The final activity at the assessment centre is to undertake a practical exercise, which is either a presentation or a technical interview.
The technical interview (common in sectors such as IT, engineering or science) will vary depending on the role that you have applied for. The interviews are used by employers as a way to assess your technical capabilities and knowledge. The questions may focus less on actual knowledge and more on the way in which you solve a problem or use a set of skills to reach a decision. Puzzles, brainteaser questions and problem-solving tasks are all common activities within a technical interview. Usually there isn’t really a right answer; the employer is looking to find out how you reached a particular viewpoint or solution to a problem.
The GSK presentation, on the other hand, will be based on a virtual pharmaceutical company and you will be provided with a number of different solutions that you can invest in. You must present your solution to the panel in five minutes. After the presentation, you will be asked to participate in a ‘meeting’ exercise where all of the solutions are reviewed and a decision is reached as to which solution is best. You may be issued with a presentation topic a number of days prior to the assessment centre, or on the day, and you will be assessed on how well you deliver the presentation, the content and how you engage with the audience.
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