I went down to Brentford to visit GSK in July and heard about the various programmes they run for students and graduates. When you hear GSK, you might only be thinking in terms of R&D or manufacturing. However, they do have a huge variety of other career areas, for example, Business Operations - this includes Commerce, Distribution, Supply, Marketing, Sales, Finance, HR, Communications, Procurement, & “Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability”.
12 month Industrial Placements (IP): 400 positions a year in the UK (number includes summer placements). IPs can be fast tracked onto a graduate programme - managers will help you complete application and help with assessment centre. IPs are very competitive – eg for Chemistry R&D, there are 12 applications per hire.
The Future Leaders Programme (FLP): is 2-3 years long and aimed at graduates who want to be managers/leaders and progress quickly through the ranks. Approx 500 positions a year globally, 60-70 in UK. Note that 43% of FLP come from industrial placement fast track, so really there are only around 40 FLP positions available to non-IP graduates. Approx 25% of FLP is for R&D (most popular area), 25% for manufacturing and the other 50% for Business Operations. There are over 20 pathways – some pathways only recruit in alternate years. FLP is rotational – ie you will need to move around the country.
Direct Entry: these positions are advertised as and when needed – often for R&D. Many PhDs come through this route. GSK acknowledge that Direct Entry roles have a lower profile/harder to find than FLP and they hope to address this in 2017-2018. There are a lot more Direct Entry opportunities than FLP opportunities. Easier to get in this way for R&D and then can move sideways if you want – eg to Regulatory Affairs.
Esprit – usually aimed at MD/MBA/PhD/Postdoc
4 Core values: Integrity, Respect for People, Patient Focus, Transparency. These are very important to GSK and you should try to relate to them throughout selection. Tell them what interests you about GSK : this 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.
For all positions, need to demonstrate that you know how GSK operates, your motivation for the programme (eg finance). Avoid any regurgitation of website or bland statements. If a statement could apply to a competitor, it's not specific enough.
As well as the products, it's good to know about: the culture, development opportunities, CSR, and any awards/accolades GSK may have received recently.
Application Procedures & Process
Apply EARLY in the cycle - you will have a better chance as they review applications as they come in. – don’t wait for closing date. Some vacancies/programmes are only open for two weeks so may miss if don’t check regularly. Previous applicants have reported that they wanted more feedback and information about the process, so for this coming year, GSK will provide full feedback at every stage of recruitment.
FLP or Summer placements (same process):
1. Register. Landing page – now have clearer job descriptions. Application Form (some competency questions). Interactive Quiz/Pathway matcher – scenario-based, matches you and suggests pathways. Not a screening tool, and not too serious. Feedback given
2. Online verbal and numerical tests. Automated feedback. Then Immersive Assessment – with more in-depth scenarios. Example - You are running a clinical trial, you are unsure about colleagues abroad depth of understanding and their fluency in English. How would you communicate with them? Given a range of alternatives, select one. Not timed. Full feedback.
3. Video Assessment. One way and recorded, but now have a real person asking the question rather than the question popping up on screen. Example Q- How have you built relationships with others as part of a team to give a positive result? Feedback given.
4. Assessment centre/Interview. Feedback given
Industrial Placements: Roughly same as above although no Interactive Quiz/Pathway matcher at Stage 1. May have a telephone call rather than video assessment at Stage 3. May have an interview rather than assessment centre at Stage 4. Depends on what you are applying for.
How do GSK view Edinburgh students?
For FLP and Summer placements – In Online Tests, Edinburgh students score significantly ABOVE average compared to students from other universities. One of the reasons GSK wants to recruit from Edinburgh is the high intelligence of its students. However Edinburgh students are BELOW average at Competency Qs, Video Interviews and Assessment centres.
For IPs- again Edinburgh students score significantly ABOVE average at Online Tests. Average at face to face interview. Below average at Video or Telephone interviews.
Advice on Video Interviews and Assessment Centres here.
Equal Opportunities Information
- GSK do recruit International students/graduates.
- They have prayer rooms/quiet rooms available for staff.
- If an employee is from a poor economic background, they can receive coaching if desired.
- They employ people with learning difficulties on 12 month supported internships.
- Strong on LGBTI issues – eg all restrooms have transgender facilities.
- FLP uses a name/university blind procedure to remove bias.
Process Chemistry FLP will be offered for the first time in 2018
The majority of international opportunities are for pharmaceutical sales and marketing roles.
There is a wealth of GSK social media: (good for finding out background information)