When I asked the experienced executive if he had obtained an MBA, he smiled and pushed back in his chair.“The MBAs work for me,” he laughed. “But it is easier to hire someone with a select set of skills than to hire a leader with great people skills.”It is these “great people skills” that are gold in the Pharma industry.

How do we quantify genuine people skills and distinguish these people from someone who has only mastered the art of the interview?

A Head of Data Management told me his final selection decision was always made outside the office over dinner where he would carefully watch “the power of eyes”.

“If I can feel such power, or mejikara, which is the ability to convey strong emotions with his eyes that convey a strong sense of purpose, then I will make an offer,” he said.

We can also learn a lot about someone from how they treat others.

Carol Smith, Senior Vice President Elle Group, likes to observe a candidate’s behavior in a restaurant, and pays careful attention to how they deal with a waiter.

“You’ve got to meet someone three times, and one of them better be over a meal,” she told the New York Times last year. “You learn so much in a meal. It’s like a little microcosm of life. How they order, what they order. How they give instructions to a waiter.”

The measure of a man or women can be observed in how they treat all people, not just those they can gain from.

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said he looked for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy.

“And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you, ” he said.

What are the key qualities Pharma Executives in Japan are looking for?

We often direct our Japanese candidates to ask insightful questions to foreign executives during the interview because Westerners often judge candidates by the questions they ask rather than just the answers they give.

An American CFO in Tokyo explains the quality of questions a candidate asks can speak volumes about their potential.

“Do they ask insightful questions about industry, company, leadership, culture, critical success factors in role etc? They should demonstrate they have really thought deeply about these items and done their own research and can see tangible ways they can bring value from an early stage”.

A Regulatory Affairs Executive from Kansai always evaluates whether the candidate has the power to influence people.

“During the interview, does he/she speak clear language? Is what he/she says convincing? Does he/she understand what you said? Do you like him/her? Does he/she smile? Is he/she logical? Can you recall his/her face after the meeting?

“Instead of looking at experience or knowledge in depth, I tend to see the person’s potential leadership”.

If a hiring decision is simply based on a candidate’s set of skills there would be no need for the face-to-face interview in the first place.

Observing how people act, the way they speak of past employees, and whom they admire are often windows into their character and integrity.

And remember, to look for the mejikara, or the power of the eyes.

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Morunda www.morunda.com should be your choice of recruiting partner in Japan and Asia Pacific. Why? Because we live and breathe the pharmaceutical industry in Asia and the Pacific—we’re specialists!

  • Morunda has completed over 400 managers to director-level placements since 2001.
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