Recruitment Process in Pharmaceutical Industry
Subject: Human Resource Management | Topics:

Executive Summary

Human resource management (HRM) is the strategic and coherent approach to management of organizations’ most valued assets, its employees. Personnel working there individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the business. Every organization regardless of its size and structure need to direct its employees in order to accomplish desired business goals and objectives. Accordingly, it develops and implements its own human resource management concepts. The basic functions of human resource management are divided into seven different categories. These are Planning, Recruiting, Selection, Socialization, Training and Development, Performance Appraisal, Compensation, Labor relation, and Motivation function.

This report titled, “Recruitment & Selection: a Comprehensive Study of the Practices in the Pharmaceutical Industry” will focus on the recruitment and selection process of the pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Bangladesh with high business potential. The local companies are seeking to expand its operation into international market, at the same time competing fiercely for the local market. The pharmaceutical industry’s core competence lies in its people and its intellectual capital. Hence this industry demands the most qualified and skilled labor force available in the job market.

For collecting our primary data, we have conducted interviews of human resource personnel of leading pharmaceutical companies. We tried to find out the actual recruitment and selection practices in the industry and highlighted crucial facts and diverse practices. We carried out detailed research on this topic and used other secondary sources such as internship reports, business articles, publications etc for data collection.

Our report elaborates findings of the recruitment and selection process that is currently being practiced in the different pharmaceutical companies. We have tried to present any variation that does exist in different companies and forward viable and logical explanation as to why such anomalies exist. Finally the findings were analyzed to make a comparative study of the recruitment and selection process in pharmaceutical industry.

We also conducted extensive evaluation of the collected data and tried to uncover the predominant weaknesses and strengths of the industry practices based on our academic knowledge. Evaluation was done against the guidelines provided in several text books. Separate evaluation results for recruitment and selection process were drawn up.

Recruitment & Selection: a comprehensive study of the practices in the Pharmaceutical Industry


A look at today’s fast-moving and changing business world will show that only hard work will not help the organization and its people to reach the full potential. To fulfill its mission and vision, the organization needs employees who not only complete their work efficiently but also respond positively and fast to any changes that organization may have to go through to keep pace with the ever-changing external environment. Thus modern management treats its people as resources since “assets make things happen and people make things possible”. The company’s core competence lies in its people and its intellectual capital. Therefore acquisition, deployment, and retention of sufficient skilled manpower are cutting edge for an organization. So an effective recruitment and selection process holds the key to an organization’s future success.

The pharmaceutical industry of Bangladesh has an enormous growth potential. This industry has been rapidly improving its manufacturing facilities presenting the need of acquiring qualified and effective recruits for operation. The industry is a sensitive one as it produces medicine and requires experienced and educated people from production level to packaging. A single mistake in any of the levels can prove to be life taking and ultimately lead to the fall of a company. Therefore the recruitment and selection of job applicants in this industry is very crucial and must be done with great caution. The proposed study serves the purpose of learning the steps involved in the recruitment and selection process of this industry.


Reasons and Benefits

The reason for choosing the recruitment and selection of HRM activity for study is that these are activities through which applicants get in an organization. A study on these topics will give us an insight on how, when, and where jobs are advertised, what specific and general things to consider when applying for a job and/or sitting for an interview. The study will also inform us how an applicant is evaluated for hiring. This will further assist us while applying for jobs after the completion of the degree.

The consideration of the pharmaceutical industry for the study is due to its growing potential in the job market. This sector offers jobs involving data communications, marketing, branding etc. Moreover this industry has equally strong multinational and local companies. in addition, the availability of secondary information for this industry made us choose it for the report.


Objectives of the report contain both primary and secondary objectives. These are explained below:

Primary Objective

The primary objective of the study is to accomplish a descriptive analysis of the recruitment and selection process of the pharmaceutical industry. The study will portray the similarities and differences of the recruitment and selection processes of several pharmaceutical companies and try to identify the factors that account for such differences.

Secondary objective

The secondary objective is to find the problems and weakness underlying the Recruitment and selection process and to relate how the organization structure and management style relate to such deficiencies.


The study was based mostly on secondary data. Information was collected from several online resources, internship reports and other publications. For building the framework for the recruitment and selection process of the industry, practices of leading pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Square Pharmaceutical, ACI, ACME, Opsonin and Beximco Pharmaceutical were studied extensively. One major assumption was that other pharmaceutical facilities follow the ideal framework of the studied companies. Interviews of the HR head of ACME laboratories was taken to match for the general information collected from the literature reviews with actual practices. The interview also shed light onto certain issues not discussed in the internship reports and articles.  

After data collection, the data was analysed qualitatively and organised in order to compile them in the form of a complete and deductive report.


The study is limited to the pharmaceutical industry of Bangladesh. The study inquired into the recruitment and selection process of the pharmaceutical industry which includes large manufacturing and export facilities such as SQUARE and BEXIMCO. The report is based on literature review; attempt will be made to learn and understand the relevant processes, find similarities and differences within different companies in the industry and to identify issues that greatly affect the recruitment and selection processes. No evaluation of the stated processes has been done.


While completing the report, several limitations had to be faced. The major limitations are as follows:

  • The report is confined to information collected from secondary sources, mainly online term papers, internship reports etc. No surveys were conducted to verify the validity of the information.
  • Due to lack of experience and advance expertise, there may be faults in the report; though maximum caution has been taken to avoid any kind of mistakes.
  • There was a time constraint for which field survey such as visit to operating plants, HR office etc is not possible. This prevented us to get the in depth knowledge of the processes.


Overview of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, pharmaceutical is one of the fastest growing sectors. In 2002, the total size of the pharmaceutical market of Bangladesh was estimated to be US $ 520 Million. With an annual growth rate of 32%, Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry is now heading towards self-sufficiency in meeting the local demand. At present, there are 225 registered pharmaceutical manufacturers in Bangladesh. Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry is the second highest contributor to the national ex-chequer after tobacco, and it is the largest white-collar intensive employment sector of the country.

According to a working document of InternationalTradeCenter (UNCTAD/WTO), Bangladesh market size for pharmaceuticals is US$ 517 million. Local companies satisfied 80% of domestic demand with a 10% contribution from multinational companies.

 Quoting the report, the pharmaceutical sector is the second largest sector (after agriculture) in terms of national revenue. Employment in the sector is more than 75,000. The value of export for essential drugs is US$ 3.1 million and natural ingredients US$ 48 thousand. It exports drugs to over 50 countries in the world, but mainly to Bhutan, Singapore and Yemen. The export market is on a rise each year.

The country’s pharmaceutical sector witnessed an unimaginable investment boom in last couple of years as around Taka 25 billion has been ploughed into it alone. Investment worth taka 20 billion is on way as the government has decided to set up an APIPark in Chittagong with the facility to house 20 plants. In the last few years as many 10 companies each investing Taka 400 million or more have emerged. Some are alreadmarketing their products while others are in the process. The leading companies are also taking innovative, forward-looking steps. They have set their eyes firmly on the WTO’s TRIPs  (Traderelated Intellectual Property Rights) and Public Health agreement, which promises Bangladeshi companies the opportunities to export billions between 2005 and 2016. Companies in Bangladesh are allowed to produce patented products. Progressive patent expiration and the implementation of regional trade agreements are expected to underscore the importance of the Asian region’s potential for expanded production capacities.

Compliance to international standards, expiration of patents and the investment boom has resulted in the expansion of existing companies and the initiation of new companies. Such an expanding industry therefore is going to put substantial pressure on the recruitment and selection of suitable employees for the organizations. More factories mean more employment thus a better economic fluency of the country. To provide the industry with efficient and motivated workforce, the companies have to design and develop a very integrated recruitment and selection system incorporating traditional system with today’s available technology.

In the later chapters of this report, the existing recruitment and selection methods of the pharmaceutical industry is discussed along with the evaluation of the processes. The report is concluded with a few recommendations that is made in sight of the evaluation.

Fig: Sales Growth ‘09


General Overview of Recruitment and Selection Process

Acquiring and retaining high-quality talent is critical to an organisation’s success. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive and the available skills grow more diverse, recruiters need to be more selective in their choices, since poor recruiting decisions can produce long-term negative effects, among them high training and development costs to minimise the incidence of poor performance and high turnover which, in turn, impact staff morale, the production of high quality goods and services and the retention of organisational memory. At worst, the organisation can fail to achieve its objectives thereby losing its competitive edge and its share of the market.


Recruitment is described as “the set of activities and processes used to legally obtain a sufficient number of qualified people at the right place and time so that the people and the organization can select each other in their own best short and long term interests”. In other words, the recruitment process provides the organization with a pool of potentially qualified job candidates from which judicious selection can be made to fill vacancies. Successful recruitment begins with proper employment planning and forecasting. In this phase of the staffing process, an organization formulates plans to fill or eliminate future job openings based on an analysis of future needs, the talent available within and outside of the organisation, and the current and anticipated resources that can be expended to attract and retain such talent.

Also related to the success of a recruitment process are the strategies an organization is prepared to employ in order to identify and select the best candidates for its developing pool of human resources. Organizations seeking recruits for base-level entry positions often require minimum qualifications and experience. These applicants are usually recent high school or university/ technical college graduates many of whom have not yet made clear decisions about future careers or are contemplating engaging in advanced academic activity. At the middle levels, senior administrative, technical and junior executive positions are often filled internally. The push for scarce, high-quality talent, often recruited from external sources, has usually been at the senior executive levels. Most organizations utilize both mechanisms to effect recruitment to all levels.


Successful recruitment involves the several processes of:

1. Development of a policy on recruitment and retention and the systems that give life to the policy;

2. Needs assessment to determine the current and future human resource requirements of the organization. If the activity is to be effective, the human resource requirements for each job category and functional division/unit of the organization must be assessed and a priority assigned;

3. Identification, within and outside the organization, of the potential human resource pool and the likely competition for the knowledge and skills resident within it;

4. Job analysis and job evaluation to identify the individual aspects of each job and calculate its relative worth;

5. Assessment of qualifications profiles, drawn from job descriptions that identify responsibilities and required skills, abilities, knowledge and experience;

6. Determination of the organisation’s ability to pay salaries and benefits within a defined period;

7. Identification and documentation of the actual process of recruitment and selection to ensure equity and adherence to equal opportunity and other laws.

Recruitment strategies and processes

Recruitment may be conducted internally through the promotion and transfer of existing personnel or through referrals, by current staff members, of friends and family members. Where internal recruitment is the chosen method of filling vacancies, job openings can be advertised by job posting, that is, a strategy of placing notices on manual and electronic bulletin boards, in company newsletters and through office memorandum. Referrals are usually word-of-mouth advertisements that are a low-cost-per-hire way of recruiting. Internal recruitment does not always produce the number or quality of personnel needed; in such an instance, the organisation needs to recruit from external sources, either by encouraging walk-in applicants; advertising vacancies in newspapers, magazines and journals, and the visual and/or audio media; using employment agencies to “head hunt”; advertising on-line via the Internet; or through job fairs and the use of college recruitment.


The goal of the selection process is to find the best available person for the job, a person with the knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivation to successfully fill the position.

Overview of selection techniques

Evidence-based best practice for three of the most commonly used selection techniques is outlined below.

1. Curriculum vitaes / résumés and written applications

A curriculum vitae (CV) / résumé provides valuable information relating to a person’s professional qualifications and experience. All information in the CV should be verified where appropriate (e.g. asking applicants to explain gaps in employment history). Requesting job applicants to address specific selection criteria (i.e., essential and desirable) can improve the efficiency of reviewing CVs.

2. Conducting interviews

Structured interviews are recommended. A structured interview involves asking each candidate the same set of questions and assessing their responses on the basis of pre-determined criteria. Questions and assessment criteria should be based on accurate, updated job descriptions. It is also helpful to develop criteria to categories responses (e.g., as excellent, good, average and unsatisfactory). An interview panel consisting of a representative selection of people may also be helpful.

Two common types of structured interview questions are:

• Situation questions which ask candidates about hypothetical scenarios that may be encountered in the job and how they would respond in that situation

Experienced-based questions which focus on specific examples of the candidate’s prior work experiences and their responses to past situations that are relevant to the job in question.

3. Reference checks

Referees are useful for identifying past employment problems and clarifying the accuracy of information presented in an interview or CV. Only a small percentage of all reference checks are negative, therefore, it is often difficult to differentiate between candidates on the basis of reference checks alone.

Recruitment Practices of the Industry

The recruitment process of pharmaceutical industry can be generally classified into some types, which are done based on the various job grade/ group. These are as follows:

1)      Entry-level Management and officers

2)      MT (Manager Trainee)

3)      Mid or / and Senior level management

4)      Graded staff / Non- management staff/Support Stuff

A responsibility for recruitment usually lies with the HRD (Human Resource Department). This department works to find and attract capable applicants. Job description and specification provide the needed information upon which the recruitment process starts. The recruitment functions of HRD are given below:

  • Need Assessment
  • Defining the position description
  • Checking the recruiting options
  • Advertisement

Forms of recruitment

There are mainly two forms of recruitment used in the industry- internal and external. The form of recruitment varies from job to job. Choice of recruitment form depends on several factors such as nature of the job, number of employees required, job worth etc.

Recruitment planning

The HR department first focuses on certain organizational and administrative issues for effective matching of vacant position with applicants.

Organizational Issues

Following Organizational issues are considered during recruitment process:

In house vs. recruitment agency

Most companies use a combination of both. In house agencies are mostly used for internal recruiting as companies sometimes prefer known and experienced employees from within the organization. Recruitment agencies are also currently used by many companies, especially for top level position. For example, ACME conducts head hunting via recruitment agencies. An agency finds and prescreens applicants, referring those who seem qualified to the organization for further assessment and final selection. The agency can screen effectively only if it has a clear understanding of the position it is trying to fill. Thus it is very important that an employer be as specific and accurate as possible when describing a position and its recruitment to an employment agency.

Centralized vs. decentralized

A centralized recruitment function is one for which recruitment activities are co-ordinated by HR department in the corporate office. A decentralized recruitment function is for which individual business unit’s individual manager co ordinates the recruitment process. Centralized recruitment function is present in most companies of the industry, as in most pharmaceutical companies recruitment requires the approval of management and HRD for manpower requisition. Also the involvement of HRD during recruitment is essential. In some cases, decentralized recruitment is practiced for convenience. In ACI local HR division does some recruitment of field worker positions at ACI pharmaceuticals factory in Naraynganj. The reason behind this is high attrition rate and greater replacement needs in short time at field. In such scenario decentralized approach is used to acquire cost effective and ensure flow of operations.

Administrative issues

The following administrative issues might also be considered by the companies during recruitment process-

Staff engagement proposal

A staff engagement proposal is a formal document proposing the filling of a job opening stated and approved by the top management. The concerned Department head usually raise job requisition form with required information and forward it to HRD for review and after it is justified by HRD and approved by management recruitment process is taken further.  The new appointments must be according to the approved Human Resource (HR) budget and must be approved by the Managing Director.

Number of contacts

The exact number of contacts needed to fill the vacant position can be difficult to identify. HR usually reviews the job requisitions and consults with related department heads to assess how many applicants must be contacted against the job opening.

Types of contacts

The types of contacts needed depend on some variables. First, qualifications needed to perform the job are implemented clearly. It is done through job analysis process which is used to identify job description and job specification.

Second, job search and choice process used by applicants is also considered. Companies try to recognize the suitable mode for applicant search and identify ways to attract job candidates.

Development of recruitment guide

Companies usually develop some sort of recruitment guide which consists of details regarding recruitment approaches to be followed.

Selecting recruiters

Recruiters come from various sources, including HR personnel, Head of business unit or divisions, senior managers etc. Sometimes recruiters are hired from outside, if required.

Strategic development

After the completion of recruitment planning, HR proceeds with development of a strategy. A general strategy development process includes:

Closed open and targeted recruitment

After the approval of the staff proposal, HR department determines where to find applicants.

In practice, during the assessment of the job the following things are to be considered:

  •  Whether the work is difficult or not.
  •  Whether experience is required or not.
  •  What are the qualities needed for the work to be done?
  •  When the work will be started?
  • What is the desired job demographic?

Also recruitment sources and applicant interests also have to be considered.

Recruitment sources

Once it is specified how and where to look for applicants, various sources are used for applicants search. The companies in the industry use a variety of sources. Different sources are used depending on situation.

Internal sources

Job posting

HR departments become involved when internal job openings are made known to employees through job positioning programs, which informs employees about openings and required qualifications and invite qualified employees to apply. The notices are usually posted on company bulletin boards or are placed in the company newspaper. The objective of job posting is to encourage employees to seek promotion and transfers and to help the HR department fill internal opening and meet employee’s personal objectives. Job posting is most common for lower level positions and for recruiting support stuff.

Promotion and transfer

Some companies use skill inventories and succession plans to fill the need for recruitment. ACME uses this approach particularly in the field where Medical representatives may go up the career ladder according to their performance and immediate supervisors’ recommendations. Only entry level position is recruited from outside sources.

Manager referrals and networking

Manager referrals and internal advertising through networking is another source of recruitment used by some pharmaceutical companies in the industry.

Retired and retrenched employees

Retired employees may also be recruited once again in case of shortage of qualified personnel or increase in load of work. Their experience often proves valuable to the company and saves time and cost of the organizations. In ACME some retired employees are recruited for contractual jobs.

External sources

Most companies undertake external recruiting more as internal sources can only fill recruitment need up to a certain level. Many external sources are available.  They are given below:


Advertisements are given to newspapers when external sources are used. Usually it is more applicable for recruitment in higher level positions and when mass recruitment is conducted, for example recruitment in the field.  Both Bengali and English daily Newspapers are used for advertisement. Some companies like GSK depend largely on newspaper advertisement for recruitment. Companies such as Beximco Pharma Ltd. (BPL), keeps its identity concealed in the ads, mentioning a GPO BOX number only. The purpose of the concealed identity is to avoid the unwanted pressure from the stakeholders for the employment of their desired candidates. However, for support stuff most companies do not give out advertisement, rather internal advertisement is mostly used.


Websites have become a popular and convenient mode of recruitment for both companies and applicants.  Websites such as facilitates such recruitment.

Unsolicited applications, Walk-ins and write-ins

Walk-ins are some seekers who arrived at the HR department of companies in search of a job; Write-ins are those who send a written enquire. Both groups normally are asked to complete an application blank to determine their interest and qualifications. Usable application is kept in an active file until a suitable opening occurs or until an application is too old to be considered valid, usually six months. Most companies use unsolicited application as it ensures a relatively bias free recruitment.

CV banks

The unsolicited applications stored in the data bank are consulted. If the quality of a person matches with the requirements mentioned in the position description, then he / she is called for interview.

Employee reference and networks

Employee reference means using reference of current employees. Employee reference is used by many companies in the industry to avoid falsified information given by job candidates. But in some companies such as ACME it is mostly discouraged as they prefer recruiting from other sources.

University and placement offices

Some companies seeks applicant through universities and placement offices. For instance, ACI recruits largely from such placements but, for some companies such as ACME these sources have been rather unsatisfactory.

Unconventional sources

Currently pharmaceutical industry is rapidly growing and the competition is intense in the market. So naturally the need for hiring the best employee has become one of the top priorities of companies. Some companies have started using unconventional sources of recruitment, particularly for high positions. For example in ACME, Indenters or brokers, who are the local agents of raw material suppliers have proven useful source as they have ample information regarding the pharmaceutical companies.

Choice of sources

There is no single best way for recruitment. The choice depends largely on the situation and need of the organization. Some factors influencing the choice process have been given below:

Quantity of labor

The number of jobs vacant is an important determinant. Sometimes organization conducts an overall review once in a while as was done in ACME in 2008 to get a clear picture of the recruitment needs and possible job openings. When mass recruitment is done, companies usually use more external sources to attract larger number of applicants.

Quality of labor

If job requirement is very high and applicants are rare then special attention is given to recruitment. Organizations may contact recruitment agencies, advertise through newspapers etc.

Budget constraint

While choosing sources companies always opt for less costly and more effective sources.

Experience required

The choice of sources may also depend on the experience needed as per the job requirement.

Manpower approval process

  • Whenever the position becomes vacant the department head examines if the job can be redistributed among remaining staff or if it is at all relevant during present circumstances. Such critical job analysis and exploration of possibility of not replacing departing employee ensure organizational efficiency and staff productivity.
  • When recruitment is necessary which has no prior approval, staff engagement proposal is prepared by the head forwarded to HR. For replacement and selection for position within the sanctioned strength limit new staff engagement proposal may not be necessary.
  • HR evaluates the proposal and forwards it to management along with job analysis information such as job description, job specification etc which are usually supplemented by related department heads.
  • After receiving approval HR notifies related Department head and proceeds with the recruitment process.
  • In most organizations, a manpower budget has to be submitted each year before a particular date for evaluation. Sometimes department heads takes approval in advance for a year for certain positions. In ACI such procedure is followed for entry level positions. But when increasing manpower is beyond sanctioned limit, approval must be taken.

Applicant Searching

After completion of recruitment planning and strategic development, HR starts candidate searching. A message is developed and a medium to communicate the message is selected.

Communication message

Information presented by the company is essential in the decision of the applicants. Organizations may use any four types of messages:

  • Traditional messages
  • Realistic recruitment messages
  • Attractive messages
  • Targeted messages

Communication messages play a vital role of creating a positive image of the company to job seekers. One of the leading pharmaceutical companies ACI uses traditional and attractive messages depending on situation. ACI portrays the organization in such a manner which induces applicants to apply- “Join and stay with ACI”. Often communication message for non management positions is in Bengali in order to keep communication noise to a minimum.

Means of Communication

Not only the communication message but also the choice medium is very important. A lot of communication medium is used as given below:

  • Advertisement-
    • Classified advertisements
    • Classified displayers
    • Display ads
    • Online adds
    • University placement office/Notice boards

Advertisement Guidelines 

In any advertisement company may have guidelines and procedures to ensure attractiveness of the advertisement as well as maximum visibility and mass coverage if needed. HR department usually makes draft of advertisement and after finalizing it with related department head forwards it to communication department for publication. A copy of the advertisement may be posted on company notice board so that employees are informed about the recruitment process and may even refer suitable candidates for the job. Following items may be included in the advertisement-

  • Company name and logo
  • Brief about the company
  • Title and summary of jobs
  • Required qualifications and personality traits
  • Contact address for application
  • Encouraging and attractive words for candidates

Selection Practices of the Industry

After completion of the initial stages of recruitment process, the human resource department is responsible for choosing the most suitable candidate from the selected applicants. It is a crucial stage in which the applicant’s qualifications and needs are matched with the requirements and rewards of a specific job.

The pharmaceutical companies practice more or less a standard recruitment and selection process. Sometimes there is evidence of slight deviations to meet the specific requirements of companies. A figure illustrating the steps in general selection process of the industry is given in Appendix D. The general practices of the industry are elaborated below.

Guidelines on Selection of Staff

The HR department often in collaboration with other departments conducts various employment tests to ensure a high hit rate. The employment test varies according to job requirements and seniority level.

  1. Written Test

The employment test first initiates with the written test. It has been proved to be an effective and useful tool in selecting desirable candidates for the industry. The HR department prepares the question pattern, selects the venue and time slot of the written test. The questions are mostly based on general knowledge used to measure the applicants’ understanding and communication skills.

In most pharmaceutical companies the written test is only applicable for assessment of junior management, unionized and non managerial contracts. Acme laboratory uses the written test when there is large scale recruitment.  The written test narrows down the number of applicants and prunes out the best amongst all the candidates. In their opinion written test is vital for selection of MPO, SR and MR.

The candidates are then called for the preliminary (first) interview based on their performance in the written test.

  1. IQ Test

IQ test is practiced by a handful of pharmaceutical companies. This test checks for the analytical skills of candidates necessary for quality control (QC) purposes. For example, ACI conducts IQ test for all management and non management contractual position. HR is solely authorized and responsible for selecting the question patterns, venue and time for IQ test. Several other traits of the candidates are analyzed through different assessment tests to make sure that only the best candidates are obtained. These tests will be explained in detail later in this section.

  1. Selection Interview

Selection interviews are the most widely used selection technique. The popularity stems from their flexibility. They can be adapted to unskilled, skilled, managerial, and staff employees. They also allow a two-way exchange of information. Interviewers learn about the applicant and the applicant learns about the employer.

The selection interview usually is a formal, in-depth conversation conducted to evaluate an applicant’s acceptability.  Generally the interview board applies structured or directive interview. The interviews are conducted on a predetermined set of questions. The questions are developed before the interview begins and are asked of every applicant.

The pharmaceutical companies have adopted different interview practices for the selection process.

To illustrate, ACI’s practice can be taken into consideration. ACI adjusts its interview process according to the job level. For junior management, unionized and non managerial employees, interview is conducted in a single phase.

For mid level management interview is conducted in two phases.  In the first phase interview is conducted by senior executives from HR department and concerned department. The final phase is conducted by Head of HR Department and Head of Business/Function.

For senior management interview is also conducted in two phases. The initial phase is conducted by Head of HR Department and Head of Business/Function, the final phase by Managing Director.

On the other hand, Beximco Pharma (BPL) follows a three-tier interview structure. A preliminary interview is conducted which follows the “elimination method”. After that, the second interview takes place with a very few number of candidates. Then finally the selected applicant is called for the final interview

  • Reference Checks and Medical Evaluation

These checks are sometimes done during the initial assessment or as a requirement of the pre- employment checklist.

  • Salary Negotiation

In this case the industry follows a uniform process. The heads of HR of the respective companies negotiate salary with the suitable candidates whenever necessary.

  • Job offer

The head of HR offers the job to the selected candidate after the final approval is obtained from the management.

                                            I.            Verbal offer:

The verbal offer of the role to the candidate is given once the medical and reference checks have been successfully completed.

                                          II.            Written letter offer:

A formal written letter of offer is forwarded to the candidate, once the candidate has verbally accepted the position.  This letter is sent to the candidate within two days of making the verbal offer. An introductory package is sent to the successful candidate, along with the letter of offer. At least one week before the person joins the new position, an appointment notice is placed on notice boards and/or the internet

Assessment tests

Most pharmaceutical companies use two types of assessment test in the selection process

  • Initial Assessment Method
  • Substantive Assessment Method

Initial Assessment Method

Most pharmaceutical companies use the initial assessment method to reduce the cost associated with substantive assessment method by reducing the number of people to be evaluated. These methods are used for most types of selection decisions. These methods usually include:

  • Resumes and Cover Letter
  • Certificate of University Degree/ Educational Institution
  • Certificate of HSC or SSC or equivalent degree
  • Reference Check

Choice of Initial Assessment Methods

The choice of initial assessment method used by different pharmaceutical companies is based on the companies’ evaluation of applying the most cost effective method without sacrificing the quality of the initial assessment test.

Some of the factors most companies do consider before drafting out the method are:

  • Cost
  • Reliability
  • Validity
  • Utility
  • Applicant’s Reaction and Response

For internal employees who are applying for the job openings, most companies prefer to skip the initial assessment methods since they had already been evaluated before and the companies have their work histories along with the necessary documents in their HRD records.

Substantive Assessment Method

The type of substantive assessment method used depends on the position and job nature. It also depends on whether the recruiting is from in house sources or external sources. The different types of substantive methods conducted depend on the HR policies and what the HR department deems most appropriate for their company. Some common methods are:

  • Personality Test
  • Attitude and Honesty Test
  • Ability test
  • General Knowledge Test
  • Job Knowledge Test

Personality Test

This is one of the most common employment test used in the pharmaceutical industry. Since the job description requires MPOs, SR and MR to deal with doctors on a one to one basis, most companies believe the personality along with soft skills is critical for such employees. Acme Laboratories considers its SR employees to be the ambassadors of Acme. They represent Acme as a whole and as such, they put a lot of emphasis on this particular test.

Attitude and honesty

Attitude and honesty tests are being used in the same circumstances to learn about the attitudes of applicants and employees toward a variety of related subjects. GSK management sometimes applies this test when selecting candidate for the finance department.

Ability test

Ability test are used to test a person’s cognitive skills (perception, memory, reasoning, verbal and mathematical skills). Ability test are used for non management level and entry management level in the pharmaceutical industry. The ability test is usually only taken in written form or during the written test.

General Knowledge Test

General knowledge test taken during the written test attempts to measure the employees’ level of awareness of his or her surroundings, about the company and the industry. Most companies apply general knowledge test in the selection process. Acme laboratories use this test to find applicants who are smart, intelligent and up to date about recent events.

Job Knowledge Test

Job Knowledge Test attempts to directly assess an applicant’s comprehension of job requirement. It can ask specific or general questions about the job. Most companies prefer to skip this test whereas ACI believes this test does have a substantial input to the selection process. Companies that prefer to skip this test like ACME and Beximco later give training to the new employees to fill in the gap, if there is any, in the job knowledge of employees.

Choice of Substantive Assessment Methods

The choice of substantive assessment method used by different pharmaceutical companies is based on the companies’ evaluation of test that is required for different selection decisions. Some of the factors are

  • Time
  • Convenience
  • Reliability
  • Validity
  • Utility
  • Manpower required

Pre employment Check List

The following documents are obtained from the candidate before the HR Department send out the employment letter.

  • Application For Employment
  • Medical Declaration Form
  • Copy of Educational Certificate
  • Passport size Photo
  • Resume
  • Interview Rating Form

Evaluation of the Recruitment and Selection Process

Acquisition, deployment and retention of sufficient skilled manpower are the cutting edge for an organization. These things greatly depend on effective recruitment and selection process. There is no ultimate guideline regarding the recruitment and selection process of any organization. Secondary information regarding the processes in Bangladesh is also quite minimal. In order to evaluate the existing practices of the industry guidelines stated in several human resource books were used. In a few cases the discretion was taken to suggest some improvements apart from the text book guidelines.

Evaluation of the Recruitment Process

 Recruitment is the initiating step of allowing human resources into an organization. Since it is the beginning phase it is one of the most important HRM activities. It should start with proper planning of the personnel needs and end with the attainment of a large pool of acceptable applicants. A higher selection ratio is preferred as it ensures higher possibility of the applicant to turn out to be actual job performer. The analysis of the recruitment practices of the industry identified certain pros and cons of the system. These points are explained in this section.

  Strengths of the Recruitment process:

  • Use of centralized recruitment is quite prevalent in the industry. One of the essential advantages of this practice is that it eliminates duplication of effort. For example, administration officer and coordination officer are common posts. So if two or more business units require a coordination officer, the one ad is placed instead of multiple ads for multiple business units. Previously collected resumes can be used for the same business unit or another business unit.

However, some companies such as, ACME allow the separate business units to carry out their own recruitment with approval of their central HR department.

  • Delegation of recruitment practices to factory units/subunits is sometimes done by the HRD, in order to save costs and time. For example, ACI delegates the recruitment for its Narayanganj factory to the manager of the factory so that the specific needs of the factory can be met.
  • The companies in the industry uses recruitment and selection protocol as guide to recruitment and subsequent selection process which ensures thorough analysis of the job before a position is being advertised.
  • The recruitment system of the industry strictly follows the requirement of EEO. The companies mention it in their advertisement message as a promotional tool.
  • Many pharmaceutical manufacturer uses university placement offices to attract fresh recruits. This helped to build a relationship with the agricultural university and pharmacy department of major public university. CVs are collected of precise candidates from these sources virtually at no cost.

Weaknesses of the Recruitment Process:

  • In case of internal recruitment the industry does not propose any mobility guideline or policy for the pharmaceutical companies. Companies such as, Beximco Pharma does not pay much attention to mobility policy while internally recruiting. This may cause the violation of the mobility path which may lead to claims of employee favoritism and discrimination. On the other hand, some companies such as, ACI follows the traditional mobility path. Although the traditional path is straightforward and easy to administer, it is quite rigid and may inhibit the matching of the best person with the job. For example, the best candidate may be at two levels down or in another business unit from the vacant job position. In the traditional system the candidate cannot be considered eligible for the post.
  • Survey of the literatures and interviews of the related personals concluded that there is no written policy/guideline regarding recruitment budget. Most of the companies including the MNCs have a semiannual/annual human resource budget approved which discusses the recruitment activity minimally. Recruitment process is the most expensive component of the staffing system. Most of the staffing costs is contributed to this process. The high cost of the process reinforces the importance of establishing a well dev eloped recruitment budget.
  • Although the recruitment process of most companies involve the selection of recruiters. There is no procedure for their selection. This may lead to poorly conducted recruitment for the organization thus increasing the costs. Moreover, there is no system for rewarding recruiters for successful/ effective recruitment which may have motivated the recruiters for better recruitment practices.
  • Except for some companies, in the industry there is no practice of computerized long term record keeping of previous applicants. For example, ACME maintains CV banks manually for later use in the future. If these resumes were recorded electronically in a formal and well organized way, it would have been easier for finding suitable resumes for a post advertised earlier, especially when there is a time constrain.
  • While attempting to search applicants through advertisements, most of the companies prefer to keep their identity concealed in the ads, mentioning a GPO BOX number only. The purpose is to avoid the unwanted pressure from the stakeholders for the employment of their desired candidates. But this way the companies risk losing talented candidate who would have applied for the same post had they known the name of the organization. This practice can result into ineffective recruitment when quality of applicants is a critical factor to consider.

Evaluation of the Selection Process

Use of right selection process is the bottom line for an organization’s long run success. Organization can achieve competitive advantage by selecting capable and motivated manpower. Selection process starts with the collection of resumes of applicants and ends up with the final hiring decision. For the best possible match to be achieved a series of well thought out activities need to take place. Effective selection in the pharmaceutical organizations will eventually contribute in the successful operation of the industry. While observing the selection procedure of the industry some strengths and weaknesses appeared on the screen

Strengths of the Selection process:

  • There is a standard guideline for selection of staff that almost all the companies in the industry follow. In fact, since manpower need in this industry is acute, companies develop selection plan for each of the department at the beginning of the year to obtain the right employee at the right time.
  • The industry’s practice is to carry out the reference check and educational qualification evaluation before the employment test. This curbs down the number of applicants to sit for the written test thus saving test assessment time and cost.
  • In the selection interview process most of the companies such as, ACI, ACME, BEXIMCO etc, use customized selection checklist and interview rating form for the particular positions. This helps interviewers to ask the right questions and remain focused on the interview rating form. Such practices are generally carried out for mid level management and production departments.

Weaknesses of the Selection process:

  • Most of the interview boards consist of the HR representative, and members of management who are not professional in taking interviews. The review of the job and person specification is not done vigilantly by the other members of the interview board.
  • There is no stated or established method of reviewing the selection process. The method generally used by some of the companies is to use recruiters follow up of information about the applicant’s performance. There is no calculation of selection ratio, hit rate and their pattern over years to observe the effectiveness of the recruitment and selection system. No attempt is also made by the companies to use external sources such as surveys, comparison against industry average and other means to find out the systems’ usefulness. As a result, if any selection goes wrong it is difficult to take necessary immediate action. All these may keep the companies not in control of the staffing process which can result in the ineffectiveness of the HR activity thus adding up cost for the organizations.
  • Interviews are the most practiced selection process in the industry. However the interviews are not structured enough. A structured interview is a very standardized job related method of assessment. Due to the structure default of the interviews, their reliability and validity can be questioned. For example, in the interview sessions of ACI the interviewers are unable to agree on their evaluation. This happens because they do not consider the same set of criterions for judgment. And this is the consequence of a poorly structured interview.

The industrial observation is to only accept a medical declaration form from the candidates although the reliability of such declaration is very low. In the form job seekers barely disclose any such medical information that can affect the organizations decisions to offer job or not.

Over the last few years, the pharmaceutical industry has expanded and diversified into various businesses, employing more than 75000 employees as the industry progressed. The net sales and profit of the overall industry have also increased over the last 5 years and the trend for profit growth is upward. The deployment of additional employees actually contributed in the operational effectiveness of the companies.

This is not only the case for ACME, such problems arise in many other companies that have to operate in rural or less developed regions of Bangladesh. This crisis calls for the development of a retention strategy along with the recruitment and selection plans.


Conclusion and Recommendation

The recruitment and selection process of the pharmaceutical industry is reasonably structured, efficient and capable to attain its desired objectives. The industry employs about 75000 skilled and unskilled workers both in the multinational and local manufacturers. The industry has become profitable in the past years and have arisen exporting possibilities to different countries. This uptrend in the industrial activity is partly for the employment of advanced technology and partly for the effective recruitment, selection and management of the employees. Whether recruiting for management or medicine production units, staffing processes are carried out with utmost care. The HRD of the companies have to make sure that the marketing and product development units are occupied by eligible workers in order to ensure continuous functioning of the companies in this highly competitive and dynamic industry.

Although the industry is working out effectively, to sustain the huge demand in the upcoming times it has to attract more talented employees. The pharmaceutical companies should start paying attention to a few gray areas in their recruitment and selection processes. To improve these processes following recommendations have been made:

  • Introduce the practice of innovative mobility paths: employees can have mobility within organization in any direction, including up, down and lateral.
  • A formal, approved and standard recruiter selection procedure should be established
  • Recruitment performance may be included in the balanced score card (performance appraisal system) of the recruiters to motivate them.
  • The data entry, logging, storing and retrieving of previous applicants’ information can be computerized universally in the industry, to make search for eligible employees faster and cheaper.
  • The industry should employ intellectual and financial resources to continuously upgrade the recruitment and selection process to match the changing requirement of the time and situation. The companies should stop relying on the same strategy and searching methods only because they are familiar with the system and it is working. The companies should be proactive to identify potential candidate searching methods and strategy to meet their goals. One such example can be more use of online job sites, corporate presentation etc. The companies should also try to develop more structured interviews.
  • The industrial practice of asking for the medical declaration form only as a formality should be changed. In order to ensure reliability of the data provided by the candidates should be thoroughly check to avoid any legal crisis.

Several mixes of assessment tests can be used during the employment tests. Realistic job preview is recommended in order to introduce the candidates to the type of works they have to do, the health instructions and the working environment. This extended step of the selection process will result in a higher retention rate and help potential candidates to overcome their cognitive dissonance.


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