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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Interview Questions

30 interview questions and answers to help you prepare for an interview in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

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Question 1 of 30

Can you explain what an excipient is and one of its possible uses?

How to Answer

An excipient is a pharmacologically inactive substance formulated alongside the active pharmaceutical ingredient of a medication. Excipients have various uses. Share your knowledge with the interviewer.

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30 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1. Can you explain what an excipient is and one of its possible uses?

      How to Answer

      An excipient is a pharmacologically inactive substance formulated alongside the active pharmaceutical ingredient of a medication. Excipients have various uses. Share your knowledge with the interviewer.

      1st Answer Example

      "An excipient is a substance that has no active value that is used with the active ingredient of a pharmaceutical medication. One use of excipients is as a binder. Binders hold the ingredients in a tablet together."

      2nd Answer Example

      "Excipients are used in the production of a medication for multiple reasons. They have no value as far as an active ingredient, but are used along with the active ingredient. They are often used as fillers. Fillers typically also fill out the size of a tablet or capsule, making it practical to produce and convenient for the consumer to use."

  • 2. Can you explain a possible problem that may arise with processing tablets?

      How to Answer

      While there are any number of issues that may arise when processing medications, there are a few that are more common when processing tablets. Those include: capping, lamination, and moddling. Explain what happens during one of this issues.

      1st Answer Example

      "One of the problems I can think of that may arise when processing tablets is lamination. Lamination is the term used to describe the separation of tablets into two or more layers."

      2nd Answer Example

      "There are a few complications that come to mind when I think about tablet processing. Capping is either a partial or complete separation of a tablet top or bottom crown. Another possible problem I can thing of is mottling, which is unequal colour distribution of a tablet."

  • 3. What is a parenteral medication?

      How to Answer

      Parenteral medications are sterile dosage forms administered by injections thorough one more layers of the skin. Give the interviewer an example of a parenteral medication or route of administration.

      1st Answer Example

      "Parenteral medications are medications that are given through layers of the skin, such as IV therapy or an injection. If the medication is administered correctly, it will be sterile."

      2nd Answer Example

      "Parenterals are any medication that are given through the skin. A Rocephin injection is one example. Also, intravenous medications are considered parenterals."

  • 4. What type of pharmaceutical excipient is carboxymethyl cellulose?

      How to Answer

      Carboxymethyl cellulose is an example of a disintegrant. Disintegrants are added to drug formulations, which assist to breakup tablets and contents of capsules into smaller particles for quick dissolution when it comes in contact with water in the GI tract.

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  • 5. Why did you choose a career in pharmaceutical manufacturing?

      How to Answer

      There are many career opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry. Questions like this give the interviewer an opportunity to know you. Share your thoughts about your career choice.

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  • 6. What are some types of additives, and can you provide an example?

      How to Answer

      Additives are used to increase the stability of a solution. Types of additives include: preservatives, anti-oxidants, and synergists. Explain what one of these types of additives does and give an example for the interviewer.

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  • 7. What can you tell me about buffering agents?

      How to Answer

      Buffering agents dissolve within a solvent and are used to help enable a solution to resist any change in pH should an acid or an alkali be added. Understanding different agents that may be used in a drug is important for those developing them. Share your knowledge with the interviewer.

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  • 8. While Company ABC would like to hire employees who plan on working with us long-term,we do understand that things happen and plans change. Do you anticipate any significant changes in your life within the next 2-3 years that may affect employment with us?

      How to Answer

      Knowing what goals you have and any changes you anticipate in your life will give the interviewer an opportunity to evaluate two things: 1. what positions are available that won't disrupt your plans and, 2. are you interested in having a long-term relationship within the company? Change is good and growth is encouraged. However, because employers invest time and money in training new employees, they prefer that they have a plan to stay for the long-term. Still, if you don't plan on being in the same geographical area two or three years from now, it's is be to say that now.

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  • 9. Do you know what a viscosity imparting agent is?

      How to Answer

      Viscosity imparting agents are used when it is necessary or desirable to increase or decrease the viscosity of a liquid either to make it more palatable or to improve pour ability.

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  • 10. What makes you think you will be successful at Company ABC?

      How to Answer

      Rather than just sharing how you have gone above and beyond expectations in the past, focus on how your qualities will help you to meet and exceed expectations with Company ABC. Discuss the reasons why will you be great at this job. Talk about your qualifications and skills that will help you to do this job well. If you can, match your strengths to the requirements outlined in the job description.

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  • 11. What is your greatest strength?

      How to Answer

      This is your time to shine. However, remember the interviewer is looking for work related strengths. Mention a number of them such as being a good motivator, problem solver, performing well under pressure, being loyal, having a positive attitude, eager to learn, taking initiative and attention to detail.

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  • 12. What are some examples of solvents?

      How to Answer

      A solvent is a substance that can dissolve a solute resulting in a solution. A solvent is usually a liquid but it can also be solid or a gas. Share your knowledge of solvents and how they are used with the interviewer.

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  • 13. Have you ever had a disagreement with a co-worker, and how was it resolved?

      How to Answer

      Any time you work with someone else, there is a chance of having a disagreement about something at one time or another. The interviewer knows this. It's human nature for people to have their own opinions. What is important to the interviewer in this question is whether or not you are willing to compromise and work through difficult situations with your co-workers. Being unwilling to compromise or find alternative solutions to a dispute can affect everyone on the team, even if it is indirectly. Sharing a personal experience is OK, but do not embellish it to 'be the hero.'

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  • 14. What is the difference between a vial and an ampule?

      How to Answer

      Understanding the difference in how medications are packaged is important. Explain your understanding of the differences between a vial and an ampule.

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  • 15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

      How to Answer

      Employers realize that there is life outside of work. Getting to know employees/potential employees and what interests them gives employers an opportunity to develop a relationship with them. Share what you like. Have you been to a destination you'd like to return to? Is there somewhere you've always dreamed of going? This is also an opportunity for you to get to know the employer. Ask questions to show your interest in building a relationship.

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  • 16. What is a humectant, and can you provide an example?

      How to Answer

      A humectant attracts and retains the moisture in the nearby air via absorption, drawing the water vapor into and/or beneath the organism's surface. Humectants absorb water vapors from the atmosphere until a certain degree of dilution is attained. Aqueous solutions of humectants can reduce the rate of loss of moisture. Share your knowledge with the interviewer.

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  • 17. Company ABC values its employees and strives to create a team atmosphere. Do you consider yourself a "team player"?

      How to Answer

      Almost everyone says yes to this question. But it is not just a yes/no question. You need to provide behavioral examples to back up your answer.

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  • 18. If your previous employer were here, what would he say about you?

      How to Answer

      Leaving previous employment on good terms is always a good idea. Interviewers may ask this question and then call the same employer for a reference. So, while this may not be a time for full disclosure, it is a time to be honest. Stay positive and focus on your strengths that a previous employer may share when asked about you.

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  • 19. What are some key factors to consider in a manufacturing facility's design?

      How to Answer

      Facility design is very important in ensuring the flow of production is done effectively and runs smoothly. Understanding some of the key design essentials is important. Share any knowledge you may have regarding design importance.

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  • 20. What would you like for people recognize about your personality when they meet you?

      How to Answer

      Personality and character are two things that are closely related. For instance, someone with an honest character or good work ethic will tend to be more open about his or her beliefs as well as personal and professional expectations. The interviewer is looking for ques as to what character you may bring to the table, so to speak. It is important to remember body language speaks volume and eye contact is a big indicator of your self-esteem, and your self-esteem is reflected outwardly in your personality. Be confident when you answer and make eye contact with the interviewer.

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  • 21. What are some different types of coatings agents?

      How to Answer

      Coating is a process by which an essentially dry, outer layer of material is applied to the surface of a dosage form. Function of coating agents include protection, masking, ease of swallowing, identification etc.

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  • 22. At Company ABC we like to encourage employees to have a healthy balance between work and their personal lives. What are some things you like to do to help you unwind and create balance in your life?

      How to Answer

      No matter what profession a person chooses, everyone needs some time to unwind and relax. Psychologists today say that a healthy balance in life allows a person to recharge and refocus which can result in better productivity at work. The interviewer simply wants to know what you do for you. Maybe you have a favorite pass-time or hobby. This is yet another way for the interviewer to get to know you as a person.

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  • 23. What may one of your previous bosses or co-workers say is one of your weaknesses?

      How to Answer

      This is often a very hard question for a candidate to answer. The idea behind this question is to approach the weaknesses, or particularly the comments on those weaknesses, in a positive manner. When you answer, try to find a positive remark regarding something that may otherwise seem negative.

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  • 24. Company ABC has facilities in multiple locations. Would you be willing to locate if a position is available in a different city/town?

      How to Answer

      While relocation may not be a requirement for the job for which you are applying, if Company ABC has more than one location, the interviewer will almost always ask this question. The important thing to remember with this question is be honest. If you don't want to move, that's fine. It's better to say that now than to accept the job and then have conflict later if you are asked to relocate. The interviewer can make note of your location preference while trying to find a suitable position for you.

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  • 25. What is a motivator for you to do well on a job?

      How to Answer

      This is a personal answer. The interviewer is getting to know you and what makes you want to do well. Share your thoughts.

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  • 26. Why do HEPA filters have a 0.3 micron pore size?

      How to Answer

      HEPA (High-Efficiency Particle Air) filters are an essential part of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, where sterile environments are mandatory. Share your understanding of their importance.

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  • 27. What are some reasons that could cause chipping in tablet manufacturing?

      How to Answer

      Chipping occurs when there is breaking of the edges of the tablet during the manufacturing process. . Chipping can occur as the tablet leaves the press or during subsequent operations such as coating. Share some reasons that chipping may occur and any remedy, if possible.

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  • 28. What is the difference in a syrup and a suspension?

      How to Answer

      There is a slight difference in syrup and suspension products that can cause ineffective use in clinical effects. Understanding the difference between the two is especially important when educating patients on proper use. Show your understanding of the differences.

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  • 29. What effect might humidity have on the stability of a tablet?

      How to Answer

      The level of humidity has a great effect on the stability of pharmaceutical tablets. Tablets and capsules are protected for moisture by their packing. Degradation of tablets and capsules starts when they get a high moisture content. Share some examples of effects caused by humidity.

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  • 30. Company ABC likes to reward employees for their hard work and experience. How would you feel about someone having the same job title as you making a higher salary because of years of experience?

      How to Answer

      Most employers do offer higher salary incentives to get more seasoned employees. This is not meant to devalue a person's knowledge or experience, but rather paying for more experience. It is important to note that the interviewer is not saying you will definitely make less than someone with more experience. Many times this question is to see how you respond and how badly you want a position. If an employee is willing to put in the work and earn the pay increase, employers often see them as someone worth investing in. This is a good time to ask what the beginning salary is and discuss options that are negotiable such as benefits and paid time off.

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