How to answer the question all professionals dread... “What is your dream job?”

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Rebecca Stevens Interview, candidate-resources, blogs...

I spend 90% of my day getting to know professional candidates across Germany in the field of Medical Devices, especially in roles focussed on Regulatory Affairs and Quality. My primary goal is to get to know you better, and dive-deeper into, well, everything! I am inquisitive about your studies, curious about your thesis topic, why you chose a particular location, your family life, how you have been coping after the numerous lockdowns this year and of course, your career and professional experience. I do not expect to know this all in 30 minutes, which is why I focus much more on the longer-term connection and genuine engagement.

We all know that recruiter contact in this highly competitive field is regular, persistent, and sometimes, I imagine, annoying. I’m sure you are getting at least several recruiter messages a week, right? How many of these messages actually fit your expectations or aspirations? I assume not too many…

What differentiates our approach at Adaptive Life Science is that we are first and foremost focussed on ‘people relationships’ and ‘result relationships’ second. My aim is to understand you as your friends and colleagues might, so that I can be relevant to your career development and that I always make meaningful contact or at the very least, a nice conversation.

How do I do this? It’s all about building a strong relationship from day one, understanding the expectations you have from me as your recruitment partner (long or short term) and asking the question that most candidates dread…

“What is your dream job?”

Common answers I hear for this are:

1) More development opportunities

2) A good company culture

3) To continue work in RA/QM for medical devices

4) Better package

5) Rebecca, I have no idea!!

If we have spoken before, you’ll know this type of answer won’t make the cut with me.

I want to understand the deeper wants and wishes that you need in order for your career to excel. Development means something different to everyone, and as I mentioned we are ‘people first’ so we need to understand YOU.


Here are my Top 10 questions to think about to ensure you can easily communicate what you are looking for and ensure you get professional fulfilment from your next job offers…

1) Would you like to be more hands-on or strategic in your role, perhaps leading people, or projects?

2) Are you more interested in being a specialist in one topic (ie MDR/IVDR transition) or covering worldwide registrations?

3) Do you like working broadly across RA/QM or prefer to be more focused on one area of the device lifecycle?

4) Are you currently in a large company, or start-up to mid-sized? What are you used to, have you seen the other side and the challenges/possibilities it presents?

5) Within RA/QM for Medical Devices is a great start, but please, tell us more! Do you prefer to work in a dual department? Do you have a background in Clinical Research and want to pick up those skills again within RA? These are all viable options so don’t hold back on your ‘wish list.’

6) Long term location – have you just built a house or planning to move in the future?
How much working flexibility to you need? Is this an absolutely ‘must’ or a nice to have? If this is negotiable, please tell us. Otherwise, we might miss out on sending you an opportunity that ticks 90% of your boxes, that actually meets an even higher standard for you.

7) What company culture are you used to, and what do you like about it or not so much? Do you prefer to be structured or free to plan your day? How much support do you really need?

8) What products really catch your interest. If you have spent many years in ophthalmic, are you comfortable staying here or do you want a complete change? Would you like to reconnect back with your PhD topic? Tell us things like this and we will always listen.

9) Financially, of course the more the better, always! What do you need though? If it is the ‘dream job’ would you consider a more flexible package? Are there any ‘must haves’ like childcare on site, bonus potential, days of vacation? I once had a perfect fit between a client and candidate fall apart right at the end, because she required a certain pension contribution – it was devastating for everyone involved because we did not know it was such an important factor.

10) If you are struggling to think of what you do want, tell us what you don’t want! Are there parts of your role that you really don’t enjoy or want less of? This could help to point us in the right direction.

It could be that you really are completely open-minded to what is available, and perhaps you are not even looking actively for something new. Either way, in a candidate driven market, you can choose to be selective and make the right choice for you, so it’s important to spend some time reflecting and think about what that is for you personally and professionally so
that you can secure your future happiness. It does not mean we will only get in touch if we hit 10/10 on an opportunity, but there is more chance of us getting it right. Life and work are only getting busier, so our aim is to ensure any contact is entirely relevant, interesting and makes it a serious and exciting consideration for you.

Thanks for reading and I hope it helps you to reflect over this quieter period about what your ‘dream job’ may, or may not look like.

rebecca.stevens@adaptivelifescience.com