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A-Z (minus Y) of all your FAQs

Category: Business IT Business Processes European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (11) comments

Apologies in advance, as this is a pretty long post that has completely abused the ‘recommended blog post length’ we were advised. However, I will throw it out there and say I think I have managed to find answers to all of your questions (I am using the word ‘all’ very loosely here, as I am sure you will come up with more I will happily answer). Also, I have tried to give some examples of what I did in my application to guide you.

Academic background: I studied *Insert cool science Masters or PhD* can I apply to the programme?

From Analytical Chemistry to Zoology all Natural Science based Masters and PhD students are welcomed with open arms to apply for the programme. However, please note that you must be graduating with your Masters or PhD this year or have recently graduated – no more than 1 year since you have graduated.

Birthplace: I was born on Mars, do you have to be Danish to apply?

I too was born on Mars and made the programme, so fear not, being Danish is not a pre-requisite.

CV: My CV is x pages long, is that too long? Photo on CV – Yay or nay?

Regarding CV length you should really try and ensure it is no longer than 2 pages long. It’s great that a lot of you have amassed an impressive amount of lab based skills or have been first and/or co-author on several publications, but this is not a pre-requisite for the programme. A clear, concise CV will facilitate the reviewers matching your skills and experience to what they are looking for. In addition, a portrait picture is welcome if you like; I didn’t add one as I didn’t want to confuse the reviewers into thinking Whoopi Goldberg was applying.

Daily activities: What sort of exciting Regulatory Affairs (RA) activities will I be doing?

I want to take this opportunity to redirect you to the first blog post of the other RA graduate, Annika - here and that of a former RA graduate - here. Don’t forget to come back here though, as we are only at letter D :)

Expat life: I heard that Denmark was voted the happiest Country in the world, so will I be super happy all the time here?

You heard right, Denmark generally tops the happiest country polls. I mean, I am super happy here but I get super happy (not even just normal happy) eating my favourite chocolate bar (FYI it’s Milky Way), so I may not be the best person to ask. Sheng, a graduate on the International Chinese Graduate Programme is a more reliable source and covers it wonderfully here.

Family : Can I bring my partner?

Why of course

Grades: On a scale of Kim Kardashian to Einstein, how important are grades?

Grades are assessed as part of your application, yes, and we are looking for candidates with good grades but honestly don’t be put off by the ‘Top 5% in class’ part some of you may have read. If you fulfill the basic qualifications (scroll down to Qualifications) you are in with a shot. The take home message on this one is that grades play a factor, but what is more important is your motivation to work in RA and transferable skills/experiences you can bring to the table.

Housing: Is accommodation offered as part of the programme? Do I have to find it myself?

We have a fantastic relocation partner that will offer you accommodation with another graduate (you will have to pay rent) and usually graduates are all placed near each other. For example, in the block of apartments I live in there are 6 graduates. I nearly forgot to mention, if you prefer to live by yourself  the relocation team can arrange that too.

International rotation: I would love to live and work in the Maldives, do I get a say on where my international rotation will be?

No, we didn’t get a say, so bear in mind that you have to be flexible around this. Nonetheless, we’re off to pretty awesome places: myself to the States and Annika to Vietnam. Furthermore, previous RA graduates have been sent to Brazil, Japan, the UK (love that place) and India.

Job Prospects: Being a graduate sounds like a lot of fun, but what happens after the two-year programme?

Upon successful completion of the programme you will be offered a permanent position within one of the departments based in our Danish Headquarters

Keep positive: I applied all the way back in December, but I still haven’t heard anything. Have I been unsuccessful?

No, relax, as we won’t start contacting applicants until after deadline (8th Feb). Also, all applicants successful or not will hear back from us.

Language: I speak about as much Danish as I do Ancient Greek, will this be a problem?

You and me both, oh and no this won’t be a problem as English is the business language, so if you’ve mastered that it’s a piece of cake.

Motivational Letter: I have a gazillion questions about the motivational letter, such as word limit, format, structure etc etc.

This one is a hot topic amongst you and was the thing I stressed about too. I will now shut up on the matter as Annika has just written a fantastic blog post addressing all your motivational letter related questions; I would strongly advise you check it out here.

Numbers hired: I heard through the grapevine the ratio of applicants:positions is actually crazy, so how many people do you take on?

You heard right, the ratio is a little crazy and last year approx 720 people applied and only two of us got selected. Don’t be put off by this though, in submitting an application you have absolutely nothing to lose and absolutely lots to gain. In addition, you may be happy to hear that this year we will be hiring 4 of you.

Other Documentation: Apart from my CV, motivational letter and grade transcript what other documentation should/could I upload?

I would say anything of interest that helps us build an even greater more rounded picture of you, whether that be an amazing reference you received or a really good grade on a piece of coursework. I was really random with one of the documents I sent as it was a newspaper cutting of me talking about the dance classes I then attended, bearing in mind this newspaper cutting was dated around 2004!!!

Pharmaceutical Industry: Damn, I have no Pharmaceutical experience. Does this mean I will be at a disadvantage?

Certainly not, if you have experience within the Pharmaceutical industry that is great. If you don’t, that is fine as there are RA graduates hired that didn’t have any either. More importantly, just highlight in your application why you would want to work in the Pharmaceutical industry

Qualifications: What are the basic qualifications for the programme?

  • Recent Natural Science Masters degree/PhD
  • Good grades
  • International experience/mind-set
  • Relevant Work experience (scroll down to Work Experience for more on this)

Recruitment Process/Timeline: Okay, so I have applied, what happens next?

All applicants are assessed twice and following deadline roughly 25 applicants will be shortlisted for Skype interviews, which take place around mid February. Next, 10 successful applicants will be invited to the Graduate Recruitment Center (GRC) at the end of March, which is a two-day event held in Copenhagen, where applicants are assessed in a series of exercises. Furthermore, prior to the GRC the 10 selected candidates will be invited to complete some online tests in early March. Finally, following the GRC, 4 candidates will be offered graduate positions to start September 1st 2015.

Salary: I heard its crazy expensive to live in Denmark and I don’t want to be poor, so do we get paid?

Denmark can be an expensive place to live (my jaw hit the floor when I heard how much I would get taxed here -FYI its around 42%). In saying that, you will get paid a competitive salary that will ensure that poorness is not on the cards

Training: What sort of training would I receive as a graduate?

I will go into more detail about this in my next post, nevertheless,  most training is on-the-job, but we also offer a lot of internal courses and the opportunity to attend external courses.

University: Does the university I have attended matter?

No, so long as you haven’t attended ‘The University of Life’.

Visa: Will I have to sort out my Visa/Work Permit myself?

No, we have a fantastic mobility team that initiates this process, co-ordinates it with you and pays for it.

Work Experience: What and how much work experience is required?

Regarding ‘what’, we look at all your interesting work experience undertaken RA related or not. If it’s RA related, great tell us more. If it ‘s not RA related, that’s fine (I had no RA related experience before I joined), just try and tie it in somehow to why you want to apply for the RA programme. The key here is that you need some form of work experience to apply , as having none will unfortunately most likely mean you are unsuccessful. Regarding, ‘how much’  generally we want applicants with no more than one years work experience following completion of their Masters or PhD studies. This takes into consideration those of you who may have conducted work experience for a few months here or there during your studies. All in all, this is reviewed as a case-case basis but generally if you have lots of work experience following your bachelors degree and then complete your Masters or PhD studies or you have more than 4-5 years work experience it will almost certainly make you overqualified. The reason is that the programme is structured towards bringing fairly unskilled people up to speed really fast, and grouping very unskilled people with more experienced people makes it very hard to do a meaningful programme for everyone. With 4-5 years of experience and a strong CV you will most likely be eligible to apply for a normal job in Novo Nordisk, here.

Xtraordinary (I had to cheat on this one): What can I do to make my application extraordinary and stand out from the competition?

Sorry to disappoint, but there is no clear-cut answer for this one. I remember when I was applying I read an interesting bit of advice on the blog of another graduate (sorry I can’t remember the post), stating ‘think about what makes you unique and express that in your application’. As cheesy as it may sound I said helping people in my application, as I had done a lot of volunteer work. I then tied this in with the notion that I found helping people a quality that makes employment meaningful to me and to wanting to help people suffering with Diabetes. I’m not sure if this made me stand out as such, but it was something I tried to have in mind. So, get thinking, what makes you stand out? We would love to hear it!

Zzzzz  (It’s always a struggle to come up with a relevant word for Z): Will I work insanely long hours that will leave me chronically tired?

No, I very much doubt it as you are contracted to 37 working hours. Yes, you will sometimes have to log onto your laptop in the evening to prepare something for a meeting you have the following day, or write a blog post on a Sunday evening, when really you should be in bed watching new episodes of American Dad. However, I am a firm believer in work hard and play harder.

If you are reading this, it means you made it to the end of this post. Congratulations are in order, as it was a lengthy one (I did warn you in the beginning)

Still in two minds as to whether to apply? Well take this quick test here to put your mind at rest.



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Your Cover Letter: Make It or Break It

Category: Business IT Business Processes Chinese International Graduate Programme European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement International Operations Business International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (12) comments

As the application process has now been open for some time, the reviewing process is in full swing and one of the main weaknesses of some applications are the cover letters (also called motivational letters to avoid any confusion).

So I thought I would share some pointers on what we look for in a cover letter. Please take these only as guidance and not requirements for being successful in the application process (apart from points 1 and 2 that are essential).

Key Points to consider when writing your cover letter:

1. Mention the company and SPELL it right.

Each programme gets hundreds if not thousands of applications and if Novo Nordisk does not even appear it screams not interested.

2. Mention the programme you are applying to.

As for the point above we want to see that you are interested in what the company offers and have taken the time to write a cover letter for the programme and are not sending the same one to all companies.

3. Talk about specific aspects of the programme you like.

An expansion on point number 2. Try to show tat you have read all the information available on the programme and have thought about what you think makes it special and a great match for you.

4. Do not just repeat your CV.

Your cover letter and your CV will both be read so there is no point in providing us with the same information in both. Use your cover letter to showcase your interest, motivation and fit to the programme.

5. Do not dwell on scientific techniques.

In RA the majority of applicants have a scientific background (which is great and what we are looking for) but you will not use the lab techniques in RA. They provide you with a great understanding of the process; however we will see this from your CV so try to focus more on transferable skills. How have the previous work experiences provided you with skills that can you can use in another setting?

6. Read the Novo Nordisk Way and the Triple Bottom Line.

You want to show as much as possible that you have researched the company and identify with its core values. If you feel it fits mention it in your cover letter but most importantly you should be able to portray the key characteristics Novo Nordisk stands for.

7. Showcase any international experience.

All programmes involve some form of international rotation and so candidates ought to have an international mind-set and be ready to be flexible and leave their comfort zone. If you have done this in the past, it’s the proof that you are ready for what the programme holds.

8. Keep it short.

Preferably your cover letter should be to the point and not exceed more than 1 -1.5 pages. Remember that each reviewer needs to read hundreds of applications; the last thing you want is for him to get bored while reading yours.

9. Link previous work experience.

We are not looking for people with great amount of work experience however if you are able to link previous internships, projects or courses to the programme it will help you in showing your true interest and motivation.

10. Read the graduate blog.

You have already fulfilled one of the ten points by reading this. during the preparation of my application the graduate blog became my bible and it is the best source for first-hand knowledge that will allow you to understand the programme and its requirements.


I know I am not reinventing the wheel here but maybe some of you will find it useful and as an extra tip for reading till then end: Make sure to upload your cover letter as a document and not use the field provided in the application process as it will look much nicer.

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What does Regulatory Affairs even mean?

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (6) comments

Before I try myself at the impossible task of portraying Regulatory Affairs in 500 words and hopefully provide you with a bit more insight of what one actually ‘does‘ in RA, let me describe my path to the Novo Nordisk RA graduate programme.

My initial online exploration into the field of Regulator Affairs came after a similar experience with science than my fellow graduate Nani describes so amusingly in her blog post; just with less brains and more mice. After having initially studied Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine I was finding myself unsure of how to proceed. My main thought at the time was: “How do I stay in science, without actually doing science?“ I loved everything about science and could have spent the next decade just learning, however when it came to the actual research I was lacking the passion.

In search of an alternative I went on to do a second Master in International Health Policy. Quickly it became apparent to me that this was definitely too far from science and not the right path for me either. Luckily fellow students felt the same and informed me about the Novo Nordisk RA graduate programme. What followed was an exhaustive Google search into the field of RA after which I did not feel much smarter then before and an extensive rewriting of my cover letter until I thought it somehow sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

Let me tell you right now, no one seems to poses the ultimate knowledge of what RA stands for. If one asks more experienced colleagues they might throw around phrases and key terms like we bring drugs to the market,ensure compliance, stakeholder management andagency interactions to describe RA. All not very hands-down descriptions that tell you what one actually does. The reason for this is because it varies so much and these key terms are the ones that are likely to apply overall. That is the beauty of RA. One gets to work on various tasks i  different settings and with internal and external stakeholders.

I have been working within a CMC (chemistry, manufacturing and control) team for a product that has been launched in some countries and is going to be submitted soon in others. Quite an interesting time to join a team, right at the border of the development and life-cycle management phase, which implies a very heavy workload. Having no previous work experience with CMC it did feel like drowning in cold water, but I quickly learnt to swim and have so far survived. During the first four months I have been responsible for compiling and providing the ‘Annual Report’ (an annual update sent to the FDA) allowing me to work closely with the US affiliate among others and preparing a variation submitted in multiple countries. During the time we also received the Canadian ‘Clarifax’ (a request for additional information) for our market application submitted earlier that comes with an impossible deadline and so occupied the whole team.

Overall it has been an eventful time and I am looking forward to the next four months before I move on to something completely different. In order to shorten your Google search I advise you to check out this video and read previous posts by RA graduates; these were where I got most of my information.

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Do you really want to join the graduate program?

Category: R&D Global Development | (3) comments

Many of you are probably asking yourself whether the graduate program is right for you. Do you want to work for Novo Nordisk? Do you want to join the graduate program? Should you apply? Mainstream advice I got when I had these questions when was the unhelpful – just apply and see where it leads. Let’s be honest – that’s bullshit advice. Floating around in life ‘just doing things’ does not get you where you want. Having a solid method of taking decisions and working hard to fulfil your goals do. Being near the end at my studies considering an academic career at the time I applied I had no experience in the pharmaceutical industry and no experience with Novo Nordisk. Throw into the mix that many people applying know very little about Denmark deciding on the graduate program doesn’t get any easier.

There are two ways to making decisions: Logically and emotionally. Some people prefer only logical decisions others always go with emotional ones. Personally I am more of a logical person but still I feel that the decision of whether you want to be a part of the graduate program should be primarily emotionally. A job might be your dream job on paper but if you do not ‘feel it’ you must go for something where you do. There is no reason to waste your time and energy on something that is not right for you. On the other hand, if you really ‘feel it’ but have a few logical objections like thinking you might be under/over-qualified, or that the work task are not perfect for you, then apply and go for it. You will be pleasantly surprised!

This does not mean that you should not do any research on Novo Nordisk and the graduate program. In fact you should gather as much information as possible about Novo Nordisk and the graduate program to be as informed as you can get. In particular you should learn about the core values of Novo Nordisk and you should see how these align with those of your own (more on this is an upcoming post). Reading this blog is part of this process. However, reflecting on the core values that you identify with as a person is an equally important part and something that you absolutely must do if want the job.

Now except for making a qualified decision to whether Novo Nordisk and the graduate program is right for you there is an distinct advantage to identifying your core values and see if they match with the values of Novo Nordisk before you apply. When you communicate your values and how you ‘feel’ that the job is a good fit for you in the application and interview, the chances of getting the job increases not just a little but a good lot. Writing an application and doing an interview becomes easy. You simply explain yourself in an open and honest way.

So go ahead and learn about Novo Nordisk – read about the company, read the blogs and ask people about their experiences. Hopefully you will get a good feel for how you match with the company!

Until next time!


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From dreams of Neurosurgery to Regulatory Affairs

Category: R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (15) comments

Being a naturally, annoyingly (ask my mum) inquisitive child, science always appealed to me; Neuroscience, in particular, after experiencing some not so great stuff and reading ‘The Man Who Mistook his wife for a hat’ by Oliver Sacks. Back then I wanted to study post-graduate medicine, so I could write volume two of Dr Sacks’ book. In my first ever lecture a brain donated from a cadaver was shoved in front of me and I was told to ‘explore it’. After being revived by CPR I realised I am not quite cut out to be a doctor.

See, I kid you not. I present the photographic proof of holding a human brain.

See, I kid you not. I present the photographic proof of ‘exploring’ a human brain.

Next, I decided I wanted to become a Neuroscientist and discover a cure for a neurodegenerative disorder. However, during an internship, the solitude of lab life became too much for me – when I found myself interacting with diseased brain cells more than humans, I thought Houston we have a problem! At this point, I was well and truly lost. I love science and wanted a job that was enjoyable yet meaningful, challenging, yet allowed me to have a healthy work – life balance, but was I asking for too much and did such a job exist?

Following graduation, I moved to London to do a bit of soul searching and at the same time took up a position as a scientific recruiter, which was a HUGE eye opener, as it was the first time I had come across Regulatory Affairs (RA). Speaking with RA professionals, shed light on a career that appeared to match everything I was looking for, but hmm I thought, there must be a catch right?

The catch came in the form of the ever so annoying cache-22 situation. Trying to find an entry level position within RA was proving difficult, as most companies requested applicants have at least 6-12 months experience. Great, I was being defeated by a stupid paradoxical situation! Then I stumbled across a two-year training programme being offered by Novo Nordisk: experience within RA was not a pre-requisite (phew), you get to essentially change job every 8 months and wait for it…you get to work in one of their global affiliates for one of the three rotations. I was that excited by what I was reading that I did a little happy dance, but hmmm I thought, who are Novo Nordisk?

I will be honest with you, I was not that familiar with Novo Nordisk at all. Nonetheless, upon further research I came to discover that Novo Nordisk really is the business when it comes to leading diabetes care. You can’t really go wrong with a company that produce more than 40% of the world’s insulin, was voted most sustainable company 2012 and is managed by a CEO recently ranked among the top 10 in the universe. That aside, going to work in the morning, knowing that what I do is helping to save the lives of millions of patients suffering from chronic disorders is extremely humbling.

Lastly, whilst I have only been working for Novo Nordisk for 3 months, I have come to realise that it is a company that truly invests in its employees; a company that invests so much into giving cake to its employees at any given opportunity is winning, period.

So, do you love cake? Of course you do, so Apply here now!

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Rocking the Graduate Recruitment Centre (GRC): key tips and all the blog posts published so far!

Category: Business IT Business Processes Chinese International Graduate Programme European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement International Operations Business International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs Uncategorized | (0) comments

As the deadline for the GRC draws nearer with every day, we can remember how we felt a year ago: a mixture of stress, curiosity, fear but above all excitement! We wondered how to best prepare for these two exciting days, and though we had browsed Novo Nordisk’s website, graduate blog and the entire Internet in search for more information, it somehow never felt enough.

In this blog post, we would like to ease your task of preparation a bit and assure you once more that you do not need to be afraid :-). As many posts about the GRC have already been published and you might find it difficult to find all of these, we have listed them all in our post below, and each of us has picked ONE of our top recommendations that we have for you. Enjoy reading and good luck!


Anne-Sophie’s tip: 4 letters: T.E.A.M.

At this advanced stage of the recruiting process, what does differentiate THE candidate from the other candidates? I do not have the exact answer to give you but I can tell you what I felt at the GRC: teamwork and collaboration! I know what you think: you have read it everywhere, on the website of every company you have applied to, and probably already experienced it along other Assessment Centres. And this is again the case here!

Bear in mind that we are looking for skilled candidates – which we know you are – but also for colleagues and people we can see ourselves working with. Your strengths might be the weakness of others. But instead of using these strengths solely to your own advantage, rely on them to help and drive your other teammates. As a leader and manager, you are expected to empower people and help them grow in their role. Knowing yourself and using your best skills for the benefit of the group and for achieving a common goal will be key to your success at the GRC. I can only give you my example: having had some prior experience in the pharmaceutical industry, I chose to share this knowledge with my teammates for them to better understand the tasks that were given to us and for the group to be faster and more insightful to solve our business case. Of course I felt exposed and sometimes wanted to keep this knowledge only for myself as I thought that this could be a huge personal advantage. But choosing the other way and deciding to use this for the benefit of the group only encouraged us to aim higher. Hence don’t be shy and dare exposing your best self for others!


Lisa’s tip: Never stop believing in yourself and your skills!

My advice to you is: Believe in yourself and show this confidence until the end! Compared to other assessment centres the GRC is quite long. It will be two very intensive days with many different exercises as you already know. You will feel exhausted at some point and there will also be moments where you might not feel happy with your performance. But this should never discourage you. Stay motivated throughout the two days and if there is a moment where you are not pleased with your performance, forget about it quickly and focus all your energy and enthusiasm towards the next task. I am saying this because of a personal experience from last year: Somehow, the business case was not ‘my friend’ right from the start, but when it came to the actual presentation in front of the assessors it seemed that it actually achieved to ‘break my neck’. During the preparation for the business case there were several things that made it difficult for me to properly prepare, so I held the worst presentation that I had ever prepared. And I am not just saying that because I felt like this, but also because I could clearly see from the assessors’ faces and their questions that they were not at all happy with it. I had terrible slides and the content was not really insightful. I felt very bad after this and since it was one of the last exercises, I was sure that I had lost my chance for a graduate position. After some time of feeling miserable I realised that there is still a chance to at least improve the final impression of myself. So I tried to forget about the presentation and focused on the next exercise. Although I did not feel that this actually compensated for my bad performance earlier, I still felt better and more pleased with myself after it went quite well.

In the end, I actually got the graduate position! For me, this shows that one unsuccessful exercise does not mean that you have lost all your chances. When I got the feedback for the GRC, I was honestly told that everyone was negatively surprised by my presentation of the business case at first, but then they admired how confident I presented these ‘lousy’ slides and how honest I answered their questions. They also appreciated that I did not give up after this, but put all my rest energy and motivation in the last exercises.

Hence, I want to show you that the way you deal with an unpleasant experience at the GRC can be key to your success and self-satisfaction. With confidence in your skills you will be able to better deal with such an experience!  


Now that we have given you our two best recommendations for the GRC, please browse the graduate blog and visit the insightful following posts below:

GRC video from 2013


Graduate Recruitment Centre: Last Minute Practicalities


Survival guide to reduce jetlag in the GRC (& something important)


Next Stop: GRC 1-2 of April


GRC: What to expect?


Next steps in the graduate recruitment process, key tips for success


Final words of advice, the Graduate Recruitment Centre


BP Graduate shares experience from last years’ recruitment centre


Ove Munch Ovesen: what is an assessment centre, the expert shares his tips


A job is a 2-way match


Applying for Novo Nordisk and the Graduate Programme – Part 3- Graduate Recruitment Centre


Enjoy the recruitment centre



Good luck and we – together with all the other graduates – will see you on April 1st and 2nd!

 Graduates 2013_Group Picture during Intro Day

All the best,

Lisa and Anne-Sophie


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The phone interview?! Tips and tricks to get ready

Category: Business IT Business Processes Chinese International Graduate Programme European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing Global Procurement International Operations Business International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (32) comments

Congratulations to those of you who have submitted their application to one of the graduate programmes! You have taken the first hurdle in becoming a graduate within Novo Nordisk :-). At the moment, all of your applications are being read through. This is probably the toughest round of the selection process since we receive so many great applications and we can only choose ca. 400 for the phone interview! At the end of February/ beginning of March you will be informed vie E-mail about the outcome of this process. In case you get selected for the next round, we can only say that being selected for the phone interview out of several thousand applications is really a great achievement and the main feeling you should have at that moment is being proud of yourself!

But, of course, you may also be a little bit nervous about what comes next. Therefore, we would like to share with you some tips for how to best prepare for the phone interview. Since there will not be a lot of time between the invitation for the interview and the actual interivew, it might be wise to already start preparing now:

First of all, be assured that there are no traps or mean questions in the phone interview: If you have reached this stage of the process, it means that we already think that you are a great fit with Novo Nordisk and the graduate programme. Interviewers will take the opportunity to get to know you better and get a more thorough understanding of what you previously did and why this made you want to join Novo Nordisk.

So be prepared to talk about the following:

What is your story?

Basically: why did you do what you did (academic and professional experience, extracurricular activities, etc.)?

We like open and honest answers: only a few of us have a straight arrow for a personal and professional path. What your interviewers are interested in is why you made those choices, and why, in regards to your experiences, you have decided that Novo Nordisk would be the best place to achieve your personal and professional development. For example, with regards to my (Lisa) professional experience, my CV was mainly filled with internships in the financial services industry (and mainly at one company). So of course during my phone interview the question came up: Why are you interested in working in the pharmaceutical industry and at Novo Nordisk? Why do you not want to work in the financial services industry and with the company you interned with? Although I had clear answers to these questions in my head, the challenging part was to share them in a logical and convincing way with the interviewer on the phone. Some preparation beforehand definitely helped me with that!

What did you achieve, which challenges did you face and what did you learn?

Take a look at your resume as well as your cover letter: you have to know them BY HEART and be prepared to answer questions regarding them! You will be questioned about both your positive and negative experiences. What you achieved and what you learned. Don’t be fluffy in your answers: of course you have learnt something and of course you had some challenges. What you did to overcome them is what we would like to hear. Also, be ready to elaborate on your achievements. However, no matter how great these might be, try and stay humble :-).

Why Novo Nordisk and why your programme?

We are looking for people who want to contribute to Novo Nordisk’s success. The graduate programme IS challenging, for real. Also you have to be convinced of why you wish to join the programme and what this means to you: What is important for you within Novo Nordisk, what programmes, actions, initiatives appeal to you and why you think they are relevant to Novo Nordisk’s patients, are some of the questions you should ask yourself.

Identify and know your motivation for Novo Nordisk and for the specific programme you will be interviewed for: This is your only chance as you will get interviewed for only one of the programmes you have applied for. Browse Novo Nordisk’s website as well as the graduate blog, podcasts, videos, FB page, etc., there is plenty of information there to help you :-) 

Our last advice: Be yourself because then you will be at your best! The interviewer wants to get to know YOU and since it is the story of your life you are the one who knows it best!

Also remember: everyone is nervous during phone interviews and the interviewer knows this as well and will not hold this against you. It is just natural. But if you smile while talking (Yes, you can definitely hear if someone is smiling on the phone!) and if you even manage to laugh this will not only leave a positive impression to the interviewer, but also make you more relaxed.

To read more about interview tips and tricks, read the following blog posts:

-      My top 3 tips for the phone interview

-      Phone interview and the Graduate Recruitment Centre – key tips for success

-      OH BOY!!! Interviews scare me…

Now enjoy the rest of this weekend and stay tuned for more blog posts to come!

Anne-Sophie and Lisa

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Category: R&D Global Development | (34) comments

Wow, have the last 8 months been hectic… It seems like yesterday that I packed the content of my Copenhagen appartment into boxes, stored them at my mum’s place and took off to Bangalore to spend 8 months working with our Indian Novo colleagues. It’s been 8 really challenging months that have given me a lot of experience, professional as well as personal.

1476625_10202690611696052_1539745407_nBut lets start from the beginning with a little bit about who I am. I started in Novo Nordisk as a Global Development Graduate within the biostatistics skill area in the fall of 2012.
My educational background is a master’s degree in mathematics and economics from the University of Copenhagen, and before joining Novo Nordisk I worked a year in academia.
I have now been with the company for 16 months and have completed my first two rotations. I can surely understand if you sit back wondering what these graduate programs are really all about in terms of work tasks and responsibilities. It’s only retrospectively that I fully understand that myself. But that’s all part of the treat, and I can surely say that it’s been quite an adventure all the way and I have been giving a lot of responsibility and been involved in a variety of different tasks.

My first two rotations have both been within biostatistics. I have come to learn how crucial a role biostatistics plays in the development of new medicinal products within the therapeutic areas of Novo Nordisk. My 16 months within biostastics have seen me move from a (almost) fresh out of university, unexperienced and rather confused statistician that was trying to get a hold of all the new processes and procedures that are applied in the daily work to gradually gaining more and more reponsible and ending up as the responsible statistician on an extensive clinical trial where I got the opportunity to present the results at the first internal communication of the data from the trial. I can’t put into words how much balast this experience has given me. I am certain that I will take a lot with me going forwards from the interaction and collaboration with stakeholders from other areas involved in the work on a clinical trial. It’s been a steep learning curve all the way with a lot of thrilling days and great colleagues. One thing that has meant a lot to me is the change that you get within the company to learn from colleagues from other skill areas and understand their view on the various aspects of our work to change diabetes. Personally, I have enjoyed the close collaboration with a lot of colleagues with medical backgrounds as it has given be the opportunity to get to learn about the details of the disease we do our best to treat and the science of the drugs that we develop.

Starting January 6th I am now working in a quite different part of the organisation, namely global medical affairs. This is a department where our clinical results are taken a step further and turned into publications and abstracts for relevant conferences. I look forward to learning more about the work being done here and to contribute with my experience to the department. This is the great thing about the Novo Nordisk Graduate Programmes; that you get the change to gain working experience outside of you main area of competencies. This allows you to obtain a greater understanding of the company and not the least an extensive collegial network.

I imagine that you guys out there are all trying to find out what to do when you have finished your master’s degree. Or perhaps you have already spent a bit of time at one work place but are still looking into other opportunities as well. There are many exiciting things to do out there in the world. I know from myself that I have had my thoughts circling around many different possibilities. I have no regrets that I chose to apply for a graduate position at Novo Nordisk, and I am happy that I was hired. I’m certain that you won’t have any regrets either. I’m still in the process of getting to know the company and my potential here. It’s been an exiting journey so far and I am eager to continue it.

With the above words I have tried to give you a little taste of what life as a biostatistics graduate is life, and I hope that you have an appetite to continue to follow my posts. I will be back with more.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions to the Graduate Programmes. I am quite familiar with the ones within Global Development, specifically biostatistics,
but I will be happy to try and answer questions related to other branches of the programme as well.

The deadline for applying for the graduate programme is February 9 2014. Follow this link to read more about the different graduate programmes withing global development:


Warm regards,


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Global Development

Category: R&D Global Development | (10) comments

Dear reader,

I have a sense that there might be a little bit of confusion out there as to how exactly the graduate programmes within Global Development are structured and which track to apply for. In fact I can understand if some of you are under the impression that you apply for one programme, and that the exact content of your programme will then later be put into place in terms of which skill area you will be associated with. This is, however, not the case. Let me try and put some words down on how the graduate programmes work within Global Development.

Global Development is the part of the Novo Nordisk organisation that deals with the development of new medicinal products for use within the therapeutic areas that are in the company’s portfolio. This means that we in Global Development ensure that new drugs are investigated sufficiently to demonstrate that they work effectively for the treatment of the specific disease and that they are safe to use. This work involves a lot of different stakeholders, and much of the work in Global Development takes place in study groups where collaboration with people with another academical background and for whom other aspects of the development process may be the primary focus than what is the case for you, is necessary. Such inter-disciplinary work is highly stimulating and gives you the opportunity to build a huge network within the company and to learn from others with more experience and a different background. As examples of specific stakeholders / skill areas involved in the development process are medical doctors, data managers, clinical reporters, trial managers, biostatisticians and health economists. Out of these, Novo Nordisk has put into place graduate programmes for Biostatistics, Trial Management and Health Economics, and the recruitment process asks you to apply directly for one of these tracks.

As I have mentioned in my previous blog post, I am enrolled in the biostatistics graduate programme. My background is from the Department of Mathematics at University of Copenhagen from where I have gained a strong understanding of mathematical statistics, and I have aquired practical experience with applied statistics from related work during my studies. As it says in the job description for the graduate programme in biostatistics, “you must hold a recent master’s degree in statistics and have no more than 1 year of work experience since finishing your studies” to join the graduate programme in biostatistics. I am aware that many master’s programs contain a large amount of statistics without being titled as a master’s degree in statistics. It’s often difficult for others to distiguish whether a certain master’s degree would qualify as being “statistical enough” to make you suitable for this specific programme. If you are convinced that you have the right academical background, then I would encourage you to apply. But bear in mind that working as a statistician – even in the applied sense – is technical and requires mathematical training.

For the other tracks – trial management and health economics – it is more difficult to put into words which academical background is suitable, and for now I will simply state the wording from these programme’s job descriptions (links to those are found here):

Health economics:

“To join the Global Development Graduate Programme as a Health Economics Graduate you must hold a recent master’s degree in health economics, economics, public health, pharmaceutical/medical sciences, or other relevant fields and have no more than 1 year of work experience since finishing your studies.”

Trial management:

“To join the Global Development Graduate Programme as a Trial Management Graduate you must hold a recent master’s degree in natural sciences (e.g. pharmacy, human biology or equivalent) and have no more than 1 year of work experience since finishing your studies.”

I hope this gives some kind of clarification. Feel free to post any questions!

Remember that the deadline for sending us your application is February 9 2013. Follow this link to apply:



Thanks and regards,



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What to expect in the assessment centre

Category: Business IT Business Processes European Business Management European Finance Global Finance Global Marketing International Operations Finance Product Supply R&D Global Development R&D Regulatory Affairs | (5) comments

Congratulations to those who have made it to the next round in the recruitment process! To be one of the few chosen ones for the telephone interview among almost 7000 applicants is already a big achievement! Within the next couple of days you will receive an answer if you have made it to the assessment centre. Fingers crossed!

The assessment centre. There is a fascination about the recruitment centre that makes applicants curious about it, already before they have even started writing their motivational letter. I remember very well fearing  and at the same time wondering about what will happen in those two days. Only the fact that it lasts for two days terrified me to the extent that I locked myself up in the library in order to learn Novo Nordisk’s financial statement by heart. In retrospect, this was pretty ridiculous. But I did not want to leave room for taking chances. I am not saying you should not prepare the details, do whatever makes you feel confident. However, in order to shed light into the dark, I will give you in the following an overview of what to expect in those notorious two days (based on last years recruitment centre).

The first day starts off in our headquarter in Bagsvaerd, close to Copenhagen. You will meet around 120 other applicants from all over the world. Everyone is incredibly nice and thus new acquaintances are easily made. What follows is an impressive introduction to the company. At the latest at this point you will realize how exciting it must be to work for Novo Nordisk and how valued graduates are within the company.
After the introduction and some mingling with the other applicants, you will go to the conference centre, where the assessment for the following two days takes place.

What follows are numerous different activities to assess your:
1. personal fit to Novo Nordisk
2. people skills
3. presentation skills
4. team player skills
5. your motivation for Novo Nordisk and the program you applied to
6. analytical and critical thinking

Group exercises: You will be doing couple of group exercises in which you have to solve non real life problems within your group, either under time pressure or solution oriented, or both. I remember the group exercises as very challenging but at the same time as a lot of fun. Personally, this was my favourite part of the assessment centre.

Interview: You will have interviews with the recruiters. The interviews are very program specific and accordingly focus areas might differ. You can expect however that no matter to which program you applied your personality is focal point.

Presentation: You might be asked to prepare a presentation on a specific topic which will be presented to one or more of the recruiters.

Case Study: Last year we received a case based on a real life challenge of a pharmaceutical company. In a group of applicants from the same program you have to come up with tangible solutions to the case which will be presented to all other groups and recruiters.

Throughout the assessment centre current graduates will be present to answer all your questions and to get to know you better. At the end of the first day you can look forward to a very nice dinner in one of Copenhagen’s fantastic restaurants. Don’t stay up too long though, the second day is by no means more relaxed than the first.

All in all, the assessment centre is extremely intense but at the same time a lot of fun. You get to know many like minded, interesting people.  But what is more, you also get to know yourself better which makes the graduate assessment centre a truly rewarding experience.

For tips on how to succeed in the recruitment centre, please read these posts by Elin and Antti.

I hope to have clarified some concerns about the assessment centre. And I very much look forward to meet you there!




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