Onyx Pharmaceuticals Principal Programmer Interview Questions

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Principal Programmer Interview

Anonymous Employee in South San Francisco, CA
Declined Offer
Negative Experience
Average Interview


I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2 weeksinterviewed at Onyx Pharmaceuticals (South San Francisco, CA) in October 2012.


I actually had a great interview with 5 of the 6 people but it only took 1 really bad interviewer to really spoil my view of the company. In actuality the company seems great but the one bad interviewer was the person I would have to directly report to. Anyway long story short, after answering all the programming related questions correctly, this manager asks me why I never went for my masters or PhD. I was sort of stunned anyone would ask me that since I had FIFTEEN YEARS PROGRAMMING EXPERIENCE. Then she goes on a 10 minute diatribe of how she had a doctorate and that an advanced degree opens doors. I was then told the company had only one other principal programmer ever and that they normally never hire at the principal level. I took that as she's the manager and she doesn't want anyone remotely close to her experience or skill level. She then went on to ask me what the federal law (21CFR Part 11) was on electronic data capture which no programmer really seriously knows off the top of their head since most programming and clinical data departments have that law built into their SOPs anyway. My favorite was when she asked me to describe what kind of data is captured in an SDTM DS domain and I told her in generic terms exactly what went into it. She then goes on to "correct" me using specific examples that my generic explanation already covered. I have interviewed at many a large pharma and small in my 15 year career and have never dealt with such a blatantly insulting and insecure interviewer. Sadly I could have really helped their department alot given my expertise in CDISC work since I was trained by one of the EDITORS OF THE CDISC SDTM IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE. So if you're a principal level programmer, you should probably come prepared with at least a master's degree and the federal law on electronic data capture memorized. Quite honestly very few if any of the questions were programming based. Seems the programming staff is more concerned what your academic pedigree is than what your technical knowledge is. Other than this horrifically insecure manager, the rest of the interviewers were friendly and courteous and seemed genuinely interested in me which is why their HR had called to extend me an offer but I told them in a polite way I had no desire to work for them.

Interview Questions

  • Why didn't you go for a graduate degree? What is 21CFR Part 11? What is GCP?   Answer Question

Reasons for Declining

Because the manager seemed threatened by my experience which would probably mean a bad working relationship.

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