Culture & Retention Recruiting

4 of the Most Common Lies Medical Sales Candidates Tell

Lies medical sales job candidates tell

A medical sales job seeker finds your job description. They want to work for your company, but perhaps their skills and experience aren’t an exact match with what you’re looking for. The job seeker applies anyway. It’s annoying, yes, but understandable. They’re eager and hoping you’ll make an exception. It’s an honest enough mistake — unless of course, they fill their resume with lies in order to seem more qualified.

Candidates lie during the hiring process more often than you think. In an international survey of 800 employed adults conducted May through July by First Advantage, one in five candidates admitted that they had exaggerated the truth to get hired. In addition, a survey published by CareerBuilder in August found that 56 percent of hiring managers responded that they had caught lies on candidate resumes.

In the competitive field of medical sales, some candidates are bound to lie to get the job they want. Here are some of the most common lies professionals looking for medical sales jobs tell, and how to spot them:

“Yes, I’m very familiar with that product.”

Among hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder, 62 percent said they caught job seekers embellishing their skillsets on their resumes. In medical sales, applicants may be more inclined to lie about their knowledge and skills, considering each position requires a very specific skillset.

If a medical sales candidate’s listed skills match a little too closely to your job description, they might be lying. Test their knowledge, by asking them questions about the specific products and equipment they claim to have experience with in the interview. For example, engage them in conversations about the specialty pharmaceutical market, ask them technical questions about the health IT software they say they’ve worked with, or ask about challenges in the biotech and biopharma space.

Competent, honest professionals will be able to respond intelligently and confidently to questions about topics they are actually skilled in.

“I’ve done all those things.”

Medical sales candidates aren’t just lying about what they know how to do, they’re also lying about what they’ve done on the job. In the CareerBuilder survey, 54 percent of hiring managers said they have caught job seekers embellishing their responsibilities in previous positions.

In medical sales jobs, experience is critical, and candidates may try to make up for a lack of experience by lying about their duties on the job. Fabricating more advanced responsibilities can make professionals transitioning into medical sales, or those with just a few years of experience in the industry, appear more qualified.

If a job candidate’s responsibilities seem more advanced than their job title or their actual amount of experience in the field, they could be lying. Ask them about the responsibilities that seem suspicious. Behavioral questions will be the best way to spot a fake. For example, if an applicant claims they managed a team, ask them about a specific time they had to relieve friction among co-workers.

Behavioral interview questions will help you determine which professionals have genuine responsibilities, and which ones made up stories to support their phony qualifications.

“I have a consistent record of meeting my quota.”

Medical sales applicants know you’re going to ask about their sales numbers and their quota, and they know it’s a deciding factor in the hiring process. If their numbers are less than great, they may lie to land the job.

A good way to sniff out a lie about sales records is to ask the candidate about their numbers more than once. Ask them about their numbers during the phone or video screening interview, and then again in the face-to-face interview. Check for consistency.

Of course, lies of this nature will be easy to sniff out when you ask to see their brag book. Don’t gloss over this request as a formality. Review the brag book with a candidate and ask them to articulate how they achieved success in a specific quarter. Ask them about times they did not rank so highly. A candidate who can explain their success is someone who is likely to replicate that success at your company.

“I was the director of sales.”

Job seekers can instantly make themselves seem more desirable by making a little change to their job titles, and some do just that. In the CareerBuilder survey, 31 percent of respondents said they caught a job candidate lying about their job title.

Subtle changes in job titles can make a big difference. Changing titles from “assistant” to “associate,” removing qualifiers like “junior,” or modifying titles in other ways to suit the position are little tricks the candidate can use to instantly appear more qualified, and to bump their starting salary.

Our 2015 Medical Sales Salary report found that job titles make an impact on salaries. Professionals with titles of sales director, sales VP, national accounts, and sales manager earned the highest salaries.

Look for consistency in job titles across social and professional profiles, to catch candidates in a lie. You can also ask references to confirm job titles that seem suspicious.

Although we hope job seekers are telling the truth, some will inevitably lie. Taking some extra time to check out sketchy claims can help prevent you from hiring a professional who isn’t what he seems.

What lies have you caught medical sales candidates in? How do you spot them?