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5 Things You Need to Do When Asked About Salary in the Medical Sales Interview

You’re sitting in a medical sales job interview and things are going great. Until the interviewer asks the one question you’re unprepared to answer.

stokkete; Bigstock“How much money do you earn?” she asks.

You freeze. You know one wrong step can cost you the job. You’re stuck in a game of the Price is Right — if you make less money than they expect, the interviewer could assume you’re not bringing in enough commission and that you’re not a talented salesperson.

What do you do? How can you answer the question successfully?

Take a deep breath — answering this question requires some preparation. Here are a few ways to ready yourself to answer the ‘salary’ question and land that medical sales job:

Before the interview

– Do the research: Before you head into your interview, research the typical salary range for the job type and your experience. For example, our 2015 Medical Sales Salary Report found that the average salary for medical sales jobs is $141,464, with an average base salary of $80,681.

But this number changes depending on the products reps sell, job title, experience, and company size. Sales directors and managers earn significantly more than sales support and marketing roles, and those who work for large manufacturers earn the biggest paychecks.

Location also influences salary, our infographic on the best cities for medical sales jobs found. Sales reps in Phoenix take home the highest salaries of $178,407, compared with those in Baltimore who earn the lowest salaries among the cities studied, at $137,762.

Take time to familiarize yourself with the different factors that impact pay, and understand a realistic salary range you can expect to be within.

– Tap your network: In addition to overall salary trends, see what you can learn about salaries at the company you’re interviewing with. Do you know anyone who works or has worked for the company? Do you have colleagues who know people who have worked there?

Use these connections to gain the inside scoop on salaries for medical sales jobs at different levels throughout the company.

During the interview

Shift the focus: When the interviewer starts asking about salary, tactfully shift the direction of the conversation. If they ask what salary you want to make or expect to make, discuss what’s more important to you in medical sales jobs. You can talk about work-life balance, company culture, company mission and values, or professional development. Share what you’re looking for in an employer beyond salary.

If this shift fails to satisfy the interviewer, ask them to share a base salary range and details about the commission structure. Interviewers want you to succeed, and they want to make a good impression on you as well. In the best case, they give you a ballpark figure. In the worst case, they turn the question back on you and you’re back where you started.

– Give an explanation: After researching salaries for medical sales jobs, you learn your compensation is below the industry average. You panic — you don’t want the employer to think you’re not valuable.

In this situation, the best course of action is to open up an honest conversation with the interviewer and explain why you’re earning less. Explain whether your base pay or your commission is contributing to your overall lower pay.

The Medical Sales Salary report found that commission varies significantly depending on the products reps sell. For example reps who sell home health products earn in the lowest commissions, while those who sell surgical devices earn the highest.

When it comes to base pay, reps who work for smaller employers or service providers typically earn less. Whatever the reason is, talk about it to show the interviewer that you are informed and aren’t worth less than those who earn more.

– Tell the truth: Whatever you do, be honest. If you must reveal your current salary, don’t lie about it — it could come back to harm you. Don’t claim that your compensation is much higher than it is or push for a higher base. If you do, the interviewer may think you lack confidence in your abilities to sell and earn a high commission.

Instead, be open and confident and move the conversation forward. Get off the salary topic and back on your passion for medical sales. Instead of discussing your expectations, talk about your enthusiasm and ways you can make the employer money. After all, this is what the interviewer is the most interested in. They want to know that you will perform well, reach your sales goals, and improve their bottom line.

Talking about money is never comfortable, especially in a job interview. To land medical sales jobs, be honest about your current salary and salary expectations, and keep the conversation centered on your experience and passion.

Have you been asked the dreaded salary question in medical sales interviews? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and share your experiences!

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