While the purpose behind a healthcare sales interview has not changed (it’s a chance for them to evaluate you and vice versa), the past few decades have certainly introduced some new interview formats into the game.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common interview styles (think phone screens and one-on-one/face-to-face) to types newer to the job search scene (digital and online recorded sessions) used in pharma and medical device sales:
#1 PHONE SCREEN
Generally the first step, phone screens are usually quick, and in larger organizations are often conducted by a more junior member of an HR department or recruiting team.
What They Want: The phone screener’s goal is to assess if you have the knowledge, experience and qualifications for the role.
You may be pressed for salary requirements. If you can’t avoid it by saying you’d like to learn more about the role and total compensation before providing information, it is best to be direct and offer a range (not an exact figure).
Bottom Line: While it is important to be friendly, facts and healthcare sales stats are more critical than establishing rapport during this first round.
Tips: Speak from a quiet, distraction-free location, and prep by highlighting areas of your resume you feel are relevant to the sales position and to the organization.
#2 MEET UP FOR COFFEE INTERVIEW
A quick pull-up over a cup of coffee has replaced first round one-on-ones for some, and also serves as a forum for an informational interview.
Coffee chats are a great opportunity to learn about potential healthcare sales job openings, information about the company, and even get advice on how to get your foot in the door.
What they Want: These chats tend to occur with recruiters juggling multiple open roles, or hiring managers with a need but not an official job requisition.
Bottom Line: Though it may feel casual, it’s no less important to do your homework through research of potential companies and industries.
Keep at the ready examples of recent achievements, sales awards and rankings, and be prepared to give your elevator speech which includes why you are looking and what value you bring to the table.
Business casual wear, versus formal business attire, is appropriate. Be sure to bring something to write with, a business card if you have one, and several copies of your resume.
#3 ONLINE INTERVIEW
The advent of decent WIFI has given rise to online, face-to-face interviews. While these certainly save on cost and time spent traveling for an in-person one-on-one, there are pitfalls to consider.
What They Want: During an online interview, just as with face-to-face, the interviewer wants to get a sense for if you’re a good fit and confirm that you have the chops for the job.
Bottom Line: While, from a pure conversation standpoint, an online interview should be regarded like an in-person format, take your preparation to a whole new level, as there’s a lot that can go wrong.
- BACKGROUND: Aim for a professional setting that features an uncluttered background.
- LIGHTING: Make sure the lighting doesn’t drown out your face (try throwing a thin cloth over it and/or aim the light in front of you, not behind)
- SOUND: Be sure that your voice volume is just right, there’s no feedback, and no background noise.
- EYE CONTACT: Stare at the camera pinpoint on your desktop and not at your interviewer’s face, as this will make it appear as if you are looking down and not directly at them.
- BELLS + WHISTLES: Close out any software applications you do not need for the interview, and put all ringers on mute so there are no unexpected bells or alerts sounding off.
- MURPHYS LAW: Prepare for the worst by planning on technical difficulties. Keep your phone at the ready in case you have to resort to a call should the video connection fail.
#4 GROUP INTERVIEW
Many find group or panel interviews stressful because you are interviewed simultaneously by several members of the company.
What they Want: While time-saving for all parties, this format also gives some insight into how you deal with additional pressure as compared to a one-on-one.
Bottom Line: It is critical to maintain eye contact while listening to whichever panel member is asking the question.
When it comes to response time or asking your own questions, however, seek eye contact with all members as perhaps you would when delivering a small group business pitch or educational presentation.
Tips: Make sure to address each interviewer and repeat their names during introductions so you can connect with them individually.
Ask for each person’s business card so you have their info on hand for post-interview thank you letters.
#5 ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW
The most familiar format of all, the in-person, one-on-one usually takes place after the phone screen.
What They Want: The interviewer usually wants to get a sense of how you will fit into the sales organization and the company, but may also ask questions to confirm that the phone screener did their job in assessing your skills and qualifications.
Bottom Line: The end goal of the face-to-face is to build rapport and show them how you are well-suited to the culture and in a unique position to solve their pain points.
Tips: Stay focused and respond to the questions…don’t go off on any tangents.
#6 DIGITAL INTERVIEW
A relatively new interview style, digital interviewing allows a company to pre-record questions and have them read to or by the candidate who is sitting in front of a camera. The most high-tech, by far, the software employs cognitive fit and data analytics to score the candidate.
What They Want: Digital interviewing frees up the time of the interviewer, and according to many, eliminates personal bias from a diversity and fairness perspective. In other words, it levels the playing field.
Bottom Line: Have your responses at the ready, but keep them brief, and try your best to appear enthusiastic rather than flat, via your voice intonations and facial expressions.
Tips: Place the camera slightly above your face so you are looking up to avoid the appearance of having two chins. Just like the online interview, pick an area that is free of distractions and clutter.
DIFFERENT TYPES CALL FOR DIFFERENT MEASURES
Different interview types call for different responses and preparation. Understanding the purpose of each and having a game plan in place offers you your best shot at interview success in the healthcare sales world.
– By Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW, the founder and chief writer at Virginia Franco Resumes, offering customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.
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