What does it take to ace the medical sales interview?
The medical sales interview is perhaps the most important aspect of the medical sales job search. Candidates can have the right experience and a killer resume, but if they can’t close the deal in the medical sales interview, they’ll be right back where they started–without an offer.
As the leaders of Global Edge Recruiting and Careers in Medical Sales, Denise and Randy Wilkerson have advised countless medical sales professionals on how to win the medical sales interview. The pair joined forces to write two medical sales books. The first book will be of particular interest to medical sales job seekers. INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED! is an educational and entertaining interview book about how to get the job you want. The authors offer six successful steps to win the job. Each step is designed to help you ace the interview, sell yourself, and get your dream job.
MedReps interviewed Denise and Randy, authors of two medical sales books, to learn more:
The medical sales interview is obviously a critical event in the medical sales job search. How should a candidate prepare for the interview to ensure they make a great impression?
There are several important areas to consider when preparing for an interview with a medical company. First, start by researching the company itself. At a minimum, you should know the company’s competitors, its structure (public/private), the size of the organization, and their mission, annual sales, and products and/or services.
Second, research the leadership team. Knowing a little bit about their background will help you connect with them. Reviewing their profile on LinkedIn or their company’s website will give you a big advantage.
The third important area is to develop “deep” questions to ask during the interview. To do this, you must see yourself in the position and think about what benefits and challenges you may face. This prepares you for when an interviewer asks you tough questions like, “Why do you want to work here?”
Lastly, give some thought as to why YOU are the best candidate for the position. Come up with points about you or your background that make you unique. Then use those points to sell yourself and your abilities to the employer.
Is it still important to have a medical sales brag book, and if so, how do candidates leverage it in the interview?
YES! Give your interviewer every reason to hire you. Don’t give out confidential or proprietary information, but if you have awards, certificates, or emails that express your ability to perform, this is the time to share that information. Remember, employers often feel that if you have been successful in the past, you will continue to have success if you work for them. Show them you can sell by demonstrating your abilities to do the job. We once had a candidate that could not prove his sales accomplishments with written documents so he brought a bag full of sales trophies to the interview. He got the job!
A list of accomplishments, known colloquially as a brag book, is important. If a candidate can present their accomplishments and align specific important material to the employer, they will make a more favorable impression. Instead of trying to cover ten areas of accomplishments from your brag book in a one-hour interview, cover five key aspects of experience that will have direct relevance and importance to the interviewer. How do you know what these areas might be? Hopefully, this will become evident after your interview preparation and research.
It can be difficult for employers to obtain references. By supplying documentation about your abilities upfront to the employer, it makes their job easier and may land you the job.
Candidates typically spend time thinking about how best to answer questions, but what questions should the candidate be sure to ask their interviewer?
Questions will arise naturally when a candidate spends time reviewing the company and the leadership team. However, it is good to ask questions about the structure of the organization, opportunities for advancement, and sales expectations.
Asking global questions can show a lack of preparation. Well-prepared questions can again show intelligence, preparation, and understanding of the basics of an organization’s business. More specific questions about market conditions or the future direction of a product group are great places to start. A background question citing a company’s current product line and the potential of new product launches also show that you did your research before the interview.
Additionally, a candidate should never miss the opportunity to “check in” with the interviewer to see if a discussion point landed appropriately. Consider asking a question like, “Do you feel that my background in that area is beneficial?” It’s important for a candidate to gain agreement at each successive part of the interview.
Never ask about benefits or salary until further in the interview process. However, asking about the commission plan or how much the top sales representative earns are generally acceptable and may show the employer you are “hungry” for success.
Your book highlights the importance of showing enthusiasm during the interview. Can you give some examples of this?
Enthusiasm during the interview process is more than just a saying that you are interested or excited about a job opportunity. It is displayed through actions. How quickly do you respond to the recruiter or hiring manager? Are you willing to travel overnight or longer distances to go to an interview? Do you rearrange your schedule to go to an interview or do you expect the company to schedule the interview at a convenient time for you? Do you send thank you notes to each person who interviewed you? Do you follow-up?
Here are some specific areas to show enthusiasm:
- Show up early to the interview and greet the receptionist.
- Greet the interviewer with a handshake – or an elbow bump if your interview is during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Let the interviewer know that you’re excited to visit with them about the opportunity.
- Smile and maintain eye contact throughout the interview.
- Ask appropriate, well-thought-out questions.
- Demonstrate preparation and knowledge of key publicly available information (i.e., company size, number of employees, basic market information, etc.).
- And most importantly, at the closing the interview, ask about the next step, or ask for the position if you are in the final stages of the interview process.
In 2020, many job interviews went virtual. How does preparing for an online interview differ from an in-person interview? What additional things should the candidate consider?
Preparation for a virtual interview requires the same amount of preparation as a face-to-face interview does, but there is the added step of understanding how to use some new technology.
It is important to display professionalism in all aspects of the video call. Keep your surroundings tidy. Limit distractions (i.e., silence cellphones, make sure dogs don’t bark, call a babysitter for young children, etc.). Dress professionally too – and not just from the waist up! This is not the time for business casual attire; pretend that you are dressing for a formal in-person interview.
Frame the video in a way that is flattering. Make sure you are in a well-lit area and position your camera to show you from the waist up. Look into the lens of the camera; this will give the effect that you are creating eye contact with the interviewer. Use a camera on a laptop or desktop computer and not a phone, if possible.
Log in a few minutes early to the interview. This shows the employer that you are enthusiastic about the job.
Don’t forget to close at the end of the interview and ask for the next step. A good salesperson always tries to move the process forward. It is no different on a virtual interview.
Denise Wilkerson is the founder and CEO of Global Edge Recruiting Associates, LLC. Randy Wilkerson, her husband and business partner, is the Vice-President of Executive Search and Recruitment Services. Founded in 1997, Global Edge Recruiting® is a nationally recognized executive search firm specializing in the recruitment of medical device, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, dental and veterinary sales and marketing representatives.
The Wilkersons also offer professional career coaching through Careers in Medical Sales, a career resource for entry-level and experienced sales professionals who are seeking careers in medical sales. Specializing in career coaching and consultation, our medical sales career coaches offer key medical sales career management strategies to assist job seekers specifically interested in careers in medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, biotechnology, veterinary and dental sales.