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Top 10 questions to ask before you take a medical sales job

You’ve talked to the medical sales recruiter, made it past the phone screen, and maybe even successfully completed your first interview. You’ve researched the company’s website, product lines, press releases, and news mentions. You’ve picked out your interview suit, organized your brag book, and rehearsed your answers to interview questions, but have you thought through what questions to ask in the medical sales interview?

The interview is not solely designed for the company to evaluate you. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know the company and determine whether or not it’s a place you’d like to work. So, you shouldn’t be the only one in the hot seat.

Here are 10 questions you want to be sure to have answers to before you take a new medical sales job:

1. Is this a new position or an existing role?

Use this question as an opportunity to find out more about the job. If it’s a new role, how was the territory serviced in the past (if at all)? If it’s an existing role, why did the former rep leave?

2. What are the biggest challenges your sales team faces?

Of course, you may not know the real answer until you’re on the job, but the hiring manager should be able to discuss some of the specific obstacles members of the sales team have to overcome.

3. What is the typical ramp-up period for new sales reps?

The position likely offers a base medical sales salary, but what you really want to know is, “how soon will you be earning enough commission to make all the hard work worth it?” You may want to ask about the length of any formal training process and how soon a new rep is typically out in the field and potentially closing sales.

4. What characteristics do your most successful reps have in common?

You want to know if you naturally possess the qualities it takes to be successful with this company. Now, even if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t fake it ’til you make it. But you may want to think about the impact that could have on your job satisfaction.

5. How are top performers rewarded?

Assuming you plan to be a top performer, of course, you want to know what medical sales job perks you will receive. But this question is about more than that – sure you’d like to know about reward vacations or cash bonuses but this is also the time to simply find out how they rank and measure reps and get a feel for how intense the pressure is.

6. How would you describe the corporate culture?

Most field sales reps aren’t particularly worried about the climate at the corporate office, but the overall corporate culture is set from the top and can definitely be felt in the decisions handed down to mid-level management. Use this question to start a dialogue and watch for answers in the interviewer’s tone and body language more than in their words.

7. How would you describe your management style? (And would your team agree?)

Again, the interviewer’s tone and body language will tell you more than their words with this question, so pay close attention. And though the answer may not be subjective, how managers describe themselves can reveal quite a bit about how humble or arrogant they are – and how easy or difficult they may be to work with.

8. What has been your career trajectory with this company?

Hearing your interviewer talk about his or her experience at the company can tell you a lot about what it takes to be successful and what the company values.

9. How is the company planning to address (insert industry-specific challenge here)?

Whether it’s the medical device tax or expiring patents, choose an issue you know is on the minds of company leadership and ask questions. If it’s something company leadership has spoken out about on a blog or in the press, ask a question specific to their position.

10. What will your new hire need to do in the first 6 months to ultimately reflect well on you and your decision to hire them?

Is it all about making or exceeding quota or are they looking for someone to bring in fresh ideas and create change on the team? Is there a certain project, the new hire would ideally own? Ask this question to find out what’s really going to be expected of the new hire so you can better evaluate if it’s the job for you. (Plus, hiring managers eat this one up.)

The interview is a two-way street. Don’t focus so much on what interview questions will be asked of you that you forget to think through what you need to know to feel comfortable taking a job. The questions listed here are just a starting point. Think about what’s most important to you in a medical sales job, and ask questions that will allow you to find out if this particular job has what it takes to allow you to be both successful and happy.