How To Prepare For A Medical Sales Interview

Medical Sales Interview

Every in-person interview ends up being quite different. Sometimes the hiring manager will spend the whole time asking candidates detailed questions about their background and work experience. Other times these aspects will be glossed over in favor of broad, higher level questions. Regardless, preparation is necessary! In this article you will learn how to prepare for a medical sales interview.

Interested in how to get into medical device sales? Click here.

How Do I Prepare For A Medical Sales Interview?

First off, one needs to understand both the company and product involved. Every hiring manager is different, but most will expect the candidate to understand the basics of the company mission and culture.

I went through many interviews with smaller organizations and this topic never came up. Then I was then caught off guard when interviewing with Johnson & Johnson and asked about their credo or mission statement.

“We believe our first responsibility is to the patients, doctors and nurses, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs everything we do must be of high quality. We must constantly strive to provide value, reduce our costs and maintain reasonable prices. Customers’ orders must be serviced promptly and accurately. Our business partners must have an opportunity to make a fair profit.”

Johnson & Johnson

It was not a deal breaker, but it indicated I was not as prepared as I could have been. Read the job description thoroughly, browse the company’s website, and look for product  information online. These are the basics. If a candidate can connect with someone that really understands the role prior to the interview, whether another rep or a customer, this is a very favorable differentiator.

How To Answer Medical Sales Interview Questions?

Intuitively, confidence is really important for a sales role. I mean the classic stereotype in this industry is some overly confident and aggressive person making sure their product comes out on top. It is not necessary to be arrogant, but while interviewing it is important that any nervousness or timidness does not show through. 

I wanted to do well in my first interview and because of this I ended up being a little nervous. I have since learned an interesting insight regarding public speaking, and I believe it helps in these type of interview situations. In a performance situation a speaker generally settles in after a few minutes, especially if things are going well. Due to this is quite impactful to rehearse repeatedly the first few minutes of an interview. A strong performance during the first few minutes will build confidence increasing the chances of things going well for the remaining portion of the interview. It can only help, so why not give it a try!

Questions To Ask In A Sales Interview

Next, it is critical to come prepared with thoughtful questions for the hiring manager. As one prepares for an interview the basics are to research the company, the products, and the nature of the job. From an external perspective it is challenging to understand every detail about the job from this process. Therefore, it is expected that a candidate will have some questions. It is valuable to take advantage of this by preparing questions that show one understands the role and is considering what is needed to be a top performer. Do not ask useless, rudimentary questions unless there is specific information that has just not been presented.

An example of a good question: Mr. Hiring Manager, you mentioned that the Alaska rep is well above her quota every year. What characteristics drive her success in this market?

An example of a weak questions: Mr. Hiring Manager, what time do your reps typically get started in the morning? (This shows that one is already factoring in what time they would have to wake up).

How Should I Dress For A Medical Sales Interview?

I would like to say this next paragraph is irrelevant, but I can’t.  The way one dresses and presents themselves matters for entry level candidates. Not that is doesn’t matter for those with experience, but at a certain point a hiring manager assumes a candidate has the basics of dressing professionally mastered. The first instinct a candidate has for one of these interviews would be do wear a suit. Good, make sure it is dry cleaned and not wrinkled.

I had a few interviews in which I could tell the full suit with jacket was probably not necessary. I was even told on a few occasions that business casual would be just fine. I got accustomed to this and therefore left the jacket behind when meeting a hiring manager at a local Starbucks. He was an old-school, outdated guy who ended up making a big stink about it. I was overqualified for the position and it was not my ideal job, but how about if it had been? In conclusion, wear a full suit with tie unless specifically told otherwise, as one can easily take off the jacket if needed. Also, do not bring a big briefcase and a bunch of extra stuff. Bring a padfolio that has room for notes inside, a few copies of your resume, a pen, and your silenced cell phone. Simple enough. A “bragbook” can also be helpful.

Click here to read about how to prepare a medical sales resume.

Best Way To Prepare For An Interview

Try to call or email someone that may be able to offer insight on the position. This could include a customer of the product, a rep working in another territory, or someone else that is familiar with the industry, company, or product. Smoothly referencing this during the interview does so much to increase the credibility of a candidate. First off, there is nothing to lose. Worst case additional insight or knowledge is gained. Ideally it demonstrates that a candidate one is taking the process seriously and is willing do the extra work to help get the job. It may be surprising to see that the manager knows the person you spoke with.

It is helpful to have some prepared bullet points or talk tracks for the interview. I am not saying you should read off a script, but having some “go to” points can be useful regardless of what questions come up. It provides confidence and puts you in a groove at the point in the interview when you reference the information. The hiring manager will most likely ask you some questions based on your job descriptions on the resume. So build some good talk tracks around this content.

How To Close A Sales Interview?

You must close! One way or another you have to ask for the job. As it becomes clear that the interview is wrapping up you must make an effort to summarize what you bring to the table and close for the job. This does not need to be some cheesy canned line from a sales movie, just an authentic request to see where you stand and show confidence. Many times you may not get good information from this especially if the company is interviewing numerous people that day, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Why “Medical Sales” Interview Question

At some point, you may be asked why you want to work in medical sales. Be prepared to answer this question. One thing I have realized in sales over the years is that is okay to articulate that you are motivated by money. I mean most sales incentive plans are structured with this idea in mind. Regardless, have a thoughtful answer for this question.

Lastly, be an authentic, real-person while interviewing. Some folks end up using generic or canned phrases to explain what motivates them, why they want the job, etc. Don’t do this! Yes, it is important to be professional and say the right things. But managers like to hire reps that have the ability to connect with people on a sincere level.

Is Medical Sales Hard To Get Into?

It is critical to understand that getting one of these jobs is a process. A level-headed candidate needs to make an effort to learn from every interview, even if things do not go well. It is helpful to take a few notes right after the interview. Write down the questions that could have been answered better, and note areas in which more preparation would have been useful. Then take this information into account while preparing for the next interview.

            I made the mistake of approaching every interview as if I was going to get the offer that day. The problem with this is even if the first interview goes well there will be numerous additional steps prior to getting an offer. Getting a single offer is a process as is the interview process is cumulative.

During the year I was job searching, I ran into someone in medical device sales at a bar one evening. I listened to his story about how he got a few years of sales experience selling service contracts for fire alarm systems. After being a top performer in this role for a couple years he started the process of trying to transition into medical sales. He got his start with Stryker and had been in device sales ever since. His advice to me, “trust me man, it takes a year”! This ended up being the same for me as well.

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