To: Hiring Managers
Here’s a process for phone interviews done a little differently. Phone screens…not just asking for resume information, but putting a little pressure on like a real sales call to make the candidate sell themselves to you by asking abrupt questions and putting them off balance. You get to see the candidate’s real phone skills, sales skills under pressure, and manners.
To: Candidates for positions in medical sales, biotech sales, pharmaceutical sales, and laboratory sales.
Pay attention. This is what some hiring managers are doing now…be ready.
I’ve mentioned competency-based interview questions before, but I found a great list of questions put together by Jayanandan that includes all the basics plus “stress questions” and even left-field questions like “If I gave you an elephant, where would you hide it?” (I told you it was left-field.) Some interviewers ask odd questions to see how you handle unexpected twists. All sales jobs require good communication skills, but pharmaceutical and biotech sales are even more demanding than most, so go see the list…it’s better to have an answer to every possible question than to stumble in the interview.
In a good interview process, everything moves along at a steady pace and there’s about a one-week window between the final interview and the offer. The article I’m referencing says that if hiring managers wait longer than that, they risk the candidate getting doubts (maybe just forgetting how impressive the manager or the site visit was) and moving on, or the candidate getting over-confident and making the negotiating process difficult. Of course, using a good recruiter (laboratory sales, medical sales, or pharmaceutical sales) helps both sides in moving this process along to a good outcome for everyone!
I will be heading to San Diego in late July for the AACC. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with this trade show: it is the most important tradeshow of the year for the vendors that supply the clinical laboratory – for example: Bayer Diagnostics, Roche Diagnostics, Abbott Diagnostics, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Bio-Rad Laboratories, etc). This year will be very interesting because of the changing landscape. This year Abbott will be under GE’s name and Bayer will be under Siemens’ name. I am eager to see old friends and meet new ones. If you are going to be at the show, just let me know and hopefully we can talk about your career for a few minutes (in person).
Check out this article on how to use tradeshows for the job search!
Clinical chemistry usually encompasses all of the routine chemistry panels as well as special chemistry which includes but is not limited to hormones, drugs of abuse (sometimes done in toxicology), therapeutic drug monitoring, endocrine assays and diabetes monitoring through A1c testing.
See you at the show!
The folks over at http://nonsterile.com had a few more comments that I really like about ride alongs. I am going to take the liberty of just pasting those here:
“Medical Sales Recruiter posted a great article for those who are trying to break into the medical sales industry. The first suggestion is to ride along with a representative. So contact a representative and ask if you can ride along with them for a couple of hours.
Not only will you learn about the day to day responsibilities of a sales representative, but you will learn more about the corporate culture of the company. Find out how many calls you are expected to make per day. Watch closely and see how the representative interacts with the doctor. Are they pushy or more laid-back.
This is a great time to ask a lot of questions about what the representative likes and dislikes about the position. If will be reporting to the same manager, then take the opportunity to see if your styles are adaptable.
If you are lucky, the representative that you are riding with will schedule a luncheon. Representatives spend a lot of time setting up lunches, so you will learn valuable, first-hand experience.
Maybe not as important, but you will also see what type of company car you get. I have known pharmaceutical representatives that have chosen their future employer by the make and model of the company car. Me, I would rather have an auto allowance, so I can choose whatever car I like. “
A person without sales experience but with a lab background (research associate or clinical laboratory medical technologist) and a science degree (molecular, biology, cellular, chemistry, etc.) calls our firm…….they want to break into the world of sales for the clinical or research laboratory. The defining question I have for that person is: what have you done to prepare for a sales position? Jobs in pharmaceutical or laboratory products sales are demanding and competitive. If your answer doesn’t include at least 2 of the following possibilities you are toast!
1. Ride along with a sales representative from a lab sales company, pharmaceutical company, medical device company or medical products distributor.
2. Met with a neighbor or acquaintance who is a sales manager and spent quite a bit of time going over how their sales process works, what makes one person successful and another not so successful. (Here’s a great post on what makes a sales career fail.)
3. Taken a sales course (this is not seen that often).
An answer that doesn’t show significant effort on your part means a couple of different things to me and to my hiring managers. It means you only recently decided to do this and really have no idea what you are getting yourself into….or even though this is interesting to you, it is not worthy of a significant amount of time or effort on your part….or you have such poor time management skills that you can’t find the time to do this type of research…or you aren’t creative enough to come up with an idea of how to prepare yourself for this type of position. Any one of these answers means our answer is “no”.
So you’re a biotech specialty rep or a lab sales rep and you’ve entered the doctor’s office and they are not happy to see you–they’re busy, they’ve been visited by a couple of other medical sales reps already today–and they are not interested in talking to you. How do you get their attention in the 30 seconds they will give you?
Or, quick–you are a pharmaceutical rep back at the office and find yourself standing next to upper management (maybe in an elevator). What can you let them know about you, in a casual but confident and enthusiastic way, that will make them remember you come big project or promotion time?
That is an elevator pitch…something succinct but interesting that makes them want to know more. For tips, see Jonathon Farrington’s Elevator Pitches–Love Them Or Hate Them, We Still Need Them and In 30 seconds or less what is your elevator pitch?
Have you been contacted by a company who offers to distribute your resume for a fee? It might sound good…they would know the contact people who matter, where you might have trouble getting that information. By the way, this is not the same thing as a medical sales recruiter…I get paid when you get the job. Great incentive, huh? If it does come up for you, I found a post for you to see: 10 questions to ask yourself when considering paying fees to distribute your resume.
“In the grocery store of life, you have to figure out why someone would pick you up off the shelf,” says Andrea Nierenberg, president of the Nierenberg Group, a business communication-consulting firm in New York. “Are you new and improved? Are you repackaged? What are you doing to get that competitive edge? What you want to do is position yourself as you would a product.”
I love this. If each of us spent as much time thinking about our medical sales career as the major food manufacturers think about product placement on a shelf, what would be the consequences?
Personal branding is a huge idea right now, and the article this quote is from, Use Creative Marketing In Your Job Search, is fabulous information for your job search in pharmaceutical sales.
And you thought the job search was hard. Once you turn in your resignation, the pressure to stay can be tremendous. Your mentor, your colleagues, your boss and your boss’s boss all want to know why you’d want to leave them. Your current company might counteroffer with all kinds of things–more money, better title, they’ll do anything to fix whatever it is that’s causing you to go. After all, they were caught by suprise. They don’t have anyone ready to replace you and the cost and effort to find someone else will be significant. (Jeff Altman has a great article covering counteroffers.) Whatever you do, don’t cave in. Executive Directions also has an important-to-read-article that points out that nearly 90% of people who accept counteroffers wind up leaving either voluntarily or involuntarily within 6 months. The circumstances won’t change, no matter what they promise you, and now that you’ve let them know you’re unhappy, you could be just a gap-filler until they can fire you.