Questions YOU Should Ask At An Interview (guest blog by Rich DeMatteo)

I have a guest author for you today:  Rich DeMatteo, from Corn on the Job.  This excellent article ties in nicely with what I’ve said before about asking questions in the job interview.  Rich adds some valuable advice for you: 

Questions YOU should ask at an interview

Smart applicants spend a great deal of time preparing and practicing for an upcoming interview, hoping to successfully predict the questions that will be asked.  However, many times candidates pass on preparing their own questions for the interviewer, which leaves them looking like a deer in headlights when the recruiter or hiring manager asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”  In my experiences, even the poorly trained interviewers know they should allow the applicant time to fire off their own questions.  Recruiters and hiring managers expect it from the applicant, so why not use this to your advantage and make it as another segment of your interview?  Sure, many candidates will breeze through an interview never asking a question and will still get the job, but in today’s painful market, applicants need to fire with everything they have.  First off, why is it important to ask questions?

  • Asking questions shows you’ve been active in your thinking about the position.  The interviewer might think you’ve lost interest in the opening if your not coming back at him/her with questions.
  • Asking intelligent questions can go a long way.  Maybe in your head you responded to a previous question unfavorably in both you and the interviewer’s heads.  Use a few intelligent questions to possibly redeem yourself.  Asking well thought out questions will impress any interviewer.
  • Interviewers should always do their best to present enough information about the company, culture, and position, but you can use your questions to probe deeper into the company.  Don’t forget, you are interviewing the company as well and need to make sure it’s a place that you can see yourself working.  

So, which questions do you ask?  The list of questions below will not only bring you critical information to your job search, but also help to show your intelligence and interest in the position:

  • Can you discuss the corporate culture, mission, and values?
  • How would you describe the management philosophy of the organization?
  • With so many companies laying off right now, how has this company been able to maintain the workforce and continue to hire new employees?
  • What are the biggest challenges I would face in the first 3 months (the first 90 days are almost the hardest for a new employee)?
  • What do you expect me to accomplish in this job?
  • Does this position offer opportunities for advancement?
  • Why isn’t this job being filled from within?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • What are the current goals of the department and company for the coming year?
  • How soon do you expect to make a decision?
  • If selected for the position, which process would we follow in regard to further pre-employment screening, on-boarding, communication,  etc.? 

Sounds silly, but make sure to listen to the interviewer throughout the entire process.  Some of the questions you’ve prepared may have already been discussed either on the phone screen or during the face to face.  Asking an intelligent question may backfire if it has already been answered.  Also, unless it is brought up, do not ask questions pertaining to benefits and perks, salary range, and earning potential.  Let them come to you on this topic, you need to flash them your interest in the opening, not your desire for some more bling.  

Good luck friends, you’ll do just great.

The Secret to Screening Job Candidates…

August 27, 2009 · Posted in For Sales Managers, HealthCare Sales, Medical Sales, Video Blogs, YouTube · Comments Off on The Secret to Screening Job Candidates… 

Sales managers:  do you have an overwhelming number of applicants for your sales position?  If you’ve got a stack of great resumes on your desk, what do you do?  You don’t have time to interview them all, and it can seem like an impossible task to whittle the list down to a manageable number.  It isn’t.  There’s a great “trick” to get your candidates to self-select, which makes your job tremendously easier and increases your chances of ending up with an outstanding hire.  Watch this short video to find out what it is:

Ride-alongs and ride-withs (aka Job Shadowing)

What is a ride-along?  Why is it important?

A ride-along is just what it sounds like:  You spend a day with a medical sales rep who’s in the field you’re thinking you’d like to sell into, and see how a typical day goes.   A ride-along can be one of your greatest opportunities to differentiate yourself from another candidate. It sets you apart as a go-getter.  It gives you critical on-the-job information that helps you in your job search.  Among other things, it helps you answer the question, “How do you see yourself in this job?”

How do you get one?

Step 1: Ask for contacts.

If you want a pharmaceutical sales job, for instance, call your family doctor and ask for a favor–ask for the contact information of a couple of the sales reps who call on him.

If you want a medical device job, ask the doctor for those types of representatives.

If you want a laboratory sales job, go see a small laboratory and ask for a couple of contacts (folks who sell to them).

Get the idea?

Step 2:  Call the sales rep and ask them for a favor:  Will they let you tag along for a day or half a day to see what their life is like?

That’s all there is to it.  When you do the ride along, ask a lot of questions:  What do they like about the job, what do they hate, what skills are absolutely necessary, how did they get the job, etc. Then once you’ve done this, add the experience to your resume as a preceptorship.

Completing a ride-along communicates that (1) you are willing to go the extra step, (2) you know how to make contacts and (3) you know what you are getting into….It helps the hiring manager see you in the job and that is what gets you a job.

Here’s a link to a video that explains more.

How a Legal Software Salesperson Transitioned Into Medical Sales

August 24, 2009 · Posted in Career Coach, HealthCare Sales, HealthCare Sales Jobs, Medical Sales, Medical Sales Recruiting, Medical Sales Recruitment · Comments Off on How a Legal Software Salesperson Transitioned Into Medical Sales 

Is it even possible for a legal software sales rep to transition into medical sales?

The short answer is: yes.

But you know there’s more to the story:

Recently, I got a call from a legal services/software rep who wanted to transition into medical sales, but was having no luck. He applied online for over 50 positions, with no response. His next step? Contact a medical sales recruiter (me) for a little help. It took only one hour of custom coaching to fix his resume (using appropriate keywords) and teach him how to get in front of an actual hiring manager. In a matter of weeks, he had multiple job offers–in medical device sales and medical software sales.


I hope this video helps you get on the right track, too.  If you are interested in custom consulting to help you get where you want to go, click here.

Sales Manager Gives (Audio) Insider Perspective on Hiring (GE/Bayer/Abbott background)

August 22, 2009 · Posted in For Sales Managers, Medical Sales Recruiting · 3 Comments 

I met Chris Norris 12 + years ago when I was hired as the bDNA business manager for Chiron Diagnostics. He was a sales trainer then (taught sales skills and product curriculum). When I walked into the training room, he said to me: Oh – I know you – I saw your resume – chemistry degree, MBA?

What a fantastic way to start a relationship! From there I worked with Chris (he and I were both regional sales manager for Chiron after that) and then when I started my own recruiting firm, Chris was one of my first customers! I have watched Chris work his magic at several organizations, increasing sales everywhere he goes (or as he puts it increasing shareholder wealth). I decided to interview a number of prominent sales managers with deep hiring skills and successes and record those interviews so I could share them with YOU. Naturally, I thought Chris should be one of my first interviews.

I wish I could have heard these different perspectives when I was just starting out as a rep (and interviewing) and then again when I was hiring my own team. This is just first in a series of these types of interviews. Listen and see if there is something that you can learn that will make the difference for you.

Here is the audio:

Please, forward this blog topic to others that would benefit and tell me what you think about these interviews in the comments below.

Job Interviews: How You Can Benefit By Asking Questions

What really separates candidates?

It is not what you think.

What sets candidates apart

Of course, you need a great resume and you have to have presence. You have to have your shoes shined, show up on time and answer all the questions correctly.

But you know what really makes a great candidate stand out from the others?

It is the questions that they ask.

The questions that show:

  1. they have the confidence to ask the questions
  2. they thought it through
  3. they think strategically

Quick story

I had an entry level medical sales candidate last week call me right before she had her phone interview. She said, “Hey, I want to ask you a couple questions, do you mind? I want you to tell me, without  worrying about hurting my feelings, what are my weaknesses and what do you perceive are my strengths?”

I’ve never had a candidate ask me that!

Most candidates think they already know what I think, but we don’t really understand how anyone perceives us without first asking questions to find out.

The kinds of questions candidates should ask

Questions like:

  • Tell me a little bit about what you are looking for in your candidate or new hire, tell me about the last one you hired, or why is the position open?
  • What was it that you think held the other person back from being successful?
  • What are the tasks in this job that are really going to define success for this person?
  • What are the next steps?
  • When will I hear from you?
  • Do you have any reason why you would not consider moving me forward during the (hiring) process?
  • Are there any other folks who will be interviewing me later?
  • Will it be a panel interview?
  • In the typical day, how many hours do you work on the road?
  • How does the travel program work?
  • With your clients, what do you think is the #1 obstacle to success?
  • What do you see in the field with sales representatives that stops them from being successful?
  • Which product line of yours is your lead line? (i.e. the one that everyone should buy)
  • Which product line should they probably not buy?
  • What do you like about working here?
  • Among the other candidates, how do I rank?
  • Are there any questions that you have for me?
  • Do you see how my experience at XYZ (past company) translates well into this position?
  • Do you agree with me that a Bachelor’s degree in Biology is not necessary for this position, that it seems like it’s a sales process that really requires someone that can understand the product well enough, but can also understand the customer and their business process?

What it takes to ask a question is:

  1. Confidence
  2. Thinking it through
  3. Being strategic

Back to the story

I will tell you, that gal that asked me those questions, she set herself apart. I was impressed! And that does make a difference about my confidence in supporting her candidacy.

So when a manager called me and said that he was not quite sure if he was going to move forward with her, I insisted because I felt strongly about her. Since she had enough guts to ask me those questions when I interviewed her, she convinced me that she could probably do the job well.

She will probably ask the customers questions like:

  • When can I expect you to order?
  • When would you like the product to arrive?
  • Is there any reason why we can’t move forward with this deal?
  • How many pieces do you want to buy?
  • Is there someone else I need to speak to?
  • What is the purchasing process?

Get the point: QUESTIONS!

This is the key. I hope this video helps you and I wish you the best of luck.

I’ll see you at the top!


BONUS Opportunities for you:

How to Land a Job in Medical Sales. It’s an hour of straight talk from the medical sales recruiter on the 6 essential steps to transitioning into medical sales, the 4 things you absolutely must say in the interview, and much more.  You don’t want to miss this unique opportunity to hear job-landing tips from a medical sales expert!

How to Get a Better Job – Faster! Let me teach you the secret to standing out as the star candidate in every interview.  Spend an hour with me and jump start your job search!

Lab Services Sales Expansion Example: Case Study

August 19, 2009 · Posted in Laboratory Sales, Medical Sales, Medical Sales Recruiting · Comments Off on Lab Services Sales Expansion Example: Case Study 

How a strategic sales recruiter can help you meet your business goals:

PHC Consulting – nationally recognized recruiting firm specializing in sales, marketing, and technical support talent in the medical and laboratory arena.

6 Creative Ways to Stand Out in the Job Search!

SWOT Analysis:  One creative way to stand out in your job search!

SWOT Analysis: One creative way to stand out in your job search!

Can’t get an interview?

Can’t get past the first interview?

Are you demonstrating the levels of commitment, drive, tenacity, skills and organization employers want?

Here are 6 tried and true ways to separate you from other candidates and be the candidate everyone wants to hire:

1.  Preparation = SWOT Analysis:

SWOT is a strategic planning tool.  It stands for Strengths (attributes helpful to achieving the objective), Weaknesses (attributes harmful to achieving the objective), Opportunities (external conditions that will be helpful to achieving the objective), and Threats (external obstacles or conditions that will harm the process).  Look at the picture–it helps.  Doing a SWOT analysis on the company demonstrates your drive, commitment, and skills, along with helping you create a better 30/60/90-day plan. Click here for advice on how to do one and avoid mistakes.

2.  30/60/90-Day Plan :

A 30-60-90-day plan is a short, 1-3 page outline for what you will do when you start the job.  Essentially, you spell out for your future employer, in as little or as much detail as necessary, how you will spend your time–in training, learning company systems, introducing yourself to customers, and your initial plan to build sales.  It demonstrates exactly how you’ll be an asset.  A 30/60/90-day plan is an almost-guaranteed way to impress any hiring manager or hiring team.

Check out this audio that will tell you exactly how to present your 30/60/90-day plan to the hiring manager.  Get a proven 30/60/90-Day Sales Plan here.

If you absolutely can’t get an interview, you could try e-mailing your 30/60/90-day plan to the sales manager.  It’s an attention-getter, and it could be the key to get you in the door.

3.  Video or Audio Communication -:

Send the interviewer an audio or video clip of yourself.  Keep it short and sweet, and make sure you’ve checked lighting, background, and sound quality.  One idea:  Structure it like an elevator pitch–what can you do for the company and why can you do it?

4.  Brag Book :

A brag book is a folder/ binder that you can use during your interview process to clarify your skill sets.  It can include letters of recommendation, “attaboy” notes (or any notes commenting on what a good job you’ve done), staff ranking, annual reviews (if you include some, include them all), rewards letters, your resume, types of equipment you’ve used or marketed, certifications or other educational courses, any financial or PowerPoint presentations, copies of articles you’ve written, brochures you’ve helped develop, and a college transcript (though ONLY if you’re just getting out).  Here’s a link to a video that explains more about brag books.

5.  References :

It’s critical that you have winning references.  Some people believe that references never get called, but they do.  You should know how to choose a good reference, and know with stake-your-job-on-it certainty what they will say about you.  You can (and should) even coach them beforehand, to help them tailor their answers to the job.

6.  Follow-up/Thank You Notes :

Don’t underestimate how important thank you letters are in the job interview process.  Everybody “knows” they’re critical, but unbelievably, not everyone writes them.  Thank you letters accomplish several things:

  • They get your name in front of the hiring manager one more time.
  • They are your last chance to package yourself as the best, most qualified person for the job.
  • They are polite, and manners count.
  • They can be an example of your ability to take in information (the interview) and process and provide feedback or new ideas about whatever the problem was. For example:  “I thought about your concerns about how to handle xyz delivery issues, when I was a product manager at ABC corporation, we used………”
    (See what I mean?)

Handwritten thank-yous are nice, but e-mail thank yous are fast.  Sometimes, hiring decisions are made quickly, so a timely note can be critical.

I know these things will help you become an outstanding candidate!

If you need more personalized help, please see my custom consulting page.  If you’re really having trouble, a fresh pair of expert eyes can point out issues or problems that are keeping you from getting the job you want.

5 Things That Will Stop You From Landing the Medical/Healthcare Sales Job You Want

1.  Wrong degree

To get a job in medical sales, healthcare sales, clinical diagnostics sales, laboratory sales, pathology sales, imaging sales, biotechnology sales, medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, or any variation, you need either (1) a degree in one of the life sciences, like biology, chemistry, zoology, biochemistry, or biotechnology, for example, with some business classes and sales experience, OR (2) a business degree with a decent number of additional science classes (maybe a minor).  If you don’t have one of those, your chances are not good.  These are technical sales areas, so you need a working knowledge of science and medical technology to be successful. 

2.  Bad references

First:  when I ask about references, I’m looking for the name of one of your supervisors–either past or present, it doesn’t matter.  If you can’t give me that kind of a reference, it sends up a red flag for me–what are you hiding?  Second:  Know what your references will say about you.  You’d be surprised at how many references I call who (very carefully) don’t tell me fabulous things about the candidate.  If you’re not absolutely certain, stake-your-job-on-it sure that they will give you a glowing reference, don’t give me (or the hiring manager) their names.

3.  Bad driving record

You’ll spend your life as a sales rep driving to your customers, often in a company car.  No one is going to give you a company car if they’re not certain you’ll represent the company in a mature, responsible manner.  Reckless driving, DUIs, or even too many speeding tickets just won’t cut it.  Keep your driving record clean.

4.  Drug use

You’re supposed to SELL the drugs, not take them…  Seriously, any whiff (ha!) of drug use will put you out of the running faster than you can imagine.   It could be a little dangerous to have the surgical equipment sales rep standing in the surgical suite while stoned out of his mind.

5.  Criminal record/Felony

Same thing…do we even need to discuss this?  Employers in many industries routinely perform background checks.  Why would they in medical sales?  Pharmaceutical sales reps have access to drug samples.  Other medical sales reps–medical device sales reps, laboratory sales reps, surgical equipment sales reps, and  biotechnology sales reps, for example, are responsible for expensive  equipment, instruments, tests,  and more…not to mention the company car.

Sales Managers: Don’t Gamble With Your Medical Sales Hires!

August 12, 2009 · Posted in For Sales Managers, Medical Sales Recruiting · Comments Off on Sales Managers: Don’t Gamble With Your Medical Sales Hires! 
Sales Managers:  Hire Top-Performing Medical and Laboratory Sales Reps

Sales Managers: Hire Top-Performing Medical and Laboratory Sales Reps

Sometimes, hiring medical sales reps feels like a roll of the dice.  You hope you get a winner, but you’re never sure you will. 

In “Stop Hiring Poor-Performing Salespeople,”  Brian Jeffrey wrote about 3 specific pitfalls of hiring sales reps you should look out for, and that one way to avoid them and improve your odds of hiring a winner is to use a sales assessment tool.   I think assessment tools are a great idea.  I usually recommend to my clients that they perform personality assessments on their top-performing sales reps to use as a benchmark for potential hires.  Combining that with similarities in background, education, training, and so on gives you a better shot at finding someone who will fit in and do well on your team. 

I’d like to explore the pitfalls he mentions, and add to the discussion:

#1 – Can’t Sell

Essentially, some people talk a good game, but they can’t provide results.  Everybody likes them–you were excited about hiring them, and you like them so much you sometimes can’t bring yourself to let them go, even though they cost your company time and money.  (See The Sales Manager’s Dilemma.)  Benchmark comparisons with your current team, like I described above, make a much better guide to hiring than how well the candidate aced the interview. 

#2 –  Wrong Sales Environment

Just because someone was good at selling in one environment, doesn’t mean he can sell successfully in a new one.  Background is important.  It is true that not everybody can sell everything, and it’s true in medical sales,too, where there’s such a difference in products and services.  Pharmaceutical sales reps often can’t switch to, say, clinical diagnostics sales, or medical device sales reps might have a hard time switching to biotechnology sales.  Not always, but often enough.  However, if the sales process is the same–maybe they both involve a long sales cycle where you have to build a relationship with your customers, or maybe it’s mostly a cold-calling situation–well then, your chances are good.

#3 – Won’t sell

These are the people who should never be in sales, but get hired by a manager desperate to fill a position.  No matter how much potential you think they have, or how much time they take for training, or how many sales meetings you call, they’ll never be good.  Brian says, “Any hiring tool that will help you identify these people before you hire them is worth exploring.”  That’s where I come in.

A medical sales recruiter with 10 years of experience placing top sales force talent into the most prominent healthcare companies in the country is the way to (legally) load your dice.  Why use a recruiter?  A good recruiter will save you and your company time and money by sending you quality candidates hand-picked to improve your sales-force effectivness and benefit your bottom line.  All of a sudden, hiring new sales reps for any area of healthcare sales becomes less of a gamble and more of a sure thing.

Click here to see what we can do for you.

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