To prepare for a job interview in medical or health care sales, you have to make sure you’re ready to answer both common and tough interview questions, and know how to frame your answers to highlight what you’re going to bring to the company (a great way to do that is to structure your answers in the form of stories that spotlight your skills). You also have to have some interview questions of your own ready–after all, you’re interviewing them, too. You want to know if that company’s a good fit for you, and is going to be a place where you can succeed. But there’s one question you should absolutely remember to ask before the interview ends.
It’s “Do you see any reason why you wouldn’t hire me for this job?”
I know…there are many who would disparage that question, finding it too canned and predictable. So ask it another way, then. But ask it.
Why? The interview is your best shot at securing a job offer. You don’t want to leave any doubts in the hiring manager’s mind about hiring you. You need to uncover those doubts and objections while you have a chance to address them. And many legitimate objections can be addressed simply by giving the interviewer a different perspective on whatever it is that’s bothering them. Or maybe you’ve forgotten to highlight some experience in your job history. The answer to that question will show you the weak spots in your interview, and give you another chance to shore them up.
Although this advice applies to any job interview in any industry, it’s especially true for sales. If you can’t even close the deal during your interview, what’s going to make the medical device, laboratory sales, or pharmaceutical sales hiring manager think you can close the sale when you’re on the job?
If you have any doubts about your ability to ask this question in the interview, PLEASE consider hiring an interview coach to role-play interview questions with you. Practicing asking that question with a coach will make it easier and more natural for you to ask it in an interview. You deserve to know the answer.
And getting it could make the difference in whether or not you get the job offer.
Listen to these tips on how to close for the job in the interview–exactly the words you need to say to the interviewer.
Here’s another great example of why you need to be active on LinkedIn: it’s a tremendous resource for medical device industry stats. I recently asked about what were the top medical device companies by revenue or employees (I love my LinkedIn groups!). I got some interesting answers and wanted to share them with you. (Of course, it’s a little different than the list of the Top 10 Medical Device Companies from last year.)
This is from one outstanding contributor:
Using the NAICS code for Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing, Hoover’s lists the following top 10 in terms of revenue:
United States Surgical Corp.
Becton, Dickinson and Co.
And in terms of employees:
Fresenius Medical Care Holdings
Becton, Dickinson and Co.
Tyco Healthcare Group
Baxter Healthcare Corp.
Guidant Sales Corp.
C.R. Bard Inc.
And this is from another, who broke it down into medical instruments/supplies companies and medical appliances/equipment companies:
Here are the top 10 medical instruments/supplies companies by revenue:
Baxter International Inc. Commo [BAX] $12.6 B
Covidien plc. Ordinary Shares ( [COV] $10.9 B
Boston Scientific Corporation C [BSX] $8.2 B
Becton, Dickinson and Company C [BDX] $7.4 B
Stryker Corporation Common Stoc [SYK] $6.7 B
Alcon Inc Common Shares [ACL] $6.5 B
CareFusion Corporation Common S [CFN] $3.7 B
C.R. Bard, Inc. Common Stock [BCR] $2.5 B
Teleflex Incorporated Common St [TFX] $2.2 B
DENTSPLY International Inc. [XRAY] $2.2 B
And the top 10 medical appliances/equipment companies:
Medtronic Inc. Common Stock [MDT] $15.1 B
St. Jude Medical, Inc. Common S [STJ] $4.7 B
Zimmer Holdings, Inc. Common St [ZMH] $4.1 B
Smith & Nephew SNATS, Inc. Comm [SNN] $3.8 B
Varian Medical Systems, Inc. Co [VAR] $2.2 B
Kinetic Concepts, Inc. Common S [KCI] $2.0 B
Invacare Corporation Common Sto [IVC] $1.7 B
Hologic, Inc. [HOLX] $1.6 B
Edwards Lifesciences Corporatio [EW] $1.3 B
STERIS Corporation Common Stock [STE] $1.3 B
These lists can be great resources when you’re looking for a medical device sales job. But don’t just choose a company based on revenue or size. Each company has its own advantages/disadvantages. Bigger companies can be very stable and provide many opportunities to move up the ladder, as well as offer excellent benefits, but can be too-big bureaucracies that micromanage their sales reps. Smaller companies can offer more flexibility and independence, but can be regarded as less stable than a big company (but that’s not always so).
Would you like more information? Check out this free report on the top 100 medical companies (with a unique section on medical device companies) from the Medical Sales Recruiter. I’ve put together a list based on the numbers, but added my own comments based on years of experience working and recruiting with these companies. It’s the inside scoop. And don’t forget to use LinkedIn on your own as a resource.
Click here to find out who’s hiring in medical device sales.
If you are trying to transition into medical device sales, please check out the How to Get Into Medical Sales kit for step-by-step coaching through the process of landing a medical device sales job.
There are so many details involved in a successful job interview, and every one of them is more critical than the last. Hiring you is a big, expensive risk for the company. (If they put in the money to train you, pay you, and give you health care benefits, are you going to make it worthwhile for them?) It’s up to you to take care of every single detail to put their minds at ease and be excited to hire you. But if you boil down those details to the 3 most basic parts that make up a successful health care sales interview, you’re going to get to (1) preparation, (2) interview techniques, and (3) follow up.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Interview preparation is so critical, I can’t emphasize it enough. The more you do, the better. The closer you appear to being able to walk right in and hit the ground running, the more they’ll be able to see you in the job–which brings them one step closer to hiring you. Google the company, check out their corporate website, read the company’s LinkedIn page as well as the pages of high-level executives there, and then scope out their place in the market. What are their biggest challenges and goals?
Then, research the job. If you’re transitioning in or are a new graduate, consider riding along with a sales rep for a day to get a better grip on the details. Think about what you’ve done in your background that will lend itself to your success at this job. Pick out stories in your job history that illustrate the qualities they’re looking for.
All of this preparation should go into the development of your 30/60/90-day plan. This plan is a written outline for what you intend to do your first 3 months on the job–from how you’ll learn the ropes to how you’ll begin to stand on your own two feet and make your own contributions to the company. It does take significant effort to create this plan, but hiring managers are so impressed by them, the results are worth it.
2. Sharpen your interview skills by hiring an interview coach. It’s the fastest, most efficient way to find out how you’re coming across to a potential employer. Get the coach to role-play interview questions with you and evaluate your answers. Get a critique on how you’re dressed, your body language, your overall style and general job interview etiquette. You’ll almost certainly be surprised at something you’re doing that you shouldn’t be; or at some small thing you can improve that will lead you to exponentially greater results.
3. Follow up. Don’t underestimate the power of the follow up. You can do more than just send a thank you note, although you’ll already stand out if you do because most people don’t. Revamp your 30/60/90-day plan with the input you got from the interview, and resend it with your note (that mentions points you missed or need to expand on). You’ll communicate that you can take constructive criticism, that you’re adaptable and flexible, that you can think strategically, and that you are really interested in this job. Check out these additional job interview follow up tips.
If you’re new and trying to break into the medical sales arena, check out the How to Get Into Medical Sales Kit from Career Confidential.
Don’t get me wrong…there are many questions you must ask the interviewer in order to land a medical sales job. Asking questions in the interview demonstrates your intelligence, drive, enthusiasm, and preparation for the job. It turns the interview into a conversation between professionals, putting you in a better psychological position, interview-wise. You’ll also find out if you really want to work there. You’ll find out, for instance, if the environment is a good fit, if you can work with this manager, and if it’s a place where you can advance your career. All in all, having questions of your own to ask in the interview is a great thing.
What’s the one question you can’t afford to forget? It’s the one question that can make or break your interview.
It’s “What are you looking for?”
Or you could ask it in a different way: “Can you describe your top performer in this role? What are his or her characteristics?”
Why would you ask this question? Because it sets up the interview…tone, structure, focus, etc. Maybe you think it’s obvious from the job description, or otherwise self-explanatory. By asking this question, you’re going to get at the heart of what the employer’s looking for, and it’s going to give you major guidance for how to formulate the rest of your answers–especially if you’re asked any behavioral event interview questions. You can choose the stories that are going to really tilt the interview in your favor.
Health care sales managers are going to have a “formula” in their heads for what makes a great medical sales rep. It will vary depending on the industry (medical devices, laboratory sales, pharmaceuticals, pathology, biotech, etc.), the individual company, and the products they sell. If you can uncover what that formula is, then you have a much better shot at showing the hiring manager why you fit.
The interview is pretty precious real estate in your job search. You don’t want to waste time addressing what you THINK the employer wants. Just ask. Make every minute count, and make every answer give the hiring manager one more reason to offer you the job.
Check out my free training webinar “How to Get a Better Job Faster” for more job search tips.
Do you have something to say?
PHC Consulting is looking for content.
What kind of content? Well, I try very hard to publish what is useful and relevant for medical sales jobseekers as well as medical sales reps. That means job search strategy; tips and advice for resumes, interviewing, and 30/60/90-day plans; and best practices in sales that will make you successful on the job. If you have specifics about the job hunt in laboratory sales, medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, or any other health care sales subset, I’d be interested in that, too.
I’d like to get some input from you.
What’s been your experience out in the job hunting trenches? Do you have some advice to give? Do you have some sales techniques or practices that you’d like to share with others? Not only will you get to help your neighbor, this is a great chance for you to build your online brand. Your name attached to a well-written, knowledgeable, helpful article will be a terrific item for your next employer to find when they Google you. (If you’ve got your own blog to pull articles from, that works, too.)
But remember the details.
Spend some time crafting a headline that will capture the attention of readers, maintain the rules of good grammar, and spell-check it, please. Feel free to link to other relevant articles that will serve our readers.
What’s the next step?
Email your prospective post to me (firstname.lastname@example.org – subject line: guest blog post) and I’ll take a look at it. If I think it’s a good fit (I reserve the right to edit), I’ll post it. Pretty simple.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Just got off a coaching call with a candidate who is making a critical mistake in the interview and missing the job offer.
I don’t want you to miss this – it’s a less-than-5-minute audio that will change the way you think about the interview.
Here is what you should do:
1: Click the audio control below to listen to the audio
2: Go here to sign up for custom interview coaching (or coaching on any other aspect of your job):
I know that this will make a difference in your job search.
Your personal brand is nothing more (or less) than the image you project to others. It’s the whole (although abbreviated) picture of who you are and what you do–professionally. Online, it’s the sum of the parts. A large (maybe the whole) purpose of creating and maintaining an online brand is so that people who don’t know you (employers or potential clients/business partners) can find you, evaluate whether they want to meet you/work with you/recommend you. And that’s why it’s a big deal.
Your online brand is your first impression for people, job leads, or opportunities that you might miss if it’s not everything it could be. And, it’s definitely a piece of the puzzle for those who have met you in person and are looking to find out more. If you don’t think a hiring manager is going to look around online for more information about you before they make the offer, you are seriously misguided.
So, what can you do to make sure your online brand identity is a strong recommendation for why someone should hire you?
1. Use every opportunity to establish a presence. Although LinkedIn is my favorite online networking site, you should also incorporate Twitter, Facebook, Visual CV, and others. (One article says that you should “cybersquat as much social real estate as possible” to both strengthen your online brand and to combat social identity theft.) Make absolutely certain that every site provides a professional profile with dynamic words that describe who you are and what you do.
2. Make sure your photos are professional and consistent. Attach a head-and-shoulders professional photo to each of your online pages. Having the same photo on all sites will help those who don’t know you recognize you. And please remove the too-personal photos of you with your friends at the party, or you at your political function, or anything else that could cause controversy. If you’re trying to land a job in medical or health care sales, you want potential employers to concentrate on your job skills without anything else getting in the way.
3. Participate. Join groups and discussions, and try to share something of value to help others. Always keep your brand in mind as you contribute your thoughts and ideas. (It’s not hiding the “real you,” it’s simply keeping a public face that’s separate from your private one. Or, to put it another way…there’s a lot you wouldn’t say in front of your grandmother that you wouldn’t hesitate to say in front of your friends. Think of cyberspace as your grandmother. ) You decide how you want people to see you, and develop a consistent theme. It presents a unified, clear, positive image to the rest of the world that will pay off for you in your career.
I came across a good article I’d like to share with you: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference In Your Job Hunt. We do tend to think a lot about resumes, 30/60/90-day plans, interviewing skills, and closing for the job, but it can be the little things that make a difference on whether we get to the interview or not. (I’m paraphrasing the article’s points here so I can add my thoughts.)
Some of the small but critical details you must remember to land a job in medical sales include:
- Your contact information – If you’ve got several social media sites, you might forget to update them with your correct contact information if you move, for instance. Same goes for resumes. That’s the kiss of death when working with recruiters. As a recruiter, if I can’t find you, I can’t submit you for the job.
- Your voice mail message – Please be sure this is a professional greeting–not funny, or recorded by your kids (as cute as they are).
- Your response time – Your job search can seem really slow, until the employer is ready to make a move. Then it’s quick, and you better be ready to go. Respond quickly to phone calls or emails so you don’t miss out. Also, it shows enthusiasm if you get back to employers or recruiters quickly.
- Your attitude – If you land the interview (or even the second one) and are passed over for the job anyway, it will still benefit you to exhibit a good attitude and resolve to keep in touch. If this job isn’t right, the next one might be. And a recruiter is going to be much more inclined to call back the candidate who handled themselves with grace and professionalism.
- Your enthusiasm – It’s OK to show the employer how much you want the job. You can do this with your voice and smile, but a great addition to this is your 30/60/90-day plan that you bring to the interview. Your written plans for your first 3 months with the company are a concrete demonstration of your enthusiasm and commitment that’s irresistible to hiring managers.
You know you can use online social networks for your medical sales job search (and LinkedIn is one of the best for landing a health care sales job), but did you know that employers are searching for you, too? You won’t get hired as a medical sales rep without being checked out online…maybe it’s good business sense, maybe it’s just human nature, but it happens. What will the hiring manager find when he looks at you? Here’s a funny example of what can happen when employers find too much information on your online networks:
BioSpace: Careers for Lab Professionals Who Want to Get Off the Bench: Molecular, Cyto, Histo, Med Tech, etc.
BioSpace is a fantastic site for biotech, clinical research, and pharmaceutical news and jobs. You can search jobs, get the latest industry news, check out the forums, see company profiles, and more. It’s really just huge. Anyway, I am thrilled that they’ve published one of my articles about career opportunities for laboratory professionals who want off the bench. It’s also been featured on DeviceSpace (for medical device and diagnostic news and jobs) and ClinicaSpace (clinical research). If you’re interested in a career in medical sales, laboratory sales, medical device sales, biotech sales, clinical diagnostics sales, pharmaceutical sales, or any other health care sales, you should absolutely check these sites out.
(Here’s the article)
When we go off to college, sometimes we choose a career that just does not satisfy our needs. Many times scientists with the BS, MS, or PhD in the lifesciences or other science areas find themselves to be unsatisfied with the position that they find themselves in a year or two after graduation. What seemed fun and exciting is now boring and oppressive. Often the love of science and the desire to continue learning is still there, but not the desire to continue in the present career path. If you find yourself in this position, here’s a list of possible jobs for you, complete with brief descriptions where needed. These positions in sales, service, and marketing exist in all areas of medical sales: laboratory, clinical diagnostics, molecular, cellular, medical device, biotechnology, histology, pathology, hospital equipment, and pharmaceutical. If I miss any potential careers, feel free to add them in the comments below. Okay?
POSSIBLE CAREERS FOR THOSE WITH STRONG SCIENCE EDUCATION BUT NO LONGER WISH TO BE ON THE BENCH:
Inside Sales Positions – These are usually like call centers. The key here is to be okay with the cold call and to have the optimistic attitude for success. These positions can be fun and lucrative. They usually have set hours and require no travel.
Outside Sales Positions – These are usually field-based positions. They require someone with a lot of self-discipline and of course, that “sales personality.” These positions can be extremely lucrative and have a lot of flexibility. Depending on the size of the territory, the travel can be daunting. You should consider going on a ride along if this is interesting to you – see this video getting into medical sales for more info…. While I’m at it, I have three posts that explain different types of medical sales– Part I, Part II, and Part III, as well as posts on laboratory sales vs. medical device sales, and how pharmaceutical sales compares.
Business Development/Technology Transfer – These positions can range from someone who has a very strong technical understanding who investigates future products or acquisitions to someone who is a super salesman. You need to clearly understand your personality and specifically the job you’re looking at. These positions are all different. Assume nothing – ask a lot of questions.
Applications Specialists – Usually the “applications” part means that you will help make sure that the assay or test is working. Your company may provide a platform and your responsibility is to help the customer get their assays working on your instrumentation. This can be very challenging, and a good field apps person has to be a great communicator. These can be high-travel positions.
Field Service Positions – This position is usually responsible for setting up a new system that a customer purchased and troubleshooting when that system is not functioning correctly. These can be high-travel positions. (click here for more info)
Field Technical Support – Same as above.
Customer Service – Maybe the company needs an extremely technical person to help the customer purchase the correct products. This will usually be a phone-based position. The hours will be set and include very little travel.
Technical Support – In-house – like the field-based position, but without the travel. Communication skills for this position are really important.
Marketing: Strategic – (It’s important to note the difference between strategic and tactical.) The strategic marketing person is responsible for figuring out where the company should invest for future products and what the specifications for those products should be. This is an original-thought kind of person who understands the value of customer feedback and communication.
Marketing: Tactical – This person usually supports the field sales force with bulletins, pricing, and product training. Marketing job descriptions that do not clarify tactical vs. strategic are probably both. Many scientists pursue the MBA to move into marketing. Marketing positions can have a lot of travel. Be sure to ask about the requirements of every job. Never assume anything in the interview process.
Some additional careers you might consider that use your technical background:
Teaching – You probably know as much about this as I do…BioJobBlog has a post on this, as well as other great info on alternative science careers.
Patent/IP work – Some scientists actually pursue a law degree to marry with the technology. Every company will have one of these on staff or on retainer.
Can you think of any more?
If you’d like to be considered for sales, marketing, or technical support positions like these, submit your resume to PHC Consulting.