Sales is a tough field, so it’s not surprising that hiring managers often ask sales candidates tough questions. Here’s how to prepare for eight of the toughest interview questions pharmaceutical sales candidates face, so you can stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

  1. “Why do you want to work in sales?” The hiring manager can already guess you enjoy sales, so leave this out of your answer. Instead, think about what first attracted you to sales. Then ask, “Why am I still here?” Connect these two points to show how working in sales relates to your identity or personal qualities—how it’s more than just a paycheck.
  2. “What’s your sales strategy?” Another way this question is often phrased is “What will you do to develop leads, appointments and sales?” Create a brief outline of your methods. You may want to include a specific example of how one or more of the outline points worked well in the past.
  3. “What’s your sales process?” “You’ve landed an appointment. Describe what you do from start to finish.” While your presentation skills matter, they don’t close the deal. Talk about how you build rapport with a decision maker and how you move business along.
  4. “What motivates you to sell?” To answer this question, take a hard look at what matters to you. Do you want to hit the goal? Make your boss happy? See your name at the top of the leaderboard? When you can describe clearly what motivates you, you and the employer can more easily determine if you’ll thrive on this team.
  5. “Do you hate to lose, or do you love to win?” This question might baffle you because it seems vague. In fact, the answer can point to whether you’ll do well in a job. Research indicates that “hate to lose” types do better on strategic deals that require significant resource input, while “love to win” types thrive in a high-volume sales environment.
  6. “When have you failed?” “Tell me about a deal you lost.” What the interviewer really wants to know is how you learn from failures and setbacks. Choose a specific example and talk about what it taught you.
  7. “Why did you leave your last job?” This is the time to talk about factors like cultural fit, support for your sales approach and goals, and similar factors. Keep it objective and focus on the issues, not the people. Above all, avoid blame—take a “mistakes happen, it’s okay, I’m moving on” approach.
  8. “Tell me about yourself.” This is one of the toughest questions to answer in any interview. It’s especially tough for sales reps, who are often being graded on their sales pitch in addition to their content. Think about how you’d sell your skill set to this employer, and proceed accordingly. What’s in it for them?

The recruiters at SMR Group Ltd. specialize in connecting sales and marketing professionals to the best job openings in the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech industries. If you’re looking for a new sales and marketing pharmaceutical job, contact us today.

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