Challenge:Pharmaceutical Sales Interviews
by Pat Riley

I hear Pharmaceutical Sales Interviews can be real challenging? Is this true?

As a 6-year veteran of pharmaceutical sales recruiting I answer this question with an absolute YES and NO. How can my answer be both yes and no? Well, if you correctly prepare, your interviews should be an easy flowing conversation about you, the company and the job opportunity. If you don't correctly prepare and know what to expect during the pharmaceutical interview you will get flattened! Guaranteed! Competition for a pharmaceutical sales position is too tight to just "wing it" and hope you get the position with a big smile and witty answers.

Interview Process Overview:

This is a usually a 2 to 6 step interview process lasting anywhere from one week to a month…depending on the company's hiring policies and the companies urgency to hire. An initial phone screen is usually followed with several face-to-face interviews.

Basic Pharmaceutical Sales Interview Preparation

Know the latest interviewing techniques, questions, and how to correctly answer them.
You must be prepared for the SITUATION, ACTION AND OUTCOME type of interview questions. Situational questions will be asked and your answers must include the actions taken and the outcome of your actions.

For example: The situation (problem) was X. I did the following X, X, and X, resulting in X dollars in revenue or increased sales/decrease costs.

Know your 90 second commercial

The "90-second commercial" is about you, what you have done, and why they should hire you. This needs to be concise and focused on your RECENT accomplishments. (A typical pharmaceutical sales representative spends less than 2 minutes in front of the Physician, so his/her sales pitch needs to be clear and concise…much like your 90-second commercial).

90-second Commercial Script:

  • Hello, my name is "X".
  • I am interested in a pharmaceutical sales position with your company.
  • I am currently with (or I was most recently with) company "X", where my title was "X". While in this position, I sold "X" products and earned the following awards: "X", "X", and "X". I increased sales "X", "X", and "X", resulting in an additional "X" dollars in revenue. My clients were "X" and my contact points were "X".
  • I am interested in making a career move into pharmaceutical sales because of "X", "X", and "X".
  • I received my 4-year degree from "X" University with the following honors: "X", "X", and "X".
  • My first job out of school was "X", where I was responsible for "X". While at company "X", I was in charge of "X" or accomplished "X". I chose to further my career by leaving this company and going to work for company "X".
  • Repeat until you are at your most recent position.

Know the company, products and job description

The company website is an excellent place to start. Pharmaceutical company's websites provide you with a wealth of information, but do not stop your research here (see list of resources). While on the website, look for the following information: job description, corporate headquarters, senior management, current products and indications, research and development, financials, and press releases. (Special note: press releases are a hidden jewel of recent information…Ask the hiring manager about a recent press release and see how he/she reacts).

Know how to close the deal

Tell the hiring manager you want this job! Don't forget to write a thank you note (letter or email) with in 24 hours of the interview.

Research web sites:

  • (finance and quotes)
  • Hoovers Online: www.
  • Edgar Online:
  • Dunn and Bradstreet:
  • Physician's Desk Reference (PDR):

Pat Riley is the president of 10 Abbott Street L.L.C.,
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