Sample Pharmaceutical Sales Interview Questions and Answers
by Pat Riley

What is your perception of a typical day for a pharmaceutical representative?

THOUGHT PROCESS:
The Hiring Manager is looking for your perception of what the representative does every day. They are also looking for work ethic (working early, late) and commitment to getting the job done. The more you can parallel what you are currently doing to the pharmaceutical representative's day, the better off you are. Show them you have done research and have spoken with someone in the industry.

*Note: If you can ride with a representative do that. This is a selling position-DO NOT SAY THIS IS A PUBLIC RELATIONS POSITION. Do NOT answer, "Drop samples and have dialogue with physicians." Your interview is dead with that answer

SAMPLE ANSWER:
I have an idea of what the day is like for a pharmaceutical representative and I think it parallels some of what my normal day is like. As a representative I would see as many of my assigned physicians as possible and sell them on why they should use my drug over the competition. I know some physicians are difficult to reach, so I would try to catch them early (6-7AM) in the hospital or after hours, like I have to do with some of my customers.

Some days I would utilize a lunch to better impact difficult to see physicians. After 5:00 PM I would enter my calls in the computer (or after each call) and pick up e-mails. At night I would look over pre-call planning for my next day. I don't know if you entertain physicians like I do with my customers currently but I would do some entertaining at night (restaurant) or on the weekends, (golf, hunting, fishing)-whatever it takes to beat my numbers.

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of a pharmaceutical representative?

THOUGHT PROCESS:
Again, The Hiring Manager is really trying to determine if you know the true challenges a representative faces daily. They are also trying to determine if you have the skills to meet these challenges.

SAMPLE ANSWER:
Well number one, I think its probably getting quality time with the physician to impact prescribing behavior. Another challenge I think you would face is there are physicians that don't see representatives. You have to be creative in finding a way to gain access to them. If you are currently in sales and face these obstacles in your present job, be sure to add this to your answer.

You are given a territory and a list of physicians to call on. How would you organize and prioritize your call schedule?

THOUGHT PROCESS:
The Hiring Manager wants to determine that you set your priorities based on the greatest return on time invested. You should organize your territory based on calling on the customers with the greatest sales potential. He is looking to see if you know the "80/20"rule. Eighty percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. Your goal is to find the 20 percent as quickly as you can. After the 20 percent has been contacted you move down the list and work on developing new clients.

SAMPLE ANSWER:
I would analyze my territory, and determine the accounts that have the greatest sales potential. I would quickly work to determine my most profitable 20 percent of my clients. Once they have been contacted and I feel comfortable with my relationship with these clients, I would then work the rest of my customers and develop new clients.

Tell me about your last manager. Did you like him/her? If I was your manager, what is the best way to coach/mentor you to success? What qualities should a successful manager possess? Describe the relationship that should exist between the supervisor and those reporting to him or her?

THOUGHT PROCESS:
The Hiring Manger is looking to see if he can work with you. The Hiring Manager is also looking at your perception of authority, your willingness to learn, how you handle criticism, and how you like to be managed. The Hiring Manager needs to know how to manage each of his/her sales representatives and provide the support and or tools to help the sales representative meet the goals. The relationship that should exist between the manager and sales representative should be open, honest, encouraging, and accountable on both sides. Be careful on how you answer this question. Again, no former manager bashing allowed!

SAMPLE ANSWER:
I liked my manager and we had a positive working relationship. We had similar thought processes on how to run my territory and how to best manage me. The best way to manage me is to give me all the tools (training, funding) necessary to be successful. Then let me run my territory in a way to exceed expectations. I would like a manager who periodically rides with me so he/she can understand my account and provide open constructive criticism. I view my territory as my own business and take accountability for its performance. I feel the successful qualities in a manager are as follows: high expectations, openness, honesty, excellent communication skills and the ability to assist me in my career development and goal attainment. I want an open and candid relationship with my manager.

How do you think you would get a Physician to switch to your drug?

THOUGHT PROCESS:
The Hiring Manger is looking for sales skills and your strategic process in dealing with physicians.

SAMPLE ANSWER:
First, I would NOT expect the physician to make a sudden change to my drug if he is happy with the drug he is currently prescribing. I am going to have to start small and expand his usage (nibble away market share). I would determine what influences his behavior: reprints, speaker programs, peers, and formularies. I would use a combination of the appropriate tools to gain physician agreement on my drug's effectiveness. After this, I would gain commitment from him to use the drug on a specific patient type. After the physician has tried my drug on this patient type, I would get him to notice the success on this patient when the patient comes back in for a follow up visit. When the physician admitted efficacy, I would then gain commitment for use in other patient types. This is comparable with my current business.

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