Tricky Pharmaceutical Sales Interview Questions: Question #2 of 7, How to Identify and Answer
Another one of those pharmaceutical sales interview questions that can take you into “deadly territory” are any questions that force you to respond to a negative scenario, such as the following:
- 1. “Why were you fired?”
- 2. “Why did you receive such a poor performance rating on your last review?”
- 3. “Why were you laid off?”
- 4. “Why have you been out of work for so long?”
These questions are actually called “stress questions” and are designed to make you feel “attacked” – to elicit an emotional response. Don’t fall into this trap! Practice answers to these types of negative questions before the interview, so you’ll be able to answer in a confident and straight-forward manner, without getting emotional.
Employers also ask these types of pharmaceutical sales interview questions to determine if you will “play the blame game” and blame others for your misfortunes. Showing an inability to take responsibility for you actions or decisions will not endear you to the interviewer!
Regarding pharmaceutical sales interview questions that relate to being fired or poor performance [Questions #1 and #2, above]:
Please note that it is not dishonest to keep some of the ghastly details out of your answer. Don’t admit to being fired, reprimanded, etc. If the interviewer knows any of these for a fact (fired, laid off, reprimanded, poor performance review), then you may respond in an objective manner, as follows: “My manager – while good in a number of different areas – was taking the company in a different direction than I wanted my career to go.” Next, provide a very simple example to illustrate this – choose an example that showcases a skill or quality of yours that is necessary for success in pharmaceutical sales jobs! Always remember to stay positive and objective.
In response to questions regarding lay offs [Question #3, above]:
Lay off questions are often feared by candidates as well, although they are really quite simple to answer. The key is to prove your positive performance, separate from the layoff. For example you might say: “Although my team was #2 of 50 in the region, the company had some financial difficulties and made the executive decision to terminate the entire division I was in, along with 2 others. It was a difficult decision for the company; I hope they’ll be able to get back on their feet again very soon. I’ll be happy to provide you with the name and number of my manager, as she will attest to my qualifications and excellent performance on the job.” This answer leaves no question in the mind of the interviewer as to the true reason behind the lay off.
In response to pharmaceutical sales interview question #4, “Why have you been out of work for so long?”:
You must stay cool and calm, and never appear needy…even if it’s your first interview in 7 months! Without a cool demeanor, you’ll never pull the answer off! If you’ve been out of work for more than 6 months, you certainly know that you have a difficult road before you; however, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!
In answering you might say the following: “My last position taught me the importance of a good fit between myself and the company I work for. I’m being extremely picky in choosing my next job, because I want it to be the right company, with the right people, and the right values. Of course I’ve had offers, but since I will spend most of my waking hours in this next job, I want to be sure that it’s the right move for me, as well as the company. The next company I choose to work for will be my last, because I want to stay with the company for many years, and work my way up the ladder. Therefore I’m taking my time, researching companies and their pipelines, and continuing to network for my dream job.” The employer will not argue with you about this because this is a very rational answer that places you in a positive light!
Utilize these answers as a guide in crafting your own answers, unique to your situation. And remember, pharmaceutical sales interview questions such as these are only deadly if you allow them to be deadly. Anticipate negative interview questions, craft positive responses, and practice these responses over and over again BEFORE the interview for complete success.
And remember, no pain…no gain..in the interviewing world!
For more painful and deadly pharmaceutical sales interview questions and answers, be sure to visit our pharmaceutical sales interview coaching blog!