The 10+1™ Checklist: The Art of the Perfect Interview

Use these 10+1™ elements to ensure the perfect interview and to maximize your chances of landing the job.

  1. Keep the interview focused.  After the initial rapport building, redirect the hiring manager’s attention back to the interview, and continue to redirect the conversation back to the interview throughout by using transition statements like, “I know that our time here is limited, and I feel it is important to let you know…”  Wording similar to this has always worked for me.

The reason that this is so important is because you’re being tested on it!  Once you’re actually working as a rep and selling to doctors, the last thing the doctors will want to talk about is your product.  Thus, you will constantly need to bring the conversation back to what you are selling.  The hiring managers have been trained to take you off your selling during the interview to see if you will attempt to steer the conversation back to what is relevant.  You will probably notice them making notes when you bring effectively steer the conversation back to selling your product.  Remember you are selling a product, you, during the interview.

This element is HUGE because they are not going to be with you 95% of the time, and that is why the entire interview process is really an indirect roleplaying game.

  1. State three points/characteristics that define you.  This was part of your pre-interview homework, and you’ll need to work it into the conversation early in the interview.  Basically, it should come almost directly after your first redirect.

This is key element to a successful interview because you will be beating the hiring manager to the punch.  What often happens is that, as the hiring manager is going down the interview script, he will later get to a point that he asks you to give three adjectives that describe you, and then he’ll realize that you have already talked about this.  If you hear something like, “Oh, we’ve already covered this,” you know you’ve made a slam dunk!  The manager either consciously or subconsciously realizes that you’re ahead of the game.  As an actual rep on his team, that would translate into you being low maintenance which is what he wants.

There are other reasons answering this question proactively and early.  First, it allows you to define yourself with more clarity to the interviewer.  This is because you have given your literal definition much earlier, and your examples during the course of the interview will solidify the characteristics.  This is better than having the interviewer try to discern your characteristics until he gets to this question later.

Also, answering this question early makes it much easier and more natural to “complete the circle” when you bring these up again in your closing points.

  1. Use your brag book.  You will use the brag book not only to demonstrate your past successes but also to show that you know how to present data.  This is another area where you’ll be proactive during your interview.  You will ask the interviewer if you can show them something that will demonstrate your past success.  Of course, he’ll say, “Yes,” and then you will pull out your book of saved emails, sales results hardcopies, Excel spreadsheets, or whatever it is that you came up with.

The most important part of this isn’t so much your information (although most people think it is), rather it is how you present this information and how you go about persuading the manager that this is relevant and important.  The manager will again think that you are more of a turnkey rep because he will not have to show you or explain to you how to present to doctors.

You will hold the book the same way you will hold information when you’re presenting to doctors.  You will stand or sit next to the manager.  Hold the brag book in one hand, and in the other hand you will be holding professional-style pen such as a silver metal Cross pen. You will never point with your finger; instead, you will point with the pen.  Practice beforehand, so all this comes natural.  The result is that you will look exactly like a seasoned pharma sales rep, and the hiring manager will realize that you’re the candidate that will be successful from Day 1.

  1. Reiterate your three points using your résumé.During your interview, reiterate and reinforce your three points (from #2) as you use your résuméto walk through your past positions and experience.  Not only will this allow you to solidify the picture that you are painting of yourself, but it also allows you to show that you can stick to a theme when selling your product.
  2. Use your PI Comparison.  When the hiring manager asks you what kind of research you have done or if he asks you to sell him something, discreetly pull out your Prescribing Information Comparison and sell him on the features and benefits of their drug while also differentiating it from its main competitor.
  3. Ask questions.  Just like with 99% of all interviews, near the end, the hiring manager will ask if you have any questions for him.  Be prepared with at least three good questions to ask.  I suggest one question that shows you are knowledgeable about the competition and the drug you will be selling, one question that shows your interest in the company, and one question to stroke the hiring manager’s ego.

First, ask a question that will demonstrate your knowledge of the competition and the drug you will be selling.  You will get this information from the pre-work you did earlier.

An example could be, “I understand Ramelteon’s mechanism of action primarily works on the type 1 and 2 melatonin receptors.  Besides the selective benzodiazepines on the market that compete in this space, are there any other sleep aides that work as a selective melatonin receptor agonist that could be launched soon?”  A question similar to this related to the drug you would be selling would almost certainly set you apart from all the other candidates.  Just be sure to pronounce the words correctly!  To get good at these pharma pronunciations, practice saying each word correctly 200 times, and they will sound natural.

Product-specific questions allow you to really score big because the hiring manager will believe that you really understand the drug’s class and how it works.  Really, that’s all you need to know about a drug.  The Prescribing Information is gold for your pre-interview research.  Anything you want to ask about the MOA, warnings, and/or contraindications would be excellent.

Next, you will want to ask an intelligent question about the company, so it appears as if you are really interested in the company.  Demonstrate that you have done your research by asking about the company’s future direction based on the past trajectory the company has been on.

Finally, you will want to ask the manager about him- or herself.  This is important because if they start talking about themselves, they will believe that the interview was better than it actually was.  This is because most managers have a big ego and like to speak about their past.  After you get a good background, ask a follow up question about their managing style with the reps.  This will key you on what the hiring manager wants to hear as you are getting to the close.  You want to transition into the close with this final set of questioning.

  1. Reiterate that you want to be on this team.  As you close the interview, let the hiring manager know that based on his or her background, the company, and the product, that you want to be on his or her team.

This is an important point because you know that this manager believes you want a position, but he also needs to believe that you feel that you can learn something from him and grow.  Development is very important for a new rep, and if the manager thinks you are going to be stubborn or difficult to work with, he will pass.

  1. Make the trial close.  You are interviewing for a sales position, and salespeople must always ask for the close.  Specifically, ask, “Based on my résumé, experience, and our interview here, is there any reason why you would not hire me for your team, and if so can I address any objections you may have today?”

Yes, this is ballsy, AND it’s exactly what they are looking for.  Most managers start to smile at this point because they know they are working with a superstar or a well-coached candidate.  Either way, you have shown that you are competent and that you are a stand out achiever.

  1. Handle any objections immediately.  If there are any objections, go ahead and handle them now.  At this point, any objections you get will probably be pretty weak.  However, it is likely that you will receive at least one because they want to see if you can handle them.  If you asked for the trial close correctly, you will have shown that you are proactive in seeking out objections, so you can address them and move the sales process forward.  Again, this is a huge element in the hiring process, and you will notice that the hiring manager is taking lots of notes.
  2. Ask for the final close.  Tell the hiring manager that you want this position and that you want to work with him/her and be on his/her team.  The wording should be something like, “So does that answer all of your questions about me. Ok, [hiring manager’s name], I want join your team.  What do you say?”  Then, be silent.

At this point, they may not be able to make an offer because of other the remaining candidates and their overall hiring process, but be prepared to tell them that you are interviewing with other companies and this is the one you feel in your gut is the best and that you really want to work with him.  Ask, “Can you get me in your next training class?”

  1. (10+1) Follow up.  Follow up with an email and a “Thank You” note that is handwritten to the hiring manager.  Send this either the same day after the interview or no later than the following day.  Do the same thing for the rep if you get a ride-along.

This type of follow-through is only done by a small percentage of candidates (less than 10%).  It shows that extra level of polish that gets you hired.

I cannot stress enough how important each step of the 10+1™ Checklist is.  Although you may feel they are somewhat pushy or rude, if you leave out any of these elements, you are seriously reducing your chances of getting the job.  Just remember how many people you are competing with for this position and realize that if you eliminate any of the elements of the 10+1™ Checklist, you will likely not get the job.

On the other hand, by doing all the items of the Checklist, you will stand out as a potential superstar sales rep, and that is what you need to do if you want to land this first job.  Just be confident that this will work, and it will.  Honestly, if you have any doubts at this point, you might as well stay home because that fear is going to communicate itself to every hiring manager.

When you stick to the 10+1™ Checklist, you will stand out.  After you leave your interview, the manager will probably be fumbling for his cell phone to call his boss and report how great he is at finding talent.  District managers live for this moment.  You can be the success story for their talent search and get hired the same day.  Make it happen!

Posted in Interview Tips