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Face to Face

Interviews and Assessment Centres Posted on: 19 Jul 01


Everyone hates interviews, but the more you attend, the better your performance becomes. Initially, it's a good idea to go to interviews even if you're not sure about the job. The experience will se
Everyone hates interviews, but the more you attend, the better your performance becomes. Initially, it's a good idea to go to interviews even if you're not sure about the job. The experience will serve you well when you go for the one you really do want. Before you go - do some research. Find out what you can about the company and which drugs you are likely to be selling. If you can find someone who works for them then brilliant. If not there's usually a lot of information to be found on their website. It is often a requirement that trainee medical reps have spent at least one day shadowing an experienced rep. Try to do this before you apply for jobs. If you know people in the industry then ask if you can go out with them for a day. If you don't, then it is worth asking at your GP surgery if the receptionist can put you in touch with a rep who may help you out. Many receptionists have their own favourite reps and if they won't give out a number they may take yours and ask for you. The most important thing to remember is that an interview is a two-way selling opportunity. The interviewer must show that his/her company can offer you what you want from an employer. And you must sell yourself! The interviewer has approximately one hour or less to decide if you are worth investing in (about £50,000 during the first year). You need to help that interviewer reach a clear and favourable decision about you. First impressions are vitally important - you will almost certainly be judged within 5 minutes and an opinion will have already been formed within 40 seconds. Research has indicated that the first impression that you make can be broken down as: Dress - 55% Speech and body language - 38% What you actually say - 7% All sorts of decisions are unconsciously made on the way you look, your image. Your social and economic level, your trustworthiness and moral character and your level of education and sophistication. If you are smart you will be seen as efficient, confident, credible and having integrity. If you are untidy then the opposite is also true. How do you get it right? Always wear a smart suit or matching separates that are classic rather than trendy. Avoid heavy perfume or aftershave and it is a good idea for women to wear some make-up, but not too much and shoes with at least some heel. Avoid dangly or distracting jewellery and men should stick to plain or striped ties or at least avoid loud, garish patterns. Make sure your hair and nails are clean. Before you enter the room - take a deep breath and............. SMILE Shake hands firmly and look at your interviewer. Maintain good eye contact throughout and try not to fidget. Listen to what is asked and answer the question asked not what you think he/she wants to hear. Be enthusiastic but don't waffle - try not to bore the interviewer. Above all - BE POSITIVE. You cannot sell anything - even yourself - unless you know what your buyer wants! Ask what they are looking for in the person they hope to employ. Once you know the answers you can present yourself favourably. If possible, if you say you can do something, provide some evidence to show that you actually can. Make sure you get agreement from the interviewer that you are offering him/her what is sought. If your opinion is asked then answer and then ask for his/her opinion. When you have obtained all the information you require and answered all the interviewer's questions then you should attempt to close the deal. Ask if you fit in with what they are looking for. Ask if there is anything you have failed to demonstrate that they may look for in another candidate. Ask what the next stage is, when will you hear, for example, or if you have the confidence, when can you start? Some frequently asked questions at interviews are: Why medical sales? What do you think a medical rep does? How would you handle rude or difficult customers? How would you get a doctor to remember your product, and you? Many companies also use assessment centres as the final interview process. These may be full or half day sessions incorporating some or all of the following: Psychometric tests: These may be of two types: Personality or Aptitude Personality tests cannot be prepared for. Just answer the questions as honestly as you can and with your work head on. These are rarely timed. Aptitude tests are different. They usually are timed and may be word, numerical or spatial. You can prepare to some extent for these by reading a good quality newspaper to help improve your vocabulary and doing word and number puzzles or crosswords. Mental arithmetic tests not using a calculator can also be helpful. Group exercises: These are designed to assess how you interact with a group of people. They usually comprise a scenario of some sort, such as a group of people in a balloon which is going to crash unless you get rid of all but one person. The task you are set is to decide who lives and who dies based on the information with which you are supplied. It matters not one iota what the final outcome is. What is important is, how you get there and how you, personally interact with each member of the group in the decision making process. Are you the wallflower who says nothing and just agrees or do you overrule everyone else and then sulk if you don't get your own way? Obviously, there are countless variations between these two and it is how you perform within a group that is being assessed. Role-play: In this exercise, you will usually be given another scenario, a selling situation and something to sell. You will usually get time to prepare for this and then you will be expected to enter into the selling situation, selling to one person and being observed by another. How you are expected to perform in this exercise will largely depend on your selling experience. If you have none then it is probably best to go with your gut instinct. At least then, if you don't do well you can ask why and it will be a good learning experience. Presentation: Again you will be given time to prepare for this. Sometimes as much as a week before the day, but often only half an hour. Think about what you are being asked to present and try to put yourself in the position of the audience and what they are likely to want to know. For example, if you are given some territory information and asked to show how you would improve sales - then look in the data for what has been done so far and what the sales are doing at present. Without that information, you cannot decide what needs to be done differently to improve matters. Interviews: There may be one or more of these. One will often be what is called a competency-based interview. This means that you will be asked to give examples of how you have handled certain situations. Examples could be: How have you changed someone's opinion? What do you consider to be your greatest achievement to date? How have you dealt with a sensitive situation? The most important thing to do when you attend an assessment centre is to view it as a learning exercise. Try to be logical and take time to think things through. Try to look as though you're enjoying yourself. Be friendly towards other candidates and try not to treat them as rivals. Smile and never never never knock anyone or anything. You could be talking to their greatest supporter.

Mandy Robinson

Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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