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5 Pharmaceutical Sales Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 13 Feb 2024

Sales Interview Questions and AnswersPreparing for a job interview can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to the competitive field of pharmaceutical sales. As a jobseeker, you must demonstrate your expertise, sales acumen, and ability to navigate challenging scenarios in a clear and confident manner. One thing you can do to help you achieve this is to practise answering some of the most commonly asked interview questions in the field, allowing you to refine your answers and ensure they are focused and concise.

In this article, we explore 5 key interview questions often encountered in pharmaceutical sales, with examples to help you craft your own winning responses. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a recent graduate, mastering these will help you stand out from the crowd and secure the position you’ve been working towards.

Question 1: How do you approach building relationships with healthcare professionals?

Example Answer:

“When it comes to building relationships with healthcare professionals, my approach is centred around fostering trust, understanding their unique challenges, and delivering tailored solutions. I firmly believe that meaningful relationships are built on open communication, mutual respect, and consistently adding value.

To start, I invest time in actively listening to healthcare professionals, taking the time to understand their needs, concerns, and goals. By demonstrating empathy and showing genuine interest in their perspectives, I establish a foundation of trust.

Once I have a clear understanding of their challenges, I leverage my product knowledge and expertise to provide tailored solutions, aligning the unique features and benefits of our products with their specific needs and highlighting how our offerings can help them improve patient outcomes. I ensure that my recommendations are backed by scientific evidence, relevant clinical data, and real-world case studies that resonate with them.

I believe in going above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service and make it a priority to consistently follow up with healthcare professionals, ensuring they have the necessary information and support. I also recognise the importance of nurturing long-term relationships and stay in touch even when there is no ongoing business. I take the opportunity to share relevant industry updates, and educational resources, and invite them to seminars or conferences where they can expand their knowledge. By keeping them informed and engaged, I foster a sense of partnership rather than just a transactional relationship.

Through these strategies, I have been able to establish and maintain long-term partnerships with many healthcare professionals. This has resulted in a notable 20% increase in repeat business year over year. These strong relationships have not only driven sales growth but have also opened doors to valuable referrals and recommendations within the healthcare community.”

Question 2: How do you handle objections or resistance from potential customers?

Example Answer:

"When it comes to handling objections or resistance from potential customers, my approach is centred around empathy, active listening, and providing relevant information to address their concerns. I firmly believe that objections are opportunities to better understand the customer’s perspective and provide the valuable insights they need to make informed decisions.

My first step is to actively listen to the customer. I give them the space to express their concerns and ensure that I fully understand their point of view. I acknowledge their objections and validate their perspective, demonstrating both respect and empathy and creating a supportive environment wherein they feel heard.

To effectively address objections, I leverage my product knowledge and expertise to provide accurate and up-to-date information that directly addresses their concerns. I present this information clearly and concisely, ensuring that it relates to their unique situation. I also share information that the customer may not have considered, helping them to gain a broader perspective and make more informed decisions. By presenting compelling evidence and case studies that showcase successful outcomes, I instil confidence in the effectiveness and value of our products. Through this approach, I have been able to decrease customer objections by 15% and increase conversion rates by 10%.

Question 3: Can you describe a challenging sales situation you faced and how you overcame it?

Example Answer:

"In my previous role, one of the most challenging sales situations I faced was when our main competitor launched a similar product at a lower price point. This posed a threat to our market share and required a strategic approach to overcome.

To tackle this challenge, I focused on differentiating our product by highlighting its unique benefits. I thoroughly researched both our product and the competitor’s offering to identify specific areas where we had an advantage. Armed with this knowledge, I developed a comprehensive comparative analysis that showcased how our product outperformed the competitors in terms of efficacy, safety, and patient outcomes.

When it came to selling our product, I tailored my approach to each healthcare professional, considering their specific needs, priorities, and patient populations. I emphasised the features and benefits of our product that were most relevant to their practice. By understanding their unique requirements, I was able to position our product as the superior choice, even when faced with a lower price point alternative.

Collaboration with our marketing team was crucial in overcoming this challenge. I worked closely with them to develop targeted educational materials that clearly and accurately communicated the advantages of our product. We created compelling brochures, case studies, and presentations that highlighted the clinical evidence and success stories of our product.

Consistent communication and follow-up were essential in maintaining strong relationships with our key stakeholders, ensuring they felt supported and valued. I regularly shared updates and new research findings to reinforce the credibility and value of our product. By staying in touch and addressing any concerns promptly, I demonstrated our commitment to their success and reinforced their confidence in choosing our product.

This approach resulted in a notable 10% increase in our market share within six months of implementing this strategy. By effectively differentiating our product, highlighting its unique benefits, and leveraging comparative data, we were able to overcome the challenge posed by the lower-cost competitor. This experience taught me the importance of adaptability in the face of intense competition, and reinforced the value of building strong relationships, personalised communication, and continuous education to drive successful sales outcomes.”

Question 4: How do you prioritise and manage your time effectively to meet sales targets?

Example Answer:

"Firstly, I start by identifying key accounts and prospects with the highest sales potential. This involves conducting thorough research, analysing market data, and leveraging insights from previous interactions. By prioritising these, I can ensure that I am focusing my efforts on activities that have the greatest likelihood of converting into sales.

Once I have identified my key accounts, I create a structured schedule and allocate dedicated time for different sales activities. This includes time for prospecting, lead generation, client meetings, follow-ups, and administrative tasks. By setting aside specific blocks of time for each activity, I can maintain a disciplined approach and maximise my efficiency.

When it comes to prospecting, I utilise a combination of strategies to identify new potential customers, including leveraging industry databases, attending relevant conferences or events, and seeking referrals from existing clients or industry contacts. I schedule regular blocks of time for prospecting to ensure that I am consistently filling my pipeline with new leads and opportunities. Client meetings and follow-ups are also activities that I set aside dedicated time for, as these are crucial for building relationships and nurturing existing prospects.

To optimise my time, I utilise technology tools and resources to streamline administrative tasks, including CRM software, email automation tools, and project management tools such as Monday.com. These help me to automate repetitive tasks, organise customer data, streamline communication, and manage my daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks. I regularly evaluate and adjust my approach to ensure I am getting the best use of my time possible, and that my strategy is positively impacting my sales productivity.

As a result of prioritising and managing my time effectively, I have seen a 20% increase in sales productivity and a 50% reduction in response time to customer inquiries.

Question 5: How do you handle rejection or setbacks in the sales process?

Example Answer:

"In the sales process, facing rejection or setbacks is an inherent part of the job, and I’ve developed several strategies for handling these challenges and utilising them as opportunities for growth and development.

First and foremost, I take time to reflect on the experience and evaluate what went wrong. I analyse the specific interaction, looking for areas where I could have improved my approach or better understood the customer’s needs. By critically evaluating each rejection, I can identify patterns or areas for improvement that can be incorporated into my future sales strategies.

I also seek feedback from colleagues and customers. I value their insights and perspectives and actively seek their thoughts on what I could have done differently or what factors may have influenced the decision-making process. By reframing rejection as an opportunity for growth, I am better able to maintain motivation, resilience, and a strong work ethic.

As well as learning from rejection, I focus on maintaining a strong relationship with the client or prospect. I understand that a rejection in the sales process doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship. By staying in touch and providing ongoing value, I keep the lines of communication open. This might involve sharing relevant industry insights, helping with any challenges they may be facing, or presenting new solutions that address their needs.

It's also important to remember that setbacks not only occur due to sales efforts but also because of external factors. For instance, economic fluctuations or changes in industry regulations can impact sales outcomes. In these situations, I proactively monitor the market conditions and monitor my sales approach accordingly. This may involve identifying alternative customer segments or developing new sales strategies that align with the changing landscape.”

Further Resources

More tips to help you succeed in your job interview can be found here.

Search the latest pharmaceutical sales roles on PharmiWeb.Jobs here.