Posts Tagged ‘health’

Pharmaceutical Sales – A spark of interest

April 23, 2010

Having embarked on a career as a medical representative in 1987, I still reflect on the route that led me to the pharmaceutical industry.  Being a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative doesn’t often appear in the list of careers that we aspire to as teenagers hence it is invariably something people come across coincidently.  For me I spent five years in a hospital Biochemistry Dept completing post graduate studies and developing a strong clinical understanding of various diseases and illnesses.  It was here I met Sales Representatives selling laboratory diagnostics and equipment which sparked an interest in sales (I have to admit to being initially impressed by the suit, car and perceived flexibility of their job).  In fact what did appeal to me about a sales role was the inherent challenges working towards targets and ultimately being rewarded (bonus) and recognised for exceeding goals (working in the NHS could not fulfil that need) as well as selling products which genuinely make a difference to people’s lives.

Hence I started buying the New Scientist and Daily Telegraph; there was no internet job searching in those days! Quite quickly I secured two interviews for Laboratory Territory Manager positions before seeing an advertisement for Trainee Medical Representatives with a major pharmaceutical company.

Have to confess at that stage that pharmaceuticals was a bit of a mystery to me, but my Dad said that company was great (blue-chip), and there was a number to call to apply.  Two interviews later, including being flown to head office, I was offered a GP/Hospital Representative position.

Looking back I do wonder how I got that job as these days we expect entry level candidates to know so much more about the day to day practicalities of the role, the NHS and how the business works.  Clearly the company were looking for the basic ingredients which they could then train, develop and mould to reflect their values and culture in the eyes of their customers;  GP, Nurses, Pharmacists, Consultants, Registrars, SHO etc.

Over twenty years later in a different NHS landscape I still believe this to be true so what are some of those basics;

Personal Qualities – An inner drive, self-starter, the ability to work on your own initiative, enthusiasm, can-do attitude, tenacity, the ability to problem solve, good interpersonal skills, the willingness as well as aptitude to learn.

Clinical Foundation – This means an interest in medicine, the ability to learn and apply technical information.  You will need to communicate this knowledge to customers of all levels.  ‘A’ level standard Biology should help with ABPI. 

Business & Selling Skills – Understand you are there to increase sales; it is a sales job & not a promotional or educational position.  Have a consultative selling style, i.e. probe to understand the customer needs and agenda before offering solutions. Key Account Management & Networking Skills. Understanding local NHS politics, targets, agenda and how these may impact on your business.

Clearly a lot of clinical and business skills can be taught as long as you have the right positive attitude. In summary I would describe the role of a Medical Sales Representative, whether that be GP, GP/Hospital, Hospital or Generics as the opportunity to run your own local business.

I have enjoyed a varied, challenging and satisfying career in the pharmaceutical industry. I also know others, who embarked on their career at the same time, who have had similar experiences and taken their careers in to different functions in the industry including: Marketing, Senior Sales Management, Training, Consultancy as well as others who are now Senior Representatives such as Hospital Specialist Representative or Healthcare Development Manager.

If this sparks an interest in you fantastic!  To discuss your background and transferable skills then contact 20:20 Selection Ltd on 0845 026 2020 or visit . We have current opportunities Nationwide with hot-spots in London, Kent, Sussex, Essex, Somerset, Wiltshire, East Anglia.

Interview Guidance

February 4, 2010

Interview Guidance

PRIOR TO the Interview


  • Look committed and find out as much as possible about the company.


  • Visit their web site for more information on the company.


  • Find out who will your competitors be and as much as possible about the market/customers you will be selling to 


Job Description

  • Make sure you are fully aware what the role is you are being interviewed for.  Your consultant at 20:20 Selection Ltd will have fully briefed you on this. 


  • Be confident that you are technically qualified to do the job.  We would not have spoken to you about the role if we didn’t think your profile matched the client’s criteria!


  • Have examples from your previous roles to demonstrate your ability to do this job and evidence in your brag file to back this up



Personal Presentation

  • Look your smartest and show your most professional side during the interview. A company is more likely to employ someone who is well presented and who will therefore best represent their company to customers. 



  • Arrive to start the interview on time (be early if possible)


  • Obtain clear directions for the location of the interview and plan your journey, allowing plenty of time to arrive.



  • Introduce yourself courteously (first impressions last!)


  • Express yourself clearly.


  • Show tact, manners, courtesy, and maturity at every opportunity.


  • Be confident and maintain poise. The ability to handle your nerves during the interview will come across as confidence in your ability to handle the job.


  • Be prepared to show how your experience would benefit the company.


  • Ask questions concerning the company or products and the position for which you are being interviewed for. An interviewer will be impressed by an eager and inquisitive mind. You will also be able to demonstrate that you can contribute to the company or industry if you show an interest in its products and/or services.


  • Take time to think and construct your answers to questions to avoid rushing into a vague and senseless reply.
  • Demonstrate that you are sufficiently motivated to get the job done well and that you will fit in with the company’s organisational structure and the team in which you will work.


  • Show willingness to start at the bottom and work up.


  • Anticipate questions you’re likely to be asked and have answers prepared in advance. Uncertainty and disorganisation show the interviewer that you are unprepared and unclear what your goals are.


  • Be assertive without being aggressive (ensure you close – remember you are a sales person & ‘you’ are your product)


  • Thank the interviewer for their time


Interview Don’ts

  • Be late for the interview. Tardiness is a sign of irresponsibility or disorganisation and the employer could take it as what to expect in the future.


  • Arrive unprepared for the interview.


  • Say unfavourable things about previous employers.


  • Make excuses for failings.


  • Give vague responses to questions.


  • Show lack of career planning – no goals or purpose could convey the impression you’re merely shopping around or only want the job for a short time.


  • Show too much concern about rapid advancement.


  • Overemphasise money. Your interviewing goal is to sell yourself to the interviewer and to get an offer of employment. Salary discussion is secondary.


  • Show any reservations you may have about the role/company. You can always turn down second interviews and job offers after you have had time to appraise your concerns in the cold light of day.


  • Express strong prejudices or any personal intolerance.


  • Leave your mobile phone on during the interview.


These are general tips that can be applied to any interview situation.  Part of the service we offer at 20:20 Selection Ltd is to help you prepare for specific client interviews.  We have key account managers specifically working with clients & members of the team who come from a pharmaceutical sales management background so you will get personalised expert advice relating to your interview!  To find out more about 20:20 Selection Ltd visit

Nurse Advisor and similar roles within the Pharmaceutical Industry

July 20, 2009