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The Four P s of an Informational Interview


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A critical part of the pharmaceutical sales job search is the informational interview that you will conduct with your networking contacts. Obviously, these information-gathering meetings will provide you with valuable insight into things like day to day activities, company culture, professionalism, and overall mood of the company (or at least the rep you’re interviewing). On the other hand, informational interview s give you a chance to practice the skills that you’ve acquired that will later be used in your interview. The PharmBoard Four P’s should be able to help you get the most out of your informational interview .

1. Plan - As the old adage says, “If you fail to plan, you’ve planned to fail”. As with any phone call, networking meeting, or sales call, you should enter the informational interview with a specific goal in mind. Here are a few things you might want to walk away from the interview having gained.
  * Information about the company’s future - You may want to ask what the plans are for the sales force in the long term and short term. Does the company plan on launching any new drugs in the next few years?
  * Information about the contact herself - Does this contact have the ability to help me get a job in pharmaceutical sales - either directly or indirectly? What does this contact do on a daily basis? Does she enjoy her job? Does she find a sense of satisfaction in what she does?
  * The contact’s input on how you might go about your search - Does the contact believe you need more sales experience? Does he believe you have the right demeanor to succeed in the job? Does he think you’re overqualified?

2. Prepare - In other words, research. You will be amazed at . . .
  * How much more willing a contact is to talk business with you if you already know a bit about the business to begin with. Just as an auto racer would probably not be interested in answering the question, “How do you start your car?”, a professional pharmaceutical rep isn’t typically impressed when a wannabe says, “So, do you have to wear a suit every day?”
  * How much more fruitful your informational interview will be if you are in tune with the company and the industry goings on. Reps like to educate. They like to share their thoughts on the state of the industry and their company. They like to speculate - even about your future as a drug rep. If you can initiate some of these discussions, you will win.

3. Probe - It’s all about putting your research into practice. The reason you research a customer, any customer, is to uncover needs. Probing achieves the same goal on a much more personal basis. Here are a few questions you might ask your “interviewee”
  * What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
  * What is your manager’s management style?
  * Do you work alone or with a partner/partners? How does that work?
  * Do you plan on staying a pharma rep or moving on to different roles in your company?
  * This list is endless. You should try to ask for suggestions from others in the message boards.

4. Promote - Like it or not, your job search is a sales call. You must, above all else, create opportunities to promote yourself. If you are uncomfortable doing this you have two choices: a.) Get comfortable doing this. b.) Go to and do a search for “cubicle jobs” because that’s where you belong. Here are a few thoughts on how you might go about promoting yourself in an informational interview .
  * Be yourself. Let your true personality show through. Be businesslike but casual at the same time (if you don’t know how, you should practice).
  * Let the person on the other side of the table know, without saying so, that you have done the other 3 P’s beforehand.
  * Don’t be shy about letting the “interviewee” know that you are seriously considering a job in pharmaceutical sales.
  * Don’t be pompous, but how off. Speak proudly about your accomplishments and be convincing when you talk about your skills and abilities.
  * Never, never, never say, “I’m a people person”. This also goes for formal interviews as well. I’ve heard more than one manager say they’ve ended an interview at least mentally if not physically when they heard the candidate say “I’m a people person”.

In the end, continue networking , continue reading, continue studying, and utilize’s Four P’s for a successful informational interview and you will be one step closer to the job you’re working hard to land. Then the challenges, and the payoffs, really begin.

About the Author

Ryan Stewart is the Founder, Owner, and Administrator of first-class Pharmaceutical Sales Job Search Megasite

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2006-06-05 23:42:37 in Employee Articles

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