Common Questions for Laboratory Sales Job Interviews
In the course of a laboratory sales job interview you will be asked many different questions, but here are a few of the common ones and some tips on how to approach them.
Why do you want to work for this company?
A laboratory sales company, like any other, will have a place in the market and a perception of itself. It will have aspects that will make a laboratory sales job here different from another company. It may be a market leader - selling on reputation. It may be a new company, therefore making the laboratory sales job challenging and exciting. It may be highly specialized requiring highly specialised knowledge to do a good job in laboratory sales. It may be a company with a wide range of products, therefore giving the opportunity to visit the same laboratory customers many times. It may be offering a laboratory sales job that you feel particularly well suited for, either technically or commercially. Be aware of what aspects of the company / job are attractive to you.
What do you know about the work you will be doing? / How do you think you will spend your day?
If you are an experienced laboratory sales person you know how to do the job. Be aware of the likely differences between the laboratory sales job you are applying for and your current job.
If you are a trainee then hopefully you spent a day out with a laboratory sales person - if you didn't you should arrange this quickly. It is what you learned on this day that will help you answer this question.
Why do you want this position?
An experienced sales person needs to be clear on what this particular laboratory sales job offers over their current laboratory sales job. For a trainee you need to have some good reasons why you want to do a laboratory sales job and why you want to do this one in particular. Common reasons for wanting to move into laboratory sales are: succeeding or failing by your own efforts, the autonomy of being on the road; daily variety; interacting with people (but be aware that interaction with customers is superficial); freedom to run your own day; a buildable career structure; moving into a more dynamic environment but still staying in touch with science.
What personal qualities would make you good at the job?
The most common answer to this is "good communication skills". While this is relevant an employer wants to hear some more gritty qualities too. Are you driven? Motivated? Hard working? Well organised? In front of the customer the laboratory sales person needs to be persuasive, relate well to people, etc, but for most of your day you are not face to face with the customer and other traits become important.
Describe yourself in five words?
Thinking about how friends and colleagues would describe you can help. Make sure you include a couple of the traits that will help you to be successful in a laboratory sales job.
What are your strengths?
Again, include some strengths that are relevant to a laboratory sales job.
What are your weaknesses?
This is a tough question. We all have weaknesses and no-one expects perfection. But it is important to be prepared for this, as you do not want to pick a weakness that would have a serious impact on your ability to do a laboratory sales job, e.g. being disorganised, being nervous about driving etc. Also do not pitch a weakness that would suggest you would be very difficult to manage or to integrate into a team, e.g. I find it hard to take orders.
What do you think you can bring to this company?
There are two aspects to this answer: one is your experience and knowledge, ie of the products, the customers, your ability to sell etc; the other is your personality: your enthusiasm, your loyalty, your strong organizational skills etc.
What motivates you?
Make sure you choose something that is realistic in the laboratory sales job environment. If you are an experienced laboratory sales person it could be as straight forward as getting orders. For a trainee, probably something more general such as making a difference; being able to see a tangible measure of your success.
These questions are all designed to confirm that you are the right person for a laboratory sales job, and, just as importantly, that a laboratory sales job is the right sort of job for you. if you cannot find genuine answers to these questions that fit with this advice, then do consider whether laboratory sales is the right job for you.