Pharma interview

1) What are the challenges in being a Pharmaceutical Sales Person?

The true challenge for a Pharma salesperson, is to convince a doctor to switch from a drug that he or she is prescribing to their patient.

2)  What are the key responsibilities of a Medical Representative (MR)?

The typical work activities that a medical representative has to do are

  • Increase Sales
  • Increase awareness of the brand
  • Increase market share
  • Meet and exceed targets
  • 6-7 calls per day and fixing appointments
  • Manage the territory like a small business
  • Build a relationship and convey product information

3)  How can you become a successful pharmaceutical representative?

Pharmaceutical sales is a high turnover business and to get its foot into it requires:

  • Positive Approach
  • Good Network and Focusing on Sales call
  • Good communication skills
  • Good product knowledge
  • Understanding market value of your product
  • Good research on competitors and their sales target

4) Explain why pharma sales is different than other sales?

  • Pharmaceutical sales is an indirect sales role
  • Pharmaceutical sales have no order to close or contract to sign
  • It serves for an expert physician promoting product through education and awareness

5)  Is there any software available in the market to help to track their sales and progress?

Pharmaceutical specific ERP software are available in the market which can be useful to track the total number of sales, exact customer location; profit made quarterly, sales management, stock information from stockiest and so on.

6) How you can convince a physician to switch to your drug?

  • To convince a physician to switch on to your drug is most challenging task especially when he is happy with its current drugs.
  • To switch on to your prescribed drug, your first step is to
  • Make your presence by setting small sales initially let say targeting 1 or 2 patient and target bigger later on
  • Gain complete knowledge about the drug and observe the prescribing behaviour of physician
  • Use your product knowledge and other tools to make physician understand your product.
  • Once the physician show his confidence in the product,  push him to prescribe your product for more patients

7) What is your expectation from your sales manager?

  • Provide you with all amenities and tools required for job
  • Knowledge and tips to increase sales
  • One who can assess your potential and set realistic goals
  • One who supports and use his knowledge and yours to bring synergistic result

8) What will be your approach if you are given a territory and a list of physician to call on?

80% of business comes from 20% of the people.  For a given territory, your first approach should be:

  • Analyse and see the customers and their potential
  • Gather all the data’s of sales particularly in the area you are given
  • Target those physician or customers who have bigger sales potential
  • Later, you can start calling for appointments

9) What is the training aspect, if one is selected for the sales representative position?

The training can include

  • University or school studying all the aspect of the product
  • Training on field with an experienced representative
  • Learning anatomy and physiology to competitor’s products

10) How many product does a med rep usually carry? How do you get bonuses paid on them?

Usually, a med rep carries 2-3 products and sometimes four if it is an experienced guy.  Each product is responsible to a portion of the rep’s sales bonus. To get bonuses paid, they have to sell all the products and meet the decided quota.

11) How many sales calls are you supposed to make each day?

Your sales depend on how often you see your physicians and make contacts.  To achieve maximum sales it is desirable to make maximum calls and fix the appointments. On average, any company demands around 10-12 calls a day.

12) Explain what are the pros and cons working for a small scale and large scale pharmaceutical company?


  • It is easier to shine and advance at small pharmaceutical companies
  • Small scale industries become big pharmaceutical companies very rapidly
  • Small companies offer stock options as incentive to stay with them long-term
  • Often smaller companies are sell out to larger companies, and the original stockholders get wealthy


  • For entertaining clients, small pharmaceutical companies do not provide significant expenses
  • Territories are bigger, and you have to drive more instead of working in a limited territory

13) How would you reach a physician who does not see a representative?

  • Try to communicate with their staff (receptionists, medical secretaries, practice nurses, etc.)
  • Send him product information and literature through e-mail
  • Drop literature regarding product to their clinics
  • Invite him to speaker meetings and see him at CME meetings

14) What do you prefer a long or short sales cycles?

Depending on the situation I would prefer which cycle to opt for, usually a long sales cycle as it gives enough time to know the physician and can spend time educating him about the benefits and uses of the product.  However, if the physician is well-informed about the product, then short sales cycles would be more preferable.

15) Explain as a medical representative what is your selling style to the physician?

  • Be clear and precise about your product
  • Use Pictures, Illustrations and Drawing and if possible use PowerPoint Presentation to show product
  • Support your argument with evidence like case studies or clinical trial results
  • Every drug has advantages and disadvantages- do not hide any information about product
  • Maintain constant communication with the physician
  • Build relationship with physician and staff

16) Explain what is your pre-call planning to a chemist?

  • When did the distributor deliver the last order to the chemist?
  • What is the distributor frequency of visit?
  • What category of your drugs is the prime focus of his purchase and in what quantities?
  • Would you like to inform the pharmacy staff about a new drug launch?
  • Do you have any question about generic substitutions?

17) Explain how should a sales call of a representative should end?

A sales call of a med representative does not end like that or normal sales call. Instead it sounds like offering an option like:

  • Trial usage
  • Repeat prescription
  • Continued usage
  • Extended usage
  • Expanded usage
  • Once the client or physician identifies it requirement, it will choose one of this option.

18) Explain what is meaning of Marketing Mix?

Marketing mix refers to the set of actions, tactics which a company uses to promote its product or brand is referred as Marketing Mix.

19) Explain what is the role of a Product Manager?

  • The role of a Product Manager is
  • Market Analysis
  • Segment Analysis
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Qualitative and Quantitative research
  • Planning and Preparing the marketing mix
  • Delivering the marketing mix

20) Explain what do you find most re-warding about being a med representative?

The most re-warding about being med sales representative is satisfaction of helping patients and becoming a medium of providing them a lifesaving medication. Apart from that you help physician to make the right decision about the product and nevertheless you get an opportunity to see many people throughout the day.

21) what is ASM and its job role?


  • An area sales manager typically manages sales force within his defined regional territory. He/ she is responsible for overseeing sales operations, meeting targets and managing the sales team in the region.
  • The Job Role and Responsibilities
  • Primary job responsibilities of an area sales manager would include:
  • Managing, training and motivating existing sales team to drive revenue growth
  • Develop and manage efficient distribution networks for sales
  • Develop efficient and creative sales and marketing strategies for the assigned territory and target setting for the sales team
  • Collecting customer and market feedback and reporting the same to the organization
  • Monitoring sales team performance, analyzing sales data, periodical forecasting and reporting to zonal heads.

22) What is brand manager and its role in pharmaceutical industry?

  • The Brand Manager is typically the person who has marketing responsibilities to develop and execute marketing programs that increase brand identity and awareness for a specific product. The brand manager is responsible for a product’s overall image, and they typically control most of the major aspects of the marketing for a product or product line.
  • The brand manager ensures that all marketing activities do not deviate from brand guidelines, and reinforces brand equity.
  • The seniority of the brand manager’s role varies across companies, from being part of the Marketing Director’s job, to being part of a brand team reporting to a Senior Brand Manager
  • A typical Brand Manager role includes:
  • Product line management
  • Sales and Marketing strategies
  • Budget management
  • Recommendations on packaging, pricing, positioning and promotion
  • Close Interaction with agencies
  • Developing and implementing tactical and strategic marketing plan
  • Ensure all marketing materials are current and appropriate, as well as effectively communicated

23) How  are  differentiate product and brand ?

Meaning A product is an item which is ready for sale in the market. A brand is something which distinguishes a product from other products in the market.
What is it? A product is What you need? A brand is What you want?
Uniqueness A product can be easily copied. A brand has a distinguished identity, that cannot be copied.
Created by Manufacturers Customers
Can it be replaced? Yes No
What they do? A product performs the functions. A brand offers value.
Appearance A product may be tangible or intangible in nature. A brand is intangible.
Time Horizon A product can be outdated after some time. Brand remains forever.

24) What are the differences between generic and brand name drugs?

When the patent expires, other pharmaceutical companies may apply to the FDA for permission to manufacture and sell a generic version of the original compound. The generic drug manufacturer must prove that their product contains the same active ingredient(s) as the brand name product. They must ensure that their generic drug maintains the same form (liquid, pill, capsule, injectables, topical), concentration, and dosage as the original medication.

“generics may include different inactive ingredients such as preservatives or fillers.”

But there may be differences between brand name and generic drugs. Although the active ingredient must be the same as the original drug, generics may include different inactive ingredients such as preservatives or fillers. Trademark laws prevent generic drugs from looking just like the brand name drug, so the color and size may be different.

25) Difference between roles of  area sales manager and medical representative ?

Role of M.R–is a sales man who sells company’s products by way of promoting them to doctors and convincing them to prescribe the same.He looks after the sales sales promotion activities in his territory.He is responsible for achieving business targets of his territory.

Role  of ASM–he is normally a person who has spend 3-4 years as MR and now promoted as supervisor of 4-5 MR.His role is to train,guide ,coach motivate mentor the medical representative to perform their duties.Helping medical representative to solve the problems which they can not solve,because he is more experienced person.His responsibility is to ensure that each MR achieves the targets.

26) What is the role of RSM ( Regional  Sales Manager)?

Role of RSM–RSM-is normally a person who has working experience as 4-5 years as ASM successfully. He is suppose to guide and coach 4-5 ASM.Since there will be problems in the field which ASM can not solve due to having comparatively lesser experience,he needs a person who is more experienced,RSM. The basic role of ASM is to ensure implementation of strategy of company by MRs,they play little role in planning and decision making RSM–role of RSM is different from ASM in terms that he is more matured and more experienced person,he has to play vital role in business planning and decision making,which ASM is suppose to ensure implementation.

27) How comfortable are you with data analysis?

Reps generally only care about one number: their quota. Keeping on top of pipeline and win rate is also important … as these metrics pertain to their quota. It’s all quota, all the time.

But when a rep is promoted to management, they must produce forecasts and reports that analyze a variety of metrics across the entire team.

While a sales manager doesn’t need to be a data analysis pro, they do need to have some familiarity with and inclination for crunching numbers and spotting trends. Beware of candidates that express active revulsion for data analysis.

28) What do you think it takes in terms of skills and qualifications to be a successful sales rep in this organization?

A large part of a sales manager’s job is keeping the team fully staffed with high performers. This question gives the interviewer a peek into the candidate’s stance on hiring.

The skills and qualifications they deem to be important are those they’ll look for when interviewing for open positions. Do the attributes they value line up with the company’s standards? If so, it’s a good sign. If not, this could be a red flag.

29) Why do you want to be a sales manager?

As mentioned above, sales managers often make less money than sales reps and perform a drastically different job. Tease out the candidate’s motivations behind seeking this promotion.

Do they want to be a manager because they crave a larger role within the company as a whole, and a chance to influence strategic decisions? Or have they gotten bored with their jobs, and management seems like a step up? The latter motivation is a recipe for dissatisfaction and a disengaged sales manager.

30) Suppose, I’m a sales rep who has missed quota three months in a row and I’m here for a one-on-one. What would you say during the meeting?

Sales managers have to have uncomfortable conversations with their direct reports. Especially if the candidate is a rep on the team that they might be promoted to lead, sales directors must ensure they can maneuver tough situations and deliver bad news in a positive manner.

However, a candidate who’s overly harsh on their hypothetical stumbling rep is just as bad as one who’s too soft. Look for an innate coaching sensibility and a motivational flair.

31) What do you think motivates reps the most?

This is a bit of a trick question, but it’s an important one. The best sales managers know that motivation is personal. While money might drive one rep to go the extra mile, another might be inspired by a development opportunity or creative contest.

The candidate who can navigate the trick and get to the right answer — in this case, “it depends on the rep” — possesses the motivational ability to lead a sales team to success.

32) What made you successful as a sales rep? How will your processes inform how you manage your team?

Just as successful sales managers understand that every rep is motivated by something different, they also understand that every rep has unique strengths they use to achieve their goals. What’s the “right” way for one salesperson is not likely to be right for the entire team.

Be wary of candidates who hint that they plan to force their methods on their direct reports. Instead, look for candidates who want to identify and develop the specific talents of each team member.

33) How important is money to you?

Ans. Yes, money is important to everyone. But as Andrew Quinn, HubSpot’s director of training and development points out, money is inextricably entangled with self worth for some salespeople — and that’s okay. This attitude simply means the rep isn’t suited for sales management.

Better steer a primarily money-motivated salesperson to a new territory or another opportunity at the individual contributor level rather than promote them to management.

34) What do you think makes for a successful rep coaching session?

The candidate doesn’t have to give a sample agenda of what their one-on-ones would look like. However, it’s important that their conception of a coaching session includes actual coaching — not just a dry discussion of the numbers.

Listen for responses that include mentions of career development, goals, skill building, and problem solving in addition to data review.

35) What do you like and dislike about the sales process? How comfortable are you with upholding it?

Every rep has an opinion about the sales process, and some ignore it entirely. But it’s the manager’s role to uphold the sales process in the name of organizational consistency and forecasting accuracy.

Ensure the candidate is comfortable with taking on the role of sales process police, and ask about their strategies for making reps adhere to the regimen.

36) How comfortable are you with technology?

Sales managers also act as CRM sheriffs, ensuring all reps are using the system properly. CRM aside, sales managers are also involved in the vetting, selection, and deployment of new sales tools.

While sales manager candidates don’t need to be computer whizzes, some technological savvy is necessary.

37) What training method is most effective for new reps?

It would be nice if a sales manager could do ride alongs and listen in on each and every call a new rep makes, but this model is impractical at scale.

Make sure the candidate acknowledges the importance of a repeatable training process that doesn’t center around an informal passing down of knowledge.

38) What do you think it takes to be a good leader?

The jobs title might be “sales manager,” but that doesn’t mean leadership skills fall by the wayside. Sales managers need to be able to lead through example and inspire others to action.

Although this question is last on the list, it’s probably the most important of all.

39) What does a good manager need to do within this organization?

The goal of this question is twofold. First, you want to find out their management style and goals for their employees. They should touch on metrics for success, staff development, and executive communication.

You also want to understand how much research they’ve done about your company and the sales organization. If they make sweeping statements about attracting more enterprise business — when your website clearly states your mission is to help SMBs grow — it’s probably a sign this candidate hasn’t done their homework.

40) How would you explain what [company name] does to a person unfamiliar with what we do?

Can this candidate distill complex ideas into simple, easy-to-understand messages? That’s what this question will find out.

Part of a sales manager’s job is to regularly translate executive directives and news to their sales staff in clear, digestible ways. Ensure they can do this concisely and without a patronizing tone, before moving forward.

Hiring a sales manager is a big step for any company. Don’t rush the process. Instead, be clear about the role and the attributes the right hire will possess. Then, don’t settle until that right person walks in the door and blows you away.


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