Interviewing and Closing
You are involved in the absolute best interview you've ever had; both of you are excitedly talking about the recent Lakers or Dodgers game; you know some of the same business and/or personal associates; you found someone who you can really communicate with; this potential employer is treating you like his buddy; you're truly relaxed when he rises and tells you to call him in two weeks or he'll get back to you through your recruiter, Steve Paster. You shake his hand vigorously and thank him for his time and tell him you are looking forward to the next step ... You call me immediately from your cell phone and tell me the interview went great! You have no reservations about the job and you are certain you'll be a final contender.

I hear this same sad story daily. The manager calls and tells me he'll pass on you. Thud!!! How could this have happened? Let's go back and examine why. It really shouldn't be a mystery:

1. Were you absolutely on time for the interview, dressed impeccably, with a new crisp white laundered shirt, tailored brand new suit, contemporary tie, and shined shoes - looking like ten million dollars? This also applies to a female interviewee. You should be dressed conservatively and business-like, preferably in a navy blue suit and white or neutral color blouse. Low necklines are not appropriate. Your skirt length should at least reach your knees or slightly below. Navy pumps, with a medium heel complete your outfit. A very classy rich looking pants suit works too, especially with younger managers. Tastefulness in your appearance is definitely an asset. PLEASE: No excessive jewelry and no piercings, mohawks, or spiked colored hair. You do not want to be eliminated because of your appearance. You also may need to watch your weight as the medical/healthcare field is very conservative and you need to look like a picture of health. Recently, a manager told me about an excellent candidate whose suit pants were too baggy; another whose pants were too short and was wearing white socks; another, a woman with a tattoo on her leg; he could not get past any of these candidates, regardless of their significant accomplishments!

2. Did you show the interviewer your brag book with current and previous yearly rankings, or did you leave that and an updated copy of your resume at home? Is your brag book well organized with your most current position first, and then going backward? It should include letters from employers, customers, physicians (if applicable), your references with current titles and phone numbers, a copy of your college transcripts and your Dept of Motor Vehicles driving record. Why not also include a picture of your family, your most important success motivator?

3. Did you talk about your formalized sales training, your consultative selling style, and your leadership ability?

4. Did you talk about how you landed a specific key account without rambling? (Make sure not to drone on about any subject. Managers often tell me they asked a candidate two questions the entire interview, and never said another word). The conversation needs to be close to 50-50, and you MUST show special listening skills. Managers enjoy quick (no more than two minutes) stories about how you procured a tough to see account.

5. Did you talk about your clearly defined long-term and short-term goals?

6. Did you clearly stand apart from all the other interviewees who will meet this employer? Did you smile often enough, maintain continuous eye contact, and stay intensely focused the entire time?

7. Did you do research on his company, their products, and also the interviewer? Did you call people who use his products - Materials Managers, physicians you know, and/or his sales reps? Linked-in, Facebook and Google allow you to do many special things!!!

8. Were you up on the edge of your chair the entire time, showing genuine interest?

9. Did you get him excited enough about YOU "First" so that he/she would answer questions about his company with the same exuberance?

10. Did you make sure to say absolutely nothing negative about any of your former employers and/or the promises they didn't keep?

11. Did you eliminate all the "ya knows", "basically’s", and "to be honest with you's" from your vocabulary?

12. Did you ask the right questions about him and his company as well as making just the right amount of non-threatening small talk? (No talk of politics, religion, race, age or sex.)

13. Do not be afraid to smile a lot and show your personality. They are not referees or umpires. They have personality, feelings and heart, too!

14. Did you walk out of the interview with a second or follow-up interview already set up?

15. Did you ask for his business card so you can follow up right away with a Thank you note left at the interview site, and an email immediately?

What is behavioral interviewing?
An interviewing technique that targets a candidate’s past job experiences and behaviors as a basis for predicting future performance.

The interviewer…
identifies the skills and behaviors desired for the position, and
chooses open-ended questions to elicit detailed responses about when the candidate may have faced related challenges in the past.

The candidate prepares to answer behavioral interview questions… thoroughly!

Why is behavioral interviewing used?
Interviewer is not just interested in “what” the candidate can accomplish, but “how” he/she accomplishes things (behaviors)
Behavioral competencies account for 24% - 69% of performance success.

Examples: Targeted Competencies and Questions

1) Leads Change; Creative Problem-Solving
Tell me about a time when you advocated a new approach or perspective
Describe a time when you saw that you were running into a brick wall with the approach that had previously worked for you.

2) Builds Effective Relationships (based on Mutual Trust and Respect)
Tell me about a time when you worked with someone you found it difficult to get along with. What did you do to build a better relationship?

3) Creates an Inclusive/Respectful Working Environment
Give me an example when you had to work with someone whose background/experience or perspectives were different from yours

4) Delivers Results that Customers Value
Describe a situation in which you set yourself apart by exceeding customer expectations
Tell me about a time when you were under time pressure to get multiple things done

5) Takes Personal Responsibility for Modeling Excellence, Integrity and Accountability
Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something that you thought was morally questionable
Describe a time when you made a mistake that adversely impacted a customer or your team

Behavioral Interview: "STAR" Response Technique
Situation or Task – give background or context for the action
Action – state what you said or did in response to the situation or task, along with how you said or did it
Result – explain the outcome of the action taken

False Stars
Sound good, but no specifics
Expression of personal belief or view, but
Does NOT reflect specific behavior
Theoretical or future-oriented statements
What you WOULD DO in this type of situation…
Not what you actually DID

How to Prepare?
Anticipate the behavioral competencies that are important to the hiring Manager.
Consider what stories you can tell about your past experiences that relate to the respective position requirements.
PRACTICE telling your stories clearly & succinctly, using the “STAR” technique

Other Preparation
Know your Resume! Prepare to discuss:
Work/Educational History/Certification/Skills
Specific Experiences and accomplishments
Interests/Desires – What you’re looking for in a job, organization, and location
Do your homework!
Know about the Company you’re applying to, and the position you’re applying for
Remember to
Express thanks for the opportunity to interview!

Employers call these interviews "phone screens." I call them "screen-outs."

It is the employer's way of interviewing and weeding out lots of candidates, typically using lots of recruiters-without the employer ever having to leave the comfort of his or her office.

If it is a zoom or smart phone, you MUST be dressed just as if you are doing an in person face to face interview. If you have never done one of these interviews, it may be a good idea to practice with your spouse, friend or colleague.

If it is a zoom, smart phone, or other video interview, please be sure your back drop and surrounding area has nothing that could eliminate you such as: the wrong books, pictures, political preference, etc.......I recently had a candidate who did their video interview in their bedroom and her bed was unmade.

If you are not prepared for the employer's call, you must reschedule a new time to talk, right then and there. You MUST be as prepared and as knowledgeable as if you were going to be interviewing face to face. It is also a golden opportunity to see if you have an interest in the company, as well as seeing if your style meshes with this employer's style. I recently had a candidate who was #1 in her company; She was set up for a phone interview and did it in a very noisy coffee shop. The manager was totally unimpressed by that and would not schedule her for a face to face interview.

You must be extremely energized, focused, with a lot of voice inflections. You must watch out that you are not talking over the employer. Always wait until they are completely finished with their thought. If you drone on and on without making it a 50-50 conversation, you have lost another war.

You MUST close the interviewer for a face to face interview, and ask HIM or HER for their email address (to send a Thank You note) not Steve Paster. That is the proper way to close, since you will not get hired over the telephone-even if you already know each other.

Hiring Managers are now looking at candidates' Linked-in and Facebook profiles BEFORE deciding whether or not they want to interview you. It is now imperative to have a professional appearance, especially on Linked-in (suit and tie) and nothing on Facebook that would warrant a company passing on you.
I can't tell you how many times an employer tells me: "I liked your candidate, but he never closed me. He never asked for the job..." I will never understand how or why you can go out on a sales interview representing the product you know the most about - Yourself - and not ask for the position... Would you go out on a sales call and not ask for the order? Of course not! Then how does the employer know if you can actually go out and get business if you haven't even tried closing him on yourself? If this is the case, you have wasted your time, the employer's time, my time and have not distinguished yourself from the rest of the ordinary order-takers. No matter how cornball you may think some of the closing questions are; no matter how contrived they may appear – don't you want to know where you stand? He or She does not know if you are a bonafide player or not, unless you finish the job and leave with the next scheduled interview in hand. If you truly believe in yourself and have confidence that you are the best, you should have no trouble closing. You deserve to know where you stand.


Here is a short list of closes that will work for you:

1) "What are you looking for in a sales rep?" (this is a fundamental "opening" question all employers actually expect VERY early in the interview.)

Earn the right to ask:

2) "How do I compare with the other sales reps on your team?"(very nonthreatening)

3) "I am very impressed with you and your company. My career is very, very important to me. Where do we go from here?" (if he alludes to getting back through me) - "Well. Steve is in his office right now. I happen to have my appointment book here. Let's set up the next interview now. Will it be next Tuesday or the following Tuesday? Same time as today? Will you expect our meeting to be longer then, since we will have more to discuss?" (A little more forward, but he will respect you.)

4) "I know I am one of the first candidates you have seen today and you said you don't want to be closed, but I'm very impressed. My career is very, very important to me. l'd like the opportunity to talk to your top two reps on the telephone. May I get their cell numbers from you?"


"Is it possible to ride in the field with one of your top reps?" (if he's already emphatically stated that it is just a screening interview and won't be closed today, this is a non-threatening way to see if he is actually interested in you.)

5) One of my candidates, when told that he must wait to see the national sales manager, said "Why don't you call him and set it up now while I'm here?" He interviewed that same day and was Offered the position the following day - with a division of Johnson & Johnson!!

6) One of my employers relayed his interview success story to me: "I was about to discount one of the candidates I had interviewed earlier in the day. He had a solid resume. He just didn't grab me enough. When I got back to my hotel room, he had left a note thanking me for my time. (Actually, he was the only candidate that had done this.) He also indicated that he did not think our interview went very well. He called just as l was reading his note and asked when my flight was leaving the next morning. He offered to drive me to the airport as he closed me on getting a second chance. We met for breakfast. His tenacity, his empathy, his sincerity, his closing skills all impressed me. I hired him. He was Rookie of the year his first year. He was sales rep of the year the next two years. Through out it all, he made one closing statement I’ll always remember. It was "You won't regret hiring me." I never did.

7) Even if the hiring authority has already told you that he can't be closed today, or has two more days of round-the clock interviewing to do, he still wants to be closed in some manner. He also expects an immediate follow-up E-Mail stating why you are qualified and interested in the opportunity and CLOSE HIM AGAIN.

If you are thoroughly prepared for the interview and have practiced in front of the mirror the five roughest questions you would really not want to be asked, the interview should be easy. A relationship-oriented soft-sell salesperson, as well as a hard-sell copier rep salesperson, must close on each and every call. Gone are the days when you can walk in the door and get hired on the spot. Interviewing is a scientific and results oriented step-by-step competitive race, especially in today's economy... you must show that you want this position... you must prepare a business plan for subsequent interviews. I CAN SHOW YOU WHAT OTHERS HAVE DONE ON THEIR SUCCESSFUL FINAL INTERVIEW(S).

Asking The Right Questions

It’s quite obvious that the employer really likes you a lot. Your ego is getting a needed boost. You have had at least two interviews already, and you are expecting an offer… NOW you must make a decision. Do you really want THIS position? If you have asked the right questions directly from the beginning, your decision should already have been made. This also should not be a mystery. You should be interviewing the interviewer, as well as at least two of his best sales reps, making sure this is the best move for your career and the best mentor for you as well.

You don't want to be seeking employment again in six months. You want to guarantee
your future based on sound rational decisions, not based on hope.

1) "What happened to the previous rep in this territory?"

2) "Who would be my toughest competitors and who would be my strongest allies/advocates in this territory?"

3) "How does our product differ from our competitors?"

4) "What is a typical day going to be like for me?"

5) "How often do we come out with new products?"

6) "What are my chances for promotion?"

7) "What are the realistic first year earnings for someone like myself who has always been in the top 2–10% of every company I have worked for?"

8) "What do your top reps earn?"

9) "Tell me about the training program."

If you have done your research (Linked-in), you should be able to ask him/her questions about their past to get them talking.

11) "What do you like best about working here and what will OUR biggest challenge(s) be?

Advanced Interview Questions

• What is your short term/long term vision for the surgical division?
• What are some of the challenges you see facing our organization now and in the future? What about the industry?
• What are the areas of untapped potential for the organization?
• Describe to me your most successful rep and how does he differentiate him/herself from the others?
• Are there any weaknesses in our division that you are working on improving? What are the areas in the job that you would like to see improved?
• What do you think are the biggest challenges I will face?
• What types of people excel at your organization?
• Describe the atmosphere of the company culture. How can you improve the culture?
• What does the company value most?
• When key people leave the organization, why do they leave and where do they usually go?
• What is the plan when ______________ goes off patent?
• Do you have a strategy to work with IDN’s and GPO’s in place?
• What is the strategy to get on more GPO contracts? Are you happy with our current strategy?
• What are the areas you are considering for possible product expansions/innovation?
• What tools do we have available to communicate value to the customer? Do we offer quarterly business reviews?
• How do you manage insurance carriers’ decisions that deem the product experimental?
• Do we offer training labs/speaker programs/kol’s
Territory Sales:
• How will my performance be measure/evaluated?
• What kinds of processes are in place to help me work collaboratively?
• What kind of value are you looking for this position /role to bring to the organization?
• What is the most important thing I can do to help within the first 90 days of my employment?
• Do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to perform this job?
• Do you have any concerns that I need to clear up in order to get your endorsement?
• Will I be working as part of a team or alone?
• What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition?
• What goals or objectives need to be achieved in the next six months?
• Where do we have established business? What are the total existing sales in territory
• How many people achieve quota in your region/nationally?