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My Medical Device Sales Career

6 Preparation and Interview Strategies to ACE the Corporate Office Interviews!

Why do some people make it all the way to the final interview step, flying to corporate headquarters for a day of interviewing, and then fail to get the job?  Why do other’s succeed?   Often those that succeed understand the game.  They understand the ultimate goal of each interview conducted at the corporate office,  they understand how to prepare for it, they understand the strategy on how to play the game and they know what it is going to take to win it.  They know how to execute their strategy to win it.  Let me share with you what the winners know.

 

First, let’s review what a Corporate Office interview is and realize only some companies still fly people back to headquarters for a full day of interviewing.  It is an expensive part of the interview process, but so is hiring the wrong person, they hope this investment will help eliminate the more costly mistake of a failed hire!  Many times outside sales positions or clinical support positions (field based jobs) are earmarked for a final interview step involving a trip to the corporate home office for a full day of interviewing with key managers from multiple disciplines within the company.  This is often the last step in a lengthy process with some flatter organizations.  It often comes after you have been through two or more previous interview steps and often without the immediate Hiring Manager present, since that person probably already interviewed you and hence the reason for you to be moving forward to this last step.  Sometimes, if the Hiring Manager is at corporate that day, they too will be thrown into the interview mix as a safety measure (one more chance to see you in a very stressful situation, far different than the previous one on one interview).

 

So you have probably already made it through one or more of the following interview steps prior to being granted the opportunity to fly to corporate:

  • HR Phone Interview
  • Hiring Manager Phone Interview
  • Hiring Manager Face to Face Interview
  • On-Line Assessment Test
  • Sales Role Play (if you are interviewing for a sale position)
  • Field Sales Ride with an employee of the company
  • Hiring Manager Second Face to Face Interview

 

As one job candidate told me not long ago, “Why don’t they just have the hiring manager move into my home for a weekend to get yet another viewpoint!”  I told them, “Please don’t even joke about that to them, they may just add that as an interview step too!” 

 

By  the time you get ready for a trip to corporate, you have invested a great deal of time and energy trying to nail this job!  Now you understand it may be down to you and perhaps one other candidate.  Both of you will be flown in (usually on different days) in the same week.  So what is the best strategy for preparing before you fly out?   What should your interviewing strategy be once you arrive and begin to float through the various interviews?   

 

The person who has prepared the most for this critical last step in the process and understands the goal of each interview usually wins the job.  Here is how to be that person!

 

Preparation Before The Interview

 

  1. Find out what day you will be flying out and if you will need to take time to fly out the day or evening before.  I suggest taking a personal or vacation day on the interview day so you are not distracted by your boss calling you!
  2. Find out WHO will be interviewing you and get as much information about them as possible:
    • Utilize LinkedIn to look at their profiles
    • Call your field visit host (from your ride along in the field), to get inside information
    • Ask your recruiter if they have any information on each person (Independent Recruiter’s can help you with this if they are close to the account)
    • The Hiring Manager may be willing to give you information to help you; NOW the hiring manager is vested in you!  He picked you as his star…he doesn't want you to fail!  You are a reflection of his decision making.
  3. Find out key information about each person:
    • What is their title and responsibilities?
    • Try to determine who has the most clout (political power) by their position and title and make sure you reach out to the network you have built within that company to reconfirm.  All interviewers are important, but some decision makers are more important than others; make sure you know who these people are!
    • How long have they been with the company?
    • What are their Hot Buttons?
    • What is their personality like and the best way to communicate with them?
    • What  college did they attend? Fraternal Organizations?
  4. The obvious;  have enough resume’s and supporting information for each person you are scheduled to meet, make sure you are rested leading up to the travel day, and have a fresh suit to change into for the next day if a travel day beforehand.
  5. Prepare a few key questions for each interview and each question should be centered upon your interviewers area of expertise.  This is further explained within the Interview Strategy steps below.
  6. Review the company’s website, products and all information you have gathered about the company to refresh yourself.  By now, it may have been several weeks or months since you first began interviewing with them.

 

You will be using the above information to support your overall strategy during the interview.  Your strategy should be focused on accomplishing one thing:

 

GETTING  A THUMBS UP VOTE FROM EACH PERSON THAT INTERVIEWS YOU!   THE GOAL IS TO CLOSE EACH INTERVIEW AND GET CONFIRMATION THAT IF THEY WERE THE ONLY ONE MAKING THIS DECISION, WOULD THEY VOTE FOR YOU TO BE HIRED? 

 

Sounds silly doesn’t it, but that is the goal!  The truth is, all of those people that interviewed you will huddle in a meeting room or a group conference call the next day and each person will give pro’s and con’s about you and then be asked to give a thumbs up or down.  Some people have more clout than others of course, but if everyone says, “Yes, let’s hire him!”, then you have a job!  If one person says no and they are a key player…well then you are out.  So remember the goal, close each interview to a yes!

 

At this stage of the game, you have already done a good job getting to this final step, so you probably have some decent skills on presenting yourself during a “one on one”  interview.  Use those skill sets and just take it up a notch, it is game on at headquarters!

 

Interview Strategy or GAME ON!

 

  1. Make sure you remember the information you learned about each Interviewer.  Let them interview you, but be mindful that there may be a moment where you can interject something that would take the interview up a notch.  For example, perhaps your preparation before the interview revealed that your interviewer, a Marketing Manager, loves Sales Representatives who want to support his Product Managers team in the field.   You happen to embrace marketing and not only want Product Managers to travel with you in the field, but it led to the Marketing Department having you as part of their internal pre-launch product meetings.  You share that with the manager and watch the excitement grow!
  2. You are going to ask the right SMART questions of each person given their area of responsibility.  For example, a Senior Vice President’s head is into today sales numbers, but also has to have a vision for the long range plan for his or her company.  You ask where they see the company heading or growing to in the future?  New products?  Current Product Growth?
  3. Don’t ask the wrong DUMB question of each person given their area of responsibility.  I once had a Director of Sales interviewing a Job Candidate who flew into corporate.   The Director only spends 30 minutes with each person.  This Sales Rep. decided to ask him a question right up front, “What were their medical and dental benefits?”  The Director replied, “I guess you think I am the Human Resource Manager, let’s send you down there now so you can finish your interview.”  He then stood up and shook the Job Candidate’s hand and walked him to his office door and pointed the astonished Job Candidate in the direction of HR.   The candidate told me later, he knew who he was interviewing with, he didn’t think it was the wrong question to ask.  I said, “No, it was worse, it was a dumb question to ask a Director of Sales.”  Always ask questions that are central to that Interviewers Responsibilities and one’s he has a passion to answer!
  4. You are going to remember to CLOSE EACH interview with asking for the order!  You need to be up front and ask each person,  “If this were your decision and only your decision, would you hire Me?” If that doesn't feel comfortable to you, then put it in your own words.  What if they won’t tell?  Then ask them if they will being giving you a thumbs up when all the interviewers compare notes during their Job Candidate review session?  If they say "No", then you better revisit why, and try to resolve that person’s concerns.  If you feel you were able to address their concerns adequately and gain resolve, then try to close them again to a YES. Please don't push the close!  For example, if the Human Resource director tells you in all earnest that she will not reveal her decision until she talks to all the other interviewers, then just thank her for her time and express your desire be part of their organization and that you hope the outcome will be a good one!
  5. Ask each person for their business card, EACH AND EVERY person.
  6. Make sure you write each person an individualized email thank you that evening at the airport!  No copy and paste, each one should be different!  Everyone will forward your Thank You Note around to each other, so no one size fits’ all Thank You Note!

 

Certainly each interview at corporate will have a life of its own, just as much as no two personalities are alike!  If you feel you bombed one of the interviews or perhaps just didn’t go so well, just do the best you can to close that person and move onto the next person.  You must shake it off and nail the next one.  NEVER, EVER tell the next interviewer that you didn't do well in the last interview.  Shake it off and be even stronger in the one to follow. 

 

Always call your Independent Recruiter (if you used one for this opportunity) after the interview and let them know how things went and how excited you are (you should be by this stage of the game!) to get an offer.  Make sure you give your Recruiter some examples of highlights of your day and with which interviewer; Recruiters will often be called right away or by the next day by the Hiring Manager or even Human Resources to get the candidate’s excitement level about the day.  Hey, they just put together a huge effort to interview  you.  Think of their planning of getting all those people in one spot for the day, not to mention your flight and possible hotel arrangements, sometimes they include a key lunch or dinner with one of the interviewers.   They have hosted an interview day for you, if it went well, they are anxious to see if you appreciated them and felt the same way.  They always call the Independent Recruiter to get that honest feedback, especially before constructing that final offer letter.  The Interviewers love to hear if you perhaps you enjoyed meeting them and sited a specific example from the interview!   It’s about them and they like to hear it, especially if it was a mutual feeling!

 

So remember, if you have been selected to fly back to headquarters for multiple interviews, then you are well on your way to final phase of the interview process, but the final step presents many moving parts; multiple interviews, wear and tear on your body (flights, overnights, time changes, a super long day), remembering to have all your support materials and being relaxed enough to bring you’re A-GAME.   You have done so much to get to this point of the interview and you must take your game to the next level.  It is critical that you do the 6 step plan of Preparation Before the Interview and those of the  Interview Strategy and understand the ultimate goal of the day: closing each interview to a resounding vote of “YES!”  Yes, they will vote for you to get the job and be part of their team.  Well played my friend, you won the game with a new job!

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved

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Tags: corporate headquarters interviewing, interviewing skills

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Comment by Linda Hertz on November 20, 2013 at 10:44am

Thank you Everette!  I am so happy they are helping you as you look for the next step in your career!  All the best to you!

Comment by Everette Crudup on November 20, 2013 at 12:34am

I love your blogs Linda! This is an extremely helpful resource; especially for candidates like myself who are transitioning from a totally different industry. Thank you!

Comment by Linda Hertz on April 12, 2013 at 10:27am

Hi Marianne!  Thank you for your kind comments and being so active in the Group!

Comment by Marianne Geiger on April 12, 2013 at 7:25am

Fantastic article on preparing for interviews! 

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