The Pharma Sales Interview Breakthrough Blog
It's hard to believe, but we are getting down to the final few questions or this series. If you are new to this, there have been 14 other curveball interview questions over the past few months. Check those out in previous blog posts
Let's dig into another question...this is one that you have likely heard before...but it can be a bit of a "curveball".
What are your "strengths"? What are your "weaknesses"?
Ok. Let's start with strengths. If you've read "The Pharma Sales Interview Breakthrough Blueprint", you will know that I discuss how and why creating congruency in your interview is so crucial. Obviously, in the book, I outline how to do that. (if you haven't bought yourself a Holiday present...why not treat yourself now? It's 4.99 on Amazon).
As it relates to your strengths, I think it's important to know what sort of behaviors that manager is looking for in a new hire. Those may be evident as you prepare for this interview...but it may not. I think there are some assumptions you can make. With ANY sales role, there is a great deal of autonomy and a great deal of "white space". A candidate that needs lots of direction or hand holding is not going to be real appealing to a hiring manager that could live 4 hours away. He or she wants a candidate that is turning over ever rock in the geography to drive business.
So, I think one strength to highlight would be your ability to work with autonomy and be productive. To work in "white space" and create structure. Again, you want to provide speicifc, real, examples....not theory. If you explain what you would do...then you are wasting the interviewers time.
Another way to approach this...and likely a better way...would be to formally identify what's called your Clifton Strengths. Here is a link to the formal website. Here is a link to the lists of Clifton Strengths and descriptions of them.
In completing this Clifton Strength Finder assessment, you formallay identify your strengths and therefore you are not sort of making your strengths up...they have been scientifically identified. In turn, you can speak to your top 3 strengths and provide real examples of how they have played out in previous work experiences...and more importantly...help you be successful in the next job. Clifton emphasizes "Leaning Into Your Strengths". Think about how you would lean into your stregths in your new role and share that as well.
Conversely, what Clifton does as well...is rank your strengths in order. So, for me, "Empathy" is near the bottom...when asked what are my weaknesses, I may share an example of where I lacked empathy for a peer was not performing well...and how I did little to help. BUT, now that I am aware of that weakness...I have taken measures to be more aware of my peers, how they are doing, and identify ways to help them.
THIS IS IMPORTANT. Whatever you identify as a weakness...a legit weakness...you need to also include how you have worked to improve upon that area. If you share a particiluar weakness...and we all have them...and you have chosen to do nothing to improve yourself in that area...then you are demonstrating to the hirining manager that you are one for development.
By adding into your example of a weakness...how you are improving in a particular area...you keep the interview tone very positive and again,.. you illustrate a propensity for personal development.
Another "weakness" outlined by Clifton is that each strength has a "balcony" component...and a "basement component". So if acheiver is my top strength...there are many positives to that strength...but there could be some negatives as well. I am not going to get into any more detail about that. I will leave that to Clifton Strengths to explain. But, I did want to make you aware. I highly encourage you to get the Clifton Strength Finder book...take the assessment...and include it in your resume. It will stand out and could help you get the interview.
I hope this is helpful. Feel free to leave comments below! Thanks again for your support!
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