• Ask the Experts: Questions to Ask at a Second Interview

    April 22, 2009 by


    I was just called for a second interview with a medical device company. I
    am looking for a sales or management position. What questions should I ask
    them during the second interview?

    First Answer:

    I was just called for a second interview with a medical device company. I am
    looking for a sales or management position. What questions should I ask them
    during the second interview?

    Questions are a great way to keep the interview moving in the direction you
    want. Figure out what you want the interviewer to know about you. Then,
    ask a question that will give you an opportuntiy to reveal this information.

    For example, you may want to show that you did a lot of research for this
    interview (I certianly hope you did!). To show this, you might ask, “I know
    you carry X different kinds of X devices. What were your sales records last
    year for your X type of device?” “What resources will be available to me so
    I may learn our products quickly?”

    Or, perhaps you have some past experience you want to show off that is not
    so easily seen on your resume. A good question then would be, “Three years
    ago I did a lot of X and learned Y as a result. How did your company handle

    Whatever you ask, just be sure you are comfortable and have meaning in your
    questions. Make them engaging so the interviewer builds on what you ask.

    Holly Lentz, Marketing Manager, Duane Morris, LLP, and former Director of the
    Career Center for Women in the Arts, Moore College of Art & Design

    Second Answer:

    Questions for the 2nd interview are more intensive than at the first interview. They often involve more in depth knowledge both of what you have to offer and the company/industry/organization. You may be meeting with several different people who have different roles-maybe a salesperson or manager, someone from Human Resources, someone at a higher level than the position you’re applying for.

    Questions for the 2nd interview can also center around the particular challenges of the company(and, of course, you can talk about how you would proceed to assist in meeting their goals-be of benefit to them!)

    For a sales/management position, I’d really want to meet my direct reports-make sure to ask about this , if those people aren’t in on the interview. Also, you’d want to speak with other managers to get a “read” on your potential boss/company. You can also ask about the preferred management style-and this is your chance to share your management ideas and emphasizing the fit, if there is…

    Naturally, you’ve done the preparation and research of the industry. It is your responsibility to show why you’re the best candidate! If you’ve worked in a similar industry, interacted with medical professionals (www.medsearch.com and www.cafepharma.com– might help you see the kinds of skills desired for this industry)

    You’ve already investigated salary ranges (www.salary.com is a good resource) Perhaps someone from Human Resources will discuss salary range and benefits with you. You can ask about commission vs. draw, company car or car allowance…Just make sure these are not your 1st questions-usually, it’s a good idea to let the employer bring up salary ranges…You’re always talking about what you can do for them! Good luck!

    Marcia Merrill, the Assistant Director for Career Development and Placement Center at Loyola College in Maryland

    Third Answer:

    The second interview is a good time to make certain that you have an
    understanding of the position and the expectations the company has of
    someone filling that position. The questions you ask will be determined by
    what was covered in the first interview. Information that you need to
    know, so that if you are offered the position, you can make a good choice
    for you, is:

    • Exact specifications of the job — what will you be doing? (Then ask
      yourself “IS that what I want to do?”)
    • The expectations the company has for the person they hire. (Then ask “Are
      they realistic?” and “Do I think I can (or want to) meet those expectations?”)

    The second interview is also a good time to clear up any questions or
    concerns that you might have from the first interview. Think back over
    that interview and write down any questions or concerns. If they are not
    addressed by the employer during the second interview, be sure to ask.
    By asking good questions and realistically accessing the situation you will
    be able to make a good career choice.

    Linda Wyatt, Career Center Director, Kansas City Kansas Community College

    Fourth Answer:

    Your first interview, no doubt, covered the more preliminary
    and basic information about the company and the position. Now
    that the company is showing more active interest in you and
    inferred that it is possible you will be extended an invitation
    to join them, it is time to get more specific information about
    the company, the products, the goals. This is the time to get
    the more specific information that relates to the company and
    the position.

    You’ll want to know more specifics about your supervisors, how
    your past experience fits in with the work position and
    opportunities for growth. Who will you be working with and how
    closely, what territories does the company cover, and does the
    company have plans for expansion are also things you will want
    to know about, in addition to whether you will be responsible
    for doing any of the development. What strategies have they
    used in the past, what worked and did not and any analysis
    about why would be especially useful now.

    It would be appropriate to find out whether this is straight
    commission or base plus commission and for how long, especially
    if there is a training period involved.

    Although you did your homework before going into the first
    interview, it is important that you do additional research on
    the company now. What are their annual sales and where are
    those sales focused? What patents does the company have pending
    and are there any lawsuits that will affect sales and marketing
    of the products you’ll be handling? You’ll want to know about
    these sorts of specific issues and get the company’s responses
    to how they’re handling them.

    Finally, you’ll want to ask questions that will help you make a
    good, solid decision on whether this company and its culture
    are the right fit for you. Be prepared. They, no doubt, will
    also have more specific questions they’ll want to know about
    your sales and marketing experience and expertise.

    Yvonne LaRose, career and professional development coach, Career and Executive Recruiting Advice

    Fifth Answer:

    Congratulations on advancing to the second interview! At this point I presume you have done all of your research on the company and their competitors. This phase of the interviewing process is for you and the potential employer to see that you are a good fit. If you are pursuing a sales track you can use this meeting to present a mock sales call/demo.

    Using the information you’ve already gathered from your first interview and your research, having something prepared that you can ask the interviewer permission to present. Find out as much as you can about what your role will be in the sales organization, the expectations, territories, products, etc, that you will be responsible for. The goal is for you to clearly know what you will be doing and how they (and you) can measure your success. If you are pursuing a management track you’ll need to know similar things such as your role in the organization/department, what are the expectations of your subordinates and superiors, what are the 3 month – 6 month – 12 month objectives for you, etc.

    Once you get the answers it is for you to demonstrate that you can achieve all that has been set out for you. Perhaps you have prior work experience that you can sit examples from, or training, etc. If this is an entry-level position, find out what training or mentoring programs are being provided. Save the compensation and benefits questions for HR – use this time to confirm whether this is where you will find career growth and a job you’ll both enjoy and be successful performing. The idea is to convey your interest in the company, get clarification and create a mutual sense of confidence that you are the person for this job.

    Here are five generic sample questions you can use on almost any job interview:

    1. “Can you please tell me how your career has developed at Happy Corp. and would someone entering the company today have similar opportunities?”
    2. “I read the career section and your recruiting literature, so I have some familiarity with career paths at Happy Corp. Based on the history of people you hired five years ago, if I work hard and prove my value to the firm, where might I be in five years?”
    3. “I read in your literature that your training program is comprised of three (3) six month rotations. Does the employee have any input into where s/he will go at the end of each rotation? How do you evaluate the employee’s performance during the training period?”
    4. “I read in Business Week that a major competitor, Eager Corp., is increasing its market share in your main market. What plans does your firm have to regain its lost market share?”
    5. “Can you describe for me what a work week is really like as a salesperson for Tasty Pops? For example, about how many sales calls do you make in a week, about how much time do you spend on paper work, and how far in advance do you set up your calendar?”

    If you are still wondering, work with a professional coach who can guide you through the process easier and faster. I am offering a 20% discount on one month of coaching to anyone who mentions this article.

    Janine A. Schindler, Professional Coach and owner of the Jas Coaching Company

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