Pharmaceutical companies are known for their conservative business appearance. Many reps who've been around since the 1980's will tell you that the dress code was once so strict, it was almost a uniform! Well, times have changed somewhat but the basics are the same. Ladies first - here's what's expected of you in an interview.
* Conservative suit (pantsuit OK) black, navy, charcoal gray or similar in color. Pinstripes are acceptable. A white or light-colored conservative blouse is the most appropriate.
* Take it easy on the makeup and hair. Think church, not date.
* Nails should be well manicured and polished clear. Drug reps use their hands for demonstration and pointing all the time. A good interviewer will notice.
* Stockings or none? It's the great debate. If you can pull of a professional, conservative look without them . . . go for it. If not, or your not sure . . . play it safe and wear them.
* Shoes should be medium to low heel (and you should be comfortable enough in them to walk normally). Many say closed toe is best. I say use common sense and if an open toe looks professional, you can pull it off.
* Skip the perfume. Remember, it's an interview not a date. You want the interviewer to remember you for what you said and how you carried yourself, not how good (or overpowering) you smelled.
* 100% wool conservative navy, black, or charcoal gray suit. Again, pinstripes are acceptable. 100% cotton shirt with heavy starch will make you look like a million bucks.
* Go for a tie that refuses to be dated. In other words, solid ties are always in. So are large alternating stripes in the deeper shades of primary colors. I'm a big fan of deep red ties for interviews (red is said to be a "power" color).
* Shoes should be lace ups and they should be polished brighter than Forrest Gump's.
* Fingernails are important for you too. Clipped, clean, manicured, cuticles pushed back, buffed, and ready for action.
* If you've had a beard or mustache for 20 years and know how to take care of it, then it's probably OK to keep it. Otherwise, you should have a clean shave. You should have a fresh haircut too.
* I don't care if you paid $6,000 for that bottle of cologne, save it for the afterparty (the party after you get hired, that is).
A few things should be able to go unsaid - but they can't.
* No chewing gum or candy. I know you want to have fresh breath. Take a bottle of mouthwash and rinse before you go inside. Candy and gum can make you look unprofessional in an instant. Don't go there.
* Leave the Viagra(R) necktie that you bought at the Niagara Falls Gift Shop at home. I know you think it would be cute and catchy. Let your professionalism and knowledge of the industry do the talking instead.
* Don't carry a backpack or purse. Some say that you shouldn't even carry a briefcase. I say that's up to you. If you have enough things to fill up a nice looking briefcase, carry it. If you can manage everything without one, then a nice leather bound folio will work just fine.
The bottom line is, you are a professional. If there is any question whatsoever, err on the side of conservative. As I said to the ladies earlier, "think church, not date." When you get to an interview, you'll be surprised at how many people didn't read an article like this. You'll look like a superstar immediately when the guy beside you in the waiting room (your competition) is wearing his brand new suit with a pair of Dr. Martens(R).
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Ryan Stewart has coached hundreds to pharma sales success (and he's done it all for free). To jump-start your pharmaceutical sales career go to pharmaceutical-sales-representative.com
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