Recruiting & Hiring Pharmaceutical Reps in 2022 – From a Pharma Rep

Corinna Kraemer

May 18, 2022

    Sara Welch is a Medical and Pharmaceutical Sales Professional who has worked with numerous major pharmaceutical companies throughout her 20 year career within the industry. She has proudly earned multiple Vice President’s Club Awards and Regional Awards for outstanding sales results, new product launches, high customer satisfaction, and sales-driving initiatives.

    With an astonishing predicted 10-year job growth of 16.4%, hiring and retaining talented pharmaceutical sales reps is more critical than ever.

    Having gone through her own recent job search for a new pharmaceutical sales rep role, Sara has first-hand knowledge of what recruiters can do to attract and retain top talent, even during the great resignation.

    Finding talent

    Being a busy mom of two boys and two shih tzus Sara finds cold calls and cold messages unappealing. Instead, she prefers passive or active job searching through these methods:

    • Being recommended to apply by a current employee she knows through an employee referral program
    • Viewing vetted jobs through a professional association
    • Partaking within a candidate talent pipeline, internal or external

    In addition, Sara looks for the following in a job description:

    • A clear salary range and detailed benefits
    • An appropriate match between salary, job expectations, and seniority level
    • Transparency in regards to timeline and internal candidates

    Initial screening

    The primary screening with a recruiter often provides the critical first impression for candidates. Having gone through multiple job searches in her pharma sales career, Sara shares what recruiters have done to make a stellar impression.


    • Know the lingo of the pharmaceutical sales industry such as industry standards and terminologies
    • Understand the scope of the job and its basic responsibilities
    • Offer to pass along questions to the hiring manager if unable to answer them immediately – following up with answers in an appropriate amount of time
    • Take the time to look at the candidate’s resume prior to the screen
    • Share next steps and approximate timelines


    • Cold call candidates for a screen, instead provide the option to schedule a screen ahead of time so they can prepare
    • Provide an extremely limited window to schedule interviews – candidates may need request time off work to interview
    • Have multiple phone screens – candidates are eager to move onto the next phase of the interview process

    The interview

    For Sara, the interview process is crucial for her to simultaneously impress the hiring team and to discover if the job would be a good fit.

    Here’s what she’s looking for during the interview stage:

    • An organized timeline and transparency with candidates – a schedule is especially helpful
    • Clear communication between recruiters and hiring managers – such as bringing up interesting points from the first screen and not repeating previously asked questions
    • Thoughtful questions related to the job versus unrelated and abstract prompts or tests
      • Sara’s personal favorite question is, “When you did not hit a quota before, what did you do to change that?”
    • The ability to interview at least once face to face for an in-person sales role
    • A consolidated interview process – rather than a string of interviews, mock sales, and a ride along before an offer is even made
    • Feedback between or after interviews
    • Most importantly: Time and the ability to get to know the first-line manager


    Research from Glassdoor found that companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by 70%.

    In the pharmaceutical sales industry this looks like:

    • Frequent ride alongs with current reps
    • Walkthroughs with softwares
    • Easing into compliance training rather than all-at-once
    • Reviews and short quizzes rather than large exams
    • Breaking up compliance training with job shadowing
    • Regular check-ins with the manager
    • A welcoming basket or letter from the company
    • Easy to use third parties for cars/benefits

    These tips are sure to help attract top pharmaceutical sales rep talent.

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