Stand OUT in Interviews!

As a Professor at at University, I have had the pleasure of interviewing pharmacy candidates, residency/fellow positions and faculty candidates.

5 Tips for Interviews! 

1) Do your homework: Research the place you are applying for in and & out and demonstrate how much you know about their organization including their mission and goals.

  • Professional School? If you applying for medical school, pharmacy school or a professional school, you need to research what the challenges for that profession, what types of areas you can specialize in and what the future of that profession looks like.
  • Residency? Know the organization including their mission, vision and goals. If it’s hospital residency, know where they strive to be in the next 5 – 10 years and potential projects you could implement. Know what specialties you are passionate about. If it’s an ambulatory care residency, know what a collaborative practice agreement is and what types of clinical pharmacy services you can provide or implement to make their practice better.
  • Academia Position? You need to state the mission + vision of the university and how you embody that vision.

2) Dress the Part: Males = suit + ties. Females = blazer + slacks or dress. I remember one interview where the interviewee wore a blouse and cardigan while her colleagues all wore blazers. Not dressing the part made that specific interviewee unprofessional and she stood out (badly) compared to her colleagues.

3) Listen + always state examples: Listen carefully to the question asked of you. Here is a list of common pharmacy interview questions here. You can also go to forums on Student Doctor here. Residency Interview questions here. If you don’t understand the question or need some time, repeat the question and pause. Rehearsed answers are very noticeable when it does not answer the question. State examples that demonstrate your abilities rather then telling them your characteristics.

Question: Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
Answer 1 (bad): I want to be a pharmacist because I’m detail oriented and I like to help people. My grandma/Uncle/Father/Mother passed away from ____ and I saw that she had taken a lot of medications and the pharmacist was helpful. I’ve also worked as a pharmacy technician.
Answer 2: (good): I was interested in pharmacy as a high school student and was naturally strong in math + science. The pharmacy profession is a profession where I can give back to the community and remain a constant learner in society. My work experience as a pharmacy technician at _____ has confirmed my passion for pharmacy. As a pharmacy technician at ____ pharmacy, after working for 6 months at the pharmacy, I was able to develop trust with my pharmacy manager for him to allow me to train other volunteer interns on the computer system. I hope to build on this foundation at your school.

The second answer shows that you are a natural leader and will be leader in pharmacy as well indirectly.

4) Be clear + concise + unique: Make sure you have clear + concise answers and DO NOT ramble. Be unique by stating what would make you different from other interviewees. For example, if you have a degree in nutrition and are applying for pharmacy school, know how your degree would make you a unique pharmacist. With a degree in nutrition, you would be able to 1) educate patients on lifestyle tips to prevent chronic diseases including hypertension and diabetes or 2) specialize in total parental nutrition as a hospital pharmacist.
5) Always have great questions! 

  • Bad questions are those that you can look up on a website (How many years is pharmacy school?) or are just unprofessional (Do people date in your workplace or in your class?) 
  • Good questions show that you know something about them. If you have a list of people that you are meeting with, google them and looked at their LinkedIn Profiles. It’s always nice to have an interviewee who is knowledgeable about their interviewers.
  • Where have past residents/students gone for their pharmacy careers? What are some interesting pharmacy careers that past residents/students have completed?
  • What is one of the challenges your clinical practice site has faced and how did you overcome that challenge? (this will get at the weaknesses of that practice site)
  • What is the most difficult barrier you have faced in your career?

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