Preparation for Pharmacy School Interviews

So you got an interview for pharmacy school – congratulations! Obviously, the pharmacy school have found your qualifications on paper impressive enough to grant you an interview, and want to know more about you face to face. Interviews could cause worry and anxiety in any potential pharmacy school candidate, but preparation is key to performing well and impressing the interviewers. Depending on the pharmacy school, interviewers could be selected from those members who may be part of the admissions committee, administrative staff, faculty members, or even current pharmacy students. Since interviewers could all have biases based on their own experiences and personality, and also different perspectives on what they deem fit in a student to be accepted into the program, the pharmacy school candidate will need to prepare for anything that could be asked, in addition to understanding the basic principles for interview preparation, not too much different from a job interview.

Appearances say many things, and first impressions are very important. It is customary to dress appropriately in business attire and looking presentable. Posture before, during, and after the interview, especially when seated on a chair during the interview process, is crucial. Never slouch when seated as this gives off bad vibes and an air of carelessness or arrogance. Greeting the interviewer with a nice handshake and a genuine smile is a given. Remember, your interview may not be just the face to face with the interviewers; it is the entire process from when you walk on to the pharmacy school campus and until you leave. You never know who may be observing you; from the volunteers who guide you through the process, to the administrative personnel in the room where you are seated and waiting to be interviewed, and to those who are serving breakfast or lunch if food is provided throughout the day. If there is a social event in place on the agenda, remember to be personable and social…not sitting in the back or in the corner alone by yourself. Interviewers want to see how you get along with your peers, as well as the conversations involved. Be personable, friendly, and sharp. You probably want to veer away from polarizing conversation topics.

As for the dreaded interview itself, one cannot possibly know exactly what will be asked. Remember to research the school well to understand the program, the structure of the curriculum, and the school’s history; this could probably be found on the school’s website. Those that really want to be a pharmacist, and really know the profession well from experience as a pharmacy technician or volunteer shouldn’t fret too much if asked questions about the work or lifestyle of a pharmacist. For those that do not know the profession well, maybe it is time to get some exposure to the life of a pharmacy employee before committing four years of schooling and tuition expenditures to validate if this is what you really want. There are some general questions that are common during interviews that one could prepare for, just as one would for medical school or a PhD program. Interviewers probably want to know what kind of person you are, why you want to be a pharmacist, your future plans, and about your life experiences; they will ask you questions that will better gauge your fit for their program. Most pharmacy students have great scores on paper, and they want to know if there is more to a candidate than a bookworm lifestyle. Think of what sets one person apart from others? Think of experiences a candidate holds prior to applying to pharmacy school, leadership qualities, service in many organizations, etc.

Practicing general questions in front of a mirror or your friends and family could assist you in familiarizing yourself with the interview process. This could allow you to see the facial expressions that your interviewers will look at, and whether you speak confidently or mumble words when answering questions in front of friends or family. Think of questions that you would ask a pharmacy student. Some questions could be:

Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
What kind of a pharmacist do you want to be and why (hospital, retail, industry, specialty)?
What experiences do you have working in pharmacy?
Why do you want to bo to this pharmacy school compared to others?
If there is one thing in your life you would like to do over, what would it be?
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?
What is the last book you read? Your favorite book, movie, TV show?
What do you do for fun, hobbies?
What leadership experiences do you have?
What would you do in this _______ situation ?
What do you know about this pharmacy school program and what it offers?
What do you offer? Why should we accept you?

Just as in many things in life and work, practice and preparation, amiable personality, and conveying a genuine desire to be a pharmacist could take the candidate one step further onto the road to pharmacy school.

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