The Next Step Guide to Acing Your Pharmacy School Interview
- Nov 28, 2018
- PCAT Blog
You’ve studied for the PCAT, got your high score (and if not, let’s start prepping), and turned in your application. Now, it’s time for the next stop on your journey to pharmacy school: the interview. “For some of you, this may bring back memories of awkward job interviews, while for others this may be your first time interviewing for any position. We’ve put together some of the best tips to help you prepare for the pharmacy interview.
Before the Interview
The interview does not start the moment you walk in the door to the pharmacy school. It takes a good amount of planning and preparation prior to the interview to help you put your best foot forward. Creating a checklist is a great way to keep track of and visualize what you need to do before the big day. You may even think of things that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred to you until the last minute. We’ve highlighted some big ones to remember.
- Plan Your Travel – Start planning your travel arrangements as soon as you get the invitation and have a confirmed date. If you’re flying out of state, book your flight as soon as you can to get the best price and schedule. It’s imperative that you arrive on time to your interview and be as relaxed as possible, so be wary of flights with short layovers or that land close to the interview start time. It may even be beneficial to arrive the night before and book a hotel room or stay with an acquaintance to ensure you’re well rested. If you’re only driving a short distance, map out your route and determine the best time to leave, and then add 15-30 minutes to that as a buffer just in case traffic is particularly bad, or you encounter car trouble.
- Review the School – Study the pharmacy school’s website and familiarize yourself with its program. Write down standout details you’re interested in and any questions you might have. The interview is mainly about you, but it’s also important to show interviewers you are interested in their school and have done your homework. Plus, it’s essential to have an answer to the question, “Why do you want to come to our pharmacy school?”
- Pick Your Outfit – You never get a second chance to make a first impression! While you’re not being judged on the extravagance or fashion of your clothes, this is your chance to demonstrate that you take the interview seriously. Gravitate towards business formal attire. You don’t have to completely eschew your own fashion sense, but keep it professional and comfortable. Above all, make sure you feel confident in your outfit and that your shoes are walkable—you may have to walk across campus to get to the building where your interview is located.
- Practice with a Mock Interview – Many students find it helpful to simulate the interview setting and practice answering difficult questions you might be asked in a real interview. You can even stage a complete dress rehearsal with the outfit you’re going to wear, or you can simply ask someone to roleplay as the interviewer and ask you common interview questions. You’ll be able to get over the interview nerves and also receive feedback on your answers and demeanor.
Common Pharmacy School Interview Questions
While this isn’t a definitive list of questions, these are common interview questions that you can begin practicing with. If you need more, find them here.
- Why do you want to be a pharmacist? Why pharmacy, and why not some other health field?
- Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, or 15 years?
- Why do you want to join our program?
- What do you bring to our program?
- What is a challenging situation you’ve been in? How have you overcome adversity or shown leadership?
- What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
- What experiences have you had in pharmacy? Have you had any experiences with challenging situations or complex patients?
- Tell us more about [an experience that you listed on your resume or personal statement].
- What questions do you have for us? (Make sure you have at least a few questions ready!)
During the Interview
You can only prepare so much before you find yourself shaking an admission counselor’s hand and beginning the small talk banter before the pharmacy interview questions begin. No two interviews are alike. Some pharmacy school interviews will utilize the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format, which is a series of short, structured interviews to assess non-cognitive qualities such as communication, cultural sensitivity, maturity, teamwork, and empathy skills. Others may ask you to produce a short writing sample. Always research the school to find out what to expect on your interview day. Regardless of the format, these next tips are universal and can help you create the best impression—and hopefully make the process a little less stressful.
- Bring a Notebook – Stash a small notepad and a few pens in your purse or briefcase to take notes and to help you remember any interesting facts about the program or any questions you might have.
- Tell Your Story – The admissions rep already knows you’re brilliant because they’ve seen your PCAT scores, GPA, and application. This is your chance to let them know who you are beyond the numbers. Tell them what inspired you to study pharmacy, what challenges you’ve overcome, what your hobbies are, and what your dreams are for the future. Show them why you’re not just another pharmacy applicant.
- Keep it Professional – Although you should let your personality shine and be your authentic self, it’s important to always keep in mind that you’re in a professional setting. Remember to be confident, but also polite and genuine. Manners go a long way and definitely make a difference. Nobody wants to be colleagues with someone known to have a bad attitude.
- Keep it Honest – Everyone has, at least once, embellished or exaggerated a story. However, using this strategy in interviews does not pay off in the long run, especially if your interviewer can see right through it. Remember that you are there because the admissions committee already saw potential in you, so be confident in yourself as an applicant. If you can express your sincere passion for pharmacy, and the experiences that led you there, your interviewer will see it, too.
After The Interview
You’re not done yet! There are some final steps you should take after you complete your pharmacy school interview. While not mandatory, these can help you stand out among hundreds of applicants and continue making a great impression to your potential future colleagues.
- Send a Thank-You Card – Personal letters are a forgotten art, but everyone appreciates receiving something in the mail. Ask for your interviewer’s business card before you leave and then write a short thank-you note. Alternatively, you can send your interviewer a short email within a day or two of your visit, thanking them for the interview. It’s a small detail that may pay off in a big way.
- Prepare for the Next One – It’s very likely you applied to more than one pharmacy school and will therefore be invited to more than one interview. Get into the habit of reflecting after each interview. Write down went well, what you think you can improve on, and what you hope to change for the next one. Think of questions you’d like to ask at the next interview. Each interview is a learning experience that will help you even after pharmacy school when you’re in the job search.
The pharmacy interview is dreaded by many applicants, but it doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience. With a little preparation and practice, you can ace your interview and be one step closer to the pharmacy school of your dreams.
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