Here are 6 tips for interviewing prospective pharmacy students:
1. Arrive early to review the files.
Each pharmacy school is different with their interview process. Some programs utilize candidate files, and incorporate them as part of the interview. Other pharmacy schools utilize a blind interview where candidate files are unknown to the interviewer. For those who are reviewing files, it is important to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the interview. Review the GPA, undergraduate coursework, and student organization involvement
2. Understanding that candidates will be nervous.
Interviewing for pharmacy school can be daunting, and it is important that interviewers recognize this fact. They should remember being in the same position, possibly not so long ago. Interviewers can put the candidates at ease by introducing themselves, and their practice areas. Discuss that questions will be asked to get to know them better, and discuss that notes may be taken during the interview. Eye contact is important for an interviewer to to show that they are listening.
3. Ask relevant questions.
Make sure to ask relevant open ended questions. For example, ask 'What pharmacy experience do you have?' vs. 'Do you have pharmacy experience?' This enables candidates to expand on their answers, and paints a better picture for the interviewer. Make sure to take notes so that key points from the interview are remembered. Other questions may include the following:
- What is the pharmacist’s role?
- Why are you interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy?
- What is your favorite class?
- What are your goals after graduating pharmacy school?
- What is your greatest strength and weakness?
- What qualities should a pharmacist possess?
- Why are you interested in applying to this pharmacy school?
4. Ask the candidates if they have any questions.
It is important to inquire about the candidate’s questions at the end of the interview. This is also a great opportunity to showcase the pharmacy school program. Discuss the unique rotation experiences, and student organizations.
5. Avoid discussing a personal acceptance decision with other interviewers.
Each interviewer will likely be teamed with 1-2 other interviewers. It is important to avoid discussing a personal decision of whether to accept the candidate with the other interviewers, as this could sway the candidate decision. Only discuss points that need clarification, such as if a the candidate’s response to one of the questions was missed.
6. Clearly document the interview form and make the decision carefully.
Make sure to complete the interview form, and document clearly so that the admissions committee fully understands the decision. Always remember that this is the candidate’s future, and avoid rejecting the person just because the individual does not have pharmacy experience. Keep in mind that many states now have laws, and regulations that do not allow individuals to volunteer in a pharmacy. Pharmacy technician jobs may be hard to come by, especially if the candidate is a full time student. If the candidate had poor grades 1 semester, and improved for other undergraduate coursework, then take this into consideration. Ask about the grades to see if there was an obstacle that caused this.
Good luck interviewing!
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSUâ€™s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriffâ€™s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriffâ€™s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2