The competition for positions in the world of pharmacy is fierce. Much more so than when I graduated. But irrespective of where or when you are looking to apply for a position, albeit a professional role, residency, internship, fellowship or something else, the interview process can be a challenge. When you do get that opportunity to interview, it is important tha tyou take every advantage you can get to get that job offer. This means you take full advantage of the preinterview process by being prepared. Keep in mind that job interviews are your best opportunity to make a terrific first impression on your potential supervisor(s) and coworkers. In this first of a 3-part series about the essentials for preparing for interviews, I will outline how to properly get ready for your interview with these essentials.
During the Week of Your Interview
- Research the company's profile and background. Know what their product or service or specialty/specialties are and work off that information during the preinterview process. Use the company's website, their annual report, and newspaper/business magazine articles to learn as much as you can about the company. This will help you anticipate potential directions your conversation during the actual interview may go.
- Try to know more about who will be interviewing you, including their name and their job position, before going to the interview. This might help you build a rapport with that person.
- Based on what your learned about the company, think of 2 to 3 questions to ask your interviewer. This will demonstrate your knowledge of the company/ position. General questions such as: “What are new markets the company is planning to explore in next couple of years?” or “what are the chances for professional growth in this job opportunity?” are okay but more specific questions are better. (Avoid asking anything that could be easily answered through a quick internet search or you will simply come across as lazy.)
- Anticipate and prepare for potential questions from the interviewer by reflecting about your own career goals, long-term plans, past successes, and work experiences. Sometimes employers ask tricky questions such as “what is your biggest weakness?” and it is important to know how to tactfully answer the question honestly but with a positive spin.
The Day Before Your Interview
- In any workplace, your wardrobe is a sign of your professionalism and is sometimes used to gauge your level of competence. When preparing for an interview, this rule is especially important. Wear your best clothes that fit neatly and look professional. Make sure that your clothes are free of lint and wrinkles. Avoid wearing pungent perfume, cologne, or scented lotion but definitely do wear deodorant! Prepare everything you will wear and need for the interview the night before.
- The day before the interview, be sure to know how you will get there, get the directions if you drive, or how to reach the place of the interview by public transportation if you, like me, live in a major metropolis. Note: for those of you living in a big city like New York City, anticipate anything like traffic and train delays, have alternate routes readily available. I tend to always arrive at the facility or general area one hour early just so I avoid any unexpected delays on the road or train. Once there, I like to relax or perhaps read something to use to prepare for the interview. Go to bed early the day (or the days) before the interview so that you are well rested and refreshed on the big day. Prepare many extra copies of your resume, CV, and/or references in case your interviewer or interviewers ask for it. You can never be over prepared in this regard, but coming underprepared can spell trouble for you! You do not want your interviewers to share a copy of your resume and neither do they.
The Day of Your Interview
7. Before the interview, eat a hearty and healthy meal. Relax and avoid stressors if you can. This is not a day to try new foods, diets, and anything out of the ordinary from your daily routine.
8. Leave for the interview early to avoid rushing and the stresses that come with being late.
Right Before the Interview
9. Show courtesy to everyone you see in the area because (a.) you always should be courteous and (b.) because you may never know who the key players are and/or what they look like for the interview process. You wouldn’t want to cutoff the secretary in the parking lot or not hold the door for the hiring manager. Be polite to everyone from the reception staff to the interviewer. You never know who has input in the hiring process, and you can only get one chance to make a good first impression.
10. Make sure you are bringing your very best “A” game to the interview. I would suggest going to the restroom, locking the door, looking at the mirror, and thinking positively to yourself why you are the best person for the job (you probably do not want to do this in public!). Do meditative/ relaxation breathing. Feel confident that you are well prepared and get ready to blow the competition out of the water!!
Good luck and get ready for the second and third parts of this series, on the interview and follow up.