Interview well, get an offer, and end the employment intermission.
During my employment intermission, one valuable piece of advice I received was, 'Your new boss will be the most important factor in your job search. Make position and money secondary factors.' Indeed, your new boss will likely be one of the people you work with most in your new position. They should be one of your primary sources of feedback and mentoring. They should look out for you, because your success is also their success.
It is likely that the first time you meet your new boss will be during an interview. That’s what we’ll talk about in this last piece of the Unemployed Pharmacist series.
You will hopefully have more than 1 interview while you are in the market for a job, but it is not an absolute necessity. You may be fortunate enough to interview for a job you’re confident will be a fit—and get it! But whether it’s 1 interview or 12, you need to prepare. And yes, all that advice about dressing professionally, making eye contact, bringing copies of your curriculum vitae is good advice, but it covers the easy part.
Chances are it has been a while since you last interviewed. Maybe your only recent experience in interviewing has been on the hiring side. You have used your own set or a human resources-approved set of standardized questions. They seem pretty easy to answer, though perhaps you’ve had some candidates come through where your reaction is just 'Wow! Where did they come up with that answer?,' or 'They kept recycling the same story over and over again!.' You don’t want your prospective new boss to walk away with an impression like these after your interview. To prevent these impressions, the best thing you can do is prepare answers to the most common questions, and prepare questions to ask after the interviewers finish their questions.
Preparing for Questions of You
Each company will probably have its own unique set of interview questions. And the ones listed below will not all be asked verbatim. In fact, it is possible that none of them will be asked. However, unless you have a 'cheat sheet' of the questions they will ask, my suggestion is to review the questions below (or a similar set), and prepare thoughtful answers to them in advance of the interview. Then, take time to practice giving those answers. Don’t practice too much; just get to the point of being familiar with your answers. The first set of questions are general questions for which to prepare.
In addition to the questions above, it will also be helpful to prepare for questions that require you to draw upon your professional experiences. It is highly likely that you will be asked to provide specific examples from your past roles; the questions below should help you have examples ready to give in the interview and avoid excessive “ummms” and “ahhhhhs.” Try to have a different example for each question, and try to pull from various roles and projects over the past 1-2 years.
Preparing Questions for Your Potential Employer
It is very important to prepare questions to ask of your potential employer during the interview. If you reach the end of the interview and have asked no questions, it may be perceived that you have no interest in determining your fit in the role. Balance the number of questions you ask with the time allotted for the interview; you do not want to ask too many questions and not respect the interviewer’s time.
Focus on questions that would help you decide if you would want to work for the company, regardless of benefits and compensation. You should have some idea of the compensation based on the role and, if needed, can attempt to negotiate it if you advance in the interview process and receive an offer.
For the questions you ask, it can be helpful to group similar questions together. This way, if 1 of the interviewers goes beyond your initial question and answers others, you can mark them off and not look disorganized seeking answers that were already given. My suggestion is to group your questions into four areas: company, position, performance, and benefits.
While it can be important to understand the benefits offered, it may be the best use of time to simply ask for a summary of benefits offered to take home and review after the interview.
After your interview is complete, take time to reflect on it. How well did you do in answering questions? How happy were you with the answers your received from the interviewer(s)? Remember, the interview is as much about you making sure you’d be a good fit in the role as it is about the employer finding the best candidate.
Return to your spreadsheet of opportunities. Document notes. Add more columns comparing the variables of each position. Update your rankings if the interviews have caused them to change. If all goes well, following your interviews, you’ll start to receive some offers and then it will be time to make a decision—the intermission is over.
Hopefully, my first-hand experiences and advice shared in this article and series can be a help to you, should your find yourself as an unemployed pharmacist. Reach out to me with questions. Remember, you’re part of a great profession with a diverse range of career options and, again, pharmacy is a small world. Use those aspects to your advantage. Best of luck!