Preparing for pharmacy school interview questions.
In order to do your best during your interview, it is vital that you are prepared with the types of pharmacy school interview questions you will encounter during your visit.
This is often the hardest and most intimidating aspect of applying to schools, but relax and take a deep breath! Your accomplishments on paper have gotten you this far, now it’s time to tie those accomplishments together and really sell yourself to the admissions board.
The best place to start when preparing for your interview is with the application you submitted to the college. This is the information that sold you in the first place, and the admissions team wants to know more.
The important information to pull out for your pharmacy school interview questions are the experiences that you gained through-out high school and your undergraduate career.
The college already knows about your grades – no need to talk about your GPA in the interview.
The pharmacy school will be looking for experiences that set you apart from other candidates. Were you the leader of an organization? Did you help tutor students in math and science? Did you volunteer in your community? This is the type of information you want to focus on for this portion of the application process.
Once you have a couple of experiences that make you stand-out, prepare to talk about how you can frame those examples. Focus on ways to answer the following or similar pharmacy school interview questions we have answered so for you.
- Tell me about yourself…
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- What current issues do you see in the world of pharmacy?
- Why do you want to attend our college of pharmacy?
- How would you handle a difficult situation?
- Who has made the greatest impact on you?
- Do you think your GPA/PCAT score is a correct assessment of your intelligence?
- Do you have any questions?
- Tell us about a time you had to deal with a difficult partner or coworker. How did you handle it? What would you do differently?
- Tell us about an accomplishment you are proud of, and why.
- While in school, you notice that one of your friends is struggling and suspect they may be cheating on exams. How would you handle the situation?
- What is your greatest strength when it comes to learner? Your greatest weakness?
- Tell us about a time that you helped another individual with a problem they were having.
- Who had the greatest influences on you throughout your life?
- In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
- Why this school?
- What have you done to prepare for pharmacy school?
- What position do you prefer when working on a group project?
- Describe your work ethic.
- What qualities do you look for in a pharmacist?
1.) Tell me about yourself…
Yes, I understand this is not in fact a question. But, this is a very common opener in pharmacy school interviews. This can be an intimidating question to answer. You want to give your interviewer a good idea of who you are, but it’s important that you provide the interviewer with the correct information.
With this question you want to give the interviewer a two to three minute snapshot on why you’re a strong candidate for the program.
When answering this question, follow this formula: education, experience, skills. Begin by telling the interviewer of your education and credentials. Next, discuss any pertinent experience that makes you a strong candidate for pharmacy school. Conclude by discussing skills that would make you a strong candidate and/or pharmacist.
Having a strong answer to this question helps set up the rest of the interview. Your interviewer may have follow up questions on your answer, so be prepared to answer those questions. A strong answer will also help you settle in to your interview and remove some of the anxiety.
2.) What are your greatest strengths?
This is the time to boast yourself! It can be difficult because humility is viewed as a favorable personality trait. But, for this question, your interviewer needs to know how great you are!
When answering this question, highlight your personality traits that make you a strong candidate. Furthermore, back-up your statements with examples. Discuss traits such as:
- Your dedication
- Positive attitude
- Problem-solving capabilities
- Motivational skills
- High-level performance under pressure
Keep in mind that you want your strengths to illustrate the makings of a successful pharmacist. Being the top-rated underwater basket weaver in your area isn’t something that would appeal to an interviewer. However, the dedication and eagerness to learn the skill is something that may impress your interviewer.
3.) What are your weaknesses?
Discussing your weaknesses is dreadful. It is difficult to put the worst version of yourself on display. Your interviewer does not need access to every insecurity or shortcoming, and you shouldn’t feel the need to provide them.
When answering this question, show your interviewer that you are self-aware. Telling your interviewer, “I’m perfect and without a single flaw” does not illustrate self-awareness. Everyone has weaknesses, and it is important to view these as areas of opportunity. For example, one of my weaknesses is being an overly neurotic control freak. Here’s how I may answer the question:
- One of my issues that I’m constantly working on is my ability to delegate. I prefer certain tasks be performed with the utmost level of concentration and vigilance. I have seen how this creates tension with my peers as they believe I do not trust them and/or think they are not capable of performing certain tasks. Recently, I have made efforts to provide my peers with opportunities to help me with these tasks without scrutinizing or disrespecting their process.
Any interviewer will know that you’re not perfect. The main point when answering this question is to show your interviewer that you are self-aware enough to realize your faults, and capable of working to improve upon them.
4.) What is your greatest accomplishment?
This question can be similar to your greatest strengths. With your answer you want to tell your interviewer a story that shows your passion and dedication. Talk about a time where you were responsible for something:
- Organizing a fundraiser
- Managing a group of people
- Creating/Implementing a new system
Your example may not be full of all positives, and that’s okay! Many times our greatest accomplishments begin with resistance or even failure. It is also important not to minimize your accomplishment because it’s “really not that big of a deal.” Even if, in the grand scheme, it seems a small accomplishment, show your interviewer that it was a great accomplishment to you! The only way it’s a small accomplishment is if you make it out to be.
5.) What current issues do you see in the world of pharmacy?
Be prepared for questions like this! Your interviewer will expect you to have some knowledge of current events in pharmacy… after all, you’re trying to become a pharmacist. Don’t feel pressured to have all the answer. But, you should have an idea about issues impacting your field.
If you’re worried about a question like this do some research. A great place to start is the American Pharmacist Association website. They have all sorts of information on what’s going on in pharmacy. To make it even easier, subscribe to the news letter. You won’t even have to seek out current events. Instead, they’ll send them to you! There’s no reason you shouldn’t be ready for this question on interview day.
6.) Why do you want to attend our college of pharmacy?
The answer to this question should be pretty straight forward. When answering this question, tell your interviewer why you want to attend their school. Your answer shouldn’t be overly rehearsed, and you shouldn’t recite the “welcome pamphlet” for the school to your interviewer. Mention the things you like and explain why you like them.
Your answer should also provide value for the school. Say, for instance, the school is building a new children’s hospital. This may be one the reasons you applied because you’re interested in specializing as a pediatric pharmacist.
Your answer may very well be, “because this is where I have the best shot at getting in.” That is perfectly acceptable, but it’s not how you want to phrase it on interview day. Do your homework on the college of pharmacy you plan on attending, and have reasons why you want to be there.
7.) How would you handle a difficult situation?
Many schools will use this style of question to see how you handle conflict. Examples of this question are:
- Your classmate has the answer key for the upcoming exam and offers it to you…
- One of your classmates is beginning to show signs of substance abuse…
- You’re having a difficult time with a co-worker…
You will be asked how you would handle the situation followed by a sequence of follow-up questions. Do not fabricate how would act and be consistent with your answer. Also, don’t be afraid to offer your experiences. When answering this question, show your interviewer that you are capable of handling challenging and uncomfortable situations.
8.) Who has made the greatest impact on you?
This is another question that an interviewers will use to gain insight on prospective students. When answering this question, be open with your interviewer. If you have several people that influenced you equally, explain that too.
During my interview I discussed several people. I told my interviewer about learning dedication and diligence from my mother; the harnessing of my potential from my high school chemistry teacher; and strength in the face of adversity from my assistant basketball coach. Whoever it is, make sure your interviewer knows why and how that person has impacted you.
9.) Do you think your GPA/PCAT score is a correct assessment of your intelligence?
This question is your chance for redemption! Let’s face it, it’s unfair for students’ intellect to be defined by a couple of numbers. Maybe you were sick when taking the PCAT or had a poor semester in college. This is your opportunity to explain that to your interviewer. Be careful to explain behavior and not make excuses.
For example: I graduated from undergrad and worked full-time for 2 years before applying to pharmacy school. I graduated with a 3.7 GPA, but my PCAT was in the 65th percentile for overall score. I was asked about this at my interview (probably because my reading and math scores were in the 40’s).
I explained to my interviewer that I was working 40-50 hours per week and taking my final prerequisite courses while studying for the PCAT. I was told I needed to be in the 60-65th percentile to be viewed as “competitive.” I knew my strength was in the sciences, so I focused my studying there to boost my score to the level of competitive.
Use this question to highlight any “problem areas” on your application. Again, be careful not to make excuses. Instead, show your interviewer that you’re more than a set of arbitrary numbers.
10.) Do you have any questions?
Your answer to this question needs to be yes! Come prepared with questions for your interviewer about anything that you feel is necessary. The list doesn’t have to be extensive. Nor, should you be interviewing your interviewer for an hour. Compile a list of three to five questions that you can ask at the end of your interview to tie up any loose ends from the interview.
As you can probably tell, you want to be prepared with specific examples of things you have done and how you have grown from those experiences. Simply being a leader is not enough – you must be able to reflect on that position and explain to others how it helped you grow into the person you are now. The pharmacy school interview questions listed above are pretty standard for any professional program.
During the interview
Whether you are applying to a local pharmacy school, or one of the top pharmacy schools in the US, you will need to be dressed professionally. This means a suit – for both men and women. Pharmacy is a professional program, and the admissions board will expect you to dress for the part. You will want to make sure you arrive early and are prepared to spend anywhere from a few hours to the entire day at the college. Most pharmacy schools will send out an itinerary prior to the interview date, so you will know what to expect.
During the interview try to relax, and remember, the faculty members doing the interview are just trying to get to know you better. Keep yourself comfortable so it’s easier to relax. This means eating breakfast before you arrive, and using the restroom on any permitted breaks. You do not want your mind to be on anything except the interview.
When answering the pharmacy school interview questions, be honest and ask for clarification if you do not understand the question. It is okay, and actually encouraged to ask questions during your interview. It is just as much an opportunity for you to discover if the school is a good fit for you as it is for the school to determine if you are a good fit for them.
Most of the top pharmacy schools in the US will have a formal interview, as well as an informal interview with students that already attend the school. While this is generally a more laid back part of the day, you need to keep in mind that these students are expected to report back their thoughts about the candidates they spent time with. This means that while you will hopefully be a little more comfortable, you still need to act professionally.
After the Interview
You did it! You survived this part of the process and successfully answered all of the pharmacy school interview questions. At this point, you will want to reflect on the day and keep notes on how you felt through-out the day. Were the questions more difficult than you expected?
Did other candidates dress or act differently than you did? What was the vibe you got from the current pharmacy students? Chances are, you will take part in more than one interview and should do your best to learn from each experience.
Follow-up with the faculty who did the interview is often seen as a courtesy, and can make you stand out amongst other students. A simple thank you email is enough, though some go the extra step and send a handwritten thank you note. Whatever you decide to do, it is important to let the faculty know that you appreciated their time and enjoyed learning about the program.