Interviewing Tips

Preparing for Interviews

Look at practice questions, research the school, and if you have a chance, do a mock interview. You should be able to find many, many practice questions online. If you find some that are geared towards job interviews, simply reword them for a pharmacy school interview. For example, ‘Where do you see yourself within our company in 5 years?’ can be changed to ‘Where do you see yourself within the profession of pharmacy in 5 years?’ Or ‘What attracted you to this company?’ can become ‘What excites you about pharmacy?’ Look into the studentdoctor website for questions from specific schools that were asked in previous years. You should be able to have a practice interview with career services through your college. Also, through the Health Careers Center you can take a free tutorial for writing a Personal Statement and Interviewing.

Researching other Schools 

  • Know what are they known for (i.e. what departments of pharmacy do they have or do they emphasize research, retail, MTM, rural)
  • Get an idea about the curriculum (i.e. each school differs in what is taught and what order)
  • Know anything specific they are recognized for (i.e. Minnesota and MTM)
  • Brainstorm why you think “x” school should admit you and why you would be a good fit for them
  • Do some self searching of what can you bring personally to that particular school (these are great points to bring up in an interview)

Advice for the Interview Day

  • Prepare questions for them (ask about their program, here is where you can really show your excitement for their specific program)
  • Bring professional folder (a black portfolio is best, however the school will provide you with a small folder with your schedule of the day)
  • Bring water bottle (most schools will have refreshments and snacks, but I suggest this in case you get choked up)
  • Review application materials (some interviewers will have read your essays, so just review what you said because they may bring certain points up)
  • Review school’s website (do this research ahead of time)
  • Make sure to breathe and try to relax

Recommendations from the American Pharmacists Association

Your ability to answer questions clearly and thoughtfully is an important aspect of any interview. Some of the questions will likely be tailored to the organization and the opportunity you are applying for. Others will be generic questions designed to probe your background, communication skills, and personal style. There’s no reason to plan out detailed answers to each question. Focus on those that are most likely to be asked given your qualifications and the type of position you are seeking. It’s fine to jot down thoughts and rehearse answers, but don’t memorize your responses.


Advice from previous students

Delaney and Callahan were both previous Pre-Pharmacy club members and club officers who were admitted into the College of Pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. Read below to get some tips from them! 

 

Advice from Delaney | In one of my interviews, there were only 9 students being interviewed that day which was pretty nice. We showed up and waited in a conference room while all the other students arrived, and they gave us a bottle of water and a packet of information about the school (that bottle of water was a life saver- if you aren’t provided one, BRING ONE!) For about the first hour it was all the students along with the Director of Student Services at the College of Pharmacy. He had us introduce himself, and was very chatty and fun. He gave us an overview of the college, and then told us what we could expect in the interviews. There were 2 35-minute interviews, and in each one there was a faculty member and a current student. Both of my interviews were relatively laid back, there was in a super small (somewhat janky) classroom that had maybe 1 table and could fit 3-4 chairs. The typical questions of “Why pharmacy?” “Why the University of ______?” were asked. I can guarantee you those will be asked at every single interview you have! This one also started out with the interviewers asking me to tell them about myself. They went into the interview not knowing anything about me, they didn’t review my application or anything beforehand. I brought a resume (I was told to) for each person so they could look over that, and pulled questions from it.

After the interviews were done, we met up and were given a short tour of the college of pharmacy. We also attended a class that the current 1st year students were in. This part was boring, and it didn’t help that we were all super hungry and exhausted. The class was reviewing for a test they had the next day, and the class was about pharmaceutical industry and drug discovery, and it was waaaaay over all of our heads.

After the class, we were treated to lunch at a local place that many students like to go to. We were accompanied by 6-7 current students in various years, and were able to ask them any questions we wanted! It was nice because we were no longer being “judged” at that point, so they were completely honest and open with us. After lunch, we went back for a little closing session from the Director of Student Services and we were on our way home! They also offered a tour of the full university that I did not go on because I had come with a friend and we were going to tour on our own (and because I was ready for a nap.) I heard back a week and a day after my interview about my admissions decision, which is very soon for a school, and then had 4 weeks from that day to make my decision and pay the deposit to hold my spot.

Another interview that I went to was set up similarly, but there were more students interviewing. There were around 15-18 students. We started the day with an information session about the College of Pharmacy that lasted about an hour, given by the Admissions Counselor of the College of Pharmacy. The group of students then split into 2, half had an interview first and half had a tour of the college first. I was a part of the group that had a tour of the college first, given by a current 1st year student in the college. He showed us where the classrooms where, where the hangout areas were, the break room with refrigerators and lockers for the students to use, and the lab rooms. Our tour guide was very helpful, answering any questions we had and giving us some insight to the college, classes, extracurriculars, jobs, and so much more. After the tour, I went off to do my interview. It was a 40-minute one-on-one interview with a faculty member. Of course, the “Why pharmacy?” and “Why this college?” questions came up (told you they’d be in every interview!) After the interview, we had a presentation given to us by staff of the Office of Student Services, about the university, the city, and the pharmacy program. I was notified of the admissions decision about 2.5 weeks after the interview, and had 2 weeks to confirm my enrollment and pay the deposit.

 

Advice from Callahan | My interview experiences were very similar to Delaney’s. I was incredibly nervous leading up to Interview Day, but something important to keep in mind is that just getting an interview opportunity means that a school is very interested in you as a candidate! For most people, the interview (at least at schools that take a wholistic approach) is not make-it-or-break-it. It is an opportunity to demostrate your interpersonal skills and show the school that you have the attitude and personality neccessary for success in their program. Plus, other than the actual interview (which lasts about 45 minutes), the rest of the day is full of tours and presentations designed to persuade you to choose their program, so it is really quite interesting and exciting.

As far as tips for the interview, this is what I have to say:

-One-on-one interviews with faculty may seem intimidating, but in my experiences they were very relaxed and conversational. When I first walked into the office of one of my interviewers, she told me “I don’t want to grill you or put you on the spot, I want this to be a two-way conversation so please feel free to ask me questions, too.” This interview went really well for me and as soon as we started to talk, all of my nerves went away and I had a really enjoyable conversation.

-Question types are pretty predictable. To prepare, I looked at the pharmacy interview question forums on StudentDoctorNetwork.com. There will inevitably be some variation of the following:

  1. Why do you want to attend _____(specific school/program)___?
  2. Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
  3. Hypothetical questions: If you were in some situation/moral dilemma, what would you do or how would you respond?
  4. Informational questions: Tell me more about your undergraduate research/volunteer experience/leadership experience/work experience.

-If you draw a blank on a question, don’t be afraid to ask for a moment to think. It is better to spend a few moments formulating a genuine response rather than blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind. Plus, hypothetical moral dilemmas usually don’t have quick, easy responses!

-Ask your interviewer about themselves, their background, or their research. It is really interesting to learn about all of the cool things going on in your potential pharmacy school! This can help you get a feel for whether or not the program is a good fit for you.

-Above all, be yourself and let your interviewer get to know your personality. This is your chance to show off your interpersonal skills, which are essential for a sucessful career in pharmacy. Be confident in yourself, you have worked so hard to get to this point in the application process that the actual interview will be a breeze!

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