Pharmacy school interview questions are difficult for different reasons, and these reasons will be discussed along with expert response to each question in this blog. Remember, these interview questions are here to help you get ready to talk why you are the right fit for pharmacy school. By reviewing these questions and our expert answers, you will be able to identify your own talking points for each sample question.
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It is important to note that it’s not really possible (let alone advisable!) to try to memorize questions and answers like this. Not only is that highly ineffective, but it’s also quite unlikely that you would get these exact questions (with the exception of numbers 1 and 2, to be addressed shortly). Rather, focus on the types of questions being asked and the kinds of issues each question type addresses. Having a strategy for question types is a much more effective way to prepare for your interview. As always, we strongly recommend “perfect” practice with experts who can give you objective commentary and evaluation of your responses, helping you hone the skills needed to take on any question. Here are 100 pharmacy school interview questions we'll tackle in this post.
“Tell me about yourself ” is probably the most common “question” interviewees face. It is an incredibly vague request, and intentionally so! It is an open-ended prompt that can be taken in any number of different directions, and the interviewer(s) want to see where your mind goes when prompted in such a fashion. While everyone’s answer to this question will be completely unique, based on their own experiences, values, and priorities there is a good rule of thumb that offers some general parameters and guidelines to bear in mind:
It’s not a list, it’s a story
Don’t simply recite your CV or information from your application. While it’s absolutely fine to discuss things that are mentioned in your application, you don’t want a dry recitation of your activities, scores, presentations, etc. The interviewer(s) will have that information if it’s an open interview; if it’s a closed interview, the interviewer(s) won’t have access to that specific information, but you still shouldn’t simply run down a list of items or factoids about yourself. You need to take this opportunity to let your best qualities shine through!
That said, you also don’t want to try to outline your full autobiography, either. It’s acceptable to take a few minutes for “Tell me about yourself”, 3-4 minutes should be the maximum length, but any longer than that, and you’ll risk losing your audience’s attention. That’s one reason you need to put a lot of time and effort into thinking through how you’ll respond to “Tell me about yourself” – this is your chance to advance your best self and demonstrate for the interviewer(s) who you are at your core, and who you aspire to be as you pursue the path to your chosen profession. But you must also do this in a concise and compelling way. You need to work with this prompt until you know you can cover the points you want to cover in 3-4 minutes, but you also don’t want your answer to sound over-rehearsed or wooden, as that can seem inauthentic to your audience.
How do you compose an answer to this question that is sincere, reflective, and that highlights your best qualities? By crafting a compelling narrative, using anecdotes organized around those qualities, values, competencies, or priorities that you think best represent who you are at your core. In general, people love stories, and offering an answer that allows your interviewer to “see” you as a leader, educator, collaborator, etc., will do much more for the impact of your answer than a loose string of events, benchmarks, or scores.
To understand the kinds of qualities you should consider, you should first think about the kinds of qualities typically sought in candidates for professional programs like yours, particularly in medical professions. They generally want people who are – or have the potential to be – empathetic to others, compassionate in the face of suffering, able to defend their ethical principles, attentive to detail, able to communicate complex information to non-specialists, leaders and collaborators with others, oriented to serve one’s community, etc.
As well, another great place to look for and reflect on such qualities is in the mission statement for the school where you’re interviewing. All institutions have a statement of mission, vision, and/or values, and demonstrating how you align with the institution’s mission, vision, and values means demonstrating that you’re a “good fit” – a key evaluative principle in interviews like this. Representatives of the institution wants to know that, when you graduate, you will act as a positive ambassador for their program, as you go out into the professional world and hang that university’s diploma on your wall.
So, draw on these resources and come up with three values, qualities, etc., that you think best represent you, and which you can support with anecdotes and narratives from your own experiences.
This question is meant to evaluate your priorities, your reasons for pursuing this profession, and the amount of mature reflection you’ve done in considering this path. Of paramount importance is that you display intrinsic motivation; that is, you are genuinely motivated by the work and ideas you’ll be advancing, rather than being motivated by things like money, power, authority, etc.
Check out our video to find out how to craft your own unique answer!
You are a pharmacist at a small, independent pharmacy. A patient approaches your counter and requests needles and syringes. They do not present a prescription, and based on the records you can access, they are not receiving treatment for diabetes. Do you sell the syringes or not?
This question poses a tricky hypothetical dealing with a potentially controversial issue, which can cause some interviewees a lot of anxiety. On the one hand, you may want to help this person and understand their needs, but you likely don’t want to come off sounding like a potential enabler, if they are seeking needles and syringes for the purpose of injecting illegal substances. However, there are ways of answering this question that balance compassion and justifiable, ethical behavior.
Check out our video for how to address an ethical dilemma in the news
You are the CEO of a large pharmacy chain that is struggling to generate funds. You are approached by a famous fast food company that is willing to meet all of your financial demands in exchange for opening a chain store in a few of your pharmacies. What will you do?
Here is an ethical dilemma of a different kind, wherein the fate of your business may be tied up in the path you choose. You must balance the needs of your pharmacies with the ideals of the medical profession.
A member of your family decides to depend solely on alternative medicine for treatment of his or her significant illness. What would you do?
Controversial or “hot” topics like this are common in interviews of all sorts. Interviewers want to understand your sense of right and wrong, your ability to explore ideas with which you may or may not agree, and your openness to multiple perspectives. There are a few things you want to ensure you do in answering such questions: acknowledge the validity of both “sides” (for and against) by presenting the pros and cons of a particular approach; represent opposing arguments fairly; offer a firm evaluation from your own perspective, without coming off as adversarial with regard to those who may disagree; when possible, think toward the future – if there are cons or negatives that aren’t expressly addressed in your position, demonstrate how you might resolve these.
Check out our video below for a recap:
1. How do you handle adversity?
2. How do you plan to finance your pharmacy school education?
3. What will you do if you're not accepted into pharmacy school?
4. When did you first decide to pursue pharmacy as a career?
5. How do you study?
6. How do you manage your time?
7. Why did you choose ______ as your major?
8. What characteristics does a good pharmacist possess?
9. What current event in pharmacy have you heard about or been following?
10. What are the advantages and limitations that you see going into pharmacy?
11. What type of person irritates you most?
12. What type of person do you like being with?
13. Are there any questions you'd like to ask me?
14. Why should we pick you instead of someone else?
15. What was the most difficult period in your life?
16. What is your biggest weakness?
17. What can you contribute as a student to the school of pharmacy?
18. What do you think makes a good pharmacist?
19. Have you applied to other pharmacy schools?
20. Have you ever seen academic dishonesty?
21. If you woke up tomorrow and pharmacy was no longer a profession, what would you do?
22. What is your back-up plan if you're not accepted?
23. How will you give back to the pharmacy profession?
24. If you've struggled in a class, what did you do to improve?
25. If you're applied as an out of state applicant, why didn't you apply to a pharmacy school within your home state?
26. Do you prefer frequent change or a structured routine in your daily work?
27. How do you perform under pressure?
28. How would you describe your listening skills?
29. What situations have placed you interacting with the public?
30. Do you like to confront conflict or avoid it?
31. What kinds of decisions are difficult for you to make?
32. Is your GPA an accurate reflection of your academic ability?
33. If you had to do it over again, what changes would you make as a college student?
34. How do you measure personal success?
35. What motivates you?
36. What have you done to prepare for pharmacy school?
37. What changes would you like to see made in the current health care delivery system?
38. Do you think robots will take over the role of pharmacists?
39. What are challenges that a pharmacist will face?
40. Which area of pharmacy interests you the most?
41. Define professionalism
42. If a friend of yours started dating a patient that you knew to be HIV positive, what would you do?
43. Describe your related experience
44. What made you first decide on pharmacy as a profession?
45. How did you choose your undergraduate school and major?
46. Have you participated in any research? What was your role?
47. What criteria are you using to evaluate potential pharmacy schools?
48. If you observed a fellow student cheating, what would you do?
49. What resources do you read to keep current on trends in healthcare and pharmacy?
50. What makes you a strong candidate for our pharmacy school?
51. What regrets do you have about your college education?
52. When was the last time you made a decision that backfired?
53. Give an example of a project or situation that demanded attention to detail
54. What do you like best about pre-pharmacy courses you've taken?
55. What do you like the least about pre-pharmacy courses you've taken?
56. What is the most valuable criticism you've received?
57. Discuss an instance when you felt most pressured and stressed in school
58. What is your most significant work-related accomplishment?
59. How would you define success?
60. Why should you be admitted to our school?
61. Why do you want to be part of a community?
62. What are the pharmacists' roles as a member of the healthcare team?
63. Have you been involved in any volunteer activities?
64. How do your experiences prepare you for the role of a pharmacist?
65. What is a negative aspect about yourself?
66. Who is your greatest role model?
67. What do you do in your free time?
68. Give us an example of your leadership abilities
69. Describe the importance of understanding diversity as a pharmacist
70. What is the most positive aspect about pharmacy?
71. Give us an example of when you used your creativity to solve a problem
72. Where will you be in 5 to 10 years?
73. Tell us about a job situation where you were a member of a team and had information and resources that would be beneficial to others
74. Tell us about a time you encountered a conflict at work
75. Your family has a history of diabetes and high cholesterol. Your older sibling has decided to rely solely on wearable technology and apps to monitor their health. How do you respond?
76. You are a pharmacist and a young female approaches you, requesting emergency contraceptives. She seems agitated. What do you do?
77. What is your ideal vacation?
78. Tell me about a book you have recently read. Why did you read it, and would you recommend it to others?
79. Describe how you prioritize tasks
80. Describe a time when you had to mediate someone else’s frustration
81. What are your thoughts on the rise of telepharmacy? What are its benefits and its limitations?
82. Discuss your thoughts on the arms race of drug pricing. What policies do you know of that address it?
83. You are a newly hired pharmacist and notice on your second day that one of the senior pharmacists incorrectly enters information to your electronic system. You point out the mistake, and although they correct the error, they respond with “This new system they put in just keeps doing that!”, even though it was clearly their mistake. How do you respond?
84. How would you describe to an alien your job as a pharmacist?
85. Would you rather serve as a retail or hospital pharmacist, and why?
86. Describe a time when you had to teach someone else a complex topic. How did you approach the subject? Were you successful?
87. What is an aspect about pharmacy that you did not initially know about prior to college? When/how did you learn about that, and how has it affected you?
88. You are a pharmacist at the end of your shift, and your co-workers have already left. You still have several tasks remaining, but not enough time to complete them all. Furthermore, you cannot stay late because you have an important event to attend after work. What do you do?
89. Tell us about a time you helped someone who was grieving
90. You’re approached by the uncle of one of your patients asking for information on her birth control. How do you proceed?
91. Give examples of times when you worked on a team and things went well, and another time when things did not. What was your specific role in each situation, and what did you learn from those experiences?
92. Describe a time when you had to organize something that was disorganized.
93. Tell us about a time when you helped someone who was confused
94. What is your most significant non-work related accomplishment?
95. What is the difference between accuracy and precision? Do you value one over the other? Why or why not?
As is the case with many professional programs, to gain admission into pharmacy school, applicants generally must go through an interview as part of the review process. Whether this is in MMI Interview (Multiple Mini Interview) format, a traditional one-on-one interview, panel interview, or you will likely face some tough questions. If you do have an MMI, have a look at our blog to help you practice effectively. The interview is the admissions committee’s chance to understand who you are as a person – what your strengths and other assets are, what values you maintain, whether you’re a mature professional, how effective a leader or communicator you are, and so on. Such interviews are part of the larger process of “holistic review”, whereby candidates are evaluated on much more than their academics (though academics are still very important). Even your extracurriculars, work experience, volunteering, and other efforts have already been examined at this point, via your application package, so your general interpersonal skills and overall demeanor are under particular scrutiny in the interview component of your evaluation as a candidate.
As such, the questions asked at such interviews are often very challenging; they are supposed to be designed to probe your sense of ethics, your priorities, your ability to adapt and persevere in the face of adversity, and so on. That said, there are some questions that still stand out as particularly difficult, though they are often quite different varieties of difficulty. That is to say, some are difficult because they may seem vague, others may present you with a tough ethical choice, and some may ask you to reflect on things you’d rather not reflect on (particularly in front of an audience and in a high-pressure situation!). It is crucial that you persevere, however, and that you prepare yourself for these kinds of questions. If you’ve made it to the interview stage, then you are one of the stand-out candidates, and this is your chance to demonstrate why you have what it takes to succeed in this program and this profession.
1. How can I answer a question about my weaknesses?
It's pretty common to be asked a question such as “what is your greatest weakness” or “what is your biggest failure” and these can be tricky questions to answer appropriately. It's much easier talking about accomplishments and strengths than having to admit to shortcomings. However, failure is a normal part of the learning process and it's a great way to demonstrate your ability to adapt and overcome challenges in the future. What's important is that you choose a suitable failure narrative, not one that questions your morals and ethics, such as skipping an exam to attend a concert. Make sure that you pick something that happened far enough back that you can reflect on the experience with maturity and discuss what lessons you learned from it. It's important that you pick a failure that is your fault, not an experience where you failed because of the actions of other people. You want to ensure that you are taking responsibility for your actions.
2. How can I discuss working with a difficult coworker or supervisor?
Sometimes admission committees like to include these types of questions to analyze your conflict management and problem-solving skills. The reality is, sometimes you will be working with a coworker, patient, or supervisor you don't see eye-to-eye with but you need to be able to handle situations maturely and work out your differences for the greater good. When addressing these types of questions, never badmouth the other person, even if you believe them to be at fault. Instead, explain the situation, discuss what was difficult, and most importantly, discuss what the experience taught you moving forward. Perhaps you learned how to communicate more effectively, or you learned to better see another person's point of view. You'll want to think about how you are better prepared to interact with difficult coworkers or supervisors in the future and incorporate this into your answer. Think of it like finding the “silver lining” to an otherwise negative situation.
3. Who will I be interviewing with?
This depends on the school but you should be prepared to meet with faculty members, pharmacists, students, members of the community or local alumni.
4. How can I manage my stress levels before and during my interview?
It's important to remember that feeling stressed is normal in such a high-stakes environment. In the long-term, preparation and strategy are essential. Ensure that you are practicing effectively by participating in realistic mock interviews and ensure that you are receiving expert personalized feedback. Next, approach your practice in manageable chunks instead of overloading each day and burning yourself out. Lastly, exercise, eating right, and sleeping well are essential for managing stress. For short-term stress management the day before and day of, it's a good idea to check out the school beforehand so you know where to go and you don't have anxiety about getting lost or arriving to the wrong interview room. Get a good night's sleep the night before and be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time for parking and navigation to your interview room. If you're feeling nervous outside of the interview room, try these relaxation tips:
- Take small sips of water.
- Practice deep breathing.
- Visualize a calming scene such as your favorite vacation spot.
- Try smiling to relax jaw tension.
5. How important is my interview?
Your interview is extremely important. In fact, your performance can make up to 100% of your total score and will likely be the determining factor in receiving an acceptance letter.
6. What am I being evaluated on during the interview?
A variety of skills and characteristics will be assessed during your interview including:
- Communication skills
- Knowledge of the profession
- Relevant experiences
- Problem-solving skills
- Team work skills
- Motivation for pursing pharmacy
- Ethics and morals
In general, admission committee members want to know whether or not you are suitable for a career as a pharmacist and whether you are a good match for their program.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
About BeMo Academic Consulting (“BeMo”):
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