Not sure how to tackle the why do you want to be a pharmacist interview question? We've got you! This is one of the most common pharmacy school interview questions, but it is also one of the trickiest ones to answer. This question is very popular with interviewers because, much like the "tell me about yourself" question, your answer reveals a lot about your suitability for the profession and your motivations. The issue is that it is not always easy to articulate why you want to be a pharmacist. In this blog, we give you tips for brainstorming and figuring out your response. We also discuss the best way to structure your answer, and we share some sample answers to help inspire your own.
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Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
This question is a source of frustration for many pharmacy school applicants because it is deceptively simple. The answer feels like it should be obvious. After all, you applied to pharmacy school, and you must have your reasons for doing so. You most likely discussed those reasons in your pharmacy school personal statement. So, then you may wonder why interviewers tend to ask this question again during pharmacy school interviews.
The 'why do you want to be a pharmacist' question is very popular in admissions interviews to pharmacy school because it allows the interviewer to gauge your commitment to the profession. Your response gives them a chance to evaluate your priorities, ability to self-reflect, and reasons for pursuing pharmacology.
Pharmacy school is not easy! It involves a very rigorous and demanding curriculum, and if you do not have the correct attitude and motivation to pursue a career in pharmacy, it becomes even more challenging. Admissions officers want to make sure that they admit students who are genuinely motivated and committed to becoming pharmacists. Your answer to this common question helps them determine that.
It is paramount that your answer is genuine and displays intrinsic motivation. In other words, your response should show the admissions board that you are genuinely interested in the field of pharmacology and the work and ideas you'll be advancing, rather than being motivated by external things like money, authority, power, etc.
A common mistake that pharmacy school applicants make is relying on clichés to discuss their motivations for pursuing a career as a pharmacist because they assume that is what the interviewer wants to hear. There are two main issues with that. The first problem with cliches is that they usually sound generic and are not memorable. You want your answer to this question to stand out and make an impression.
The second issue is that they don't reveal anything meaningful about you as an applicant. If you tell the interviewer that you want to become a pharmacist so that you can "help people," you have not answered their question because you have failed to address your desire to study pharmacology specifically. Pharmacists aren't the only professionals who help people. Nurses, doctors, teachers, firefighters, and so many other careers are built around helping people. A strong answer will need to be more specific to pharmacology.
Don't worry; we're going to give some tips and strategies that you can use to make sure your answer to the why do you want to be a pharmacist interview question is not vague. But first, take a look at the sample answer below and pay attention to how specific this candidate's response is.
How to figure out your answer
One of the things that you will notice about the sample answer above is that the candidate was able to connect their strengths and experiences to a specific aspect of being a pharmacist. That is the key to a solid answer to this question. In order to achieve that, you'll need to think about your abilities and experiences specifically and how they tie into the field of pharmacology.
If you're a visual learner, this infographic is for you. It gives you a quick overview of the key points we are about to cover:
We recommend using this four-step process to brainstorm and figure out your answer:
Step 1: What sparked your interest?
Take some time to reflect and think back to when you first got interested in pharmacy. Maybe you had a particular experience as a child, or you had a great pharmacist growing up, and they made you curious about the profession. Start by writing down every experience that comes to mind.
You should also think about experiences that may have sparked an interest in adjacent fields as well. Maybe you enjoyed chemistry class, which eventually led you to pharmaceuticals. Or perhaps you wanted to become a doctor, but then you changed your mind and switched to pharmacy for one reason or another. You should also think about your interests in general and try to figure out if any of them are related to aspects of being a pharmacist. Jot down the experiences, interests, and activities that come to mind, and we will return to them shortly.
Step 2: What turned your interest into motivation?
Take a look at everything you jotted down in step 1 and think about when that spark of interest became something more. For example, if, in the previous step, you realized that you've always been curious about the medical field in general, then you should try to remember how you narrowed down your options and decided on pursuing pharmacy. Are there specific experiences that influenced your decision? Or perhaps you had a conversation with your guidance counselor, and they pointed out how your strengths align with this field in particular. Whatever the case may be, write it down too.
Step 3: What do you like about being a pharmacist?
Think about pharmacology, what being a pharmacist entails and what you imagine the day-to-day life of a pharmacist to be like. Write down the different aspects of it that you are drawn to and the ones you feel you'd be best suited for. For example, if you enjoy talking to people, you might be drawn to the fact that pharmacists get to interact with different people every day.
Step 4: How do your experiences and interests tie into the aspects of pharmacy that you like?
Go through your experiences and interests and see how they can demonstrate your dedication and/or passion for the key aspects of the profession that you wrote down. Out of the experiences that you wrote down, pick two or three that are particularly meaningful to you or that were very instrumental in helping you decide that you want to be a pharmacist.
The notes that you take during this brainstorming exercise should allow you to see what drew you to pharmacy and how your experiences led you to the point of wanting to pursue this field as a career. Now, all you need to do is use this information to craft your answer.
How to organize your answer
Hopefully, the brainstorming exercise above was able to help you figure out your answer to this question. If you're still unsure, you might want to think about it some more or reach out to a career advisor for assistance. They can provide additional strategies and valuable insight that would help you through this process. Once you have discovered what made you choose pharmacy from an infinite number of other career paths, it's time to structure your answer. As with all interview questions, you want to give a coherent, concise, and compelling answer.
You can do that by dividing your answer into three parts. This makes it easy for the interviewer to follow, and it will lead you to create a narrative in your answer, thus making it more memorable. We recommend using this structure for your answers:
Take a look at the sample answers below for context. They will give you some inspiration for crafting your own.
"why do you want to be a pharmacist" sample answer #1
I admire several things about pharmacists, but my main reason for wanting to become one is that pharmacists are on the front lines of defense in patient safety in many ways and that’s where I want to be.
My mother and I moved to Canada when I was thirteen years old, and for the first two years that we spent in this country, she worked two jobs while studying to pass the bar so that she could practice her profession in this country. I appreciate how hard working she is and how difficult it must have been for her, but back then, all it meant was that I spent a lot of time without her around. I remember a particular instance where I was having terrible menstruation cramps, which was new to me. I didn't know what to do, and I was looking for painkillers at the drugstore when the pharmacist came to talk to me.
She talked to me about the correct use of painkillers and gave me some tips on how to be more comfortable during those times of the month. I didn't have a eureka moment after speaking with her, but I did have one much later in high school when I realized how many people around me actually got advice, referrals, and resources from pharmacists in our community.
Typically, when we think about pharmacists, we think about their role as mediators between patients and physicians. Pharmacists put a lot of time, effort, and care into ensuring the accuracy and compatibility of various drugs and ensuring that patients are adequately informed about their use and effects. While that is an essential aspect of the role that I am excited to be a part of, I am deeply fascinated by the other ways that pharmacists serve their communities. From administering flu shots to running methadone treatment programs. In many ways, pharmacists facilitate wellness and not unintentional harm. That is something that I want to be a part of.
"why do you want to be a pharmacist" sample answer #2
I want to become a clinical research pharmacist to pursue research on cancer drugs. As much as I admire retail pharmacists, I do not want to work as closely with patients and serve my community the way retail pharmacists do. Instead, I want to use my eye for detail and great research skills to join the efforts of those working to improve the effectiveness of the drugs we currently have on the market.
When I was seven years old, my older brother died from heart failure after several years of chemotherapy. At the time, all I knew was that I had lost a sibling, and I told my mother that when I grew up, I wanted to do something that would help other people keep their siblings alive. Everyone assumed that I wanted to be an oncologist, and if I am being honest, I thought about it for a long time. Then my research led me to the world of pharmaceuticals. I started learning more about drug interactions and the research that is currently being done to maximize the benefits of cancer drugs while minimizing their side effects.
As soon as I found out it was a possible career path, I switched gears, and I never looked back. It is perfect for me because it's a career path that will allow me to explore the aspects of pharmacy that I enjoy while conducting research which I also love. And it would still give me the opportunity to work towards what I set out to do after losing my brother.
Want to know how to answer other common pharmacy school interview questions? This video is you:
1. Why do interviewers ask why do you want to be a pharmacist?
Your response to this question allows interviewers to learn more about what motivates you and how committed you are to becoming a pharmacist.
2. Why is "I want to help people" not a good reason for wanting to be a pharmacist?
Because it is a vague response that is not specific to pharmacology. You need to tell the interviewer why you chose pharmacy out of the different career paths that help people.
3. How long should my answer be?
Ideally, your answer shouldn't take longer than two minutes.
4. How important is the answer to the 'why you want to be a pharmacist' interview question?
It is very important. Due to the demanding nature of pharmacy schools, admission officers want to make sure that they are admitting students who are committed to this field of study and, therefore, more likely to push through the challenging times. Your response allows them to gauge that.
5. Should I prepare an answer to this question in advance?
Yes, you should try as much as possible to structure answers for common interview questions in advance. That is the best way to ensure that you will deliver an answer that is concise, coherent, and compelling.
6. Are pharmacy school interviews important?
Your interview is an extremely important part of the admissions process. Your performance will likely be the determining factor in receiving an acceptance letter, so make sure you take the time to prepare accordingly.
7. What answers should I avoid when asked about my reasons for pursuing a career as a pharmacist?
Your response should be centered around your intrinsic motivation, so don't talk about external factors like money, power, etc.
8. How should I prepare for my pharmacy school interview?
You can prepare by researching the schools you’ve applied to, structuring your answers to common interview questions in advance.
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