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Learn how to ace your interview at a pharmacy school

When you try to get to a pharmacy school, you face one big problem:

The number of applications exceeds the number of open spots. This is true with most pharmacy schools.

What is more, when we talk about prestigious colleges, the ratio can be 10:1, or even higher. Only one out of ten applicants will get accepted for the study program. Will it be you?

In this article we will look at the questions they will ask you in an admission interview. We will show you how to make a good impression on the people sitting in the interviewing panel, and how to stand out from your competitors. Ready? Let’s go!

 

You are a student, not a pharmacist (at least not yet)

Before we look at particular questions, you should understand a few things about your interview presence.

For 90% of all applicants, this will be their first interview. The people in the admission committee won’t expect you to know a lot about pharmacy, drugs, and other subjects that relate to pharma.

What is more, they expect you to be nervous, and some of the admission committee members will be nervous as well!

Bearing it in mind, you should not put an excessive pressure on yourself (or let anyone else to put a pressure on you).

Expect the best. Try to come there with a clear mind, and with a strong belief that you can succeed. Arm yourself with information about their school and study program (you will need the information to answer some of their questions), and with a good mood. This is the best “setup” for your success in this particular interview.

 

Your dream, not the dream of your parents

The following situation happens way too often:

A young woman (or man) comes to an interview, and after talking to them for bare five minutes, we know that their parents want to have a pharmacy graduate in their house…

It is their dream, but the student is not sure whether they want to follow a difficult path of pharmacy studies…

Keep my word: Unless you know why you want to study pharmacy, unless it is your own goal for the future (your dream), you will struggle to make a good impression in an interview.

To be honest, if you are not sure whether you want to work as a pharmacist one day, you should not apply for a pharmacy school.

You will only waste your time (with difficult studies), and a lot of money (in most countries, pharmacy graduates start their professional careers with a huge debt to pay), and perhaps you will take a place someone else could get, someone who really were interested in the field, and did not only follow the dream of their parents…

Okay, enough of the talk, let’s move to the questions!

 

The interview questions

Ready to succeed? Sure you want to study pharmacy? Fine then. Let’s have a look at the questions you will deal with in this interview.

  • Why do you want to become a pharmacist? Focus on your interest for the field, and a meaningful purpose you see in the job. Do not talk about money. You can also say that you have always dreamed of the career, or that you follow a role model you have in your life.
  • What motivates you to this career choice? Show them that you do not wear pink glasses, and understand the difficulty of pharmacy studies. Your strong will and determination to become a pharmacist, and perhaps a good example you have in your life, or a motivation to achieve something great and to help the people, motivates you to pursue this hard path.
  • Are there any doctors or pharmacists in your family? Tell the truth but ensure the interviewers that you decided on your own free will, that your family members did not press you to apply for the study program at a pharmacy school. If one of your parents owns a pharmacy, or if they serve as a good role model for you, you can mention it.
  • Why do you want to study at our school, and not somewhere else? Praise their location, reputation, professors, recognition. You should convince them that you did not apply by a chance, but know exactly why you picked their school over another one.
  • Why should we give you a place, instead of prioritizing someone else? This is a tough question, and most interviewees do not know how to answer it. Actually you have two options: either you can point out certain skills and strengths you have, and the value you can bring to the student community, or you can bet on humility, saying that you understand that other people also try their best, and that you will leave the decision on the admission committee.
  • Pharmacy studies are extremely hard and time demanding. Are you ready to handle that? What are you willing to sacrifice?  Say them that you enjoy studying. Show them that you are ready for the challenge. Tell them that you expect to spend most of the year reading and preparing for exams, and are well-aware of the difficulties this path presents. Once you graduate and start working as a pharmacist, all your hard effort will pay off…
  • What makes our school unique in your eyes? The research you make about their school will help you to find a good answer to this question. It can be their study program, the reputation of the educational institution, their teachers, the campus. Or perhaps they are located in your city, and present the most convenient choice for you.
  • Can you name some of your qualities that would benefit you as a pharmacist? And is there anything you would like to improve on?
  • Do you watch trends in the industry? What caught your eye lately? This article was written in 2014, and updated several times since then, but the trends change quickly, and I do not want to suggest a particular answer to this question. Google “latest trends in pharmacy”, skim some articles, and prepare your answer. The key is to show them that you care, that you are honestly interested in pharmacy. Do not worry, they won’t elaborate on the subject, so you do not have to learn details of the recent medical discoveries to impress them. Just mention two or three things that caught your eye and you’ll be fine.
  • Except of studying, what do you plan to do while being at the college? Try to speak about some worthy goals, such as participating in the community, working as RA, searching a part time job, taking part in events, etc. The goal is to show them that you plan to actively participate in the life of the community, and won’t be an isolated unit locked in a dormitory room all day long.
  • Do you want to apply for any form of scholarship?

Essays and tests, next steps

The admission committee members may ask you to write an essay, or to complete a personality test in an interview, but it is not always the case. And you should not worry much, since you can not prepare for a personality test in advance.

Remember, the key is to present yourself as someone who knows what they want to do in their life, who knows why they chose a particular school, as someone who is ready to bring some value to the student & teacher community, someone who sees a meaningful purpose in a job of a pharmacist.

If you manage to do this in your interview, you will have a great chance to get accepted. I wish you good luck!

Continue your preparation with InterviewPenguin.com, your best job interview coach since 2011:

  • How to answer interview questions – It is not only about what you say, but also how you say it in an interview….
  • College interview questions and answers – General article about college interviews, you will find there some questions that are not included in our article about pharmacy school interviews.
  • What job is right for me? Starting your professional career? Deciding about your studies? Or feeling unhappy in your present occupation? The article should help you to find your true calling in life.

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