Some interview questions attract more attention than they deserve. Questions about your strengths and weaknesses definitely belongs to this group. First of all, it is by far not as common as it used to be in the past (think twenty years ago). Job interviews have become more sophisticated and behavioral questions prevail over other types of questions. Secondly, most job seekers prepare for this question in advance (due to its popularity), and hiring managers do not get as authentic answers as they hope for. It is another reason to skip it altogether…
Anyway, you may get this question in your interview for a job of a pharmacist, and I will try to show you how to answer it to make the right impression on your interviewers. Let’s start directly with 7 sample answers to the question. I tried to include answers for both experienced pharmacists and novices, as well as some unconventional answers. Once you get through them, please continue reading. I will explain you what you should focus on, and what mistakes to avoid, when narrating your strengths and weaknesses in the interview.
7 sample answers to “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” interview question for pharmacists
- Responsibility and attention to detail belong to my greatest strengths. I make no mistakes in my work, and always double-check everything important, which I believe will help me while working as a community pharmacist. What’s more, I had several part-time jobs while still studying, and it hasn’t happened to me once that I came late for my shift in the store. You can rely on me 100%. From my weaknesses, I would pick communication skills. Not that I cannot talk to people or struggle with listening. I can do it, but I still feel that in order to deliver an exceptional customer service, I must improve in my communication. And I hope do so quickly in the job.
- My experience is my greatest strength. I’ve worked as a hospital pharmacist for seven years, day shifts, night shifts, 24-hour shifts. I have seen and experienced almost any situation you can face as a pharmacist, including some truly challenging situations. It doesn’t mean that my job cannot surprise me anymore–I still find it fascinating, but I feel ready to handle the surprises. My biggest weakness is probably lack of computer skills. I am better with humans than with computers. But I understand that we live in the era of digitization, and unless I improve my computer skills I will struggle in my work. I can assure you that I want to improve on them, and plan to attend evening lessons this autumn.
- This is my first job application in Pharmacy, and lack of experience is definitely my biggest weakness. I’ve been a good student, paid attention, and tried to learn as much as I could. Still, I fell that many things you cannot learn at school, such as how to handle stressful situations, or heavy workload. But I can assure you that I am as motivated as anyone, and eager to try my best–which is probably one of my strengths, together with communication skills and problem solving.
- To be honest, I cannot tell my strengths and weaknesses as a pharmacist yet. This is my first job application in the field, and I believe I have to do the job for a few weeks to see in which areas I excel, and in which I struggle. Without a doubt I will struggle in some, regardless of how well I tried to prepare for my career. But I do not believe in perfection, and pharmacists should work as a team, helping each other, and benefiting from each other’s strengths. That’s my philosophy, and I sincerely hope to get a chance to apply in in practice in your pharmacy.
- I would definitely pick my customer service skills. Having good understanding for needs and wishes of customers, I find it quite easy to meet their expectations, and provide them what they need. In my last job we had an application in which customers could rate their satisfaction with different pharmacists. In nine out of ten cases, I got five stars out of five. Happy customers return back again, which is good both for me and my employer. When it comes to weaknesses, I would say that I should improve on my Math skills. Maybe it is a common problem of my generation, but without a calculator I sometimes find it hard to count even basic things. That’s why I always carry calculator with me… However, I need to improve on my weakness, and am definitely ready to do so in my new job.
- Patience is my strength and virtue. And it served me well in my last job, which I had as a student. Because I worked in a store where the majority of people were older, and it sometimes took me long minutes to understand how can I help them, why they came to the store. But I never got angry, because deep down I know that everyone will be old one day–including me. We should respect these people as they are, and have patience with them. On the other hand, I do sometimes get over-friendly with customers, and I should pay more attention to what I say to them. My intentions are good, but they may misunderstand my words, and I cannot afford such things as a pharmacist.
- I always try to improve–and I consider it my greatest strength. It doesn’t mean that I feel lacking some vital skills for pharmacists. Not at all. But I am not complacent, and I understand that for real professional learning never stops. I keep working on my education, communication skills, knowledge of new drugs and treatment methods, and I do all I can do become the best pharmacist I can be. It is my strength, but maybe also my weakness, because pursuing perfection can sometimes become stressful and can impact you negatively in both your personal and professional life. I am still trying to find the right balance here…
The key is to show your effort to improve
Pharmacy managers and hospital recruiters do not look for perfect pharmacists. They’ve been in the business long enough to know that such people do not exist. And if they do, they are just exceptions proving the rule. Interviewers do not want to hear that you have no weaknesses. On the contrary. They are looking for honest candidates who always see some areas for improvement. Because people who do not see such areas will stagnate.
Think about your skills for a while. What do you excel in? What can you improve on? Narrate it honestly, and ensure the people sitting opposite to you that you are not complacent with the status quo, and strive to become a better pharmacist down the road.
Experience, or lack of it, is always a good answer
When you struggle to identify some personal trait or skill to talk about in the interviews, you can always go with experience. And this is true for 100% of job applicants. Everyone either has experience, or lacks it.
If you have experience with pharmacy work, tell the interviewers about tricky situations you’ve experienced, and how it helped you become a better pharmacist. And if you lack experience, or even apply for your very first job, you can always point out lack of experience as your biggest weakness. Sure enough, one can learn a lot at school, and during residency, but job is a job and certain things we just cannot simulate outside of it…
Ready to answer this question? I hope so! Do not forget to check other tricky interview questions for pharmacists though:
- Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond.
- Does your academic record accurately reflect your capabilities?
- Pharmacy residency interview questions and answers