You already belong to the top 15% of highest earners in the US (and basically anywhere in the world) while working as a Pharmacist. Managing a pharmacy, however, you can take your game even one step further. You will typically need a few years of experience as a Pharmacist, and an extra bachelor in business administration or management to be considered for the job of a Pharmacy Manager. Once shortlisted, you will have to succeed in a difficult interview, with many situational and behavioral questions. We will have a look at them in a second, but first I want you to remember two crucial things.
First one: Do not try to reinvent the wheel in your pharmacy manager interview. Almost all pharmacies are highly profitable businesses, simply because of the outrageous profit margins, and the ceaseless demand of customers that won’t stop unless we change our eating habits and lifestyle (which isn’t going to happen anytime soon). Hence they do not expect you to come up with some groundbreaking ideas on how to make their place better. On the contrary, they have processes in place, and simply want you to take care of them, managing the employees and the processes, perhaps with slight improvements.
And second one: Expect a competitive interview. Pharmacy manager is a dream job of many people. Maybe you won’t compete with twenty other candidates for the job, but all shortlisted candidates will have their qualities, and unless you stand up with your answers and attitude you show in your interview, you can forget about getting the job. Let’s have a look at the questions.
Why do you want to work as a Pharmacy Manager?
Forget about fancy job title, flashy cars, big house, and recognition of your peers. Sure enough you’ll get all these things (if that’s what you’re after), but you shouldn’t focus on what you want to get from the job. You should focus on what you want to bring onboard. That’s a fundamental difference in attitude, and something the hiring managers are looking for in their candidate. So what can you bring onboard?
Perhaps years of experience, seeing a pharmacy grow in both staff and profit. You’ve been a part of the team, you’ve seen it all as a pharmacist, faced the challenges, and saw both good and bad moves of your manager. Learning from all of that, you believe to be ready to manage the entire pharmacy now, and to make sure the place stays profitable, and keeps growing. And perhaps you also have a managerial experience from some other place or project…
Another thing to mention are your skills. Communication skills, time management skills, ability to address problems quickly and effectively, experience with hiring, leading, and firing people, and so on, and so forth. You simply believe that with your skills, experience, and attitude, you have what it takes to manage their pharmacy well, and even help them improve their profits. That’s why you want to work as a pharmacy manager.
How do you imagine a typical day in your work while managing our pharmacy?
This one is a bit tricky, and depends a lot on the size of the place. If we talk about a smaller pharmacy (up to five staff members), you will spend a significant part of your days doing the same things you’ve done as a pharmacist–reading prescriptions, dispensing drugs, advising customers on recommended dosage and use, and so on. A smaller portion of your day will be reserved for managerial duties–overseeing other staff members, ordering supplies, enforcing best practice protocols when storing prescription drugs and controlled substances, and so on.
Things change a lot in a bigger pharmacy, or in a really big one. In such a place you will dedicate 100% of your working time to managerial duties. This includes (besides the duties I already mentioned) hiring, training, and leading new staff members, addressing complaints and internal issues, monitoring product displays and the general appearance of the pharmacy, taking care of promotional activities, scheduling shifts for staff members, and other duties. Think about the size of the pharmacy and the number of employees, and come up with a realistic idea of the job.
It is also good to show proactive approach to work, and readiness to work hard. You typically won’t be the first person in the pharmacy in the morning, but you may be the last one leaving in the evening. Ensure them that you imagine having your hands full, and work overtime on some days at least.
Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership
You can demonstrate leadership in any role–even while sweeping streets or flipping burgers at McDonald’s. But you’ve likely had different jobs in the recent years :). Anyway, let me give you a few example situations that make for a great answer.
First one: You went by an example, doing more than others, motivating the entire team to try harder. Imagine the recent pandemic for example, when everyone in healthcare worked so much, and many people actually experienced a burnout. But you did what you could to stay positive, work hard, and encourage your colleagues in the pharmacy.
Second one: saying the right thing for the others. Maybe you experienced a bad management in your last place, or had some bad apple in the team. Other team members didn’t do or say anything, afraid of their jobs, or afraid of an eventual conflict. You stood up, however, and raised the issue, because you knew that unless it is addressed, you and your colleagues won’t find peace at work again… Any situation you pick, the key is to demonstrate that you have a natural leader in you, and are ready to say and do the right thing always, regardless of what the others will say or think.
How do you plan to evaluate the performance of pharmacy staff members?
You have a few options here. Perhaps the best one is saying that you will try to set clear tangible goals for each and every position. It can be the number of customers served on a day, a sales volume, it can be anything. Once you have the goals (and they should be realistic), it is easy to evaluate whether or not the employees work up to the standards. Of course, this isn’t always to do in a pharmacy, especially for some positions.
Another alternative is talking about being present in the place, observing the people, making sure they aren’t playing with their smartphones, having regular one on one with your staff members to ensure they are motivated and satisfied in the job, and so on. At the end of the day, staff members are your most important asset in any pharmacy, and it makes sense working with them on a daily basis.
What do you consider the main areas of improvement for this pharmacy?
This one is tricky, especially if you haven’t worked in the place before. You have two options here. First one is betting on things that can always be improved. Selling more, earning more money, achieving better customer ratings and reviews, and better level of employee satisfaction. Maybe they do well already in most of these categories as a pharmacy, but when it comes to earnings and satisfaction of employees and customers, things can always be improved and there isn’t really any limit.
Another option is doing an extensive research about the place. This includes both online and offline research. Check the social network, reviews on Google and other places, basically what people say about their pharmacy. You can also compare the prices, special offers, and other things in between this pharmacy and their competitors in the area. Make notes and find areas of improvement… Then you should visit the place as a customer, ideally before your interview, and take note of the following:
How well is the place organized? Do they display the right products on the shelves? How do the workers approach you when you enter? Do they process your order in a short time? What is the overall vibe of the place? And so on, and so forth… Once you do your research and visit the place in advance, you should be ready to come up with some ideas of improvement.
10 other questions you may face in your Pharmacy Manager job interview
- Tell us about a time you had a conflict with one of your colleagues.
- Describe a situation when you felt overwhelmed with work.
- How do you handle failure?
- Tell us about a time when you struggled to communicate something to one of your colleagues. How did you eventually get your message over?
- Do you have any experience with interviewing people for jobs?
- How would you describe an ideal pharmacist?
- What does quality mean to you?
- Tell us about a time when you had to make a decision without all information you needed.
- A customer accuses one of your staff member of rude behavior. How will you react?
- If we hire you for this job, what goals will you set for yourself for the first year?
Pharmacy Manager is a prestigious job title which entails a lot of responsibility. It isn’t easy to get this interview, let alone succeed in it. Try to prepare for the questions you may face, especially for behavioral questions, that means “tell me about a time when, describe a situation…”. And if you aren’t sure how to deal with such questions, check our Interview Success Package. Up to 7 premium answers to 31 most common behavioral questions (+ more) will help you stand out and outclass your competitors in this tricky interview… In any case, I hope you will succeed and wish you good luck!
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