You’ve done your years at pharmacy school, you’ve learned the theory. Before you can finally start earning the covered six figure annual salary, however, you will have to do your internship in a hospital, community pharmacy, or in any other setting. And while getting there isn’t as difficult as getting the “real” pharmacist job–they will pay you barely $15 per hour, and will be more than happy to have such an inexpensive workforce onboard, you will still have to pass an interview. And if you want to do your internship with a renowned hospital or organization, you may actually compete with many people for only a few spots.

Having said that, you can still expect a relatively easy interview. They know that you are still a student, and you do the internship to learn and get ready for your first real job. Hence they won’t ask you any elaborate questions about some drugs or working procedures, as you may face later on in your life, while interviewing for a job of a pharmacist. They will inquire mostly about your personality, attitude, goals, and motivation. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face.

 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Keep on your mind that personal preferences play a big role in this interview. The hiring personnel–often one or two of your future colleagues, try first and foremost to hire a student they will find it easy to get along with, someone with a friendly and outgoing personality, and of course a hard worker.

That’s why you should try to demonstrate such a personality right from the start of an interview. Tell them who you are, where you are from, mention briefly your studies, and for sure include also one or two things from your personal life, what you enjoy to do in your free time, and so on.

The most important thing at this point is to speak with enthusiasm, and show positive emotions, so they get an impression it will be nice to have you around at work, and help you get ready for your future career in pharmacy.

 

Does your academic record accurately reflect your capabilities?

Let’s put things straight–with a bad academic record, you may not even get an interview in your favorite place.  So if you are already there, talking to the hiring managers, it means that your academic record is good enough for them to consider you for the pharmacy internship at their place.

Then, obviously, you can find yourself in two positions. Either you have an excellent record. In such a case, you can say that it definitely does reflect your capabilities, but you try to not get complacent and keep working on yourself, trying to eventually become the best pharmacist you can be.

Or you have an average record, or even a bad one. In this case, it is good to explain them what happened. Perhaps you hanged around wrong people at the time, or you faced your teenage years crisis, or had some family issues. These things necessarily had an impact on your grades, and hence you academic record does not reflect your capabilities accurately. You are capable of more, and you cannot wait to prove it in your internship with them.

 

Where do you see yourself in five years from now? Do you have any specialty on your mind?

In an ideal case, the internship should make sense for your desired specialty. Perhaps you want to work in critical care or cardiology, or want to work with a certain group of population, and their place will allow you to get a taste of the challenges you will face a few years down the road.

However, this is rarely the case with internships, unless you are a triple A student and can really choose a place for your internship without any limitations. But if you do not find yourself in such a position, you can still come up with a good answer. For example, you can say that you are undecided yet. You have a few ideas on your mind, and you definitely hope that the internship with them will help you decide about the direction of your career in pharmacy. That’s always a good answer in my book.

Of course, if you apply for an internship spot in a place where you’d love to work once you finally get your degree, you can and should focus on it in your answer.

 

What can you bring onboard? Why should we prioritize you to other applicants?

Each place has limited spots for interns, and if you apply with a good one, you can be sure that the number of applicant is much higher than the number of open spots. Obviously they’ve seen your academic record, they’ve read your application, and they have a certain idea about you. But they still want to hear what makes you unique, or at least why they should give one of the spots to you.

You have a few options for a good answer. One is referring to your future specialty, or even connecting their place with your future career, explaining that you’d love to stay with them once your internship ends. Another one is pointing out some of your strengths and personality traits, such as excellent listening skills, ability to learn quickly, willingness to sacrifice something for your internship, etc.

Another approach consists in showing humility and respect of other candidates, fellow pharmacy school students, saying that you are sure each one has something to offer, and you’d love to see everyone getting a chance to do their internship in this amazing place (a bit of flattery won’t hurt in the interviews), and that the hiring managers will have to decide on their own, considering what exactly they are looking for, for example in terms of a personality of the candidate. Not (m)any applicants will opt for a similar answer, and it can eventually help you stand out in their eyes, and get hired.

Why do you want to do your internship here? Why not some other place?

Give them some praise. Ideally heaps of it. Maybe you’ve talked with their former interns, and they told you just the very best things about the place. They loved the leadership, the experience, and how it helped them to get ready for the real challenges of the job.

Or maybe the place has an amazing modern equipment in place, or a stellar reputation in general, and you simply want to learn from the best. As I’ve already mentioned earlier in the article, you can also connect your professional goals with their place, saying that you’d love to work there as a pharmacist once your studies finally end.

But it can also happen that you apply for a spot in a place with a poor reputation, simply because you do not have a good academic record and were “forced to” go for this option. In such a case, you can either refer to logistical reasons (good location of the place, easy traffic connection to the facility from your home), or you can bet on honesty, saying that with your academic record you do not really have many options, and are grateful for any opportunity to do your internship, regardless of the place. At the end of the day, you also hope to bring something onboard. You may actually improve the place with your work and presence

 

Other questions you may face in your pharmacy intern interview

  • How do you imagine your typical day at this place?
  • Tell me about your best and worst experience with a pharmacist (from a position of a customer).
  • What do you consider your biggest weakness if we talk about a job of a pharmacist?
  • Do you apply with any other places for an internship program?
  • How would your best friends describe you?
  • If you could change one thing in Pharmacy, what would it be?
  • Who inspires you in life?
  • After everything we’ve discussed here, do you want to add anything, or do you have any questions?

 

Final thoughts, next steps

Interview for a position of a pharmacy intern belongs to interviews with an average difficulty. While they won’t normally ask you any tricky scenario-based or technical questions, you cannot expect an easy ride and a five minute interview, especially when applying for a good placement, and competing with other people for the coveted spot.

Try to learn as much as you can about their place–it will help you with answers to some questions, and also to make a good connection with the interviewers, which is something you should not underestimate in any case, because personal preferences play a big role in every internship interview.

Last but not least, get over the questions once again, read my hints and think about your answers. You may even mock the interview with a friend, just to get some feedback on both your words and presence… I hope you will succeed, and wish you best of luck!

Matthew

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Matthew Chulaw
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