Interview candidates are pre-screened for GPA and PCAT scores. Many admissions committees review personal statements and letters of recommendation prior to inviting students to campus for interviews. You’ve made the initial “cut” but what should you expect from the interview process?
Many schools have a structured interview process. For example, at UCSOP we have a structured interview process that pairs each candidate with a team of two to three interviewers. At least one member of the team is a full-time faculty or staff member in the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. The other interviewer might be a preceptor or other health care professional. The interview itself is 20-25 minutes with five minutes reserved for your questions. The interview process is designed to allow the interviewers to get to know you better.
At UCSOP, and at most schools, interviewers are looking for your ability to think critically and solve problems. They are also evaluating your commitment to pharmacy, knowledge of pharmacy (especially current events and issues), communication skills, citizenship, and motivation.
Interview Preparation Tips:
- Be prepared to talk about why you want to become a pharmacist. Avoid the patent answer: “Because I don’t like blood but I still want to help people.” Is someone in your family a pharmacist? Was there an experience that led you to your career choice? Is there a current event that sparked your interest?
- Identify two current events related to pharmacy— whether its oxycodone use/abuse, medical marijuana, or medication adherence—and inform yourself about these issues so that you can speak about them intelligently during the interview. Consider what you know about pharmaceuticals or legislation pertaining to the field of pharmacy or break-throughs in drug innovation. Show the interviewers that you are aware that the world is happening.
- Identify examples— from your experiences that you believe highlight your involvement on your current campus or within your community. Share how those experiences have helped you solve problems or work through adversity. Be sure to discuss a variety of experiences including: work or job experiences, leadership roles, community service, and campus involvement.
- Research the school. Try to find one of two things that you can talk about that set this school apart in your mind and be prepared to discuss why you are interested in attending. Is it the location? NAPLEX passing or residency placement rates? Opportunities for research or a dual degree? Opportunities for research, advocacy or professional involvement? Do you know someone who attends or attended the school?
- Focus on doing your best. Dress as if you are going to a job interview. Remain calm. Check the mirror. Shake hands. Make eye contact. Introduce yourself. Talk with other candidates but do not feel you need to dominate the conversation. Smile!
- Prepare questions. If students are a part of the interview process, ask them for their opinion about the curriculum, location etc… Ask why they selected this institution. Ask about extracurricular and leadership opportunities. Current students are the best mirror into the program.
- Say Thank You! When possible, send a written thank you after the interview if you have the contact information for your interviewers.
As you are preparing for your on-campus interview, please remember the saying: “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” Many times, your interview will be the first impression that you are making at your potential home for the next four years. How you dress is part of what communicates who you are and how serious you are about becoming a pharmacist. Before leaving for the BIG interview, there are many things to consider when choosing the perfect outfit!
What is appropriate?
- As you are preparing for your on-campus interview, please remember the saying: “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” Your interview many times will be the first impression that you are making at your potential home for the next four years. How you dress is part of what communicates who you are and how serious you are about becoming a pharmacist. Before leaving for the BIG interview, there are many things to consider when choosing the perfect outfit!
- Remember to polish your shoes. Women should choose heels of moderate height.
- If you are wearing a belt it should match your suit or match your shoes.
- Have a well-groomed hairstyle. It should be in a natural color (i.e. not blue or green, etc…).
- Facial hair should be neatly trimmed.
- Finger nails should be clean and trimmed. If painted, must be in a natural or neutral color.
- Wear minimal cologne or perfume.
- Wear minimal jewelry and eliminate jewelry that makes a lot of noise. One ring per hand, for example. You should have no visible piercings- except earrings for women.
- Please make sure your teeth are brushed teeth and you have fresh breath. This is especially important if you have eaten breakfast and/or sipped coffee on your trip to campus.
- Do not chew gum or have candy in your mouth during your interview.
- Use conservative make-up techniques and cover any visible tattoos.
- Make sure that nothing is low cut on top or too short on the bottom. You should be able to lean over and/or cross your legs without showing off your entire body.