Pharmacy has become a very competitive and saturated healthcare field. As a student pharmacist I understand that I will encounter many interviews while in school, applying for residencies, fellowships, and jobs. Interviews are inevitable, so it is something I want to try to master as soon as possible. I wanted to share some tips I have learned along my way with other students and pharmacists.
Preparing for the interview is key in how you will do on the day of your interview. Make sure that you do thorough research on the institution or program where you applied. This could include the mission statement of the health system, the size of the hospital (beds, types of practices, how many pharmacies). Get a good understanding of the type of environment by reading back over the job description, and making sure you understand what type of job you're applying for and what your responsibilities will be.
Other tips include bringing a padfolio with you to interviews. In this you should keep extra copies of your CV, printed off on resume paper. Try to get an idea of how many people you will be interviewing with, so you can print off a copy for each person. This is also where you can keep your business cards to hand out. As a student this is still a useful thing to have, especially as you start going to bigger interviews and conferences where you will be meeting multiple people at one time. Leaving your business card behind in these settings can help keep yourself distinguished. Information on your business card can be as simple as putting your name, school, graduation date, phone number, and email.
On the paper inside the padfolio, write down any facts you want to remember the day of and a few questions you have. Prepare at least 3 good thoughtful questions, so they know that you did your research and want to know more about their pharmacy/health system. ASHP has a great resource in their residency guide of interview questions that may be asked. I used this and think it is applicable for any type of interview, in addition to the more specific questions regarding a residency site. I firmly believe to feel good you have to look good. Make sure you are wearing a jacket, dress clothes, and closed toed shoes that are comfortable to walk in. This is important to prep and lay out the night before so there is time to get wrinkles out, and to eliminate morning of stress. It can be helpful to have a cough drops, mints, or tissues with you.
On the day of make sure you are in the building, ready to go, at least 10 minutes early. Maybe scope out the layout of the land before you get there so you know where to go. Parking could be a disaster, so having an idea of where to park can be helpful and minimize stress. Use the restroom, because you never know how long interviews will go. Take deep breaths and be confident in yourself. How you feel about yourself will reflect onto others when interviewing. While it is important to put your best step forward, know that every step you take is your best. You got the interview for a reason so there’s no need to doubt yourself or be so hard on yourself.
During the interview, you want to put out the fact that you are interested in getting the position but do not make yourself sound too eager. You have to think of interviewing like a dating game; they like you, and you like them. Be humble and make good eye contact; leave them wanting more . If you have a mutual contact, slide it into the conversation, make them bring it up. I know this sounds silly, but it was a good comparison that I will never forget, and it is an easy way to set a stage that everyone will be able to relate to. The reason why you have to play the interview this way is because you don’t want to sound way too excited to the point of being over worked. Setting boundaries from the beginning is needed. Also make sure you keep the mindset that this interview is as much about you interviewing them as they are interviewing you. Even if it is a big-name place, or the top of your list, keep an open mindset about the opportunity. Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling during the interview and the environment feel that is given off. Be okay with all possibilities.
After the interview, it is considerate to write a thank you note. Thank them for this opportunity and that you enjoyed meeting them. This needs to be done in a timely manner. Be appreciative for the chance to get an interview and think of it as a way this organization already helped you better develop yourself, by giving you a chance to practice your interviewing skills. No two interviews will ever be alike so the more you are able to practice the more confident and able you will be walking into the next one.