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Favorite Interview Question

By Sara White posted 01-26-2014 10:21


In the Pharmacy Leadership Academy (PLA) the participants bring to the table their experiences by sharing answers to questions posed by the faculty which provides a robust learning opportunity.  The following are in response to What is your favorite interview question.

Tell me about an experience in your recent position that you'd never want to experience again is a very telling question. Unfortunately, it surprises most candidates but allows the interviewer to hear about a stressful experience in the candidate's past. It encompasses so many of the hard-to-define characteristics, including stress management, personal interactions and behaviors, working under a person/policy you had issue with, and gives an example of how the candidate deals with the key players after the experience is over. More importantly, the question allows the candidate to show his/her dedication to the organization and how s/he's made an impact either directly or indirectly.

What do you see as your biggest strength and biggest weakness?, I follow that up with What would your [spouse, mother, sibling, etc.] say is your biggest strength and biggest weakness?  It is fun, particularly with younger interviewees, to see how answers change.  It gives a good feeling for how that person may take criticism and see themselves in light of evaluation from others.  My old boss used it on me when I was hired, and I've used it ever since.  The issue is that the interviewee needs to bring up the person themselves to make it allowable, according to the HR leaders I've ran this past!

Give me an example of a time you failed and what you learned from it.  This can be very telling as people are typically geared towards speaking about their accomplishments and not their failures.  It really combines thinking on your feet and how the interviewee overcomes adversity.

If we were to contact your last direct supervisor, what would they say are your strengths and a couple of opportunities to improve?

Tell me about a time you read something or learned something new and shared it with your colleagues? 

Give a specific example where you had to put your foot down and say no to someone because either you feel that it would have harmed the patient or the organization.

Tell me about a stressful situation you've had a work and how you got through it or tell me about a conflict situation at work where a customer was not happy and what you did to handle it.

What is your ideal job?

 Describe the qualities you are looking for in a boss followed by if there is one thing you could change about your current boss, what would it be? followed by if your boss asked for feedback on their performance, would you tell them?  This tells me what they expect of leadership and I can consider that

information based on what type of leader I personally am.  It also tells me how comfortable (and honest) the candidate would be providing constructive feedback to the leader, which I find personally valuable.

What are your plans if you don't get this residency?  I find it shows which candidates have ambition and which ones would "settle" for an alternate position or wait another year and apply again.

Give an example of a time you received feedback and how you incorporate it into your work?  I find it very telling that almost all candidates take it as a chance to reveal a negative feedback and improvements that they have made.  Of all the candidates that we have interviewed in the past only two candidates have used this question to reveal positive feedback.  I love that the question can be interpreted either way and I found that both candidates that answered the question positively appear to have attributes of an integrative thinker. 

Describe your "ideal" manager.  I feel that this can give you a good idea of what they expect from the management team and also gives you a good idea if they are a solid fit for your team.  

For technicians:  Where do you think you fit into the patient care process/

what do you think your role is? This is to identify if the technician feels that they contribute to patient care or not.  Do they understand how important their role is in the medication management process? 

If we could hire you what difference will you make or what change can you bring to our system. We sometimes get interesting responses from pharmacist which is a learning for us as well .

You're leaving work at the end of the day, and you had a GREAT day.  What happened?  You're leaving work at the end of the day, and you had a BAD day.  What happened? I like these, because it allows the candidate to give a narrative on past experiences, what affects their attitude, etc. 

Not a question but I find I get the best information by taking them to lunch outside the hospital as they may let down their guard down.

Tell me about a time when you colored outside of the lines.  What did you do and what was the outcome?

My favorite interview question relates to pointing out that almost everyone we interview is very talented and capable, so what are some of the qualities or characteristics that separate this potential candidate from others applying for the position.  This question allows me to provide separation amongst a pool of similarly qualified and capable candidates.  I also like to formulate my questions in general around 3 overarching themes: is the person capable, are they willing and are they the right fit.  Although all of these items are important, I feel that it is extremely important to ensure people are the right fit.  Most of the individuals we decide to bring on are capable and willing, and the deciding factor is often whether or not they are the right fit.  In a fast paced, rapidly changing environment, we need to consciously ask ourselves if the person will be happy here, if they complement our mission and whether or not they will be adaptable to our vision.  Making the wrong decision many times can halt the progress of the department and be a significant financial burden as well. 

How do you handle conflict with peers? You get a variety of answers ranging from letting a supervisor know to handling it on their own. Several times we have heard great stories and it gives you some insight to situations that may arise.

Please share your favorite questions so we can all benefit from your experiences.

#PharmacyLeadership #Resident #NewPractitioners #ResidencyProgramDirector #PharmacyStudents #PharmacyPracticeManagers



02-02-2014 11:13

You make an excellent point. I tried to use operas, classical music, art, novels, movies, etc. to as you said "feed your right brain". Leadership as an art versus the science of pharmacy was also my way.

01-30-2014 16:27

Pharmacy practice can be a very left-brained profession. How do you feed your right brain?

01-30-2014 11:04

Michael and Rita
Great additions. Thanks for taking the time to share.

01-30-2014 10:41

Great questions, I might steal a couple. The most interesting question I ever heard asked at an interview was, "Why is a manhole cover round?"

01-29-2014 22:46

Those were very interesting questions! Another question which I enjoyed having to answer in an interview was "What is one thing your time in pharmacy has taught you that you previously didn't know or appreciate?"