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25 Common Pharmacy School Interview Questions for Students

Published on: Nov 6, 2022
By: Jim Herbst, PharmD, BCPPS
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The pharmacy school admissions experience can be both exciting and daunting. A PharmD program is straightforward on paper and a website. Still, you only know what you're signing up for once you experience a daily routine in the building, meet the current students, and learn from the faculty. 

The admissions experience is your opportunity to see the facilities.  Knowing what you know about the different levels of funding and resources at pharmacy schools, you likely have the same questions as many potential others in your cohort:

  • Are the classrooms high-tech?

  • Are the seats comfortable? 

  • Is the pharmacy practice lab updated?

  • Is there a pharmacy library, and is it suitable for group and independent study?

The admissions experience isn’t much, unlike what you experienced as an undergrad. It often consists of a tour, meeting with the admissions staff, meeting with current pharmacy students, and meeting with professors and faculty.  There’s likely a formal interview at some point, but you should treat the entire experience like an interview. 

Your interactions with your fellow candidates, as well as your interactions with current students, faculty, and staff, will be observed and assessed.  Depending on the current landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews may be in an individual or group format, a single interview, or a multiple mini-interview format. They may also be in-person or virtual.

10 Pharmacy School Interview Tips and Tricks

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best strategy to properly prepare for a pharmacy school interview is to conduct mock interviews that closely simulate the environment of the actual interview.  Will your interview be in person?  If so, then dress up during your mock interview.  Will your interview be virtual?  If so, set up a Webex, Teams, or video conference and conduct the mock interview virtually.  It’s great to review typical interview questions, but the actual act of conducting the interview is of the most significant importance. 

I'd like for you to conduct these mock interviews to show your conversational idiosyncrasies. Do you use filler words such as ‘um’ or ‘uh’? If so, you can practice eliminating them. The interview isn’t just a static series of answers to questions; it should be a natural, conversational, dynamic flow.

Practicing mock interviews will make you more comfortable with that process.

Preparation Produces Desired Results

I strongly suggest researching the pharmacy program and the pharmacy school you are interviewing.  Review the prerequisites and curriculum thoroughly, and read the bios of the professors and faculty. 

  • What journal articles or literature have faculty members produced recently? 

  • Does the program have a mission statement or set of values? 

I want you to know that raising these topics, concepts, and ideas unique to the pharmacy program will show your interest in and attention to detail, ultimately distinguishing you from other pharmacy school candidates. 

Preparation and practice are imperative to a successful pharmacy school interview.

The pharmacy school interview questions below are simply examples. Please remember that you may experience similar questions, but these interview questions (and your answers) are not meant to be memorized. 

Focusing on the themes of the commonly asked questions below and what they seek to bring out in the candidates is critical to a successful interview process.  

10 Common Pharmacy School Interview Questions

#1) Tell Us About Yourself

You will most likely be asked some version of this question in some pharmacy school interviews.  While quite vague, generic, and open-ended, your response should be the opposite: specific, individualistic, precise, and exciting.  This is your opportunity to demonstrate how your experiences, values, habits, and skill set have prepared you for the challenges of pharmacy school. 

Your response should sound like an audiobook or a podcast rather than a listing of your resume or CV.  Think about the qualities and values of a successful pharmacy student and healthcare professional, and use experiences from your past to highlight these qualities and values in your life.

#2) Why Do You Want to Pursue a Career as a Pharmacist?

This question is just to let you know your intent and reasons for pursuing the pharmacy school profession. Pharmacy school is a rigorous and lengthy commitment, so the school wants to ensure that you’re committed to the process and the pharmacy practice and inspired by the potential to improve the health and health outcomes of individuals and your community.

#3) You are a pharmacy intern in a retail pharmacy.  Describe how you would explain a new medication with a complicated titration to a patient?

The interview question seeks to assess your communication skills and counseling ability.

#4) As a pharmacy intern working in an independent pharmacy, you are handed a prescription for a controlled substance written by a physician whose office is located 2 hours away, and you suspect it is fake.  How do you handle this situation?

This question tests your ethics, professionalism, confidence, communication, and critical decision-making under duress.

#5) What is the pharmacist's responsibility in creating a successful healthcare team?

The pharmacist role is constantly changing, and more and more pharmacists are finding themselves in collaborative practices in retail or hospital settings, working alongside physicians, nurse practitioners, dieticians, physician assistants, therapists, psychologists, and social workers.  How you see yourself in that role greatly interests the interviewer.

#6) Describe how technological advancements, artificial intelligence, and clinical decision-making support can improve the pharmacist's role.

Technology is a huge part of a pharmacist’s job, no matter the environment. Most prescriptions are e-prescribed, especially within hospital systems. A candidate must be comfortable with technology and embrace technological advancements rather than feel threatened. 

#7) Describe a difficult conversation you had with a friend, student, or peer and how you felt before, during, and after that conversation.

This question tests your compassion, empathy, patience, and performance in uncomfortable situations.  You will undoubtedly experience disagreements, differences of opinion, and rude or disgruntled patients or customers.  How you respond, react, and resolve these conflicts or confrontations is very important at pharmacy school. 

As a graduate of their PharmD program, you always represent the university, and the interviewer wants to know that you will positively represent them by always displaying professionalism and high ethical standards.

#8) Why are you a good fit for our pharmacy program?

This is where your research in the program comes in.  If you’ve made it to a pharmacy interview with a particular school, something about the school should stand out.  Make this known. 

Describe how the program’s faculty and facilities support your desire to graduate from pharmacy school. Then, project how your skills and career goals align with the pharmacy program’s reputation.

#9) Our Pharmacy School curriculum can be challenging.  How do you think that you will meet the demands of such a rigorous program?

This interview question seeks to reveal your study habits, preparation methods, grit, desire, and organizational skills.  It is best answered with a story or experience rather than with a generic list of attributes.  On interview day, remember that stories are superior to lists.

#10) What were some of your pre-pharmacy school courses?

The interviewer may use a similar question to gauge your academic interests.  It is much easier to succeed in something that interests you.  Did you enjoy your pharmaceutical sciences classes?  Did your art history class inspire you?  It’s okay if your answer isn’t explicitly related to pharmacy; your passion is what matters.  This interview question assesses your commitment to lifelong learning.

The Best of the Rest: Other Pharmacy School Questions to Expect

  1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?

  2. What are your 3 most significant weaknesses?

  3. What are your 3 greatest strengths?

  4. What are you passionate about outside of school or pharmacy?

  5. How have you been inspired by a professor or another student?

  6. When did you become interested in pharmacy?

  7. Describe your organization's habits and skills.

  8. Have you considered pursuing a career outside of pharmacy?

  9. Have you been told by friends or family that the pharmacy profession is right for you?

  10. What is your greatest fear of pharmacy school?

  11. What has prepared you to face the demands of pharmacy school?

  12. How will you balance school work and real-world pharmacy experience while in pharmacy school?

  13. Describe an intimidating experience and how you were able to overcome it.

  14. How will you positively impact our school and community while enrolled in our pharmacy program?

  15. What excites you about pharmacy school and your future as a practicing pharmacist?

Sources & Additional Resources

The Virtual Pharmacy School Interview: A Checklist

The COVID-19 pandemic over the past several years resulted in a sharp increase in virtual interviews.  While more programs are converting back to in-person interviews, surges are likely to persist, and some programs can and still utilize virtual interviews. 

These interviews require a few additional preparation steps.  

Below are some tricks to help you prepare for the virtual pharmacy school interview:

Before Your Interview

  • Ensure that you have a reliable wi-fi connection and that your software is up to date

  • Conduct mock interview sessions using the same software before your interview to become comfortable with how to share your screen, how to chat, and how to navigate the video conferencing options and settings

  • Find a quiet location, free of distractions and loud noises (barking dog, crying baby)

  • Find a clean, well-lit room and consider your background and what is behind you.  Utilize a virtual background template if possible

  • Get a solid night’s sleep

  • Dress like you would for an in-person interview

  • Ensure you have the correct time zone for your virtual interview

  • Have a technology back-up plan in case you have technical issues

  • Sit up straight and consider proper body language and positioning

  • Be in front of your computer and log in 10-15 minutes before your scheduled interview time

  • Silence your cell phone and watch

During Your Virtual Interview

  • Maintain positive body positioning and posture

  • Make sure that you are in the frame of the video

  • Try to place your webcam at eye level and make eye contact with the webcam as if you were looking at a live audience

  • Monitor the chat for questions

After Your Virtual Interview

  • Stop presenting and sign out of the video conferencing platform

  • Send a thank you email that addresses any follow-up answers

portrait of Jim Herbst PharmD

Jim Herbst, PharmD, BCPPS is an advanced patient care pharmacist at a nationally ranked pediatric acute care teaching hospital.  Dr Herbst received his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Ohio State University in 2012.  He started his clinical career as an inpatient patient care pharmacist covering the neurology and complex care services, before transitioning to a pediatric neurology ambulatory care clinic in 2019. 

Dr Herbst's areas of interest in pediatric neurology include treatment-resistant pediatric epilepsy, infantile spasms, the ketogenic diet, and neuroimmunology.  He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed pharmacy and neurology journals, including Neurology, Epilepsia, and the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.  Dr Herbst is board certified as a pediatric pharmacy specialist.

Opinions and information published by the author here on PharmDDegree.com are of my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of my employer.

Education: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), The Ohio State University
Knowledge: Advanced Patient Care Pharmacy, Neurology, Epilepsia