It feels really good to hit submit on your PharmCAS application and wait for interview invites to come rolling in. Maybe you’ve already received an interview invite…woohoo! Interviews can be incredibly exciting, giving you an opportunity to walk the same halls you might walk as a future pharmacy student. If this is your first interview, however, you might be anxious about what to expect. Don’t fret: we’ve all been there before! Here are some Do’s and Don’ts that’ll help you wow admissions committees and boost your confidence during your interviews.
1. Do see it as an opportunity. The admissions team invited you to interview because they saw your potential and wanted to meet you in person, so clearly they want you there. The admissions committee already knows your grades and read your personal statement, so you have nothing to “prove” to them. Consider interviews an opportunity to show your true self and be an advocate for yourself – in other words, you are the “voice” of your application. Your interview is the icing on the cake of an already impressive application.
Don’t think you’re alone. It’s only natural to feel nervous for your interviews, but you can use that adrenaline to your advantage. During your interviews, imagine yourself as a successful pharmacist 10 or 20 years from now to help boost your confidence. Some find it helpful to remind themselves that their interviewer was in their own shoes when they were interviewing for pharmacy school. And remember: there are tons of people rooting for you and rallying behind you that want you to succeed!
2. Do prepare questions. There are two main reasons to ask questions during interviews: to get answers, and to show the admissions team that you want those answers. Expect to be asked if you have any questions towards the end of your interview, and have some questions ready! In fact, in some cases you might be able to weave in your own questions earlier during the interview to make the interview more conversational while showing your interest – and taking some pressure off yourself to answer their questions rapid-fire.
Don’t ask questions you don’t actually want to know. If you don’t actually want to know why their school mascot is a tornado, then don’t ask! Ask questions that you do care about: what kinds of things would impact your decision to attend that school? what do you want to know about their curriculum, or how their graduates fare? what information would you want to know about their city to feel at home there?
3. Do your research. Knowing why you want to go to that particular pharmacy school will not only demonstrate your genuine interest to your interviewers, but it should also excite you! Having an answer to why you want to attend their school will not only flatter your admissions committee (oh, you like our core values? oh, stop it, you’re making me blush!), but it should also make you feel confident that you chose the right place to spend the next 3-4 years.
Don’t force it. Any enthusiasm for a given pharmacy program should be genuine. If there are some aspects of a program that concern you or you’re unsure about, don’t be afraid to voice those questions, and most importantly, you owe it to yourself to be honest with yourself throughout this process.
4. Do practice. One thing you absolutely should do before your interviews is practice! If this is your first interview, check out 175 Pharmacy School Interview Questions and make sure you’re able to answer some of the most commonly asked questions. Most pre-pharm students are short on time, so you can even take this to read on the plane on your way to interviews! But one of the best ways to build your confidence is to stage a mock interview. See if your pre-health office on campus offers mock interviews, and if not, ask a friend to ask you a set of interview questions. To make this feel as real as possible, wear your interview clothes so you feel comfortable in them, and find a quiet room to stage this interview. The more authentic it feels, the better – lounging on the couch in PJ’s might not cut it!
Don’t sound rehearsed. Your interview should feel more like a conversation than rehearsing a script. Be yourself, and let your passion for pharmacy come across naturally. Instead of memorizing your “lines” word for word, focus more generally on the points you want to communicate or highlight during your interview. For example, when you’re asked why you want to become a pharmacist, don’t memorize exactly what you’re going to say; instead, tell them your story.
5. Do make the most out of your trip. You didn’t travel hundreds of miles for nothing! Divert any nervous energy toward thinking about what you’re looking forward to during your trip. Try to find opportunities to talk to current pharmacy students, explore the campus, or even see the town. In advance of your trip, make a list of goals you have for your interview experience. Some of those goals will be related to information you want to find out about that pharmacy program, but another goal might be to go on a morning run around their campus, or to ask pharmacy students their top 3 three favorite things about their city. While you’re there, make sure you’ve asked all the questions you need to make a decision about whether or not you see yourself happy as a pharmacy student there.
Don’t throw caution to the wind. Your #1 goal is to do your best in your interview, which means focusing on the interview part of your interviews. Try to be at least 15 minutes early to your interview, and make sure you’ve secured transportation back to the airport (or other mode of travel) in time. Be yourself, but avoid doing anything that could jeopardize your chances!
Remember – interviews are two-way streets. This is not only an opportunity for pharmacy programs to get to know the real you, but it’s also an opportunity for you to know the real them. You’ve already made it this far, and interviews are the very last step between you and your acceptance into pharmacy school. You deserve to be confident in yourself!