Today we are presenting you the list of the top 15 Pharmacist Interview Questions 2021 with tips and answers. The role of pharmacists in the health care system is absolutely crucial. Many patients with more or less serious health issues decide to go to the pharmacy first with the hope to get there quick help or advice. And this is often a very good choice as many health problems do not require consultation with a doctor and the care provided by the pharmacists is usually very efficient.
A pharmacist’s main responsibilities are: dispensing medications (including prescription medications), preparing personalized, custom-made drugs, counseling, providing patients with pharmacological information, dosages, potential side effects, contraindications, etc. But the list does not end here. Not everyone knows, that pharmacists can also take and monitor patients’ blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol level, advice how to quit smoking, administer some vaccinations, and many, many others.
Let’s check now together what are the most commonly asked Pharmacist Interview Questions and how to reply to them to maximize your chances to get the job. Let’s get started!
Pharmacist Interview Questions
Why did you decide to become a pharmacist?
This is certainly one of the first Pharmacist Interview Questions to expect. Becoming a pharmacist cannot be a coincidence. Pharmaceutical studies are long and demanding and graduation requires a lot of motivation and years of hard work. So even if you chose this field of study without being entirely convinced of it, think of what made you pursue the education.
Maybe you’ve been always interested in chemistry and with the time you developed a passion for pharmacy and health care? Maybe you are a health prevention enthusiast? Maybe you are an expert in natural and herbal medicines and you were always interested in mixed natural and pharmaceutical therapies? Maybe it is a family tradition?
What is your biggest strength?
Excellent customer service skills, the ability to multitask, and accuracy are crucial in the profession of pharmacist. To significantly increase your chances in a job interview, show that these are your strong points. But think not only about the characteristics which make you a perfect fit for this position but also prepare some examples, which can confirm these skills.
You can say: I am able to work on several tasks at the same time. I handle tasks quickly and efficiently and, at the same time, I never lose focus. I am by nature a very detailed person. I used to work in a high-traffic pharmacy where the time pressure was huge but still I was hearing very often the complements about my smile and my positive attitude.
What is your biggest weakness?
There are two main strategies on how to answer this question. One option is to choose a weakness that is not directly related to your work and will impact neither the patients nor the company. A second option is to mention some weaknesses that can also have advantages. You can say for example, that you hate lies and you always tell the truth, regardless of the cost.
What makes you special among the other candidates?
This is not only one of the most common Pharmacist Interview Questions but probably one of the most asked interview questions ever. Think here again about your strengths.
Maybe your character and personality are perfect for this job? Maybe you already have a set of all the required skills? Maybe you have a rich or unique work experience (for example: work in a hospital ward, on a mission in the countries affected by military conflicts, famine, or rare diseases)? Or maybe you have some extra skills that can directly help the company and the patients (for example experience in natural and herbal medicine, fluent knowledge of one or several foreign languages, etc.)?
What kind of relationship did you have with your ex-manager?
Even if this is not entirely true, highlight your good and positive relationships with the people in the last company. Trust, reliability, a calm atmosphere, and a stable work environment are very important in this profession and any conflicts, arguments, or misunderstandings can cause serious and life-threatening consequences (problems with focus, mistakes in medication dispensing, issues with the insurance companies, etc.).
You can admit that sometimes some tensions or disagreements took place either with your manager or with your colleagues. Anyhow conflicts are inevitable. Focus your answer on how you managed to deal with such situations and come to a conclusion or a compromise. Remember that the ability to solve conflicts is much more important than the ability to avoid them.
What would you do if your colleague didn’t arrive on time for the next shift?
Finishing the work on time and closing the pharmacy only because your shift has just ended would be totally unacceptable and extremely irresponsible. If there are only two of you and no one else can cover your colleague, our advice is to stay. If possible call your colleague to check what happened. Maybe he/she is right on the way and needs 3 minutes more? Maybe there was an accident and the person will not be able to come at all?
If you really cannot stay any longer, or you already know that your colleague will not come to work this day at all, inform the manager about the situation. You (or your manager) can also check if someone else can exceptionally come for this shift. If none of these options works and the pharmacy must get closed, make a list of other open pharmacies and stick it to the window together with short information for the patients that the pharmacy is exceptionally closed and that you apologize for the inconvenience.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge of the pharmacy profession?
There are many challenges – choose one or two, as to how you feel. You can mention for example: following the constantly changing medicines offer, lack of information about the changes in the composition of the medicines, seeing the patients who cannot afford life-saving medicaments, who overuse the medicaments and become the addicts, etc.
How do you stay up-to-date with the new medications?
This is one of the very specific Pharmacist Interview Questions. The pharmaceutical industry reacts very fast to the new scientific research results and on the changing market needs. In consequence, the new medications and recommendations are released almost every day and it is not easy to stay up-to-date.
One of the ways is to subscribe to pharmaceutical magazines and newsletters. A good idea is also to follow the different pharmaceutical companies on social media. Extremely helpful is being a member of one or several pharmaceutical associations. Such organizations not only share the latest news from the pharmacy world but also give an opportunity to build a network of contacts, to participate in the different discussion forums, to exchange the ideas and the experience.
What would you do if a patient asks for a medication that you have never heard of?
It can happen that a patient confused the name or read it incorrectly. Ask a patient to repeat. If it doesn’t help, ask a patient to tell you more about this medication (designation, form, package, etc.). You can search in the system for this or any other similar medication name. Usually, the pharmacy systems have access to the medications database which includes also the new and withdrawn items. Next what you can do is to ask for help from some more experienced colleague.
If a patient claims that he/she has already used this medication in the past, it is worth asking if he/she remembers where it was bought. Some medications are not available in all the countries. Some can be custom-made.
If you still cannot identify a medication, you can always offer an alternative medication that could help with the patient’s problem.
What would you do in case you are unable to read the prescription due to the illegible handwriting of a doctor?
This is one of the most important Pharmacist Interview Questions on our list. Obviously, dispensing the wrong medication is not an option but on the other side, refusing to sell a medication can also cause a risk for a patient.
In such a situation, you ask for help from someone more experienced (for example a senior colleague or a manager). If this option doesn’t work, try to call a doctor who wrote a prescription – there are chances that he/she will be able to confirm over the phone what is written.
If both the options don’t help, then, unfortunately, keeping in mind the patient’s safety, it is better not to sell the medication than to give the wrong one.
What would you do if a patient cannot afford the prescribed medications?
It is a very tough situation. Some pharmacies offer installment or deferred payment sales. If the pharmacy you want to work for doesn’t allow it, you can redirect the patient to some other pharmacy, which does.
Another possibility is to split the prescription and to buy the most important medications first and the complementary ones – later (or not at all). Also, some pharmacies allow selling half or one-third of a packet – this can be also a solution for someone who cannot spend at once a big sum of money.
Finally, as a pharmacist, you can always try to find a cheaper alternative. Just remember, that medications on prescription work usually a little different than the ones available without the prescription.
How do you educate patients about their medications?
Firstly always check with a patient if his/her doctor has already explained how to use and dose the medication.
If the patient needs advice on the proper usage of the medication, the first thing of first is to make sure that it is dedicated specifically to the patient’s problem. It is also equally important to inform the patient about the contraindications (for example a pregnancy) and the possible conflicts with other drugs. A pharmacist should also inform the patient about the side effects and dosage, and finally remind them to read the leaflet carefully before start taking the medicine.
Why do you want to join us?
The real meaning of this question is not only why you want to work in this company but also why not somewhere else. Pharmacists work not only in pharmacies but also in hospitals and clinics. Before an interview, think of what is special or different in the place you want to work.
Maybe it is the national biggest pharmacy chain? Maybe they have to offer natural, herbal drug alternatives? Maybe the pharmacy you apply for is making personalized, compounded medications according to the practitioner’s prescription? Maybe you want to work in a hospital and clinic to be even closer to the patients in need?
Why should we hire you?
This question is in fact very similar to the question “What makes you special among the other candidates?” which we have already discussed above. Describe your skills and previous work experience. Show your enthusiasm, motivation, and readiness to learn new things and to develop.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
This is the last of the Pharmacist Interview Questions which we prepared for you.
You should not be surprised when you hear this question. Employers are usually looking for long-term employees, so even if you switch a job again soon, in order to make a positive impression choose a goal that involved the development and growth within the company you apply for.
You can say for example: “I would like to become a senior pharmacist and be able to advise every patient who comes to our pharmacy and to train and tutor younger colleagues”.
See more from InterviewQuestions.guru:
Pharmacists usually make good money. They are in the first 20 of the best paying jobs in the U.S.
As per indeed.com, in 2021, in the U.S., the average base salary for a pharmacist is $53.33 per hour. The salaries vary depending on the years of experience, on the state, and of course on the company. Pharmacists who have just started a professional career can count on around $48 per hour once people with 10 years of experience can get even $59 per hour.
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