Things to know for the Pharm. D. interview

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Introduction

This is a work in progress. If you have any comments or suggestions, please send them to me (Dr. Arthur Roberts) at audie @ uga . edu.
The interview is absolutely critical for you getting into our Pharm. D. program, even if you have a GPA of 4.0 and a 99 on the PCAT.
My motivation for writing this outline is that I have interviewed many students that did not have a clue how to interview. They are smart, have good grades and totally bomb the interview. Also, I am a strong believer in telling students clearly what they need to know.
Disclaimer: I hope this outline helps you, but I take absolutely no responsibility implied or explicit from this work for getting you into our or any Pharm. D. program.
  • University of Georgia interviews, at least when I was giving them, were 30 minutes with 2 interviewers. You were also given a tour prior to that.

Interview Priority

  • Below is my interpretation of the interview priority, but you must not be bad in any category.
  1. Personality/Personal Communication, Motivation and Health-care (preferably Pharmacy) Related Extracurricular Activities
  2. Grades and PCAT
  3. Recommendations, Personal Statement, the Answered Question and non-Health-care Related Extracurricular Activities

Personality/Personal Communication

  1. Do not assume that you will automatically get into our program because of your awesome grades and PCAT. Many don't because of the interview.
  2. Shake hands with the interviewers.
  3. Be yourself. Do not try to be something that you are not. We will pick up on it.
  4. Be honest. We are pretty good at detecting dishonesty. If we catch any dishonesty, we will not believe anything that you say.
  5. I know that you may be nervous, but try to be relaxed.
  6. Be friendly and smile. We want to know how you will interact with customers as a pharmacist.
  7. Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
    • Good Answers
      I have always had a strong interest in science.
      I have always had an interest in drugs and drug-drug interactions, since I was young.
      I enjoy working with and helping people.
    • Bad Answers
      I heard it pays a lot of money.
      I heard that the career does not require as many hours as a medical doctor. I don't like to work long hours.
  8. Be enthusiastic about pharmacy and joining the school of pharmacy.
    • If you are luke warm about it, we will feel luke warm about you.
  9. Maintain eye contact. Do not look away, when talking to us.
  10. Please answer the questions clearly and concisely.
  11. Avoid answering questions too quickly. When you are nervous, you might feel like you are pausing forever. However, some pausing is good, so that you can answer the question well. If you have trouble speaking in front of people, I recommend attending your local toastmasters.
  12. Sit up with good posture and look professional.
  13. Dress professionally.
  14. Do not move your hands or body around a lot. Avoid nervous tics. If you have a medical condition that causes you to do it, please explain that at the beginning of the interview.
  15. Avoid using filler words like um, ah, etc. If you have trouble with not using filler words, I recommend attending your local toastmasters.
  16. If you worked at a pharmacy (hint: we like that a lot), what did you like and not like about it?
    • Good things to like.
      1. I enjoyed learning about different drugs/drug-drug interactions. Be ready to give specific examples.
      2. I enjoyed interacting with and helping customers.
    • Good things to not like.
      1. I didn't like the complexity of the insurance paperwork.
      2. I didn't like the high cost of drugs for some of our customers.
      3. I didn't enjoy being forced by a customer's insurance to give them a generic drug, when the customer wanted a brand name drug.
    • Bad things to not like.
      1. I didn't really care for the pharmacist that I worked with.
      2. I didn't really like the customers or being around people. <-- For most pharmacists, this is going to be your main job and you will have to be around customers a lot.
  17. We want to hear that you want to be pharmacist. Therefore, please do not talk about how you would like to do something else. For example, there was a student, who kept talking about how they wanted to be a cook and how they enjoyed cooking. This certainly did not give us a good impression on whether this person would be a good pharmacist or if they even wanted to be a pharmacist. Quite the opposite.
  18. Why do you want to be a pharmacist over being a medical doctor or other health related profession?
    • Do not tell us that you wanted to be a pharmacist because you could not get into medical or dental school.
  19. If you have a blemish on your record, be ready to explain it.
    • Example for Poor Grades as a Freshman: As you can see from my grades, I have greatly improved from my freshman days. I think I am a lot more mature, now. (Do not make a lot of excuses or be too verbose. There are a million reasons why someone gets bad grades as a freshman.)
  20. Do not talk about controversial topics.
    Examples
    • Opinions about religion and politics.
    • Tattoos and piercings
  21. At the end of the interview, thank the interviewers for interviewing you and shake their hands again, while maintaining eye contact.

Health Care-Related Extracurricular Activities

  1. If you start the extracurricular activities only a few months before the interview, they will not mean much and we will notice. We like to see people that have done activities for years.
  2. Get a job at a pharmacy (preferable) or in health-care such as a in a hospital or in a nursing home.
  3. Join a health-care or pharmacy- related club at your University.
    • Take a leadership role in the club.
  4. If you cannot get a job in a hospital, nursing home or pharmacy, shadow a pharmacist (preferable) or doctor. You could also try to volunteer in a research laboratory. However, if you do this, you must do more than hang out in the laboratory. Don't waste the research professor's time.

Non-Health Care-Related Extracurricular Activities

  1. Just like health care-related extracurricular activities, we like to see people that have done thing for years.
  2. Please show that you have done more than study for your classes. We want someone in our program that is well balanced. We don't want to hear that you do nothing, but study.
  3. We like to see people that have some diversity in their extracurricular activities.
  4. We like to see people in leadership roles in their extracurricular activities. For example, if you are in a club, try to be the president.

Motivation

  1. Do you know the difference between:
  2. Have you checked out the main website for UGA College of Pharmacy.
  3. This is what you are going to do for the rest of your life. Do you know all the possible careers in Pharmacy?
  4. Apply to multiple Pharmacy Schools.
  5. Ideally, you will want to have worked for a pharmacist as a pharmacy tech, student worker or at least shadowed a pharmacist. If you have, be sure you know as much as you can about the job.
    • What are the pro's and con's of being a pharmacist?
    • What does a pharmacist do on a daily basis?
  6. If you get asked: "If you do not get accepted to pharmacy school this year, what are your plans next year?" Be honest. However, we want you to tell us that you will apply next year and the year after that, until you get in. We do not want to hear that you are going to give up.
  7. If you get less than a 80 on your PCAT, take it again. If you have taken it multiple times and your score is still below 80, be ready to explain why. We understand that some people are not good standardized test takers.
  8. Please DO NOT tell us that you are interested in Pharmacy because you heard it pays well or that it is not as much work as other professions.
  9. What interests you about pharmacy?
    • Tell us about the first time that you showed an interest in pharmacy.
    • Tell us what aspects of pharmacy interest you.
    • Tell us how you see yourself in a pharmacy setting.
  10. Look up programs that are available within the College of Pharmacy.
  11. Please have questions to ask us that indicate your interest in our program.

Recommendations

  1. Try to get three recommendations. Two recommendations are probably OK.
  2. Talk with the person that is giving you the recommendation.
  3. At least one of the recommendations should be from a pharmacist or a health professional.
    • Recommendations from a professor that you worked for or had a class with are OK
    • Recommendations from friends or relatives do not mean much. We can recognize in 2 seconds, where the recommendations come from.

Personal Statement

  1. It should show a true interest in pharmacy as it relates to your life.
    • When did you know that you wanted to be a pharmacist?
    • What interests you about pharmacy?
  2. Personal Statement No No's
    1. I want to be a pharmacist because I will be paid well.
    2. I want to be a pharmacist because I do not want to work too hard.
    3. Significant grammatical and spelling mistakes.

Answered Question

  • Each prospective student is given a question that requires a written answer. Most people do well on this section.
  1. Be clear and concise. The answer does not have to be long. Actually, long and unclear can hurt your application.
  2. Be sure that it is free of significant grammatical and spelling errors.

Grades

  1. Even if your grades are not the best when you start college, we want to see a positive trend grade-wise. Even with the same GPA, a negative trend reflects more negatively on you.
  2. It is always better to get good grades in all of your classes. However, at least, we want to see good grades in your core science classes.
  3. If you get less than a B in your core science classes, we want to hear that you are in the process of retaking it or you will retake it.

PCAT versus Grades

  1. When we see a very high PCAT and low grades, that suggests to us that the student is smart, but doesn't apply themselves, which means that they might not do well in Pharmacy School. We are more willing to see the reverse. In other words, high grades and a lowish PCAT (i.e. 50-60) are more acceptable because we recognize that many students have standardized test anxiety.

Notes