Jackie Boyle’s Guide to Pharmacy Job Interviews

Key Takeaways

  • Clearly outline your non-negotiables, strengths, and career objectives before the interview to communicate effectively what you seek in the new role.
  • Avoid pretending to be someone you’re not. Authenticity resonates more with interviewers and ensures a better fit with the company culture.
  • Prepare stories from your career that illustrate key milestones and how the position aligns with your goals, to help you stand out among other candidates.
  • Reflect on specific experiences where you successfully used your clinical expertise and problem-solving skills to overcome challenges, and be ready to discuss these examples.
  • At the end of the interview, ask insightful questions that demonstrate your interest and help you gather important information about the role and the organization.
  • Always be prepared to negotiate your offer. Research standard compensation and benefits for the position and practice discussing your value to the organization with confidence.

How to Prepare for Pharmacy Job Interviews

Navigating the complexities of pharmacy job interviews can often feel overwhelming. Today, we tap into the expertise of Jackie Boyle, a renowned authority in pharmacy career development, to bring you practical insights and strategies. This Q&A session is designed to empower both emerging and experienced pharmacists with essential tools for showcasing their passion for pharmacy, clinical expertise, and problem-solving skills. Jackie also sheds light on the nuances of negotiating job offers and contracts. Discover how to stand out, articulate your value, and secure your desired position in the competitive pharmacy job market.

“This is an excellent question. A few important things that candidates should keep in mind in preparing for an interview include:

  • Know your non-negotiables, your unique strengths and your values going in. What is it that you hope to gain within this new opportunity? How can you benefit the organization? What is important to you in your professional life? Having clarity around these answers can help you make the best decision in taking the next step in your career trajectory. 
  • Be authentically you. Putting up a front/façade during an interview will be immediately apparent, and the energy to keep up that façade as well as the misalignment with your values will leave you feeling uncomfortable and unsettled in a new role. 
  • Tell your story & share the highlights. What do you want to share with your interviewers to help you stand out within the candidate pool? What milestones were integral and informative in the development of your career path? Share stories that led to further insight and have contributed to your discovery of how this position aligns with your professional goals.”

“To showcase clinical skill and problem-solving skills, reflect on impactful stories that stand out within your career that can be shared in a strategic way with interviewers to address behavioral-based questions. To uplevel these stories even further, be sure to share how those examples align with your values and your professional development journey.”

“A few questions that come to mind that leave a lasting impact and can offer additional insights to you as a candidate:

One year from now, if I am in this position, what would make you reflect back and think ‘wow, I am glad we hired them for this role.’?

What apprehensions are there with my background and experiences?

How does this position align with the goals and strategy of the organization?

And, for your information as a candidate:

“What are the next steps?””

“Ahhhh – one of my favorite topics!

A few overarching mindset things to keep in mind:

  • Employers expect you to negotiate. You will not be offending anyone or creating turmoil by having this conversation. Approach the conversation with a win-win-win mindset. How can you, your future employer, and the organization benefit from the best possible outcome? 
  • One key question can open many possibilities: “What flexibility is there in this offer?” As a candidate, you may not realize that there is a compensation range on the other end of the offer as you will typically be provided with one number. There are several pieces of the job that are negotiable outside of compensation as well (benefits, PTO, professional development funding, to name a few). 
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do your research and homework about what comparable compensations are available. Note your leverage and value that you’re bringing to the organization. Practice with a trusted mentor and receive feedback that you can integrate into your notes. 
  • Have these conversations on the phone or on a virtual meeting! Avoid replying/asking questions by email. 

How to Develop Essential Skills for Success in Pharmacy

“I may be biased here, but all of the humanistic skills that build relationships are extremely vital regardless of what position one is in within the profession of pharmacy. High levels of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, leadership, innovative thinking, adaptability, collaboration and problem-solving will be vital to working within the rapidly changing environment in pharmacy.”

“Seeing the human in the patient care setting and treating individuals that have unique goals, dreams, values, and motivations is extremely important in communicating with empathy and care towards our patients, and each other. Recognizing that social connectedness is vitally important to both physical and mental health, pharmacists and future pharmacists can practice and spend focused time developing communication skills that benefit both patients and interprofessional teams. By practicing communication skills and specifically motivational interviewing strategies, pharmacists can achieve better outcomes for those they serve and also take care of themselves in the process.”

“Great question! Finding and working with mentors will be extremely helpful throughout the journey of leadership. I am a firm believer that all pharmacists are leaders regardless of their position, and that includes leading oneself. Seeking out leadership development opportunities and discussing those with one’s supervisor during performance discussions can help lead to actionable next steps, too.”

How to Stand Out as a Pharmacy Job Candidate

“Create meaningful relationships throughout the job search process. Gone are the days where the traditional approach to the job market is effective – applying to open positions on job boards more often results in an automatic rejection and may not even be seen by a human. Identify your goals and values, find organizations that align with those goals, and create connections through networking to learn about how to maximize your effectiveness in the job market.”

Are there specific certifications or additional qualifications that can significantly boost a pharmacist’s appeal to potential employers?

“This is an ‘it depends’ answer. With over 90 career paths in pharmacy, training/education/certifications that are helpful vary tremendously. Consider working with a mentor or coach to identify which would be most helpful or if you already have transferable skills and experiences that fit future roles’ qualifications.”

What are the best practices for leveraging experiences from internships and residencies to secure a desirable position in the field?

“Taking note of accomplishments throughout internships and post-graduate training takes a focused and conscious effort! Documenting the outcomes of your accomplishments within your descriptions of your roles on your resume or CV and keeping a journal or document where you have short reflections about those accomplishments will be an extremely helpful resource for both the job search and interviews.”

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