Pharmacists are community healthcare workers who fill prescriptions, dispense medications and support customers. They often work in a retail setting, answering common questions and making suggestions about the best over-the-counter solutions for customers’ problems. They are also managers in their field who oversee and collaborate with pharmacy aides and technicians to ensure their establishment always provides the best quality care.
In addition to completing their education requirements, all Pharmacists should be focused and detail-oriented communicators. They must possess strong research abilities and be a good leader. Their decisions directly impact people’s lives, so you’ll want to ensure the candidate possesses top-notch pharmaceutical knowledge and technical skills.
General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests, and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.
Below are Pharmacist interview questions to help you get started:
1. What inspired you to enter medicine as a Pharmacist?
What you want to hear: It’s always a good idea to start an interview by assessing a candidate’s specific interest in their position. These types of Pharmacist interview questions also serve as good ice-breakers, providing every applicant with an opportunity to share their story. Strong answers will combine a passion for pharmacology with a strong desire to help people by providing top-quality service.
2. How do you ensure every customer feels noticed when they come to you?
What you want to hear: Strong communication skills are vital to providing quality patient care. Pharmacists must do more than fill prescriptions and hand out orders. Techniques such as active listening, asking if customers have any questions and offering thorough explanations all contribute to quality service.
Red flag: Pharmacists interact with people every day, which means they cannot lack communication skills. Watch out for candidates whose answers to this question are vague or appear to consider counseling customers as secondary to their main duties.
3. What are some of the skills you took away most from your time in school?
What you want to hear: Pharmacists dedicate four to eight years to their education; in addition to the actual subject material, a candidate should identify the various other skills they developed as a result of their education including time management and self-discipline.
Red flag: A candidate shouldn’t feel as if their education is something to be forgotten. The formative years of a Pharmacist’s career are rooted in education, and they should appreciate what they learned and how school contributed to their professional growth.
4. Two pharmacy technicians seem to have unresolved tension. How do you approach the situation?
What you want to hear: A Pharmacist must have a good relationship with their technicians to ensure the pharmacy maintains a protective, collaborative atmosphere. When conflict arises, the Pharmacist should acknowledge its importance, take time to speak with each technician and find a way to resolve any misunderstandings for interpersonal problems.
Red flag: A Pharmacist who has a hands-off approach to management can negatively impact the business. Technicians look to the Pharmacist as a leader and mentor, so they should always demonstrate exemplary communication and conflict resolution skills.
5. A customer asks for an over-the-counter drug you’ve never heard of. What do you do?
What you want to hear: A Pharmacist should admit that they haven’t heard of a particular drug and offer to see whether they carry it in the store. If not, they should offer to conduct further research and suggest any comparable products the store carries. One of the most important elements of a Pharmacist interview is assessing how a candidate would hypothetically respond to various job challenges.
Red flag: Telling a client the store doesn’t carry a drug simply because the Pharmacist doesn’t recognize it is bad business. Failure to research and offer alternative suggestions also indicates poor communication and lack of commitment to patient care.
6. What do you do if a customer demands a drug without a prescription?
What you want to hear: Unless it is an over-the-counter medication, Pharmacists can never sell or provide drugs to customers without a prescription. If they had a prescription in the past, a Pharmacist can check if there are any refills available in the system. If not, they must inform the customer of the pharmacy’s policy and advise them to speak with their doctor. If they become aggressive or cause a public disturbance, the Pharmacist should try to defuse the situation, and contact security or the police, if necessary.
7. If a difficult customer’s medication is unavailable, what do you do?
What you want to hear: Calling patients about their prescription status helps avoid conflict and prevent potentially volatile confrontations in the store. In addition to informing the customer by phone that their medication is out-of-stock, the Pharmacist should also apologize for the inconvenience and offer any further information that is available, such as when they can expect their prescription to be filled.
Red flag: A Pharmacist who does not inform customers of unavailable medications ahead of time can threaten the security of the pharmacy and its staff. People can become aggressive and, in extreme cases, violent when they feel ignored. A Pharmacist must not only think ahead but also respect their customers’ time. A phone call avoids an unnecessary trip to the store and helps customers feel acknowledged.
8. What is the best part about being a Pharmacist?
What you want to hear: The passion someone has for their job affects how they perform. In your next Pharmacist interview, listen for candidates who are genuinely happy to be a part of the healthcare field and want to provide assistance to the general public. Pharmacists are a facet of life, and they are valuable members of the community. Responses should be enthusiastic and span beyond the fiscal and technical aspects of the job.
Red flag: If a Pharmacist seems to only consider benefits related to themselves, they may lack the empathy and communication skills necessary to perform their job well. A candidate must love working with people and take pride and enjoyment in their daily interactions.
9. What inspired you to apply to our pharmacy?
What you want to hear: Research is imperative to a Pharmacist’s job. It prevents potentially life-threatening medical errors and promotes educated, informed dialogue between professionals and customers. A Pharmacist should research the company before they apply and align their ambitions with the company’s values and mission statement.
Red flag: Being unprepared for an interview can demonstrate many things including poor time management, lack of self-organization and inattention to detail. None of these qualities are beneficial to the company, especially when the position relies so heavily on research and accuracy. Asking pharmacy interview questions that are unrelated to the field but assess research and organizational skills can provide unexpected insight into a candidate’s abilities.
10. If a customer comes to the pharmacy and says their medication isn’t working, what do you do?
What you want to hear: Pharmacists must advise patients on how to properly take medication, what side effects they may experience and be there to answer any questions or respond to concerns. If a customer’s medication is ineffective, they should first ask questions to ensure they’ve followed instructions. Then, they should make a note in their file and suggest they reach out to their doctor.
Red flag: Although they are healthcare professionals, they cannot prescribe different medications or claim something else will work better. Pharmacists must know how to be empathetic and reassuring while guiding customers to the appropriate resources and professionals for their medical needs.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Pharmacist position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Match their pharmaceutical knowledge with compassion and empathy.
- Demonstrate a genuine passion for helping customers.
- Understand the importance of leadership in their role.
- Are observant, responsive and promote a safe workplace for everyone.