5 C's of Crushing Your Pharmacy School Interview

1. Calm - One definition I found I researched described calm as "not showing nervousness". I like that definition because it does not mean the absence of nervousness, obviously on an interview day you may be nervous on the inside, but how do you portray yourself to everyone around you? One of the very first things I do when I meet interviewees is to pull them aside and do my best to help them alleviate that nervousness by letting them know that we are just as nervous as they are. Some places you go, the impetus is on you to impress them. With us we want to impress you on interview day just as much as you are trying to impress us because we realize how big of a decision this is for you. Practice makes perfect and helps you be calm in the face of an interview day. There is no way you will know the exact questions you will get on an interview day but I recommend researching common interview day questions online to practice. One of the best strategies I was taught in corporate while interviewing and even writing resumes was to keep in mind the acronym STAR. It stood for situation, task, action, and results. This way you can answer a question like "what makes you want to be a pharmacist?" with something like "I have had a longtime prescription for hydroxyzine in the tablet form. When I switched primary care physicians a few years ago I had to ask my new physician to refill the prescription for the same medication. He graciously did but wrote the wrong format of the medication. Little to my knowledge that meant it was for a completely different disease state. When I went to the pharmacist to ask why I wasn't getting the same results he took the time to review my records, ask why I was taking the medication, and then advise that it needed to be rewritten for the tablet form unlike the capsule form it was written for. The time that pharmacist took out of their night to help me gave me incredibly helpful results. From that moment I was fascinated by the difference attention to detail could make in treating patients and I spent time shadowing pharmacists in retail and hospital settings which convinced me that this was the career for me." This type of answer tends to do better than responding to the same question with "I have an uncle who is a pharmacist and it seemed interesting."

2. Comfortable - Have you ever heard the saying that you look your best when you are most comfortable? This is very evident on interview days. Before you start thinking about wearing rainbow flip flops or a pair of Nikes to interview, I mean wear comfortable while also dressing to impress in professional attire. Example, while I am told everyone loves high heels, they are not a good idea when you are almost always doing a decent amount of walking while touring the campus. Ditch the high heels for some comfortable /professional flats. The other thing I like to do because I know it can get warm with all of the movement on interview days is packing an additional dress shirt in my vehicle along with a stain remover pen just in case. I have never had to use either but it makes me feel more comfortable knowing I have them. A practical way of ensuring your comfort level is trying your clothes on the night before and having everything layed out and ready to go in the morning. 

3.Competent - Make sure you have done your homework on the school you are interviewing with. I cannot tell you how impressive it is when a student approaches myself and others and can clearly articulate what our program is all about. They have researched that we are a family environment and we are committed to preparing compassionate caregivers. I love hearing students who have looked at our curriculum, statistics, and culture and come prepared with questions to ask. One of the things we do on our interview days is invite current students in on a panel for interviewees to ask any question they want. The questions range from tuition cost, cost of living, faith aspect of the school, family environment, faculty relatability, and so on. Having the questions prepared beforehand is helpful when you have the opportunity to ask questions of the faculty, staff, and students. Spend time on the school you are interviewing with's website and social media pages so you can get a taste of what they are all about. Most schools publish content to show students what is going on in their program, not just for the sake of keeping up with the other schools. Another very subtle way you demonstrate your competence is by being prepared to make it to the interview day. This could mean testing how far it is from your hotel to the campus and asking locals how much time you should allot for traffic the day of the interview. 

4. Collected - Whether or not you need to spend 10-15 minutes before arriving in your car jamming out to "Eye of the Tiger" or "Let it go", or you need to look in the mirror and say to yourself "you got this, you are a champion, and I believe in you", you do what you have to do to get focused. This could mean going for a run earlier in the morning to relieve nerves or it could just mean praying or talking to your parents on the phone. You have to do what works for you so that when you step through the doors you are zeroed in and not distracted. We all highly recommend being on time. Sounds like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many people are late to interviews. 

5. Caring - You need to sincerely show that you want to be there and you care about the people around you. At Lipscomb the people you are interviewing with are not inherently your competition even though it feels that way. For us, these will be your fellow classmates that will probably grow to be some of your best friends. I recommend showing that you care about getting to know them during the interview day. You should strike up a conversation with as many people as you can throughout the day to get the most holistic experience and feel of what the program is about. I also recommend authenticiy in your conversations with faculty and staff. Most of the people involved in the activities throughout the day will be involved in the Admissions Committee so the more facetime you can have with them the more firepower you give them to advocate on your behalf when the decisions are made. 

I know that this week is a little longer than last week but I wanted to give you some tangible resources for demonstrating the 5 C's of Crushing Your Interview Day. You now have the tools with examples, so get out there and get it done!

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