A list of pharmacy residency interview questions is provided here.
Authored By: Timothy P. Gauthier, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCIDP
Last updated: 2 February 2022
In the pharmacy profession the start of a new calendar year means the start of pharmacy residency interview season. Heading towards these interviews there can be a lot of curiosity about what to expect from the interviewers. One thing all residency candidates can be guaranteed is that they will get a battery of interview questions during their pharmacy residency interview.
This post is meant to be a quick reference to help residency candidates identify potential pharmacy residency interview questions they may be asked. General tips are provided and questions have been arranged in sections in an attempt at making them easier for readers to navigate. Additional resources are also provided.
- Prepare ahead of the interview by…
- Reviewing your CV
- Having a basic idea how you will answer potential questions (listed below)
- Contemplating how the specific program matches with your unique professional goals
- Reviewing information about the program that is available online
- The day of the interview, be sure to…
- Arrive prepared and on time
- Answer the entire question being asked and in sufficient detail for the interviewers to understand your response
- Anticipate that you should explain your answer if it is a yes or no type question
- Ask for clarification or for the question to be repeated if you do not understand it
- Avoid guessing if you get clinical questions you do not know the answer to – it is better to say you are not sure and will get back to the person asking the question, rather than get it wrong
- Be cautious about overtly or subtly discussing any inappropriate or taboo topics (e.g., religion, political views, sexual orientation, relationship status, family status, race or ethnicity, criminal history, handicaps or impairments)
- Keep things on a positive note, bashing others will not win you any points
- Maintain good body language
- Make eye contact
- Avoid use of slang words
- After the interview, be sure to…
- Write down how you felt the experience went, so you can refer to it later when making your final decisions on which programs to rank in the match
- Follow-up on any questions that you did not know the answer to and had said you would get back to them
- Send thank you emails or letters, particularly to the residency program director and other people in key decision making roles
List of Pharmacy Residency Interview Questions
NOTE: Many of these questions have some form of a standard “acceptable” response that is expected by the interviewers. Detailed guidance on how to respond to the questions below is intentionally not provided here, so as to challenge residency seekers to be independent and genuine in their thought processes. If you find yourself struggling with how to answer a question or two, it is recommended to discuss it with a trusted peer or mentor.
- Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
- What motivated you to become a pharmacist?
- Why did you attend pharmacy school?
- What do you perceive to be the role of the pharmacist?
- Can you describe your experience working in the pharmacy profession?
- Why do you want to do a pharmacy residency?
- What are you looking for in a residency?
- What areas of pharmacy most interest you?
- How did you come to decide to apply to our residency program?
- What attracts you to this organization/setting/position?
- What makes you the best candidate for our residency program?
- What differentiates you from your peers as a candidate for this position?
- What skills do you perceive to be important towards succeeding as a pharmacy resident?
- How would our residency program help you achieve your career goals?
- Why are you interested in our residency program?
- What do you expect to get out of doing this pharmacy residency?
- What are 3 of your strengths?
- What are you good at?
- What are 3 areas in which you could improve?
- What things do you need to get better at?
- What are your worst qualities?
- What are you most proud of achieving during pharmacy school?
- What are your 3-year goals?
- What are your 5-year goals?
- Can you describe the components of your continuous professional development plan?
- What question did you prepare to answer, but were not asked today?
Academics, skills, projects, and groups
- Do you feel your academic record accurately reflects your abilities and skills?
- What unique skills or abilities do you possess that sets you apart from other candidates?
- What was your most favorite class in pharmacy school? Why?
- What was your least favorite class in pharmacy school? Why?
- What was your most favorite rotation in pharmacy school? Why?
- What was your least favorite rotation in pharmacy school? Why?
- Do you work better alone or in a group?
- When doing group work, what role do you tend to take on? (i.e., more of a leader or more of a follower?)
- With what types of people do you feel most comfortable working?
- Can you tell us about a time when you were working in a group and had to take up a leadership role?
- Is there a project you worked on that you are most proud of? Why?
- Can you describe a time when you went above and beyond at work?
- What was the most significant intervention you made during pharmacy rotations?
- Can you describe a time when you made a substantial impact on a patient’s care?
- Are there any projects you would prefer not to work on as a pharmacy resident?
- What experience do you have with research?
- What experience do you have with medication use evaluations?
Stress management and dealing with controversy
- Can you describe a time where you had to overcome a difficult situation?
- Can you tell us about a time when you had to work with a difficult person? How did you work to improve the situation?
- Can you tell us about a time when you had to work with a difficult prescriber during pharmacy school? How did you handle the situation?
- If you are assigned a group project and your partners are not contributing to the level you expected, what would you do?
- Do you consider yourself good at managing stress?
- What do you do to relieve stress?
Organization and time management
- What strategies do you use to stay organized?
- How do you stay motivated?
- Do you consider yourself a procrastinator?
- Was there ever a time where you were late on an assignment?
- You are preparing for rounds and have identified several interventions that you feel will improve the care of your patients. However, right before leaving for rounds you are told you must skip rounds and go help staff the outpatient pharmacy, because they are short-staffed and there are many patients waiting. What would you do?
Innovation, forethought, and emotional intelligence
- Can you recall a time when you identified an opportunity to improve efficiency at work?
- Tell us about a time when you failed. What did you do to ensure it would not happen again?
- What did you do to prepare for this interview?
- If you do not match to a residency program during phase I of the match, would you plan to enter into phase II of the match?
- If you do not get a residency spot this year, what is your plan for next year?
- If you do not get a residency this year, would you consider trying to re-apply next year?
- Can you describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision?
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. What was it and what did you do to correct it?
- If you saw a peer cheating on a test, what course of action would you take?
- If you discovered a co-worker was stealing property from the pharmacy, what course of action would you take?
- If your friend and co-worker repeatedly called out of work “sick” even though you knew they were not sick and just wanted to have a day off, what would you do?
- What would you do if you thought one of your co-workers was being harassed by another staff member?
- What would you do if one of you witnessed one of your co-residents treating a patient unfairly due to the patient’s religion, sexual orientation, or race?
- If you could be a drug, which drug would you be?
- If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
- If you could meet a famous person (alive or dead), who would you pick?
- If you were stranded on an island and you could only have 3 drugs with you, which ones would you pick and why?
- What 3 words would your last preceptor use to describe you?
- How would your friends describe you?
- Fast forward to your retirement party. What do you hope your colleagues will say to you?
- Can you tell us about your support system outside of school/work?
- Which is most important to you? Teaching, clinical practice, or research?
- How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
- What was the last journal article you read?
- What was the last book you read?
- What are you passionate about?
- If you could change one thing about the profession of pharmacy, what would it be?
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
- What is one thing you learned in the last year that has impacted how you live your life?
- What qualities do you expect from your preceptors?
- What expectations do you have for the residency program director?
- If you could opt out of the staffing component of this residency, would you?
- How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your training?
- What training challenges have you faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and what have you done to overcome them?
- How has COVID-19 impacted your professional goals and priorities?
- What have you learned from the COVID-19 pandemic? How have you kept up with all of the information?
- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, how do you think that might impact your residency training?
- What lessons can we take from the COVID-19 pandemic to help drive the pharmacy profession forward?
- Has the COVID-19 pandemic afforded you any unique opportunities?
Potential questions for the interviewers
NOTE: Try to avoid asking questions to the preceptors when you can get answers from online content or through discussion with the current residents. In addition, be cognizant of time and attempt to keep questions for the interviewers to a minimum if the schedule is tight for the day. However, it is always good to ask one or two questions, as it shows interest.
- What are you looking for in a resident candidate?
- What can I do for you as a resident? How can I contribute to your mission? How can I help you as I grow professionally?
- Hat-tip to Dr. Mahoney for this question 😊
- What changes do you anticipate for the residency program from this year to the next year?
- How would you describe the relationship between the pharmacy residents and staff pharmacists?
- What about this pharmacy residency program are you most proud of?
- What do you perceive to be the greatest strengths of this residency program?
- What are the key skills needed to succeed in this residency program?
- Are there opportunities to work with pharmacy students?
- Are there opportunities to be on-call during this residency year?
- Can you briefly describe opportunities for teaching?
- How would you describe the teaching philosophy of this residency program?
- How would you describe the relationship between the pharmacy service and other services such as nursing and medicine?
- Are there opportunities to have non-pharmacist preceptors?
- Do residents have an opportunity to participate in decisions regarding which projects are assigned for the year?
- What are your former residents doing today in their professional careers?
- Do you have any insights on the chances for future residents seeking internal employment after successfully finishing the program?
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