Are you a recent pharmacy graduate wondering how to get ready for the pharmacist interview questions for the various job pathways in this industry? Well, continue reading because, in this article, we have included all the necessary information you need to apply for the job posting. And most importantly, sample answers to the standard interview questions asked in different fields.
The pharmaceutical industry around the world is expanding at an unbelievable rate. With advanced and new technologies, numerous new medicines are developing and entering the market to help treat patients.
However, to dispense and prescribe an appropriate dosage of medicine, different medical sectors need competent pharmacists in the required field. So, before discussing the interview questions, a brief knowledge of the job description, responsibilities, and basic skills required for the job are given below.
What Does a Pharmacist Do?
Typically, pharmacists are defined as healthcare professionals skilled in researching, handling, and dispensing medications and managing the inventory to store them properly.
If you are a pharmacy graduate, you are most likely to work in hospitals, care centers, cancer or other specialized health clinics, community pharmacies, and medication distribution facilities.
Depending on where they are assigned, their job title can vary as-clinical pharmacist, retail pharmacist, float pharmacist, staff pharmacist, consult pharmacist, pharmaceutical industry pharmacist, and pharmacist in charge. Some fundamental responsibilities are given below:
- Creating prescriptions in compliance with a prescriber's requirements
- Determining whether a specific drug will conflict with other medications the patient takes
- Administering different vaccines, including flu injections
- Increasing awareness of possible drug interactions and responding to any queries they may have after reading their disease history
- Instructing patients when and how to consume or use the prescribed drugs
- Checking the dose of drugs that medical professionals have prescribed
- Supervise and control pharmacy technicians and interns
- Recommend over-the-counter medicines that are not prescribed
- Confirming that the prescribed drugs will not create any adverse reactions in the patient and that the patient is not susceptible to the drugs
- Essential administrative and record-keeping duties as necessary
- Raise awareness on quitting smoking, stress and depression management, and change in healthy lifestyle
Responsibilities tied a pharmacist may need to fulfil according to the job description are given below:
1. Clinical Pharmacists
They work in clinics and hospitals.
- Visit the in-patients to provide medicine
- Counsel physicians on the appropriate treatments and drugs for patients
- Have the potential scope to become a specialist in transplantation, cancer, cardiology, and geriatrics
2. Ambulatory Pharmacist
They work as doctor’s assistants in hospitals.
- Work with medical professionals to treat illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure, typically chronic conditions
3. Nuclear Pharmacist
They work in specialized medical clinics and hospitals.
- Assemble radioactive substances for MRI and CT scan procedures
4. Retail Pharmacist
They work in grocery stores, drug stores, and big-box stores.
- Write prescriptions
- administer immunizations
- inform clients about drugs and fundamental health issues
5. Oncology Pharmacist
They work in cancer research institutions.
- Prepare and administer chemotherapy medications
- Research cancer treatments and evaluate the medications the hospital provides cancer patients
Basic Skills Needed for a Pharmacist Job
The prerequisite abilities that will assist you in performing a pharmacist’s duty properly are typically called “Basic Pharmacy skills.” Employers look for educational, soft, and practical skills to maximize a candidate's potential.
As the job is related to human health, a pharmacist must be knowledgeable and educated. He must know adequately about the drugs since a patient's life depends on them.
The job posts from different industrial companies or medical stores provide detailed job requirements. Although it may differ depending on the pharmaceutical sector, you want to work. The common and most wanted are given below:
1. Educational Requirements
After completing high school, you will have to obtain a Bachelor of Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) of five to seven years, majoring in:
- Pharmacological measurements
- Pharmacy law
- Medical Ethics
- Healthcare management
The graduation will be completed after finishing an internship in a medical institute or research center.
Like doctors, you will need to pass Licencing exams, for example, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) in the United States.
And the Pharmacy Examination Board of Canada (PEBC) if you live in Canada.
If you are a Non-USA Pharmacy School Graduate, you may need to pass the following tests as well:
- English Language Test (TOEFL, IELTS)
- Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee(FPGEC0
- Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (FPGEE)
2. Additional Skills
Interview questions for clinical pharmacists may differ from other pharmaceutical sector interviews. Sometimes your interviewer may ask you questions about the skills you have.
These skills will help you develop your service as a pharmacist to diseased patients:
(a) Confidence and Integrity
A pharmacist's job is to dispense medicine following the doctor’s diagnosis. But before administering, the pharmacist analyzes the prescription to check for any errors. The physician can make a mistake with dosage, or the nurse can make a typing mistake.
Still, a pharmacist will dispense medicine only after reading the prescription and make sure to ask questions to the physician if he thinks there can be an error.
(b) Basic Numerical Skills
Regardless of where you work as a pharmacist, you need to be competent at calculating complex dosing when compounding two or more drugs for the same patient. Again, preparing solutions, emulsions, and liquids on the counter requires perfect measurements of the medications.
(c) Analytical Skills
While dispensing prescribed drugs, a pharmacist often needs to make logical decisions for the patient by analyzing the drugs of choice for the patient. They often need to make alterations with the knowledge of Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics.
(d) Scientific Aptitude
Having in-depth knowledge about new and upgraded medicine is a crucial skill a pharmacist should have. Otherwise, they will be unable to make people understand how the drug affects the body.
(e) Management Skills
Managing the drug store is another responsibility of a pharmacist. The drugs in a medical store have a shelf-life and special storage conditions, which should be under observation for the safe dispensing of medications.
(f) Medication Administration Skills
There are numerous routes for drug administration for the human body that will help the drug to reach the central circulation readily or slowly. Such knowledge helps a pharmacist communicate with the patient to make them understand how to administer the medication.
(g) Organizational Skills
Without organizing the mediations, the productivity of a drug store slows down. So, proper organization skills are essential.
(h) Knowledge of Medical Terminology
Although the job responsibilities of doctors and pharmacists are different, both of them need to have extensive knowledge of medical terminology.
(i) Attention to Accuracy
There is no chance of error in the job of a pharmacist. Accurately calculating a patient's dosing depending on the patient's age and weight is essential for the drug to work. Therefore, using the weighing machine or computer system to calculate dosage accurately is a must-have skill.
(j) Counseling Skills
A pharmacist often must counsel the patient about supportive treatment and diets to make the drug work properly inside the body.
(k) Communication and Interpersonal Skills
To dispense over-the-counter drugs, the pharmacist carefully listens to the patient's disease history. If the candidate does not know how to ask questions about the physical conditions and symptoms effectively, they will not be able to distribute the correct medication.
(l) Restocking Drugs
Checking expired drugs, removing them, and restocking them are other skills a pharmacist should learn.
A patient’s medical history should be confidential to the pharmacist. Besides the physician or criminal encounter, a pharmacist will never disclose the record to anyone.
Only the active consciousness of a pharmacist can stop the misuse of drugs. Unwillingness to sell any narcotic or psychedelic medication or antibiotics without an authentic prescription is professional ethics for a pharmacist.
3. Computer Skills/ Soft Skills
Mainly Microsoft Office and Excel, SPSS for research, and other programs for the required job field.
- Programs for organizing patient data and medication history
- Keeping inventory and drug-related data
- Prescription entry
- Drug monitoring for in-patients in hospitals
Common Interview Questions for Pharmacists
You must attend a job interview to work as a hospital pharmacist. During the interview, you'll be questioned about your experience working as a pharmacist, your pharmaceutical knowledge, and your customer care abilities. We've prepared a collection of typical hospital pharmacist interview questions and responses to aid your preparation.
Question#1: How do you keep yourself updated with the newly discovered medications and dosages?
Answer: I have subscriptions to Nature and Drug Discovery Today. Both journals publish new research papers and all the necessary information about the new drugs coming to the market. Furthermore, I record the newly developed and released medications and include them in my inventory.
Question#2: What is the most crucial factor a hospital pharmacist should remember?
Answer: I think following the procedures and protocols when dispensing medicine to the patient is the safest way and is the most critical factor to avoid the chance of error.
When I organize and select medications and dosages, I check if the dosage is comparable to the dosage, if the administering time is appropriate, if the administration route is convenient, and if the patient is allergic to the drugs. Also, I let the physician know when I have any concerns or confusion about the medication.
Question#3: What inspired you to work as a pharmacist?
Answer: I've always been interested in the medical field, whether diagnosing, treating illnesses, or using medications and doing surgery. I focused my studies on pharmacy, and I've been passionate about it since then.
I have always wanted to help people who are in pain and need help. Additionally, I have the skills and disposition to develop into a skilled pharmacist, provide value to the business, and provide top-notch customer service.
Question#4: If you need to explain to a patient the complex dosing regimen his doctor prescribed, how would you do that?
Answer: In my previous work as a hospital pharmacist, my patient was given three prescriptions for high blood pressure, diabetes, and anxiety. The patient asked me if he may take only one medication rather than all three when he came to buy the medicine.
I read the prescription to him and explained which medication was helping which disease condition. He was convinced that he needed the unique therapeutic action of every drug and decided to take the medicines.
Question#5: When would you call the physician of the patient about the prescription?
Answer: As I have worked as a hospital pharmacist for a few years now, I know that doctors work in a busy and hectic daily schedule. However, if there is any situation where I have confusion about the medication, I try to get in touch with the physician right away.
Most of the time, if the physician is not busy with surgery, they respond so that we can discuss the drug regimen.
Question#6: A patient returned to the store after consuming the medication in half a bottle and complained that the drug was not working. How would you approach and solve the problem?
Answer: I would ask questions to determine why the patient thinks the drug is not working. If they say that the disease symptoms are not fading away and they are not feeling healthy, I will check the class of medication they are taking.
You need to take the total dose of a few drugs. Otherwise, the drug will not show its effect. If the drug does not belong to those classes, I will insist on them after rechecking their diagnosis report and prescription to take the total dose of medicine.
If the patient is unwilling to do that, I will issue a refund if my store supports it and recommend having an appointment again with the doctor.
Question#7: When would you call the physician of the patient about the prescription? And how will you deal with difficult doctors?
Answer: I've worked in hospitals for a while now, and I'm aware that doctors have demanding schedules and aren't always available to address patient medication inquiries.
I shall, however, immediately get in touch with the prescribing doctor if there is any question as to whether or not a prescription should be given to a patient. It guarantees that the appropriate care is invariably administered to the right patient.
Question#8: Have you received your certificate as a pharmacist?
Answer: I am taking preparation for the upcoming certification exam next year. Since I have been working as a hospital pharmacist for three years, I am confident I will pass the exam. So I can submit the certificate next year.
Question#9: What did you enjoy studying the most in school? Which subject gave you the most trouble?
Answer: The APPE that we had to finish was enjoyable for me. It was undoubtedly the most excellent time I had in school and a great way to prepare for the job. The opportunity to work in a natural setting under supervision confirmed my conviction that this is the right career for me.
Calculus was the class that I struggled with the most. Although I didn't enjoy it, I had to work very hard to pass my examinations, and the satisfaction I got afterward made it all worthwhile.
Question#10: What procedures would you follow if a patient had an unfavorable drug reaction?
Answer: There can be several reasons for a patient to experience adverse effects after the drug administration. I will stop the drug administration until I find the cause, contact the physician or prescriber, and alert them.
After that, I will check the drug history to look for any other drugs that may have interacted with the drug. And I will discuss it with the physician to find another alternative to treat the patient.
Question#11: If a customer asks for an OTC medication that sounds unfamiliar to her, what would they do?
Answer: I am responsible for memorizing and having a detailed report on what medications are available in the store. So, the customer is asking for a medication I haven’t heard of, and I will still check the drug list inserted into the software.
If the drug is not included, I will ask him to show the previous strip or bottle of the medication he had consumed. If not available, I will confirm with the patient to do some research and notify them once I find one.
Question#12: How would you approach the doctor if he is prescribing medicine which often interacts negatively with other common drugs patients are taking?
Answer: I have seen practical examples of drug antagonism in my five years of experience as a hospital pharmacist. A specific dose or class of medicine will never be able to show the therapeutic effect of the other drug. For example, Naloxone cannot be prescribed with any opioid receptor, and ketamine will suppress the development of the NMDA-glutamate receptor.
So, I will discuss the fact with the doctor and can show him other patients’ medical results to prove my point. I will inform my supervisor if they still insist on administering the medicine.
Additional Questions for You to Practice
Pharmacy tech interview questions are given below, and you can practice the answers on your own:
- What are your primary concerns while storing medicine?
- If you make a prescription error, how would you handle the situation?
- How would you handle a customer demanding to buy a drug without a prescription?
- What are the factors to efficiently operate a pharmacy?
- What do you do to organize and fill prescriptions on time?
You can also practice the different short questions asked in a hospital pharmacist interview.
Career Path for Pharmacists
New drugs and treatment methods are evolving and being discovered every day. And from doing research work to dispensing medicine and helping the patient to administer them, pharmacists are working everywhere.
Since it is considered a noble profession and pays well, being a pharmacist is an excellent career choice. The potential career opportunities for a pharmacist are given below:
1. Compounding Pharmacist
The job is to dispense custom-made dosages of medication. They work on specific instructions of the physicians using extensive machines and equipment.
2. Hospital Staff Pharmacist
Staff pharmacists work in the hospital to dispense drugs to in-patients from time to time.
3. Clinical Pharmacist
Clinical pharmacists often have to evaluate the medication, measure the dosage, and determine the correct medicine alternative for a patient. They are the key factor of modern pharmacy practice.
4. Retail Pharmacist
Retail pharmacists work in drug stores and often are the closest to the patient who does not require to go to the physician for medication. Furthermore, their job is essential as it allows them to counsel patients about the misuse of drugs.
5. Informatics Pharmacist
Most commonly work in the IT sector to help patients over the phone or on call to answer any queries they have.
6. Veterinary Pharmacist
Veterinary is the field where animal medicine is studied. Therefore, a good career option for pet lovers.
7. Pharmacy Manager
To climb into the managerial position, the candidate should have a license. They usually oversee the whole store, including staff and emergencies.
8. Hospital Pharmacy Director
Similar to a pharmacy director but in a broader sector. They have to manage the budget, order for inventory, staff, and drug distribution. Or you can work in a research facility, for example, as an Oncology Pharmacist.
Current and Future Market Demand for Pharmacists
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the number of jobs was 323,500 in 2021, and in the next decade, we will see a change of employment in 7700 positions.
The job outlook for 2021-2031 will grow by 2%, which is slower than the current demand. Furthermore, the expected opening for new jobs is 13,600. Therefore, being a pharmacist is a high-paying job and will be in the next decade.
Salary Range of Pharmacists
The median salary for a pharmacist in 2020 was $128,710. The top 25% earned $147,690 and the lowest 25% earned $112,690.
A list of salary ranges is given below:
Clinical pharmacologists’ salaries can range between $90,000- $152,500 per year.
Clinical staff pharmacists’ salaries can range between $124,000- $144,000 per year.
Pharmacometricians’ salaries can range between $140,500- $162,500 per year.
Inpatient pharmacists’ salaries can range between $112,500- $141,500 per year.
Pharmaceutical physicians’ salaries can range between $80,000- $146,500 per year.
Hospital pharmacists’ salaries can range between $111,000- $136,500 per year.
Pharmacy informaticists' salaryies can range between $56,500- $159,000 per year.