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Pharmacy Residency Podcast: Residency Interviews and Advice

Aug 20, 2018

Kelly Haws is the National Business Development Manager at CareerStaff Rx and an expert on finding pharmacy jobs for pharmacists. In this four-part series, we cover:

1. Interview basics 

2. Mock Interview - Answering Questions about Culture

3. Mock Interview - Answering Questions about Work Experience

4. Mock Interview - Answering Questions that are Pharmacy Specific

You can look for jobs or connect with them here:

Full Transcript:

Welcome to the Pharmacy Leaders Podcast
with your host Tony Guerra the Pharmacy
Leaders Podcast is a member of the
pharmacy podcast network with interviews
and advice on building your professional
network brand and a purposeful second
income from students residents and
innovative professionals alright well
welcome back to the pharmacy leaders
podcast we have Kelly Haws who's helping
us create this evergreen content where
the first interview group we had about
culture and fit if you haven't listened
to that that's seven of the most common
questions that you're going to get right
off the bat to see if you're going to be
a good fit for a company if you fit
within their culture but then also
looking at yourself and making sure that
it's a company that you want to work for
so let's welcome Kelly back to the
pharmacy leaders podcast hi thanks for
having me talking okay let's start with
a second part we're gonna talk about
work experience and career goals we are
you were playing the role of someone who
actually has no pharmacists work
experience but you do have work
experience as a technician in a pharmacy
so can you just tell us first of all
what to make sure that we do talk about
and want to make sure that we don't do
you know extending maybe a little bit
more than we have an experience and
being honest about our experience and
how to kind of make up for a lack of you
know in the field experience so when
you're talking about your your current
experience you have I definitely think
it's important to keep in mind that you
may have brushed up on it during your
rotation but there are very few
employers that are going to see that as
actual working experience if you don't
have any experience you know other than
rotations and maybe working as a tech or
an intern you can talk about the things
you enjoyed during those you know those
years that you did that and then bring
up the things that you liked most but
definitely encourage your future
employers to give you the opportunity to
learn and if you're going to go that
route make sure you explain to them that
you are
learner and you know canticle computer
systems and stuff like that but if you
don't if you know if you're applying to
a role within a hospital that you know
has a strong antimicrobial stewardship
role that they need filled and you know
that's not what you have experience in I
just wouldn't go there yet until you
know you know you can do it but if they
just if they're community pharmacy that
maybe has some popular medications
you're just not familiar with brush up
on them before your interview so you are
at least able to talk about them you
know before the interview starts okay
well I've got a couple of questions for
you well we'll do about seven questions
same as before and just tweak them a
little bit to fit someone who's just
graduated so I see that you worked as a
technician in your p2 and p3 years for
one of our competitors actually but then
you came over to us here in your last
year um what made you leave that other
company well I did enjoy working there
as a pharmacy tech I did like the people
unfortunately they ended up changing a
lot of the managers at several of the
locations and the culture and the
focus on the patients just completely
shifted I wasn't comfortable working
just for you know a script goal I wanted
to work for the patient and I didn't
feel that the patients were necessarily
being made the main focus of the work so
I did start looking elsewhere and that's
how I came upon your job posting awesome
so tell me a little bit about what you
were thinking is you're answering that
question we anytime you make a
transition that's going to be something
that as an employer I circle how do you
best answer that question so I would
start with what you didn't like about
the role that you were leaving I mean it
may be the case where they just weren't
hiring at that time or you know
something was going on that's a good one
okay yeah that was gonna be my other
option you didn't hire you
yeah exactly they just weren't hiring
but you don't want to make your future
employer feel like they're the second
best you know that you're their second
choice so what I would do is just
give a couple different examples of what
you didn't really care for working for
that pharmacy and what would make you
look somewhere else and then you
know you know what you're looking for
right if like for me would be high
customer service level pharmacy so I
would bring that up so that the new
employer knows that I'm customer driven
so within your answer you just don't
make them feel like they're second-best
you know if for whatever reason that
internship ended or you know you can let
them know what was going on but I
wouldn't go into too much detail and I
would you know I would just you have to
just be a little careful about how you
answer it yeah it's a trap for sure it's
a trap you know bring up bring up
something that you didn't you didn't
care for that you are looking for in the
new role because that will just show
your future employer that you know this
is something that I enjoy as my role and
I just wasn't getting it from that other
place okay let's segue into the next
question so now that you are with us
what's been your favorite part of your
role here at X company my favorite thing
about working here were the patients the
patients are very happy and employers
are happy oh well now that you do work
with us what is your favorite part of
your role with our company here I do
enjoy working here I love that all of
the employees get along really well and
we're able to focus our energy on
keeping the patients happy you know we
focus on filling their refills within a
certain amount of time we don't have as
many patient issues because all of the
patients you know enjoy coming to this
pharmacy so it makes for a less
stressful day when we have a really good
work environment so I would say that's
my favorite part
okay well as a supervisor I always like
I know you
in the best pharmacies that I'm in
charge of always can improve what does
maybe something that is not your
favorite in the position that you're in
right now or maybe something that we can
improve on as a company I would continue
to focus more on the customers you know
I think sometimes you know we've made
great strides to keep their refill time
as short as possible but it doesn't
always work you know if we don't have
the medication in stock or there's
something wrong with their prescription
and we have to call into the doctor so I
would say focusing also on our
communication with the patient so that
they know before they leave the store
that their prescriptions not going to be
ready you know we can review it make
sure we have it in stock and make sure
we're able to fill it within that
timely manner before they've actually
left expecting it to be ready in 15
minutes ok so you've answered two
questions what's your favorite what's
your least favorite about about working
with the company and I don't you
answered them very well but as an
interviewee I would feel like I'm
treading on eggshells with these
questions tell me a little bit about how
you're thinking even your pace of answer
slowed down you were watching every
single word you said how do you walk
through those eggshells without getting
egg on your face I guess yeah well
they're definitely scary you don't want
to tell the company that you're working
for that they have so many issues but I
most of the time I'm here to fix
everything that's wrong with this
company and I'm excited here yeah you
know in the end you know you're a new
employee you know you may have some
experience before being a pharmacist you
know at least within the tech role but
you're so new your employee so you don't
know all the in and outs what I would
say is pick something small that I mean
makes sense really there's we all have
times when the patient's drop off their
prescriptions and you know all of a
sudden it gets to the pharmacist and
something is wrong with it and but
they've already left
come back and they're frustrated so if
you're in a customer-facing setting you
know talking about the patients and how
to improve their satisfaction is always
gonna be a win because that's their
pharmacies goal to you may have an idea
that you know maybe they've been trying
to work on for a while but they haven't
gotten you know just quite where they
want to be with that customer
satisfaction so I you know pick
something that's not gonna hurt their
feelings that's obvious to them as well
I mean that person interviewing knows
exactly what you're talking about they
know all the issues that come up you
know so just pick something that's
easily fixable that you would be able to
help out with and within your role okay
well let's let's talk a little bit about
a summer internship that you had so I I
saw that you worked as looked like a
paying job for the competitor of ours
but then you took a three-month
internship in summer at another company
but then came to us can you tell me a
little bit about that internship and and
why you decided not to work with them
because they're also in town here
absolutely I had a really good
opportunity to work with one of my
preceptors and so I thought it might be
good to get in something that's a little
bit different so outpatient pharmacy but
their focus was different and I wanted
to expand my experience within that too
you know they do more couple more
specialty medications and I wanted to
get familiar with and so I took a leap
to gain experience there and they only
needed somebody for the summer and so
then I was able to come back to more of
the traditional retail setting awesome
so tell me a little bit about your
thoughts with that very often students
do go away to an internship and and they
could have maybe gotten a job with that
company but they decide not to so tell
me a little bit about your thoughts yeah
have a good reason of why you're not you
know why you wanted to go somewhere else
and make it beneficial to your goal to
your career goal so if you know if
you're just hopping from retail to
retail to retail you know it does
always look the best I mean they may
just not have the opportunity for you
which is fine that's an honest answer
but you know most likely you went to
school in a different town and then you
went back home for the summer so you
took a different internship you know you
can talk about that or if you did find
that you are gonna gain a separate set
of skills within a different opportunity
talk about that and talk about you know
why that was beneficial to you to learn
that separate set of skills and then to
be able to go back into a different a
different setting that you were already
experienced in okay awesome all right
well I've been interviewing people all
morning I'm going to be interviewing
people all afternoon I would prefer not
to have to interview anyone next week
can you just tell me why I should just
pick you for this role and just be done
with the interviews and then I can have
my my next week to actually do the
things that I want to do as a supervisor
yes you should definitely consider me
for this role because I am hard working I
truly love working within this field
and I am a very fast learner I will pick
up any system that you guys are working
with and I'm honest I'm easy to get
along with and I'm really excited about
this opportunity so you know I'm hoping
to move on to the next step in the
interviews if you know and looking
forward to the opportunity to working
with you awesome well you put a lot in
there and you answered with I think
exactly what they would want to hear but
tell me a little bit about your thoughts
is your cart I'm carving that answer
sure so definitely you know talk about
yourself this is one of those you know
selling parts by now you've heard some
of the questions that they asked you so
you've already went over some of your
strengths you know they've asked you
about your past experience so just kind
of you don't sum it up in in one little
package you don't have to go into too
much detail but tell them that you know
if you're hardworking tell them you're
hard-working because they're they want
to hear that and honestly if you don't
tell them you're hard-working you're
probably not going to go to the next
step because they
expect to hear that from everybody but
you know touch upon some of those things
that you know
makes you a little bit different than
some of the people that you've worked
with so if you're good at computer
systems absolutely talk about that
because that's gonna be something that
is you know starting to Train they want
to make sure you can pick up things
pretty quickly and then you know let
them know that you are appreciative of
the opportunity to work with them you
don't have the role yet but you should
definitely be appreciative of the chance
to interview and the chance to have the
role and you know I I when I interview
people I love talking to people who are
truly excited about working there and
you can hear it in their voice you can
see it on their face when they are
excited about just the opportunity and
that we usually set them apart for me
when I'm interviewing them because they
are truly excited about it it's a nice
feeling to leave with no definitely okay
well it sounds like you're very
energetic and you know could do some
great things with this company but well
what do you see yourself doing in the
first three months what goals would you
have for the first 90 days if you were
employed here so first 90 days
I would absolutely focus on making sure
I understood the system I understood you
know what workflow needed to be done to
make the day you know most successful I
would work on building a rapport with
the fellow employees as well as the
patient's themselves just to kind of
establish my place within the pharmacy
and then after I you know learned
everything and set up that initial
relationship with everybody I would
start focusing on how to grow within my
career you know I do have aspirations to
be a pharmacy manager and so I would
like to learn more about the company
itself and make more about maybe the
back business on you know how to grow
within a leadership role okay well
that's a great segue into the next kind
of part of this question which is where
would you see yourself in five years
after you know maybe if you've started
working here so within five years I
would definitely want to be an
experienced pharmacy manager that's been
one of my goals since I started pharmacy
school enjoy leadership I'm enjoy
working with people and I would you know
love to be managing one of these stores
so within those five years I would like
to already you know have established
myself as a leader and grow within the
company to be a pharmacy manager okay
I'm gonna ask you a little bit of a
curveball here and I'm gonna ask you so
are you interested in a full-time
position throughout your career here or
would there any be any time where you
maybe want to switch to part-time well I
would prefer to work full-time I do have
my student loans that are coming after
yeah and you know I truly want to get
the most out of my experience here and I
feel like working full time would allow
me to you know learn the system the best
be the best I can be within the workflow
and to gain the relationship with my
peers if at this time all you have is a
part-time opportunity open I would still
be interested in taking it if there was
an opportunity for me to be full-time at
some point awesome what I was really
trying to get out there and you answered
beautifully but many of them and we
talked about this on the previous
episode talking to career staff rx that
the job you want in full time may not be
available right now and they may want to
have you as a floater or something to
just kind of continue the interview for
months maybe a year or something like
that can you talk about how that
part-time full-time question comes to
you and and how you kind of work with
that it definitely comes up a lot and I
encourage the pharmacists that I work
with you know ask themselves is this the
role that they want you know kind of
like what we discussed before it make
sure it's the role that you want if it
is if this is what you
really want to do then yes definitely
take off the opportunity if they're
offering you part time especially right
now with the saturation of pharmacists
you know of really across the nation if
you have an opportunity to be part-time
in the setting that you prefer to work
in and you have to take it and it also
makes you look like a better candidate
if you are willing to take less hours to
be a part of their team because it just
it really shows that you really really
want that opportunity you really want to
work for that company but make sure that
you ask if there's opportunity to go
into full-time so that they know you're
in it for the long run you want that
longevity and you do want to grow within
the company okay and let's ask what I
think is the absolute most difficult
question to answer what's your salary
expectation out of this position yes now
I have to think about it but I can you
know it's fine but I just I just know
this one is just like a punch in the
face like whoa you know because
sometimes the job postings are like they
just say you know commensurate or you
know it fits within you know within
certain range or something like that but
what are your salary expectations so I'm
asking you to give me a number I'm
looking to make about $58 an hour and
would you answer it like that just okay
I would yeah I would probably say hourly
I don't know if I would go salary
it depends especially if you're working
part-time because it's gonna throw you
and this instant calculation response or
you have to think hey I know how much I
need to make hourly salary I know I
would want to be if I was working a
full-time salary
but if it's following up a part-time
question I would probably just shoot a
number hourly that you're looking to get
because that will be reflective if
you're working full
they'll offer you something but this is
one of the scariest questions and you
know even outside of pharmacy people
asking me this you know you don't want
to ask too little you don't want to ask
too much and just be knocked off you
know the top of the list immediately so
what I would do is go to that company's
glass door review and see what the
average salary is for that region and
it's gonna vary state to state but look
to see what they're paying their
employees because that way you can make
sure that your expectations will fit
just right in between the low and the
high end yeah that makes a lot of sense
and and coming from Iowa it would be
pretty funny if I interviewed for a
California job I'd be you know I'd say
something like 50 or 52 and you back
really you'll work for that you know
it's like oops went too low went too low
rewind but but no I think it's it's
pretty easy to find somebody in that
company that could answer the question
like well what do you make or what
does you know what do you see that
they're hiring at but certainly I think
that as supervisors I don't necessarily
know that they have a ton of give in
terms of that I feel like that the
company generally sets that but maybe
the independence might have a little bit
more but I think your advice is
right on which is don't go too high but
also don't devalue yourself by saying
well I'd take this much I've got student
loans I want to get something right now
you know ya have a number in mind and
like you said don't devalue yourself I
think that's something you learn along
the way as you know if you worked for
several companies or if you've even
moved up and you're getting promotions
and you're asking for a specific raise
know your value and know what's
comparable within your market so that
you can offer you know and it's an
educated number that you know is similar
to what other people will be making but
will be enough for you to survive
because you do have those loans and you
work so hard for that license so you
know don't don't offer yourself for too
cheap because then as you grow to your
your your salary increases aren't going
to be as high either so keep
keep that in mind okay all right well
I've asked you a bunch of questions
about work experiencing career goals any
wrap-up thoughts that we would have on
this second section just as we said
before just make sure you're you're
honest with yourself on what your skill
set is and your experience and if you do
need some additional training on you
know a few things don't don't be afraid
to share that you don't want your
interviewer to think that you're an
expert in you know such-and-such therapy
and you really have no clue what it is
so I would definitely keep honest within
this section awesome
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