When You Know You’re Bombing an Interview

Have you ever been in an interview when you knew you were progressing down the path of bombing it? I can think back to when I had interviewed for a coveted summer internship with Merck and I knew I had bombed the interview while I was still interviewing. A handful of interns were to be chosen nationally for a internship that included many benefits, including an opportunity to work on a special project at Merck, meeting the CEO, a summer in a different part of the country with flights, rental car, and hotel paid for, etc.

I had wanted the internship so badly. But the way the interview was going, I could feel myself kissing goodbye to the opportunity. It was as if I were a Stepford wife at times.  Other times, I drew blank stares when asked some simple questions. I had also had 2 other interviews with two other Merck employees that went well, but this one was just plain embarrassing.

So what do you do when you’re in a similar situation? What do you do when you’re in a pharmacist job interview and you say something you knew you shouldn’t have said (or you wish you said it differently)?

Here is a simple solution to save the interview:

Shift your mindset right away:  “Unclutch” from your mind starting to give yourself a hard time about why you’re bombing the interview.  Observe your thoughts coming up and then let it go (“unclutch” from them).  Otherwise, you may find yourself getting distracted from the rest of the interview questions.  This can take you away from being completely focused and acing the rest of the interview.  You are perfectly capable of saving the rest of the interview.  The truth is

What to say to save that part of the interview:  Bring up what you answered (the part you bombed) and clarify what your answer was.  Elaborate on anything you meant to say but didn’t; explain what you said which you didn’t mean to say.that most interviewers know that people get nervous.  As long as you regroup your thoughts, you can save the interview.

What if you are answering questions and can just tell that the interviewer isn’t impressed with your answers?

Acknowledge the interviewer’s reaction artfully.  Depending on whether it’s appropriate in that moment or at the end of the interview, ask your interviewer “are there any concerns you have about me XXX [insert the topic during which you noticed the interviewer wasn’t impressed] or doing the job well?”  Depending on what the interviewer says, then bring up examples that may help dissolve their concerns.

Stay tuned for a future article that will give you the answers to a few other interview questions I’m frequently asked (including “Should you acknowledge that you are messing up the interviewer?”).  I will also share with you what happened with my bombed interview at Merck & whether I got the job there that summer, if you’re curious.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a job right now and don’t want to make easily preventable mistakes that make you lose out on a job you really want, here is my gift to you…Access your free gift:  the 5 Biggest Mistakes Pharmacists Make in a Job Search.  Put your name & email in the box after you click on the link above, and you will get valuable free tips that can help you stand out from everyone else.  Good luck with your upcoming interviews and use the resources on this website to help you beat your competition.

3 Things to Say in a Pharmacist Job Interview to Make a Pharmacy Director Yawn

In the spirit of ASHP Midyear meeting coming up, some of you are sure to be interviewing there (or maybe being the interviewer). Here are some surefire ways to make a potential pharmacy employer yawn in an interview:

1.  Tell them what you’ve done and never talk about the reasons why it would benefit them. A lot of pharmacists are really good at doing this.  They describe their job responsibilities….and then end there.  The average pharmacy job seeker describes their experience in a typical way & expects that the employer will think they walk on water, because they do the same things as everyone else who has similar experience.

If you want to stand out from your competition, go one step further.  Describe what that would mean for the employer. For example, if you’re a pharmacy manager, instead of saying “I manage 14 pharmacists”, say:

“I manage 14 pharmacists and have built a loyal pharmacy staff with the highest retention the pharmacy has seen in the last 10 yrs during my employment there.”

To impress the employer even more, take it a step further & describe the reasons why doing what you did would benefit them:

“I manage 14 pharmacists and have built a loyal pharmacy staff that has seen the highest retention in the last 10 yrs, saving my current employer over $XXX/yr in turnover costs.”

If you’re a clinical coordinator, instead of just listing your job responsibilities”:  “I have been a clinical coordinator for 7 years.  I’ve been involved with rounding, developing clinical protocols, & medication safety initiatives”,

describe your accomplishments in a nutshell right away: “…..I’ve been involved with medication safety initiatives that have reduced medication errors each year by XX%.  I’ve also helped establish a residency program.”

describe the reasons why doing what you did would benefit them: “….made the pharmacy department look good by reducing medication errors each year by X%” and “increased the amount of visibility & interest pharmacists had in our institution from establishing a residency program”.  Are you starting to see the power in that?  Change this one thing about the way you interview, and you will leave impressing the interviewer and increase your chances for getting a job you want, vs. someone else who didn’t know better.


Are you starting to see the power in that?  Change this one thing about the way you interview, and you will leave impressing the interviewer and increase your chances for getting a job you want, vs. someone else who didn’t know better.

2.  Say trite things that other pharmacist job applicants will most likely say. Tell them how you work well with others and that you are hard working.  Be like a broken record that a pharmacy director or hiring manager will have likely heard a million times before.  You can bet that your interviewer will tune out when you say trite things.

Instead, try to describe yourself in a way that relates to the job you will be doing.  Perhaps you could describe your strengths in being a creative thinker who likes to explore alternative solutions to solve problems.  Here’s the key: Back it up with an example, or a story.  When a potential employer hears a story of you doing the great things you’ve done, they can relate to it.  They can think about how that situation can apply to their needs.

3. When asked by your interviewer, “Do you have any questions?”, you say, “No, you went over everything.” Hmm..boring.  Non-creative person.  Probably not really that interested in the job to even have any questions! Hiring managers want to know that you are just as invested in choosing the right job as they are in choosing the right candidate.  By saying that you have no questions about the position, you raise a red flag about your level of interest.  Have some sincere questions ready for when you are asked, such as:

“What are the qualities of people who are very successful in your pharmacy?” (Use this to respond with the similar qualities you have)

“Can you tell me a bit about the long-term advancement opportunities at this hospital?” (This shows your interest in long-term growth and not just “a job”)

“What projects/initiatives are being implemented that I will have a part in if I am accepted for the job?”

The interviewer will be impressed by the questions you ask, and he or she can learn a lot about you by what you bring up during the interview.

Use these valuable strategies in your next interview–stop boring your potential employer(s), keep their eyes wide open & get the job!

Comment below on what you learned from these strategies & what mistakes you’ve made in the past but now you’ve realized.  If you have been an interviewer before, comment on how frequently you hear boring things from pharmacist applicants.

If you’re going to ASHP Midyear, email me–I’m gifting mini resume and interview assessments to PGY2 pharmacy residents and hospital-experienced pharmacists in my community (everything’s confidential).   Apply here for limited available spots. Or if you just want to meet up, email me.  Have a good recruiter know you personally and they’ll put more attention on looking out for opportunities for you.

Pharmacists: 10 Questions You Must Ask Before Accepting a Job

It’s a popular time of the year for pharmacists to look for jobs, with many new grads and pharmacy residents finishing up between now and June. Curious about when the best times are to apply for jobs?  Click here to read a previous article about this.

Some pharmacists are concerned about not finding the right job in this market and are open to positions outside of what they would normally consider. But being “open to everything” can hurt you when you apply for positions.

Even when the pharmacy job market is tough, having a clear idea about the position you want will help you attract what you want.  This will help you target your search and make a positive impression.  At the same time, you want to be flexible during the decision-making process, because it is a tough job market, especially if you want to get into a position that leads to your desired career.

A common mistake for new pharmacy grads is primarily considering salary and becoming jaded after a few years. The decisions you make may be influences by the fact that it’s “just your first pharmacist job,” but the decisions you make in the first few years can shape your career path, so it’s worth spending time to pinpoint what’s important to you aside from setting or salary.

Before you say “Yes,” to your next position, think about the long-term implications of accepting a position.  Here are  10 questions to ask yourself before accepting a position:

  • How does the pharmacy/company’s values align with my values?
  • Does the geographic area offer me what I enjoy doing in my spare time?
  • How is my fit with the management and the pharmacy staff?
  • Can I see myself here in 3-5 years?

Here are some insightful questions to ask a pharmacist in the position you will be working in to help you make your decision:

  • What’s a typical workday like?
  • What do you like best about what you do?
  • What do you like least about what you do?
  • How independently do you get to make decisions?
  • What do you think the pharmacy will be like in one year & five years?
  • Does this position set me up for growth in my career the way I want to?BONUS Question to Ask:
    What changes would you make about the pharmacy if you could?

Want to find out the best way to approach getting the inside scoop to positions? Learn how to tap into the hidden job market and hear about positions before they come out.
And when you hear about a position, learn how to stand out from other pharmacists with similar background as you.

Listen to the FREE Teleseminar (Instant Access):
“How to Tap into the Hidden Job Market to Beat Your Competition to the Interview”
to tap into the hidden job market.  This is a prerequisite to the Advanced Hidden Job Market Bootcamp.
NOTE:  Even though the live Advanced “Hidden Job Market Bootcamp” dates are over, you may get instant access at the special tuition.

Is a long interview a good sign? Pharmacists, what do you think?

Resume Mistakes that Sabotage Getting Interviews – Pharmacist Jobs

Resume Mistake #1:
Being lazy and writing a generic resume to send out to every position

Being lazy is tempting, because it makes you feel productive by blasting off your resume to many places. Let me guess. After you hit the send button, you feel a sense of relief as if your problem is solved. Even if it’s just for a moment, you feel a sense of accomplishment. You’ve done something about the pain of not being satisfied in your current position, or not having another job lined up. You hope that the pharmacy hiring managers will be impressed by you because they can just tell from your resume you’d be perfect for the position.

The hard truth: Pharmacy hiring managers and pharmacy directors are busy people. When they are looking at potential candidates, they sift through resumes to see who seems to have the most relevant experience. If you didn’t spend the time to tailor your resume to the position, you will be set aside.

There is more competition for pharmacist jobs than in the past, so it matters more now than ever.  Even in a job market that is less saturated with pharmacists, there is (and always will be) competition for the jobs with the best schedule, salary, and work environment.

Resume Mistake #2:
Resume looks like it was just something you “had to do”, rather than your best foot forward

Appearance counts. Period.

Not only does content matter, but the format, layout, and having a clear strategy that conveys your sizzle matters in the presentation of the resume.  Some resumes I’ve seen have no spacing in between lines.  Others are not consistent in the layout.  Some just list responsibilities in a way that looks the same as every other pharmacist’s resumes.

You may be one who cares about the appearance of your resume, but you don’t actually realize that your resume looks like you don’t care.  Many pharmacists fall under this category. As with any situation, we cannot see ourselves. That’s why even the best tennis players, golfers, and even business owners have coaches/teachers. We are not any different as pharmacists. You write a resume and are proud of what you’ve written, but do you really know for sure how it measures up to your competition?

How would you know?  Listen to my free teleseminar “How to Write a Kick Ass Resume That Stops Getting Tossed”. You are invited to it, if you are someone who wants to get ahead of your competition in this tough pharmacist job market.

Resume Mistake #3:
Qualified, but doesn’t make it to the top of the resume pile

Some pharmacists have told me that because they are qualified for a position, the “(hiring manager) should see from my resume that I have the experience.”  But why should a pharmacy hiring manager choose you?

The hard truth: It isn’t only about how qualified you are, but how well you convey that in an eye-catching way regarding why you are “the one” for the position. Your resume needs to be concise, easy-to-understand, and market yourself well so that stand out from the crowd of competition.

I had an experienced pediatric pharmacist interested in having me represent him for a pediatric pharmacist job in another state.  His resume at first glance looked ok…it had descriptive words under responsibilities (but I will tell you about it later what was lacking).  After talking to him, I felt that he would be a strong candidate for the position. My team told the pharmacy hiring manager about him and they wanted to see his resume. They saw his resume and the answer was they were not interested in interviewing him.  His resume confused the hiring manager because of the way he had written it .  The responsibilities also did not convey his peds experience in a way that gave the “wow” factor.  He was also written off because the hiring manager was confused about the timeline of his work history.  Now, we were able to do damage control in this situation, and the hiring manager is open to seeing his updated resume that shows off his actual Sizzle, but there have been many other times when I’ve seen pharmacists miss out on opportunities and not get a 2nd chance.  Keep in mind that HR does not always know pharmacy well, but they often involved in the screening process.

Stop sabotaging your job search results because you don’t recognize your own limitations.  If you’re ready to learn what to do to transform your resume to get more interviews for the jobs you deserve, join us in the next “Kick Ass Resume” Bootcamp, where I will be teaching pharmacists how to create their “Sizzle”, write their ‘Kick Ass Resume” Blueprint, and reverse-engineer their resume to write a Kick Ass Resume that rises to the top.

Interview Coming Up? Get the Job!

You’ve done the work to market yourself to stand out from your competition.  You’ve been requested for an in-person interview.  It’s time to get the job!

Here are a few things to check off from your interview checklist:

1.  Prepare for the interview enough that you’re comfortable to ask for the job.
Know the names & titles of everyone you will be interviewing with.  This includes key interviewers within the pharmacy, HR, and perhaps people such as the CEO.  Prepare for your interview by anticipating the questions that will be asked of you.  Decide how you will answer challenging questions.  Research and figure out questions to ask that are both important to you and which reflect on your interest in the position that you are applying for.  Plan to ask for the job at the end. Asking for the job is something that most pharmacists are not used to doing.  There is an art to it and the pharmacists who know how tend to get the job.

Go through the interview process by asking a pharmacist job market expert to do a mock interview with you.  This will give you an advantage over other applicants.  You will have practiced interview questions being asked in this job market and ace the interview with confidence.

I know a pharmacist who has been able to talk herself into jobs that others haven’t been able to.  It is because she is amazing with marketing herself.  She will be a guest on our upcoming invitation-only teleseminar “How to Get the Job You Want Without the Experience”.  The teleseminar will be useful to pharmacists who don’t have the specific experience for a position, but want to apply for a pharmacist position in a different practice setting.  It will also be useful to new pharmacy residents & grads.  The first 32 pharmacists who enroll in the “Get the Job” Membership program will be invited to attend.

Many pharmacists are imbalanced on what part of the interview process they are good at.  Some are good at getting the interview, but not the job.  Others are good at getting the job, but have trouble getting interviews.  The good news is that this is something that can be learned.  You just need to have a handle on the secret of what works & what doesn’t in this tight job market.

2.  Get directions ahead of time. Map it out via Google Maps or Mapquest.   I prefer Google Maps because it also gives you the estimated time in traffic.  Also, call to request directions.  Someone familiar with the area will be able to give you landmarks that make it easier to find where you need to go.  Have the phone # of the interview location handy, in case you get lost.

3.  Look and feel sharp.  Take care in presenting yourself to make a memorable first impression, from brushing your hair neatly, to dressing professionally in colors that complement your skin tone.  It is better to overdress one notch than to under dress.  When you feel sharp, you radiate confidence and the hiring managers can feel that.

3.  Bring a few hard copies of your resume.  This offers something tangible for the hiring managers to hold on to.  They have it ready and can make notes on it if they wish.  Few pharmacists actually do this, so you would be standing out by bringing this to your interview.

What part of the interview checklist have you done in the past and gotten results from?  What part do you have challenges with?  Share your experiences below.

Good luck at your interview! Remember, give yourself the best chance possible–you only have one shot.

Interviewed But Didn’t Get the Job

Didn’t get a job you interviewed for & not sure why?

If you don’t get the job and don’t know why you didn’t get it, chances are you didn’t ask.

If you ask, only two things can happen:

  1. You will know how you can improve for a future interview
  2. You will not know the truth, but at least you tried to find out

Here are a few ways to ask in a professional manner:

“I’m sorry to hear I wasn’t selected for the opportunity.  I appreciate you considering me.  Would you give me feedback on what it was that you were concerned about, or why I wasn’t a good fit for your pharmacy?  This will help me either improve professionally or help me find a job that’s right for me.”

“I really want to work for your company down the road.  What can I do to prepare myself in my career path so that you will consider me in the future?”

Depending on how your potential pharmacy employer answers, ask a follow up question to that:

“Do you feel that there are other opportunities that you would consider me for in the company?

“From your assessment, what kind of a work environment do you think would suit me the best?”

Comment below on how this article is helping you, or other ideas/concerns you have with getting feedback from a potential employer after an interview.

If They Like Me, They’ll Hire Me

Is it true? Sure, it plays an important role in a pharmacy hiring manager’s decision, but why should they pick you out of other interested pharmacist applicants?

I was talking to a pharmacist who wanted to be presented for a management position.  I suggested that she highlight any leadership experience, including starting/leading clinical programs or previous leadership experiences during work or in pharmacy school (she had attended pharmacy school within the last 5 years), and her response to me was “I want to keep my resume the way it is.  If they like me, they’ll hire me.  I don’t want to be giving any false impressions about myself.”

I don’t know how else to say it, but please understand that you may not be used to a pharmacist job market that requires you to not only be a pharmacist who has the skills to get the job you want, but to also convey your skills and passion among other competing pharmacists to get the job.

It’s one thing that you know what you are good at–that your patients love the way you connect with them & physicians listen to your therapeutic suggestions because you are sharp clinically & you collaborate well with others.

It’s another thing to show on a resume (the main thing a potential pharmacist employer sees initially) what it is you have that is directly relevant to the pharmacist position they are trying to fill.  A good resume’s purpose is not false impressions.  A good resume points your strengths out.  It is not about being untruthful.  It’s about marketing yourself because that is one of the first key impressions someone will have of you.

If you are untruthful, you will be found out during the interview anyway, so that is dangerous territory to be playing in.  The point is to think of what the pharmacist employer wants and tailor your resume uniquely to what they are looking for.

Maybe this will help you understand why it’s important.  Why don’t we step back from pharmacy & look at a job for a housekeeper.  The qualities of a housekeeper an employer or a client (perhaps you) is looking for is 1) someone who cleans the house in an efficient & detail-oriented manner, 2) someone who has experience doing housekeeping.

Candidate #1:

This housekeeper has the skills mentioned above and the experience, but chooses to write on his/her resume:
Housekeeper.  Responsibilities are not elaborated on.

Assessment:  You are left wondering what responsibilities he/she had as a housekeeper.

Candidate #2:

This housekeeper has the skills mentioned above and experience housekeeping, but chooses to write on his/her resume: “Experience with scanning & copying”, “Running errands for my clients”, Taking quality photo portraits of people”, “Typing 100 WPM”.

Assessment:  Experience with scanning & copying is not relevant to the position.  Perhaps running errands is somewhat relevant, but not directly relevant.  Taking quality photos & typing 100 WPM is not relevant at all.

Candidate #2:

This housekeeper also has the skills and experience housekeeping, but chooses to write on their resume: “Cleaning 4 houses/day that are 5000 sq ft average size and retaining clients for 3+ years”, “Receiving high compliments from clients (references are available) and consistent referrals”

Assessment:  This person seems to 1) clean the house in an efficient & detail-oriented manner, 2) someone who has experience doing housekeeping.  This person also has references to back it up.

Who would you choose to interview?

Get your foot in the door first.  Once you are interviewing, they will get a better sense of your personality and whether they like you.  Keep in mind that you are still highlighting what you have that is directly relevant to the position even when you are interviewing, but at that point they will definitely take into consideration more of your personality fit.  When you are at the resume stage, what you point out is all they have to go by.  Get your foot in the door first.  For other tips useful in your job search, check out the 5 Biggest Mistakes Candidates Make in a Job Search.

Is it Aptitude or Attitude that Counts in an Interview?

Aptitude gets you in the door.  Your resume is the place to show off your aptitude.  Are you a pharmacist with relevant experience for the role that they are looking for?  Do you appear to consistently be an overachiever who is loyal (and likely to be a good investment for the company, rather than a job hopper?)

During the interview, you will clarify your aptitude so that a potential pharmacy employer feels confident about your capabilities related to the job.  Your employer is also looking for the right attitude.

I have seen pharmacists who may have been borderline in consideration when it comes to experience, but they were able to stand out from others in a resume and sell themselves so well in an interview that they get the job.  The pharmacy director or hiring manager appreciates the attitude and enthusiasm of the pharmacist, finds it to be a good fit, and wants to offer him/her the job.  That is how important crafting your resume to stand out & acing the interview is.

Be cautious about being overconfident without being able to back it up;  it won’t do you much good.  Saying that “I can learn quickly” is trite to the point that you might as well have not said it at all.  However, if you back it up by examples & tie it in to the specific responsibilities of the job, it makes you stand out.  Example:  “My recent pharmacy manager asked me to start a pharmacy-run smoking cessation program.  Although I didn’t have the experience, I participated in intensive training & created a program that helped 121 patients quit smoking in 6 months;  X % of the patients continued to be non-smokers after 12 months.”  See the difference?

This is something that my students in the Get the Edge program have practiced to get the edge over the competition during the application & interview process.

What do you think–is it aptitude or attitude? Share your thoughts or your own experience where aptitude or attitude seemed to have counted more—comment below.