Pharmacy Directors: A New Way to Interview

Do you ever get tired of asking the same interview questions and wish they were more insightful? Often when interviewing a new candidate the same type of answers are given over and over again: “I’m a good team player,” “I work hard,” etc. Sound familiar? Do you often think to yourself, “I’ve heard all this before.” It can be difficult getting people to truthfully talk about their weaknesses. What if you could find out things that were more revealing about who you are considering?

A friend of mine who runs a successful business kept telling me I need to check out the book, “Who.” At first I thought to myself, “I’ve heard lots of other interview questions before, so what could be so helpful about these?” After checking out the book I was pleasantly surprised and am now using some of these interview questions myself when interviewing people.

Here are a couple of the interview questions adapted from the book for you to get started with:

1. During the actual interview, ask this multi-part question, “What are the names of the last three people who supervised you?
When I call them, what are they going to say about your performance?
How would they rate it on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest?
What would cause them to give you that rating?
What would they say about the areas you needed improvement in back then?”

These questions put them on the spot and get them answering from the perspective of honesty because it tells them that you are going to be contacting them and that their answers will be verified.

2. Later, when you talk to the actual references, ask questions like, “What were the person’s biggest areas of improvement back then?” Framing the question that way takes the guard down and encourages the person to open up about things they probably would be more hesitant to answer.

Another question to ask would be, “XXXX mentioned they struggled with XXXX during their time there. What can you tell me about that?”

I encourage you to read the rest of this book. You’ll get other great tips and interview questions to ask for getting more honest answers from your candidates and their references.

Comment below on what you think about these interview/reference questions. Share the most effective interview question that you ask below.

Where Every Pharmacist Wants to Work

Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of having to wait for applications when you post a new pharmacist position, that you would already have a network of qualified pharmacists you could call?  Could you imagine all the time you would save from having to sift through those piles of resumes and applications?

Be known as the place pharmacists want to work.

When I share new pharmacist job opening with pharmacists, they often ask me where it’s at. And sometimes they’ll tell me right away “I wouldn’t want to work there because they (the pharmacy director) tell you you’d be working one kind of schedule when you interview, and then they make you work other schedules once you’re hired. It’s like bait and switch.”  Or the pharmacist I talk to would tell me “I like everything about the job, but not the schedule.”

The biggest complaint pharmacists share with me about why they leave jobs is because of the schedule. The most common issue is being tired of a variable schedule, because it makes it hard for a pharmacist to plan their personal life. It’s harder to plan taking fun classes, organize rides for kids related to school activities, and coordinate time to hang out with a significant other more. Not knowing their schedule far in advance is another issue.

Tip #1:  If you can make your pharmacists’ schedules more consistent and give them access as much in advance as possible, you will be known as an employer who has desirable shifts for their pharmacists. You will attract good pharmacists who are good at what they do, but have trouble balancing their life with the rotating & variable shifts in their current job.

Action step to implement:  Think about what you can do about the schedule. One hospital pharmacy director saw his retention rates go up significantly when he added a 7 on/7 off staff pharmacist evening shift.  The 7 on/7 off evening shift covers the less popular shifts of evening shift & weekend shifts.  Plus, his pharmacists love having 7 on/7 off schedule without having to work nights. Contemplate this idea to see if it would help with pharmacist satisfaction at your pharmacy.

Tip #2:  Be known as the #1 place pharmacists work at if they want professional growth.

Many pharmacists love the opportunity to grow professionally. This doesn’t mean just clinically, but to develop as a person.  Find out what your pharmacists’ strengths are, and foster growth in that area.  It is a very individualized plan—it could be related to pharmacy management, clinical projects, coming up with ideas to improve workflow, patient care, or reducing time it takes to dispense medication, etc.  Allow them the autonomy of taking on one project at a time.  They could be small projects but important ones.  They could also be part of a team in your pharmacy that brainstorms & implements that project together.

If you take the time to do this with each of your pharmacists, chances are that you will have pharmacists who stay with you year after year. You develop a relationship with your team and they feel you really care about them.  Pharmacists who feel cared for will less likely leave their jobs, even if what seems like a better opportunity comes up.

Even while doing everything to be the best place to work, you may sometimes find yourself having an important job opening you want filled with the right pharmacist as soon as possible.  Fortunately, you are in a better position than a pharmacy that doesn’t have as strong reputation than you.  But you may still not have enough connections with the most experienced pharmacists to fill your opening.  Don’t worry, because there are experienced and qualified pharmacists you can open yourself up to.  Find out your options.

Action step to implement to become the place where every pharmacist wants to work:  In your next staff meeting, share what your vision is about them growing professionally.  Hand out a worksheet for them to fill out that helps them identify and acknowledge their strengths & what they are interested in doing more of professionally.  Also during your staff meeting, ask your staff think could be done better about your pharmacy.  Pick out the top 3 initiatives to work on in the next quarter.