31 Questions and Answers Written by Professional Interviewers
Question 1 of 31
At Auburn University we look for students who have a true passion for medicine. What appeals to you most, about working in the field of pharmacy?
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The interviewers would like to understand what drives your pursuit of a career in pharmacology. Your core passion is what will keep you going on the toughest of days at Auburn University. For the interviewers to understand how to motivate you, they need to know what fires you up!
It is okay to share a personal story when answering this question. Perhaps you can discuss what initiated your interested in becoming a pharmacist, to begin with. Whatever drives you, make sure the interviewers can feel your passion!
"There are a number of factors that drive my passion for a career in medicine. If I had to pinpoint one main driver, I would say that helping others with chronic pain or a debilitating disease, is the most significant for me. Everyone deserves access to important medicine and I plan to live that mantra by being the best at what I do, and giving my all to my patients/customers, every day."
It is important that Auburn University exercises great discernment when choosing applicants. What is your plan if you are not accepted into pharmacy this year?
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The interviewers want to know that you have thought out all options, and scenarios, in the event that you are not accepted to Auburn University.
The way that you answer this question will also show the interviewers that you have an interest in pharmacology that goes deeper than your acceptance into their school.
If you are not accepted, show that you will then take a different path, as a pharmaceutical assistant or pharmaceutical sales representative, for instance.
Or, you can let the interviewers know that one rejection won't stop you at all! Talk about your plan to reapply, if rejected.
Whatever the path you would choose, it's important you show the interviewers that you have confidence, and drive. It'll take more than one rejection to keep you down!
"Should I not be accepted into your pharmaceutical program the first time, I plan to reapply the following year. I would take the year to upgrade any required courses and prepare an even stronger application. My life's goal is to become a pharmacist and I certainly won't take one rejection as a final answer."
In your opinion, what is the most concerning issue facing pharmacists, today?
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Being an aspiring student means that you need to take a keen interest in current events by closely following the challenges the pharmaceutical industry faces. The interviewers want to see that your interest is deep and that you spend time learning, and understanding, the challenges you will face in your future career as a pharmacist.
Discuss what you feel to be a primary concerning issue, and be sure to ask the interviewers what they personally see as the most concerning issue in the field of pharmacology today. This is an opportunity to start a very insightful conversation.
"I feel that the most concerning issue in the pharmaceutical industry is the continual rise of drug prices. The best medications should be accessible to anyone, regardless of their financial or social status, and there has been a rising concern with big pharma creating drugs and then pricing them so high that they are unattainable to most. What do you feel are the most concerning issues facing the pharmaceutical industry today?"
Tuition at Auburn University is expensive. Have you made a solid financial plan for tuition costs, and beyond?
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The interviewers want to be assured that you will be able to afford the tuition associated with Auburn University. Medical school is an investment and you need to be sure that you can handle the financial requirements associated with your acceptance. Keep your answer brief, and to the point. Simply let the interviewers know that you have a solid financial plan for your pharmaceutical schooling.
"I have been making arrangements for many years to afford attendance at Auburn University. My finances are in good order."
Tell us about your overall academic performance, so far. Where have you excelled, and where could you improve?
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The interviewers want to know how your undergraduate program has prepared you for attending pharmaceutical studies at Auburn University. Discuss what interested you the most, and where you had the biggest challenges. While attending undergraduate studies, you likely learned some core skills that would be transferable to your time at Auburn University.
Think about what you learned:
- Time Management
- Creative Thinking
- Proposal Writing
- Public Speaking
- Presentation Building
- Independent Learning
- Academic Research
"I am very proud of my achievements during my undergrad education. Those courses added so much value that I will bring to my graduate program. My best grades were always in my chemistry courses. I feel that I excelled in these because they are related to pharmacology, which I have an incredibly strong interest in. As far as areas of improvement, I think that I can better myself in terms of time management. I overextended myself last semester with volunteer opportunities and my study time suffered slightly. Now that I have identified the reason behind my time management challenges, I will only see improvement, moving forward."
6. Why should we accept you over another pharmacy student with the same qualifications? The interviewers are looking for unique qualities and statements that make you stand out from the other students wishing to attend Auburn University.
Put yourself in their position. You are looking at multiple talented candidates, all have stellar grades, all have drive, and all have potential to be renowned Auburn University alumni. What would be the primary reason to choose YOU over everyone else?
Some things that make you a stand out candidate:
- Recent volunteer work
- An existing connection to the faculty or facility
- A memorable and personal story of struggle and triumph
- An unusual skill such as speaking multiple languages, or knowing sign language
- An additional degree, diploma, or certification
- Proof that you continually focus on personal and professional development Here is an answer example: "I believe I am the strongest student for your pharmacy program because I am incredibly dedicated to my professional and personal development. Since beginning my undergraduate program I have committed to taking a personal development workshop twice per year. The topics have included communication, person-ability, multi-tasking, organization, and even persuasive writing. I plan to take these skills and apply them to my graduate studies as well."7. What do you feel is the single most important quality a pharmacist should possess? The interviewer wants to see that you have some insight into the desired qualities and characteristics of a pharmacist. This is an opportunity to give a unique answer so try to dig deeper than 'good communicator' or 'strong attention to detail'.
Some ideas for you:
- Unrelenting drive
- Desire for improvement
- Patience and Fortitude
- Self Confidence Here is an answer example: "I believe that the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess is integrity. A pharmacist with integrity is a medical professional who will always put their customers first. They will be relentless when it comes to ensuring their patients /customers are cared for, and that they receive the best drug options out there. Integrity is a very important quality to me."8. At Auburn University we believe in the continual development of our students, both professionally and personally. What is your self-development plan? Having a self-development plan is incredibly important for anyone. The interviewers want to know what your plan is, and how attending Auburn University will be beneficial to that plan. If they are going to invest in you, they need to know that you have a plan in place for investing in yourself also.
Some ideas for self-development:
- Listening to an inspiring podcaster
- Attending personal development workshops
- Spending time volunteering in a capacity related to your career goals
- Utilizing a mentor
- Hiring a tutor
- Learning another language
- Reading books associated with success Here is an answer example: "I agree that self-development is crucial for continual growth and achievement. I am committed to investing in myself and some of the ways I do this is by attending personal development workshops, and meeting with my mentor once per month."9. Talk to us about your current GPA. Are you satisfied with your current GPA or would you change it if you could? Talk to the interviewers about your undergrad experience.
If you were satisfied with your GPA: 'I graduated top of my class and am very proud of my accomplishments during my undergraduate studies. The experience taught me to study hard and set attainable goals for myself.' Here is an answer example: Here is an answer example: "I feel that my GPA could have been higher; however, I was working full time while attending classes. All in all, I did learn a lot about discipline and commitment."10. What is your favorite area of pharmacology so far? Which is your least favorite? Why? By understanding your strongest areas of interest, the interviewers are able to predict which of the courses you will enjoy most at Auburn University, and how you will fit into their student population and culture. Talk about where your strongest interests currently are, when it comes to pharmacology. Here is an answer example: "At this point in my studies, I am most interested in Clinical Pharmacology as I have always had a passion for research and new developments. The area of pharmacology that I find to be my least favorite so far is Pharmacogenetics . I have not excelled in the area of genetic drug responses; however, I have hired a tutor to ensure my grades remain above average regardless of my natural interest."11. If you could meet anyone in the history of medicine, who would you choose and why? This is more of a personal interest question, and you really cannot give a wrong answer here. Think back to any of the' founding fathers' (and mothers!) of medicine. Who has a story that resonates with you the most? What did they overcome, and how can you relate? What did they discover / create / invent that you admire so much? It's also a great idea to think of the most burning question you would have for that individual. Be sure to add passion to your answer so that the interviewers can sense a true interest. Here is an answer example: "If I could meet anyone in the history of medicine, I would go back to the very beginning and meet Hippocrates. I find it fascinating that he was the first person to ever believe that disease and death were not a result of the anger of gods. I would ask him what that first conversation sounded like...when he first said to others, that disease is not caused by superstitious belief. He would have had to have faced so many roadblocks, yet, he continued to believe in his work."12. What questions do you have for us about Auburn University? It is very important that you come to your interview prepared with questions for the interviewers at Auburn University. Having prepared questions shows the panel that you are keenly interested in what they do, specifically, at Auburn University.
Remember that people like to talk about what they know! By having insightful questions prepared, you are setting the stage for the interviewers to tell you many important and helpful details about their process, and their educational facility. Keep the majority of your question academically related. Asking too much about the culture, social life, and extra-curricular activities may cause you to appear unfocused.
Here are some ideas:
- If you could give me any piece of advice, what would that be?
- Is there anything in my application, or anything that I said in today's interview, that I can clarify for you?
- What is the most important thing I should know about my first week at Auburn University, should I be accepted?
- Can you tell me about some of the exciting opportunities I could take advantage of, should I attend Auburn University?
- What do you feel is the most unique offering at Auburn University, compared to others in the area? Here is an answer example: "I would love to learn more about this university, from your perspective. What is the biggest competitive edge Auburn University has over it's competitors?"13. What do you know about Auburn University? It's likely that the interviewers at Auburn University have seen hundreds of applicants, so a question like this is an opportunity for you to stand out. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, make some effort to conduct research on the school. You don't need to be an expert on their entire history, but you do need to be knowledgeable on their programs, culture, and recent accolades.
Start by searching their website and take special note of any recent news articles, events or contributions they have made to the community or student body. Identify their mission and values so that you can be clear on what they stand for. Here is an answer example: "The passion for community and elevated learning at Auburn University really jumps out to me. It is probably why you are the longest standing university in the entire state. I also love the effort that Auburn University puts in when it comes to residencies and placements for your pharmaceutical graduates. It is very obvious that your faculty goes beyond the general expectations of a university to ensure it's students' success."14. Tell us about an area of weakness that you would like to improve on while attending Auburn University. Pick a weakness that is not a core skill for your success as a pharmacy student. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness.
Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community center. We are all human with our own weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours! Here is an answer example: "I believe I could improve on my written and verbal communication skills as I tend to be more blunt than I would like to be at times. I have enrolled myself in a week long workshop this summer with the goal of becoming a more eloquent communicator. I hope to gain skills in this workshop that I can continue to utilize during my university career."15. What research did you conduct before choosing to apply to Auburn University? The interviewers want to know which considerations you put in before sending your application to Auburn University. What they really do not want to hear is that you blindly sent out a million applications, hoping that something would stick. Share with the interviewers the consideration you put into your application.
Some methods of consideration could have been:
- Talking to / interviewing alumni of Auburn University.
- Attending an open house at Auburn University.
- Extensive online research.
- Researching who the most renowned graduates of Auburn University pharma programs are.
- Meeting with a career counselor and asking for recommendations.
- Speaking with a current student at Auburn University, specifically someone in the program you are interested in. Here is an answer example: "I was sure to conduct a great deal of research before applying to Auburn University. I started by interviewing some alumni that I know, and I also spoke with a couple of your current students who are in the pharmacy program. Last year I attended the open house here as well. Your school left a very positive impression on me which is why I chose to apply here."16. Tell us something that we would not know about you from reading your CV. The interviewers would like to get to know you apart from what is written on your CV and school transcripts. You are certainly not obligated to discuss personal matters such as your relationship status, for instance. Stick with a couple of fun facts to show the interviewers at Auburn University that you are a real person, too.
Your answer should be unique so that you are a memorable candidate! For example, you might share that you enjoy beat-boxing or making origami swans. Be prepared for the interviewers to ask you to perform your skill on the spot when its possible! (This will make you unforgettable!) Here is an answer example: "I am an avid marathon runner and have traveled to 10 countries in the last 3 years to compete in a variety of races. I am a competitive individual and enjoy keeping fit."17. What achievement are you most proud of, so far, on your path to becoming a pharmacist? The interviewers would like to know what areas of achievement are most important to you. Perhaps you have maintained an exceptional GPA or maybe you excelled in school while also working a part time job. Maybe you finished top of your class and received a special award for your achievements. Think of any accolades that you may have received along the way. Here is an answer example: "The achievement that I am most proud of, so far, was completing my undergrad, top of my class. While maintaining very strong grades, I was also President of our school's Diversity Club, and I spent time volunteering at the local animal shelter."18. What are you reading right now? Do you feed your mind on a regular basis? What kind of literature do you prefer and why? Talk to the interviewers about a book that you are currently reading. If you are not currently reading a book - talk about one that has impacted you the most. Here is an answer example: "Currently I am reading 'Ego is the Enemy' by Ryan Holiday. It is a book about ambition, resilience and success. I feel that everyone should read it - it comes highly recommended."19. What other medical schools have you applied to and where does Auburn University rank? The interviewers would like to understand the types of schools you are interested in. Knowing where you are applying will help them to better understand if Auburn University will be able to meet your specific needs and educational desires or goals. You should be transparent when answering this question but be sure to avoid saying anything offensive such as 'this school is my last choice'. Pick out the number one reason why you want to attend Auburn University and focus on that. Here is an answer example: "I have applied to four other schools. Those schools are A, B, C, and D. My interest in Auburn University is strong because you are highly regarded in the pharmaceutical industry. The reputation of Auburn University is unmatched. I would be so proud to say that I graduated from this school."20. Which newspapers, journals or publications do you read to stay in touch with new pharmaceutical discoveries, and current events? The interviewers want to see that you have a keen interest in continually learning your craft. The pharmaceutical industry is ever changing! Talk about how you stay up to date on industry trends, new breakthroughs, social concerns, and more.
List a couple of medical journals that you like to read and discuss how often you dive into pharma related news. Perhaps you subscribe to a particular magazine, blog, or follow certain social media accounts.
It's also a great idea to ask the interviewers about their favorite ways to stay in touch on pharma related current events. Asking this question in return can make for a great dialogue, and you never know what you will learn! Here is an answer example: "I am sure to read springer.com, and on a regular basis. I also subscribe to the International Journal of Pharma Medicine and Biological Sciences. It's important to diversify where your news comes from and I would love some fresh suggestions. What are your favorite places for news on current trends?"21. How would you react if you discovered a classmate cheating? This honesty based question is meant to test your character and ability to deal with awkward or uncomfortable situations in a mature way.
If you have found yourself in a situation like this, you can certainly draw on that situation for your reply. Be careful not to name any names, or throw anyone under the bus as you can rarely recover from unsavory behavior like that in an interview. Here is an answer example: "In my opinion, an honorable person will do what is right even when nobody is looking. The pharmaceutical industry deserves only honorable graduates and so, for that reason, I would tell a superior if I found a classmate to be cheating."22. How does your family feel about you attending medical school? Do you have a great deal of support? The interviewers want to know that if you were accepted into Auburn University that you would have the support required for your heavy and challenging work load.
Discuss a bit about your family such as anyone who lives near you or how your family expresses their excitement for your career. You can also mention anyone in your family who may have had a similar path in the pharmaceutical industry. Here is an answer example: "My family is incredibly proud of me for going into pharmacology. My father is especially keen as he also graduated from Auburn University. Both of my parents, as well as my older brother, live in the area so I will have a very strong and encouraging support system should I be accepted into Auburn University."23. How do you respond to feedback and criticism? Describe a situation where your work was criticized. What was your immediate reaction to the situation? The interviewers want to see that you are confident and mature enough to accept feedback and criticism in a positive way, even when it is unsolicited.
Not all feedback will be delivered in a friendly, easy to absorb manner. Think to a time when you received feedback or criticism that was bit hurtful or surprising. Discuss how you reacted in a productive way.
It is important that you highlight for the interviewers that you were able to take the criticism and learn from it. Talk about how you successfully implemented change. Here is an answer example: "Last year I received a low grade on a chemistry project. When I approached my professor about the low grade, he said to me 'You can do better. I expected more from you'. I was taken aback at first but once I had time to absorb what was said, I realized that he expected more from me because he had high expectations of what I was capable of doing. It was a compliment, and a challenge, all rolled into one! I re-did the assignment with more gusto and passion the second time around. My grade improved significantly and I did thank that professor for holding me to a higher standard."24. Who in your life mentors, or inspires you? Your life's inspiration can come from a book, a mentor, your family, a celebrity, an author - literally anyone! Talk to the interviewers about who has inspired your life and why. Here is an answer example: "I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has most greatly inspired me has been my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face no matter how hard she worked and she loved everyone. She was well respected and always gave more than she received. I try to live like her as much as I can."25. How well do you think you have performed in this interview today? This question is a stress test! The interviewers simply want to know if you are happy with your performance in the interview. There is always room for improvement; however, you want to avoid picking your interview apart.
If you feel the interview went well: 'I feel that I was well prepared for the questions that you asked me today and am happy with my performance in this interview. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. Can I ask if there is anything I can clarify for you, or elaborate on, from today's conversation?'
If you feel you could have performed better: 'I feel that I was well prepared for the majority of the questions you have asked me today; however, I would like to clarify my answer on one particular point....' Then, return to the question you may have stumbled on and answer how you would have liked to the first time. Here is an answer example: 26. When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work? Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. When you work in the medical field, those setbacks can be amplified. While attending university, even more so because your grades can greatly determine the success of your future career. Discuss with the interviewers how you typically cope with setbacks. Here is an answer example: "Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be very disheartening, especially when involving a project that I have put a lot of time and effort into. I understand that setbacks happen often, and to everyone - despite their level of expertise or years of experience. If I experience a major setback I will take a few moments to internally debrief, get some fresh air if possible, or discuss what I could have done differently with a mentor. Then, I move on. Rather than dwell on my mistakes, I choose to learn from them."27. What are your thoughts on alternative medicine? Which aspects do you agree and disagree with? Alternative medicine can be a controversial subject. Some love it, some hate it, and there are a few that are in-between.
Just like you would answer a sensitive question surrounding politics or religion, it's best to support both sides in one way or another. Interviews are not usually a good place to voice a highly one sided opinion. Here is an answer example: "Although I am a supporter of traditional medicine, I do understand that alternative medicine can offer great benefits for some. I agree that there is a science behind alternative medicine; however, I feel that alternative medicine should be more strictly regulated. People need to educate themselves better before jumping into 'all-natural' therapy. Prescribed teas and herbs can be dangerous if taken in the wrong dosages. Even though it is natural, it doesn't mean that your body will like it. Just like with all types of medicine and practices, research and education is very important."28. Explain your understanding of the day to day responsibilities of a pharmacist. The interviewers want to know that you have a realistic idea of what your career will look like once you've completed your Doctor of Pharmacy at Auburn University. It's important to understand that you may not be exactly where you want to be, immediately after graduating. Show the interviewers that you have a realistic understanding of what your day to day life will look like, once you have graduated. Here is an answer example: "I understand that my day to day responsibilities as a pharmacist will include speaking with customers, helping them to understand their dosages, and answering many of the same questions. I know that it won't always be glamorous and it can be physically taxing as there is a lot of standing during the day. With that said, I am very much looking forward to coaching my customers on proper drug use and dosages, and creating lasting relationships with those in the community where I work."29. How did you prepare for the PCAT? PCAT is the Pharmacy College Admission Test. Because this test measures your scientific knowledge and general aptitude, it is incredibly important that you are well prepared. Talk to the interviewer about the ways that you prepared for the PCAT. Perhaps you set a study schedule for yourself, or hired a tutor. However you chose to prepare, show the interviewers your dedicated and willingness to put in the effort it takes to succeed in pharmacology. Here is an answer example: "I spent a lot of time and energy preparing for the PCAT because it is hugely important to do well on that test. I ended up hiring a tutor who specializes in PCAT preparation and it helped immensely."30. How does your learning style fit with the teaching methods at Auburn University? The interviewers want to see that you have researched their school enough to be confident that your learning style and their teaching style will be a good match. Perhaps this school offers a lot of hands-on experience versus classroom lectures. Or, maybe there is a lot more autonomy than the average university. However you see a fit, be sure to clearly express that you feel Auburn University will be a good match for you. Here is an answer example: "I am very much a hands-on learner so the fact that your school offers many lab based projects while also encouraging regular work-based experience, is a big attraction for me. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to study at Auburn University."31. Prescription drug abuse is a widespread issue. How will you recognize the signs of drug abuse in your customers? How would you handle a situation like this? The interviewers want to know that you are familiar with the potential dark side of pharmaceutical drugs. Show that you will be responsible as a pharmacist and that you are capable of recognizing the signs of drug addiction. Here is an answer example: "I understand that prescription drug abuse is an epidemic and that, as a pharmacist, I must be diligent when it comes to recognizing the signs of abuse in my customers / patients. I have researched this social issue a great deal and know that some of the signs include a patient being adamant about receiving a certain brand of drug, doctor-hopping, and even forging doctor's prescriptions. I will be committed during my career to diligence and awareness of this social issue."
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