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California Pharmacy School Interviews

Saturday, June 25, 2016

PART V. (See PART IV: MASTERING INTERVIEWS HERE)



You should have a basic notion of what to wear to interviews and what to do but now you're probably wondering, "How do I prepare?" Let me just tell you that there is no way to prepare for Multiple Mini Interviews. What's that you ask? Well, I'm glad you're questioning it! You don't want to be blind-sighted the day of.

Here's a breakdown of my interview experiences:

ONE ON ONE

This is your classic interview. You're sitting directly across one person who, most likely, has a doctorate in pharmacy or the likes.

School that had this:
Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)

TWO ON ONE (PANEL)

This is one up from the previous. You can probably predict what this entails... There may be two professors interviewing lonely ole you or a professor and a current pharmacy student. It's all a toss of a coin.

Schools that had this:
California Health Sciences University (CHSU)
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
University of Southern California (USC)
Western University

GROUP INTERVIEW

You're in there with one or more students. Depending on where you interview, answers may be based on what another person says (i.e., you have to build or add on to what the previous person said). In my experience, we were asked completely random questions that WERE NOT contingent on what the previous person stated.

Schools that had this:
West Coast University
Touro University ( I declined my interview invitation )

MULTIPLE MINI INTERVIEW (MMI)

This was the most eye opening kind of interview - I honestly enjoyed the experience. I must admit that I was nervous since there is no way you can prepare for this. HONESTLY. You can come up with different scenarios or scavenge the internet for examples but it won't help. I tried studying for these but I found out that if I just stuck to basic instinct, I would have been more than fine.

So how does it work? You're given a situation/question/quote... etc.(on the door) before you enter. Read fast but efficiently since you're on the clock. You then knock and go into the room. What happens in the room depends on the question you were given. This really allows you to see how you do without preparation... which mirrors reality. You're not given a road map or study guide to life, you just have to use your best judgement to survive.

Schools that had this:
California Northstate University
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)


Now, to the part you've all been waiting for. So what happens at these schools on the interview day?! I can't wait to share my thoughts with all you upcoming applicants. HOWEVER, I did sign a

NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT
at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). 

Due to that, I will be unable to share my experience at those two schools with you guys (*insert sad face with a tear drop emoji*). UCSF was one of my favorite interviews (BONUS POINTS BECAUSE THE LOCATION WAS SO AWESOME) but my lips are sealed!


INTERVIEW BREAKDOWN
(in order of interview date)



CALIFORNIA NORTHSTATE UNIVERSITY
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Interview Date: 9/17/15
Accepted: 10/1/15
Deposit: $250 

I embarked on a torturous journey from sunny, polluted Orange County to this isolated, serene location near Sacramento. Why was it so painful? I rented a car and drove myself on what should have been a 6.5 hour journey but ended up being a 12 hour disaster.... So what went wrong? I left the day before at 9AM in a cute midnight blue Jetta. As I was driving on the freeway, an old tire flew onto my windshield... I thought nothing of it and continued on my way. I had one hour left but I was hungry so I pulled over for some food and gas. Right before I exited, I drove into a giant tumbling tumbleweed... I was slowing down when I heard a weird screeching sound. I got out of the car and noticed the entire plastic part on the bottom of the car (protecting all the car shenanigans) flipped down and I was missing a headlight protector. I also realized a dead dragonfly spattered against the hood ):

It was nearing 5 so I panicked since AAA was closing however, I was fortunate enough to get a tow truck out! HOWEVER, he drove me back 2 hours to San Jose to pick up another car at Hertz (that location closed 10 minutes after I got there)! Close call! I hopped into my un-damaged Kia and drove like a mad woman to my hotel. I was a bit restless at night and slept all but 2 hours. I wasn't nervous but I just wasn't tired. Odd, right?

My hotel was a 2 minute drive from the school but I still got up bright and early to get ready. The email I received clearly stated not to arrive before 9:15AM. I took that way too literally. I should have known that being the competitive science majors we all are, everyone would already be there. Suffice to say, I was the last one in. After settling down, we were informed that this would be the first year the school would be doing MMIs. Immediate thought? There goes everything I just read on SDN...

TAKE WHAT YOU READ ON SDN WITH A GRAIN OF SALT!

We had introductions as well as a REALLY fast financial aid overview. Then came the TEAM BASED LEARNING (TBL). Both Northstate and CHSU follow this type of teaching. 

What is TBL?

Team based learning is just what it sounds like. On the interview day, you're placed in a group and given a test. DO NOT PANIC! It's not graded and no one actually walks around to assess what you're doing. It's just giving you a taste of how the school works. You talk amongst your group to reason through answers then you compare your answers to the class. Easy.

THE ESSAY
Definitely not what I was expecting. The prompt was about the DRESS CODE. I cannot recall the exact details but you had 20 minutes to write an essay. I had some free time to speak to the students there and I actually found out that the school has a dress code! It's business casual - smart dressing, I suppose. I love dressing up and showing my personal style but following a strict dress code? The week of midterms and finals is when I look like I joined a gang since I'm typically in all black + sneakers. So this was definitely a con about this school.

THE INTERVIEW
We were broken into three groups and of course I was placed in the last group. You can do whatever you want while you're waiting so I decided to leave the room to explore the school. Now the part I'm pretty sure you're all dying to know, the prompts. This school had only two stations for their MMI.

Station 1: Tell me about a time you were in focus and felt confident and successful.
  • My interviewer was like a rock. He barely blinked and didn't ask any questions related to what I was saying. It was as if he was following a script.
Station 2: You're Vice President of a club with a health fair coming up, you have 2 extra shifts and you have a final. What's your plan of action?

POST-INTERVIEW
FOOD! We were all starving so I was thrilled when I chomped into my burrito! We thought we were done but after we finished eating. The proctor said that we would be having ANOTHER interview but with a student and it was a very casual setting. The question? What do you think of TBL?

PERSONAL OPINION
The area seemed a bit deserted yet I actually liked it. There were so many vineyards and the weather, not to mention the AIR, was perfect. As I was driving back home, I got to see trucks carrying tomatoes for the first time! Housing is really cheap and if I chose to go there, I would have invested in a home. So why didn't I? Even though it's fully accredited, I did not like the teaching method and I could not find anything to do - I'm the type of person who likes going out a lot to explore new areas. I felt confident enough to decline my offer of admission for this school but I think this is best for anyone looking for a small class along with lots of group activities. I heard that you basically teach yourself everything though I may be wrong.


CALIFORNIA HEALTH SCIENCES UNIVERSITY (CHSU)
Location: Clovis, CA
Interview Date: 9/25/15
Accepted: 10/2/15
Deposit: $250

I booked my hotel late since I was trying to score a good deal and ended up in a hotel with an inflated price. Just my luck... It was right across from a terribly depressing gas station with just two pumps. I looked at it when the clock struck 12 and boy did it look like I was living in a horror movie; flickering lights and all that jazz. NOT MY CUP OF TEA. Unlike last time, I had time to check out the area and rest!

On the day of the interview, I got there a bit early so I chose to wait in my car. All the other candidates I saw just walked right in. I was surprised at the variety of people there - so many people from other states! After a few presentations, interviews started.

THE INTERVIEW
Guess what? I was the very first person to be called in for the interview (TWO ON ONE).

Why Pharmacy?
How do you prioritize things? Can you give us some examples?
What is your proudest accomplishment? Why?
What is a good decision you made? What other alternatives could you make?
Do you have any questions for me?

I was caught off guard with the two on one method. I kept on pacing my eyes back and forth. I think I lost track of what I was saying... I'm not quite sure... Have you guys seen that one scene in THE OFFICE:


"Sometimes I'll start a sentence and I don't even know where it's going. I just hope I find it along the way."

I might have had a brain fart but I got in so I guess it was really minor. The questions didn't make me anxious but the amount of material my two interviewers were jotting down made me a tad bit uncomfortable. Sometimes they wrote down so much they could barely fit anymore on the page. Other times, they barely touched the page.

THE ESSAY
Highly CONTROVERSIAL topics. You're given a list of potential topics so I sat there for a good two minutes trying to pick one that wouldn't cause too much of a fuss. Even though you might have a strong stance on something, your fate lies in the hands of a hopefully unbiased essay reader. I only remember these two prompts:

Should a student caught cheating be given a second chance?
Should all students be tested for HIV/AIDS?

I actually chose the cheating one and I said that they shouldn't be given retribution. All the other candidates thought I was insane but I'm positive I made an impression with my argument.

PERSONAL OPINION
The area is very similar to Irvine, California. The housing is very affordable however, this school also runs on the TBL method like Northstate. One of the reasons I declined my offer of admission is also due to the pre-candidate accreditation. Thanks to the Hawaii debacle, I'd stay steer clear of schools that have yet to be fully accredited. 


KECK GRADUATE INSTITUTE (KGI)
Location: Claremont, CA
Interview Date: 10/2/15
Accepted: 10/8/15
Deposit: $1000

Unfortunately, I cannot share what happened during the interview day since I signed a non-disclosure. All I will say is that it was my longest interview : 8AM-4PM. You're given a tiny lunch so bring snacks if you must. I really liked the school and I loved the people I interviewed with. The questions are your basic ones that you can easily find from any pharmacy school interview questions study guide. The school has a great mission and an amazing feature of giving it's students an additional certificate upon graduation. The interview, the people I met and the school's curriculum were enough to get me to accept my offer of admission even though it's not fully accredited (it is only pre-candidate). Shout out to Dr. Fared Daneshvar and Dr. Ken Wong - if you guys get them as your interviewers, know that you're in good hands!


WEST COAST UNIVERSITY
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Interview Date: 10/9/15
Accepted: 10/16/15
Deposit: $500 

TRAFFIC IS HORRIBLE. To all my OC commuters - go early! I woke up at 4:45AM and left at 5:57AM. The 101 is horrible especially on weekdays. Anyways, once everyone signs in, you walk into a classroom. The school is very sleek and modern. As opposed to Northstate and CHSU, this school had lots of color to it and it has a security guard along with a gated parking lot. Don't get any fancy ideas about it... Based on my own impression of the area, those things are all there to PROTECT everyone in the school. The area is beyond ghetto and I wouldn't feel comfortable living there.

THE INTERVIEW
I didn't see this coming but it was a GROUP INTERVIEW. I was one of the first to go in. You're in front of two professors along with another student. Each person takes turns answering questions that are not related to each other. The interview went by way so fast... I couldn't mentally memorize the questions and formulate answers at the same time. Here's what I remember:

A pharmacists does drugs without a prescription, what do you do?
How do you get a team to work together?
What qualities should pharmacists have?

THE ESSAY
You have one hour to complete this which I believe is way too much time. There were a couple topics floating around so no two essays were alike. My topic was: DOES MONEY EQUATE TO HAPPINESS?

PERSONAL OPINION
Main reason I turned down my offer? The area! I love Los Angeles since there's so much life, museums, great food and culture but this was in a horrible area. Sure, you can see the Hollywood Sign from the third floor but I wouldn't risk my life for that view. The roads are uneven, the houses are beat down, there's a lot of police cars going up and down the street and way too much suspicious activity for my comfort. The people at this school were incredibly nice but not enough for me to accept.


UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC)
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Interview Date: 10/16/15
Accepted: 10/30/15
Deposit: $500

I got there about half an hour early and there were tons of people waiting outside - around 60. We signed in a bit off schedule but it gave us time to meet other applicants. Most were from Southern California. Since the interview day started around noon, we were given a very hearty lunch. Each person is given a schedule to indicate what group you're in. I had my interview first, YES!

THE INTERVIEW
I had a TWO ON ONE interview with Dr. Ian Haworth and a P2 student. We started off talking about life and then he was going through a list of questions until he got to research. Oh, F.Y.I., this is an OPEN FILE INTERVIEW meaning your interviewers have your resume and personal statement right in front of them. KNOW YOUR FILE! Surprisingly enough, Dr. Haworth is keen on research and the Class of 2020 will be required to have a research project. Let's just say the interview went BEYOND WELL.

Describe a time when you worked in a group. Was there a person who was uncooperative?
What is your greatest accomplishment in school?
How do you deal with change?
Why pharmacy?
What do you see in the pharmacy profession? Where is it going?
Describe your research experience.
Do you have any pharmacy experience?
How do you deal with conflict?
Hoe do you manage your time?
How do you deal with criticism and failure? What do you do about it?

THE ESSAY
WOW. The essay here was quite a punch in the face since it dealt with ethics. It was pretty much the only medically related essay I got at these interviews.

A Chinese man has a cerebral hemorrhage. The family doesn't speak English except for the son who is a physician. The family has the option of stopping aggressive treatment for comfort care but is ill informed. A translator tells them. They request that the body remain untouched for 8 hours to let the soul escape (they're Buddhist). The man dies and they cannot move him out of ICU. Another patient comes in with acute to severe GI bleed. They need a bed in ICU but it is occupied by the dead patient. What should you do with the Chinese man's body?

I remembered the prompt because it was just so different from my others!

PERSONAL OPINION
I love Los Angeles but DTLA? Pretty dangerous. Housing is pretty expensive not to mention the SKY HIGH tuition costs. Why'd I accept? The school is well established and has a lot of funding for research. Downside? A very large class size. I also heard that some professors re-use old tests so it is key to join certain clubs to excel in classes. This is what happened during undergrad. This is something I wanted to avoid. However, the research incentive got me.


WESTERN UNIVERSITY
Location: Pomona, CA
Interview Date: 11/14/15
Accepted: 11/20/15
Deposit: $500 

The downtown area looked amazing. I loved the Gothic architecture of the churches and it was completely deserted in the morning. There was no traffic getting there since my interview was on a Saturday but I heard from current students that the area is dangerous.

THE INTERVIEW
I had a TWO ON ONE interview with Dr. Fadi and a P2 student. Dr. Fadi was one of the nicest and most humble people I have yet to meet! During the, "do you have any further questions" portion, I actually asked him if I could sit in one of the lectures. He surprisingly said yes with the dean's permission! I wanted to see what it was like to learn in a hexagonal room so I came a week later to sit in one of his lectures!

Why pharmacy?
Why Western?
What are your extracurriculars?
If someone in your group doesn't cooperate, what do you do?
Where is the field of pharmacy going?
What do you do for fun?
What was the last book you read?
A doctor gives a prescription for an expensive medication what do you do?

THE ESSAY
You're given 45 minutes to answer the question: IS A LEADER BORN OR MADE?

PERSONAL OPINION
I painfully declined my offer of admission since I do not think it would allow me to work in an area I envisioned myself. Sure, they say rotations change your mind about what you want to pursue however, it seemed as if many of the students here wanted to go into community pharmacy. I'm more into industry. I did love the small class size, how the professors knew each students' name and the picturesque buildings in the area!


UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO (UCSD)
Location: La Jolla, CA
Interview Date: 1/23/16
Accepted: 2/25/15
Deposit: $100 

A one hour orientation was given prior to the start of the day. We were broken up into groups. If you didn't go with the first group, you started on your essay.

THE INTERVIEW
I had a TWO ON ONE interview with a professor and pharmacy student. They were very relatable and made me feel comfortable. We interviewed in a lab with no table separating us.

Why pharmacy?
When do you demonstrate leadership?
Why UCSD?
What are your hobbies?
How do you deal with time management?

THE ESSAY
You're given the entire interview day (minus the time you go in for your interview) to finish the essay - WAY TOO MUCH TIME. If you didn't finish your essay but had to run to your interview, you could just take it with you or leave it at your desk. The prompt was about bridge.

You play bridge with a team. Your partner lacks experience and is the reason you're behind 100 points. He keeps apologizing after every bad mistake. What do you say to him and why?

I went a bit crazy and added scramblers, robot birds, ear pieces... I went all 007 on them. Apparently, the person who read my essay liked it enough to accept me into the school!

PERSONAL OPINION
The area is beautiful and it is very diverse. Each student is required to do research and I love the small classroom size. The school also runs on P/NP. I am a bit indifferent on this. I bet you know what the pros are but there are cons too. If there aren't any grades, how will you appear to future employers? However, whatever school I choose, I will do my best to excel and graduate with the best grades possible! I accepted my offer of admissions to UCSD!

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO (UCSF)
Location: San Francisco, CA
Interview Date: 1/29/16
Accepted: 4/1/15
Deposit: $100

I flew in a day earlier and my hotel allowed me to check in early. Afterwards, I went out and about to explore the city. I stayed at The Sheraton at Fisherman's Wharf. Yes, I am fully aware that it is far from UCSF but I wanted to explore the city. It was my second big solo trip and I had my walking shoes on! I grabbed lunch and ventured to Lombard Street, Gihradelli Square, a lot of Pier's (Pier 39!), and Fisherman's Wharf. I was exhausted when I got back to the hotel at night but it was SOOO worth it! I was burnt out from all my interviews and I knew that there was no use studying for the MMI. A NOTE! If your'e staying near Fisherman's Wharf, be ready to be abruptly woken up by the sound of fog horns!

Since I signed a non-disclosure for UCSF, I cannot say what happened but it's your basic essay and not so basic interview. I know it's a bit cliche but be yourself.

I will talk about timing yourself though. If you're travelling by plane, take the SUPER SHUTTLE to your hotel. I believe it's the cheapest option out there. Plus, you get a free tour of the city! Lots of opportunities for pictures since traffic is beyond slow. To get to and fro from my hotel to my interview and back, I used UBER. 

Sign up with UBER and use my personal code: adriennen210ue to get your first ride FREE.
(Up to $20)

A lot of people have reservations about UBER. I've heard some really wild creeper stories but I had a great time with my drivers. I asked them about the city and they said only the SUPER SUPER RICH can live in SAN FRANCISCO. Preaching to the choir!

Anyways, my interview ended at 4PM and traffic was horrible. My UBER dropped me off at the hotel and I quickly got my luggage from hold and jumped into my shuttle. My flight was at 7:45PM and I was picked up from SUPER SHUTTLE at 4:41PM. Unfortunately, after getting to the airport, checking in and passing through international security at SFO, I missed my flight by a mere 10 minutes. Word of advice, don't take the SUPER SHUTTLE ride to the airport since you'll have to pick up other passengers - just stick with UBER. But I'm a glass half full kind of gal. I got to see all of the international and domestic terminals at San Francisco Airport and I spent the night at SFO all by myself! I felt like Tom Hanks in THE TERMINAL. There were so many art installations that I was able to keep myself amused and awake until my 7AM flight back to LAX.

Anyways, I hope this post help shed some light into interviews. But this concludes my series of pharmacy related shenanigans. My next post pertaining to pharmacy will be my WHITE COAT CEREMONY! I accepted my offer of admissions to more than one school. Curious as to what school I committed to and why? Stay tuned!

PART III: Supplementals

XO,
Adrienne


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