The Art of Pharmacy School Interviews

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Humans are pretty superficial - they say don't judge a book by it's cover but aren't interviews just that? We immediately form opinions based on appearances so how you present yourself definitely matters. What do you wear?  Before I go into the nitty gritty details of each school I interviewed at [i.e., what to expect and ACTUAL questions they asked (Yes, I kept a handy dandy journal detailing all my interviews)], I'll give you basic interview tips which apply to anyone preparing for an interview, regardless of the field.


You guys definitely have it easy. There's really no way you could possibly screw up! Here's a quick list of what you'll need:

SUITS USA_Harvey Specter_Mike Ross_Jessica Pearson_Rachel Zane_Louis Litt_You just got litt up

(Via: DaveTV - SUITS)

  1. A dapper looking tailored sports coat or blazer. Make sure this fits well - most wear black but don't be afraid of wearing navy blue, charcoal or tan!
  2. A good pair of trousers - most of the guys I saw wore a suit. Of course, you can mix and match... just don't get too wild! Oh, don't be the guy with crumpled fabric on both legs - get them tailored!
  3. A good looking button down with collar stays! Make sure the collars are crisp. I didn't see any guys accessorize with cuff links but I don't see why not!
  4. A tie - skinny or regular depending on your physique. No one wore any bold prints or a tie clip. If you want to play it on the safe side, go for subtle patterns.
  5. Leather Dress Shoes in brown or black. Invest in a good pair because chances are, you'll wear them often!

Guys, I know it's difficult but use an iron. You're trying to make a good impression as a potential student so make sure your suit isn't wrinkled! If I were interviewing someone, I'd like to see a little personality (a red tie with chill peppers, why not?!) but with the health sciences, most of your interviewers are of the conservative type - you've been warned!


There are so many possibilities! If you've been following my blog for a while, you know my outfits aren't exactly what you would call appropriate for the workplace let alone in the sciences. When I went on my quest for an interview outfit, I had to decide if I wanted to wear a dress, pencil skirt or trousers. For work appropriate dresses, I like body-conscious dresses and pencil skirts. I didn't want to leave a negative impression with my interviews and the admissions committee so I decided to wear a blazer and trousers. But here are some helpful tips:

If you decide to wear a dress or pencil skirt:


  1. Make sure that what you're wearing doesn't ride up too high above your knees when you're sitting down! You're not going to a club! Not only will you look a bit out of place, some of the interviews are face to face without a table in between. You don't want to be pulling your skirt down the entire time or sitting there with your hands stiffly clasped together on your lap. 
  2. I love wearing colorful things but there's a time and place for that and unfortunately, a pharmacy school interview isn't it. Go for the basics: neutrals, black or navy blue. 
  3. Make sure it fits well. If you're wearing a dress, make sure the waist doesn't drop too low and if you're wearing a skirt, make sure it hugs your body... just not too tight!
  4. Make sure your shirt isn't too busy. It's best to go with a simple button down or a good dress top. Oh, make sure your cleavage isn't showing. You want your interviewers focused on your pretty face!
  5. Since you'll be at your interview for around 5 hours, give or take, wear comfortable shoes! I wore heels to all my interviews because they made me look more professional. However, a majority of the girls wore flats. Just make sure they're not open-toed shoes! 

If you decide to wear trousers:

(Via GOOGLE Images- Victoria Beckham)

  1. Wear trousers that sit at the hips and end right at your ankles. Make sure they're not too tight - no camel toes, please! Go for basic work colors!
  2. Make sure your blazer fits well [i.e. shoulders aren't big and sleeves aren't long (you'll be shaking a lot of hands on the day of your interview)]!
  3. For your shirt, I'd say you have a lot of room for creative freedom. You could go the traditional route with a simple button down or you can spice up your look with a sophisticated yet edgy top.
I wish interviewers had an "open mind" about our attire. Yes, I understand that we're preparing for a life as a professional in the field of sciences but we should be able to have a little fun with what we wear, no? Don't get me wrong, some of your interviewers will be really chill and down to earth - I had an interviewer wearing a rubber ducky bow tie! But my advice would be to wear something on the conservative side just to be safe!


If you're wondering what I wore, my ensemble was very similar to the one Victoria Beckham is wearing above. Well, my top was sheer but my v-neck didn't have that deep of a plunge! I'm pretty petite so I had to shop around for my attire. I chose to buy everything separately - I bought my blazer at Zara, my top at some random fashion store and my trousers in the petite section in Ann Taylor. I found the perfect look at J.Crew but the blazer sleeves were way too short on me. Give yourself time to find the perfect outfit!



Messy hair might be cute on any other day but not for your interview. If you must, force yourself to wake up earlier. Ladies (and gentlemen), make sure your hair isn't in your face - you don't want to be flipping your hair during the interview. I used a ton of hairspray to tame all my loose strands along with some bobby pins! As for MA K E U P, I've read so many articles on how girls should go to these interviews sans makeup. I didn't want to go bare so I put on what I usually do each morning - winged cat eyeliner, black eyeshadow, mascara, colored in my brows, and concealer! I say wear what makes you C O N F I D E N T  - just make yourself look clean and approachable!


Keep them to a bare minimum and do not be too bold. You want your interviewers focused on you, not your fashion statement. Guys, I'd say a tie clip and watch are all you need. Ladies, a dainty necklace, satchel, and watch are good. Oh, I also brought a L E A T H E R   P O R T F O L I O (displaying my undergraduate institution's emblem) to my interview. Why? It's a great way to take notes since some school's do not provide writing materials or pamphlets. It's also a good place to store any business cards you pick up along the way.


While this has nothing to do with aesthetics, scent is a very important element of an interview. Perfume and cologne make you memorable and well, makes you smell good but STOP! What if your interviewer happens to be allergic to an ingredient in your scent? Definitely no bueno. Rare? Yes. Has it happened? According to SDN, it has! If you must wear something, just make sure you spray lightly!


Some safe, conservative colors you can choose from are the ones you already know : blue, black and grey. There was a girl at two of my interviews who chose to wear a tomato red blazerscrunchie (Ariana Grande Style), and Tom's. I have no idea whether or not she received an acceptance to those schools but don't be that girl. Red screams power and represents luck in Asian cultures but seriously... just chill on the superstitions.

If you have an interview, or interviewS because you're just so awesome, you should really do research on the school beforehand. I'll be going into more detail in later posts (i.e. what specific schools asked and a list of questions to use as a guide) but you should really re-read your personal statement, resume, and the school's mission. Practice your answers aloud to questions such as:

 "Tell me about yourself"

“Why Pharmacy?"

"Why this school?"

"What is your greatest strength?” or “What is your greatest weakness?”

In my experience, these were the most commonly asked questions! Practice in front of a mirror. Might sound weird but it was a technique I used for my public speaking class and it actually helped. Note all your facial expressions and hand movements - are they appropriate?

Although you're trying to sell yourself to the school, it's also a G R E A T time to demonstrate your knowledge about the school. If they're big on research and you're fortunate enough to have some experience with it. Bring up your presentations and/or publications along with the IRB. I got a lot of brownie points for it from big research institutions like UCSD and USC!


Yeah, you better have some. Interviewers typically leave time for you to ask questions about the program, student organizations, life or anything that comes to your mind. At some of my interviews, I went over the maximum allotted time since I was really engaged. Even though the schools run on a schedule, most of my interviewers let me stay back a bit to ask questions. Let me tell you this upfront, I had A BUNCH! Not the BS ones like those people who always raise their hand in class to ask the most ridiculous questions. Real, intellectual, well thought out questions that I prepared beforehand or generated throughout the day. 

Read, read, read the school's website! If you're interested in a certain aspect ask them to expand on it or if you have questions about their programs, bring it up! Just remember, this is still part of the interview so maintain your professionalism!


WHEW! You finished the hard part. Now that the interview is over, you have the option of following up with your interviewers. To email or not to email, that is the question.... I kept a journal documenting everything that happened during the interview day: activities, questions, names of people I met, etc. With the niffy thing we call the internet, we can look up emails so easily! I wrote emails to my interviewers at the first two schools I interviewed at but then I stopped. GASP! I realized that interviewers must be bombarded with academic emails daily so I just decided to stop writing emails. (For a job interview, DO write personalized emails, accounting detailed conversations from the interview, within a day's period!). 

There are so many aspects that go into choosing whether or not an applicant is accepted to the school. You already showed your interviewers what a great person you are with your interview, essay and application. Just chill on the cyber stalking. Celebrate the fact that you were chosen to be interviewed and the rest will all fall into place!


PART III: Supplementals

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