Interviews, like résumés, offer one shot at success; one shot at progressing to the next step in the hiring process to your next pharmacy job.
Unlike résumés, though, interviews are susceptible to human emotion and the anxiety that often accompanies them.
A friend of mine landed an interview for his dream job but walked away disappointed when his anxiety got the best of him. He answered their questions poorly and it likely cost him the job.
The Happy PharmD has conducted dozens, perhaps even hundreds, of mock interviews in an effort to help pharmacists perform better.
We’ve learned that anxiety during an interview causes stress, which often affects performance, which can preclude you from receiving an offer. Check out how our free lesson on 8 ways to handle pharmacy pre-interview anxiety by viewing the sample lesson.
If, however, you prepare for the interview in a way that diminishes anxiety, you’ll reduce the likelihood of any negative consequences.
The following three things will prevent you from performing well in an interview.
1. Failure to prepare
If you’ve ever watched someone who is visibly nervous give a speech, you know it can be uncomfortable. Even awkward.
Interviews, purely because of their setting, invite stress: an unfamiliar office, an unfamiliar person, and the pressure of uncertain questions.
When you’re nervous, you won’t give your best answers, and you may even miscommunicate what you intended to say.
A 2013 survey found that 92 percent of adults experience stress as a result of the interview process. Nervousness and inability to answer difficult questions top the list of worries.
The best way to guard against this kind of uncertainty is to prepare for the interview.
Watch your favorite comedian and observe his performance closely. Comedians hone every second of their routines.
On Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld, the comedians talk extensively about their craft and about how much work goes into a single joke, They craft their writing, craft their delivery, and adjust everything according to their audiences.
Their practice leads to better performances, greater success, and more laughs.
You should practice for your interview the same way comedians practice their routines.
If you worry about sounding scripted, ask yourself if those comedians sound scripted. They practice so extensively that they can deliver the words the same way over and over.
Practice until your answers sound fluid; until it sounds like a conversation. Practice until it sounds like you’re telling a story.
2. Lack of a close
If you’ve ever read a cover letter, you’re familiar with self-evident statements.
The ones that say something like, “I’m writing to you to apply for a position at _____.
Seems pretty obvious that if you’re submitting a résumé and a cover letter, you’re applying for a job. Given that the space on both the cover letter and the résumé is precious and valuable, neither one should have a single instance of wasted information.
When it’s time to close the interview, you don’t want to waste the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
Typically, they begin by asking their questions and then offer you a chance to ask questions of your own. If you end the interview with a statement like, “I can’t really think of any questions,” that’s the impression they’ll end with.
On the other hand, if you end the interview by wrapping up all the things you’ve discussed during the interview and explaining why you’re the perfect fit, you’ll be much more likely to seal the deal.
You should summarize your strengths and passions as well as the things you care about and describe specifically why you’d be perfect in this position.
In the past, when Happy PharmD clients have ended their interviews this way, they’ve reported that their interviewers were surprised by the close. So few people know how to effectively sell themselves that it takes interviewers by surprise when they do.
3. Improper follow-up
It’s a safe bet that multiple people were involved in scheduling your interview: the secretary who set the appointment, the human resources manager who reviewed your resume, and of course the interviewer who met with you.
Most candidates miss the opportunity to interact with them after the interview.
Writing a thank you letter to the people you interacted with is a powerful way to remind them of who you are and to express your appreciation for their time.
Include a couple of specifics from the interview and indicate your willingness to continue the conversation about the position at their convenience. Instead of emailing, send handwritten letters to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Tailor the letter to your audience. Whatever medium is the most unusual for them, use that to communicate your gratitude.
You worked hard to land an interview. You got past the résumé hurdle, and you’ve got one chance to demonstrate your qualifications for the job.
Leave nothing to chance.
If you thoroughly prepare and emerge from the interview with a sense that it went well, our guess is you won’t find yourself thinking you invested too much time into preparation. If, on the other hand, you walk away like my friend did, convinced that you bombed the interview, you’ll wish you had done more to prepare.
Give yourself every opportunity to succeed by preparing your answers, developing a closing, and following up with the interviewers afterward.
The interviewers are going to compare your performance to everyone else’s. If one candidate is significantly more prepared than the others, their decision will be an easy one. If all the candidates are well prepared the decision will be tougher.
Don’t make it easy for them to eliminate you from the process. Do everything you can to make the most of your one shot.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.