Five Tips for UMKC’s Pharm.D. Program Interview
By: Viktoria Phillips
So it’s finally happened…you’ve opened your email to find an invitation to interview at UMKC’s School of Pharmacy! Elation washes over you, the sun shines a little brighter, you cannot wait to tell your family and friends. But then you realize, you have no idea how to prepare…
Relax, we’ve got your interview prep covered with these five tips below:
Tip #1: Reread your entire application
You can never fully predict every question you may be asked during an interview, but you can come highly prepared. Several days before the interview, reread your entire PharmCAS application. You should know everything you wrote and that anything you wrote could be asked about. Next, look for any “holes” in your application. A “hole” is any gap in your application that may cause an eyebrow to raise…did you have a difficult semester where your grades are lower than other semesters? Did you perform poorly on one section of the PCAT compared to others? Make sure you can explain any gaps in your application in a positive way that shows a growth mindset. We don’t need you to be perfect, but we do want to ensure you can persevere and remain positive in light of challenging and stressful situations. Be accountable about what you could have done differently, or what you learned from the situation.
Tip #2: Select your interview attire
An interview is a time when you want to dress to impress. A suit for males is preferable, but a nice pair of dress pants with a button-up shirt and tie is also appropriate. A suit is also a good option for females, as well as a dress, or skirt (knee-length or longer) and blouse. Don’t have a suit? Don’t fear! Many colleges offer professional wardrobe programs through the Career Center on campus or you can head to your local second-hand store and buy dress clothes for a fraction of the cost. And remember, always iron your clothes and wear dress shoes (and dress socks if appropriate). You don’t need to spend a lot to look like a million bucks – a professional outfit, clean hair, clean nails, and a smile will do the trick!
Tip #3: Ditch the phone (and the smart watch)
In today’s world, we cannot go anywhere without our phones…except to the pharmacy school interview. We highly suggest leaving your phone in your car or turned off in your bag. You won’t need it during our half-day interview as we’ll have student ambassadors guiding you from each activity. And as far as a watch goes, wearing one is great! But we suggest forgoing a smart watch. You don’t need your arm buzzing when you get asked about why you want to be a pharmacist or how you’re faring in Orgo!
Tip #4: Practice eye contact & a firm hand shake + wait to be seated
This one is pretty straightforward, but not doing it could make an interviewer take a second look at an applicant. When you’re interviewing, it is very important to look the interviewer in the eye when greeting and speaking to them. It is not only respectful, but it also exhibits self-confidence. In addition, it is important to give a firm handshake when greeting an interviewer – ensure you firmly grip their hand (but don’t go breaking fingers now!) and shake 2 – 3 times. And lastly, always wait to be invited to sit down prior to an interview. You’ll want the interviewer to invite you to take a seat before you settle in for your conversation. These small details can make a large impact on the impression you give your interviewer!
Tip #5: Know the program and ask questions
Finally, be sure to fully research the program prior to interviewing. For example, at UMKC it will be important to know that we use telecommunication technology to engage in class across our three campus locations at the same time. It also is impressive to be familiar with faculty and staff names and to greet people with those names when you can. And make sure you come prepared with questions! There is no way you know everything about the school, or program, or class schedule, or campus culture, or faculty interests, or the best restaurant in town (you get my drift) prior to the interview. Bringing questions shows interest, enthusiasm, and a desire to be there.
Bonus Tip: Relax
We have invited you for an interview because we want to get to know you better! We’re excited that you’ve chosen us as your potential pharmacy school. The interview is our time to get to know each other and ensure you’ll be successful in our program. We want you to feel at ease and show us why you’ll make a great pharmacist. So when you arrive, smile, take a deep breath in, and exhale – we’re excited you’re here!