Thursday, February 18, 2010

Interviewing for a PGY1 Residency Position

Posted by Shannon Hough at Thursday, February 18, 2010

January and February seem to be the big months for applying and interviewing for further pharmacy training. Jeff’s post really was an eye-opener about the process of applying for a fellowship in the pharmaceutical industry! I just completed my residency interviews (PHEW!), and thought that I’d share about the experiences that I had.

Those of you who have been following the blog, may remember that I am a commuter, and live in the Detroit area. I am looking to stay locally, so my interview experiences may differ than those of my classmates who have been traveling across the country for interviews.

That said, I applied to only four local programs. I received invitations to interview at all of them, and scheduled each of my interviews between January 26 and February 16. I was amazed at the interview process at each of the institutions, for many reasons.

Setting up Interviews:
You should expect to receive contact via e-mail, snail mail or telephone a few weeks after the application deadline, as to the program’s decision to schedule an interview or not. All of the programs that I applied to used e-mail. Most of them gave me 1 or 2 options for the interview date and time.

Preparing for Interviews:
Do your research about the programs. You should have a list of questions prepared that you want to ask each program. And I mean a list. You will be interviewing with a handful of people (think 3-8 separate interviews), and they will all leave time at the end for you to ask questions. You should think of thoughtful questions that will not seem like you are just asking questions because Dr. Kraft told you to in Opportunities in Pharmacy.

You should also be prepared to answer the “standard” interview questions. Give yourself time to reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses, and why you want to do a residency program. (HINT: you should know those 3 things!!) I also did some reading in AJHP about residency interviews. Mancuso and Paloucek do a nice job of summarizing what residency programs want to know about you. (Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2004; 61:1686-9).

Most programs will send you an itinerary and directions weeks in advance. Be sure know out where you are going, where to park, if you need cash to park, and what the weather will be like in the morning for your drive. You can plan how many copies of your CV to bring with you when you have your itinerary. Most programs have copies for all interviewers, but it is a good idea to bring them along. Especially if you have made any changes since you sent your application materials.

During the Interview:
Relax! Engage yourself in the conversations with interviewers and residents. Don’t spend your interviews staring at the clock, gauging how much time will be left for you to ask questions. Don’t think about your next question while the person is answering your last question. Take advantage of the pharmacy residents you will meet. Ask if they are happy with the residency program, and other questions that are important to you. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you!

Don’t be surprised by requests to test your abilities and knowledge. Be prepared to do small projects, answer clinical questions. Be prepared for situational interview questions. You should prepare a scenario of “when your recommendation wasn’t received well by the team?” and “what you are going to do if you don’t match?”.

After the Interview:
Set aside some time to compare notes from your other interviews. Be sure you take note of what you liked and didn’t like. Write thank you notes. The handwritten old fashioned style still brings a smile to the faces of the people who took time from their day to interview you.

3 comments:

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