As a fresh-faced young pre-reg, I can remember only too well preparing for interviews last year. Here are a few tips and things to look at in preparation. You don’t have to go overboard learning everything back to front, but a good general overview will really help. This is just a guide based off my interview experiences, both for pre-reg and otherwise, with a view to what you might encounter with the new recruitment system.

 

Numeracy

Just like with any pharmacy numeracy it’s a good idea to refresh all your calculations and blow the cobwebs off your mental arithmetic. Just do some basic maths to get your brain back up to speed.

Value Based Recruitment

Lots of my interviews, if not all, used values based recruitment. This is the fancy term for the “Describe to me a time when you demonstrated…” question, e.g. teamwork, leadership, honesty, compromise, whistleblowing etc. These are easy home runs, as they allow you to tell a story. Everyone loves a good story, and as the interviewee you are telling yours.

Rather than going through every value or competency and thinking up an example of when you have met this, I would go through your key experiences. For me these were things like training and coaching canoeing, mentoring others, being involved in my Pharmacy Society and the BPSA, and my Camp America summer. If you have in mind these vivid memories and have a think about what they taught you, you can easily link them to pretty much any competency. Using models like STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) in your head can help you include enough background information without going too far off track.

Situation (background of the incident)

Task (what was required)

Action (what did YOU do)

Result (what was the outcome)

It never hurts to include a little reflective comment at the end of these too: “If I was in a similar situation in the future, I would do this differently…”

Practice your answers out loud – with a friend, to a mirror or in your head. The more you go over them the more easily they’ll come to mind. But don’t worry if you go off script a bit, or say things in a different order, as sometimes learning your lines word for word can make you seem rehearsed and less genuine in the interview situation.

Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs)

SJTs are new to pharmacy pre-reg recruitment but have been around for ages. They’re all about deciding what the most suitable course of action would be to take in a certain scenario. Just googling “medical SJTs” brings up a whole host of useful webpages.

GPhC Standards of Conduct, Ethics and Performance

It’s a good idea to have an understanding of these standards and an idea of how they affect you as both a student and professional.

Current affairs in pharmacy

Keep up to date with the latest in pharmacy news. It’s really easy for interviewers to ask questions about things that have been on the TV, for example about the recent controversy caused by irresponsible reporting around completing the course of antibiotics. The PJ (Pharmaceutical Journal) app is free to download and log into using your BPSA/RPS number, and so easy to have a glance through when you have a bit of down time.

Also have a look at any recent reports related to pharmacy – I looked at things like the Carter and Francis reports and these were really useful to add into answers where appropriate, and added depth to what I was saying.

Best of luck in all you apply for, and in your interviews too. They are daunting, but try to view them as an opportunity to show off your skills. You’re more talented than you realise! Get in touch if there’s anything else you need, and keep an eye on our social media pages.

Best wishes,

Alastair Paterson
BPSA Vice President 2017-2018

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