We’ve all been in the applicant hot seat before. Sweaty palms, stuttering, cracking voices, and nervous ticks.

Applying for a new job, position, or career never fails to cause anxiety and stress for pharmacists and students alike.

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Birds of a Feather Flock Together

It always starts the same way: googling generic interview questions.

Looking up company mission statements and values.

Asking friends and colleagues about questions they were asked during their interviews.

Ninety nine percent of pharmacists will approach interviewing this same way.

They don’t mean to, but inevitably the candidates start to look and sound more like one another.

Losing personality, lacking confidence, and assimilating with everyone else.

They prepare like anyone would for their board exam: studying everything possible in the hopes that they retain something to recall on game day.

But how many times do we memorize answers for weeks on end, practicing in front of the mirror, only to find that we choke in the spotlight?

There are so many questions interviewers can ask, and no one interviewer or company looks for the same qualities.

Sometimes, it feels downright degrading trying to jump through these hoops just to get an interviewer to notice you.

Rehearsing answers to the hundreds of possible questions will only prepare you for a rude awakening when you don’t get the job or even an email rejection.

Instead of hoping that you will remember the right answers, I encourage you to quit playing the same game as everyone else and start changing the rules.

The Game Changer

At the interview, everyone expects an interrogation of some sort.

The other side probes and dissects, and we defend and explain.

Thirty minutes on the clock.

Subtracting a few minutes for pleasantries and introductions, that’s enough time for about 5 questions.

How would you feel if you had the right 5 answers for every interview?

Believe it or not, this is all that you need to win over the interviewer.

Now, I’m not saying that there will only be 5 questions.

Nor am I saying that that you will be graded on the content of your answers alone.

What I am saying is that you need only to paint 5 dimensions of your skills, experiences, and character in order to stand out from the rest of the applicant pool.

These 5 categories represent what we call power stories.

Power Stories Truly Represent Who You Are

As applicants, we strive to show our best selves to the interviewer in order to find a true match.

The great thing about these power stories is that they genuinely represent YOU.

These stories showcase your true character and competence.

If all companies had access to and used these in hiring decisions, there would be a lot less time wasted.

On paper, power stories look so good you would immediately be hired, promoted, or given the job of your dreams.

But interviews don’t happen on paper; you have to sell yourself in person.

And the way to change the rules of the interview game is by subtly changing the flow of questions they ask you.

The interviewer has their own agenda and questions they want to ask.

Similarly, we have our own agenda and answers we want to give.

The way to win is by weaving these power stories into your answers.

Even more effective, using them to answer the right questions.

If they don’t directly ask questions that enable you to speak highly of yourself, it’s up to you to insert these power stories into the conversation!

The more you are able to highlight your best attributes, while maintaining relevance to the questions they ask, the more successful you will be.

5 Power Stories Of The Corporate PharmD

These are purposely kept generic because one size does not fit all, and the stories should be personalized to you.

The list of principles that make up each category are not all inclusive, but rather just some ideas for you.

Remember, if they don’t directly ask, it’s up to you to create the opportunity to showcase yourself in these 5 areas:

Attitude

  • Service (customer service, helping others, and general disposition towards people)
  • Coachability (ability to take feedback, eagerness to learn, and desire to improve)
  • De-Escalation (able to demonstrate empathy, diagnose problems, and communicate solutions)
  • Emotional Intelligence (in control of one’s own emotions, able to recognize others’ feelings, and ability to handle interpersonal relationships)

Accountability

  • Re-Framing (ability to bounce back from failure, turn negative situation into positive, resilience and adaptability)
  • Ownership (not blaming others, avoiding victim mindset, continually focusing on things one can control)
  • Prevention (taking full responsibility by ensuring future accountability, creating systems to avoid recurrence, learning from mistakes)
  • Proactive Thinking (taking initiative to demonstrate higher accountability, ability to hold others accountable, building credibility)

Aptitude

  • Execution (meeting deadlines/goals, ability to work well under pressure, track record of successes)
  • Knowledge (credentials, licensure, certifications, didactics, etc.)
  • Experience (real-world experience and on the job examples, ability to take on higher levels of responsibility)
  • Prioritization (organization, making sound business decisions, triage thinking and analysis, systems for planning and prioritization)

Achievement

  • Leadership (influencing others, teaching and developing others, using moral authority)
  • Exceeding Goals (having a growth mindset, not settling for the status quo, large-scale impact, legacy)
  • Vision (long-term thinking, 5 year plan, introspective, personal strengths/weaknesses)
  • Strategy (30/60/90 thinking, aligning tactics and values, root cause analysis)

Administration

  • Rapport Building (building trust with others, relating well to people, ability to network, gaining buy-in from others)
  • Maximizing Resources (utilizing direct reports’ strengths and managing their weaknesses, tailoring development to different personalities, using and embracing diversity on a team)
  • Communication Skills (sales techniques, presentation skills, body language, tone of voice, etc.)
  • Engagement and Inspiration (connecting with others, empowerment, recognition, optimism, ability to energize others)

“By the way, I truly believe I would be the best candidate for this position because…[insert power story].”

-Mr. Corporate Pharmacist