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Interviews done, one more year to go....or is it?

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It has been a awhile since my last post, where I shared my thoughts on the whole interview process and how to conduct yourself when you are face-to-face with the “grown ups” sitting opposite you. Well, that whole process has concluded and I am rather pleased to say I was offered a split preregistration place between a London hospital and primary care (from April 2013, this will be known as a clinical commisioning group). 

The purpose of this post is mainly to help those who are in third year, and preparing for the preregistration interviews in 2013. I went through that grueling process last year applying for placement, and admittedly, I was very stubborn in my approach (I only wanted to work in London and nowhere else….facepalm). I suggest to third-year students that you should be prepared to travel, if necessary, to a hospital placement of your choice. If you are going to do a community placement in summer, it would be wise to undertake this also. Last summer (see my blogs on hospital and community pharmacy) allowed me to understand aspects of the preregistration year in both sectors fully, and I felt that the hospital environment was more to my liking. 

There have been a couple of books that have escalated across all pharmacy students. Now while many students have recommended ‘The pre-registration interview’ by Nadia Bukhari, this did indeed provide a good insight into the type of questions that may be asked in the interview. However, I found another book to be incredibly helpful to me. ‘Hospital Pre-registration Handbook’ by Aamer Safdar and Shirley Ip was something I read because I was genuienly interested in it. The book provides a really good insight into hospital pharmacy and neighbouring aspects of pharmacy such as primary care, sandwich courses, industry, the whole part of the preregistration year, and this is something that interviewers are interested to know about.

While interviewers want to know about you as an individual, they want to see that you know what you’re getting yourself into. I think the reason why I did well in my interview (apart from the fact it was my third interview and I did horribly in my first two), is that I tried to make myself as unique as possible! Memorising your CV and profile questions is an absolute must.

I went on NHS choices and found pages on the roles of a hospital pharmacist, a primary care pharmacist, and a pharmacy techinician. Reading PJ online and C+D helped me to understand the current issues, but only one stood out this year, which was asked in every interview……(drumroll)…….the NHS reforms and budget cuts!

Now I can end up rambling all day, but I will leave you with questions that I was asked in my prereg interviews, from what I remember. There is no right or wrong answer, but HOW you answer the question is very important. It is important to think and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. It is fine!

Interview 1:

What are you looking forward to most in the preregistration year?

What is the role of your tutor during the preregistration year?

What is CPD? Can you give me any examples of any CPDs you have done?

How many CPDs do you need to submit every year? Is it compulsory? 

The doctor comes up to you in the wards and asks you to recommend an antibiotic for a chest infection. What would you recommend?

What are steroids? Examples? Indications? Side effects?  


Interview 2:

Can you give me an example of a challenge you have faced. What was the problem and how did you overcome it?

Name an interaction. How does it work? (Everyone mentions statin and macrolide, do something else! I did metronidazole and alcohol, as well as warfarin and erythromycin) 

What are steroids? Examples? Indications? Side effects? What do patients need to show to indicate they’re on steroids? Different types? 

What is the role of a pharmacy technician?

CPD examples? 

Why our hospital?

Difference between the pharmacist and pharmacy technician?

How is hospital pharmacy going to be affected during this economic climate?


Interview 3:

What are the rotations you are interested in doing?

What were your biggest challenges in working in a team?

(Another team question)?

What are the five skills required to demonstrate professionalism?

How will budget cuts affect hospital pharmacy?

Why should we employ preregistration pharmacists in this economic climate?

What policies and procedures are important in the pharmacy?

What is CPD? How does it work? Can you tell me an example of one you have done recently and go through the steps of the CPD cycle as you’re telling us? 


Questions I asked:

So you asked me about why prereg pharmacists should be employed. What is your hospital currently doing to ensure prereg pharmacists get the most out of the year in this climate?

What were your most enjoyable moments working as a pharmacist?

When working at my hospital placement I developed an interest in clinical audit, governance and trials. How often will prereg students be able to do this and are pharmacists involved in trials?


One final thing I would like to say. When you are faced with a difficult question, the interviewers know it is a hard question and they know you will find it difficult answering it. The key here, is to show the interviewers your method of thought. Firstly say “Could I please take a moment to think about this?” and then think for about 20 seconds. Brownie points are given if you think aloud, so this allows the interviewers to see your thought process and see how you reach conclusions. Sometimes it isnt the answers you give, but how you arrive at your answer, so do take this in mind. Nerves are natural, but show yourself off with your “mad skills”!

If anyone is interested in more information, write a comment below and I will try to contact you. Best of luck everyone and work hard to play hard! 



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