11 Commonly Asked Pharmaceutical Interview Questions
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 1 October 2022
Published 3 May 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
If you are looking to pursue a pharmaceutical career, familiarising yourself with the interview process and employer expectations in this industry is important. There are some common questions that employers in this domain ask candidates to assess if they are the right fit for an open position. Getting acquainted with these questions and the reasons employers ask them, would help candidates feel more prepared and confident during the interview process. In this article, we explore some common pharmaceutical interview questions asked during the process, and discuss answers to help you craft your own.
11 Common Pharmaceutical Interview Questions
Here is a list of frequently asked pharmaceutical interview questions:
1. Why did you choose a career in the pharma field?
This can often be a common question that interviewers ask during a job interview for a pharmaceutical position. Your answer to this question is required to show your passion and willingness to do your job. While answering this question, one is required to clearly explain all factors that led to choosing a pharmaceutical career.
Example: “I was always interested to work in the medical field from a young age and have been preparing myself for a career in this area. I am fascinated by how drugs work to counter disease and the effects they have on the human body. Being in the pharma field helps me contribute towards changing someone's life and creating a positive impact. I believe that I have all the abilities and qualities that are necessary to excel in this field.”
2. What do you think is the most important business aspect in one's role as a pharmacist?
With this question, the interviewer is able to clearly assess your knowledge about managing pharmacy operations. It is important to understand that though pharmacies operate to help patients improve their health, it still falls under the for-profit business category. By answering this question precisely, you can show the interviewer that you are knowledgeable about various business aspects of running a pharmacy.
Example: “Pharmaceutical jobs aim to provide patients and customers with the best possible health benefits and services. While running a pharmacy, it is important to ensure that patients receive the best service and customer experience. Patients are top priority in a pharmaceutical business and it is important that the business maintains a solid relationship with them. Building a bond of trust can encourage them to visit us regularly for their needs.”
3. If a customer approaches you for an over-the-counter medicine that you do not know about, how would you handle the situation?
This is a question that primarily tests one's customer service, communication and research skills. It is essential that you are not dishonest in your response to the customer in this scenario. An honest approach is the best way to show the recruiter that you have a good work ethic and are genuine in your dealings.
Example: “I would politely inform the customer that I am unaware of this drug, and then approach my colleagues for guidance. In case they also are unaware of this drug, I would assure the customer that I would perform the required research and get back to them with the correct information.”
4. Consider a scenario where a customer brings a half-empty bottle of medicine, claiming it does not work. How would you handle this situation?
This question tests a candidate's interpersonal and communication skills. Formulate your answer in such a way that it highlights your strengths in customer service and exhibits maturity in handling tricky customer situations. In your answer, show the interviewer that you might try your best to help patients in need.
Example: "I would completely listen to the customer and try to understand their issue. Sometimes, certain medicines do not show results until patients complete the entire dosage. I would help the customer understand that completing the entire course is essential for results to show. If at any point I realise the pharmacy is to blame in some way, I would do everything I can to compensate the patient.”
5. Describe five problems during tablet processing
Interviewers as this question to test your understanding of basic pharmaceutical production. To answer this question, list down five common tablet processing issues and explain each of them in concise terms.
Example: "Five problems that occur during tablet processing are lamination, capping, mottling, sticking and picking. Lamination refers to the separation of the tablet into two layers or more. Capping is when the tablet crown separates either fully or partially. Mottling refers to unequal colour distribution that can occur in a tablet. When the material of a tablet adheres to the punch face, it is called sticking. This can give a dull and rough appearance to a tablet. Picking occurs when the tablet material gets stuck to the punch face and thus loses a part of its surface in the process."
6. Why does sticking and picking of tablets occur?
This is a question to further check your understanding about picking and sticking, and the tablet manufacturing process in general. The answer to this question is straightforward and involves listing down commonly known reasons for these issues.
Example: “Picking and sticking of tablets can occur in case of high spray rate, inadequate drying, low pan speed, insufficient atomising air-pressure and also due to poor distribution of the coating solution. Some common solutions to this issue include increasing the dwell time and compression force for a robust tablet.”
7. Mention some safety systems used in the manufacturing plant
This question tests your understanding of essential safety procedures and processes followed during manufacturing. List as many safety systems as you can as a response to this question.
Example: “Some commonly used safety systems are fire extinguishers, eye washers, fire hydrants, safety showers, face shields, helmets, goggles, safety shoes, nose masks, hand gloves and safety belts. Engineers at the manufacturing plant receive training on handling of safety equipment and adherence to safety rules.”
8. What are some common variables involved in the tablet manufacturing process?
Another question that aims to assess your knowledge of pharmaceutical production, is best answered with a concise list of some common variables that accompany the tablet manufacturing process.
Example: “Some important variables used during tablet manufacturing include powder load in the granulator, bulk density and particle size of drug substance, concentration and amount of binder used, mixer timings and speed, milling conditions, granulation moisture content, tablet hardness, blending times of lubricant and spray rate of the coating solution.”
9. Explain the basic difference between dissolution and disintegration
This is an important topic especially in quality assurance positions in the pharmaceutical industry. Asking this question enables interviewers to assess if you are adept at these fundamental concepts in the pharmaceutical space.
Example: "Disintegration refers to when a solid substance breaks down into smaller chunks or particles. This process helps increase the solubility level of a substance in a solvent. During dissolution, the substance or the solute dissolves in a solvent. Both these processes occur primarily in the pharmaceutical industry."
10. Why water is required in pharmaceutical use to be free of heavy metals?
This question aims to understand how well you understand the implications of various processes and safety standards during pharmaceutical manufacturing. Water used for pharmaceutical manufacturing is required to be free from heavy metals to prevent health risks.
Example: "Arsenic and lead are heavy metals that cause neurotoxicity in humans. The human system does not eliminate easily these heavy metals because they bind with molecular proteins and accumulate in fatty tissues. Heavy metals can cause most damage to nerve tissue and hence water in pharmaceutical manufacturing is required to be free from them."
11. What are some common responsibilities of being a pharmacist?
Interviewers ask this question during pharmacist interviews to assess if you are ready to take on your roles and responsibilities. Listing down the main functions and responsibilities of a pharmacist can help you correctly tackle this question.
Example: "Pharmacists can be responsible for verifying prescription accuracy, assigning the right dosage, advising physicians and patients, reviewing potential side effects, recommending non-prescription drugs, giving information about drug interaction and overseeing and managing a drugstore."
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