A pharmacist is a healthcare professional who needs extensive education and qualifications to allow them to specialize in medication.
Pharmacists use their extensive and deep knowledge of medicines to dispense prescriptions from doctors and dentists. They offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medication for patients who have minor illnesses like an upset stomach.
Qualified pharmacists use their knowledge of medicines to understand how different medications interact, and what side effects they could have to ensure that patients are kept safe.
Pharmacists work in an organization like a hospital, chemists, or doctors‘ surgery. These organizations need to find pharmacists who are well qualified for the role and have completed the mandatory education, and also have the right skills, competencies, and aptitudes to be successful.
In this article, we will go over typical tasks performed by a pharmacist, along with the skills and qualities recruiters should evaluate.
We will explore the various tests that the recruitment team can use in the early stages of the application process to ensure that potential recruits have a sufficient level of skill, which can save time and resources throughout the entire recruitment procedure.
What should a pharmacist be able to do?
The role of a pharmacist is not just to hand out medication over the counter or as prescribed by a doctor or dentist; the daily tasks are varied and can change depending on the organization that the pharmacist is working for.
Pharmacists will need to review a medication prescription to make sure that the medication is suitable for the patient and make the formula to fill the prescription. They need to use the information that can be found in the medical prescription to construct the necessary ingredients. This might include calculating, weighing, and measuring before mixing, or simply choosing the right strength.
The pharmacist will know from their extensive understanding of medications if there are any drug or food interactions that the patient should be aware of, and any side effects to look out for. They will be able to advise the patient on the correct dosage, how to take the medication, and how to store it safely and correctly.
The pharmacist will also be able to offer advice to customers, especially for those managing chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, including training on how to use monitors. The advice that a pharmacist can give might also be relevant for people who are suffering from issues like mild diarrhea or a headache, and the pharmacist needs to be able to refer patients to other healthcare professionals or other agencies when necessary.
Alongside working with medications, the pharmacist needs to work in an administrative role. They maintain records on inventory, patient details, medication details, and necessary control information, especially for controlled drugs or poisons. They will be in charge of planning and executing safety procedures, including handling of medications, labeling, and proper disposal.
The pharmacist might also be in charge of daily operations, such as managing staff, hiring new staff, and purchasing pharmaceutical and medical supplies as well as non-pharmaceutical stock.
Skills to look for in a pharmacist
Aside from the education and qualifications that a pharmacist needs to be able to dispense medications, there are certain skills that a recruiter should look out for in a potential candidate. These are skills that directly relate to the success of a pharmacist in the future, and include technical know-how too. Some of these skills include:
- Database Usage: inputting, storing, and accessing information in a database is part of the pharmacist‘s role. The records that are kept about patients and inventory will all be stored in some sort of database, so a candidate who is skilled in navigating storage systems will be able to maintain better records.
- Microsoft Office: while some organizations might have their preferred office software, a candidate who knows how to use the Microsoft suite of products is likely to be able to transfer those skills to other systems too. Writing emails and documents is all part of the skillset.
- Science and Maths: while it might seem obvious that a medical role needs scientific knowledge, a pharmacist needs to be able to use it practically rather than just theoretically - and the same goes for maths. The application of maths and science knowledge to solve problems is an essential skill for a pharmacist.
- Critical Thinking, Judgement, and Decision Making: a pharmacist needs to be able to think critically about a problem and use their judgment to make a good decision, whether that be deciding whether a medication is suitable for a patient, or deciding which staff member to hire.
- Negotiation and Persuasion: good negotiation and persuasive skills are needed for the pharmacist to be able to convince patients which medications they need to take and when, and sometimes to help the patient understand that they cannot have a medication that they might want to take, whether that is because of interactions or because the doctor hasn‘t prescribed it.
Useful abilities for a pharmacist
Aside from the skills mentioned above, there are some abilities that a recruiter should look for in a potential pharmacist. These are often inherent aptitudes; things that a candidate is good at naturally or has more competency in through their prior experience. Some of these abilities include:
- Oral Comprehension and Expression: a pharmacist candidate who can speak to be understood, and understand what other people are saying, will be able to give the best advice and deal with patients in the most appropriate way.
- Written Comprehension and Expression: pharmacists need to be able to comprehend written instructions and read well, and they must also be able to express themselves in writing, especially when completing reports or providing patients with instructions on taking their prescribed medications.
- Deductive and Inductive Reasoning: using logic to find the right solution to a problem needs a calm and thoughtful process, and a pharmacist needs to be confident in using all the available information to help them reach a reasoned decision.
- Number Facility and Mathematical Reasoning: much of the pharmacist‘s role involves numbers, and the candidate must be comfortable using and applying maths to solve problems and come to a decision. They must also be comfortable working with numbers.
- Selective Attention: with so many different parts to their daily role, the pharmacist needs to be able to pay close attention to what they are currently doing, ignoring any distractions - especially important when dealing with potentially dangerous poisons or controlled medicines.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a pharmacist?
Soft skills could be considered the most useful for many roles, but they are often the most difficult to assess during a traditional recruitment process. Candidates might not be aware of their level of soft skills, and gauging competency through reading a CV or an application form is not a simple task.
Soft skills tests take the guesswork out of the equation by giving recruiters objective, quantifiable data about the level of skill that each candidate has. For a pharmacist, you might want to consider the following soft skills tests:
- Leadership: as a pharmacist is usually in charge of the pharmacy, they will have an element of people management as part of their role. The leadership test allows a candidate to demonstrate how confident they are in leading, and what leadership style they prefer.
- Communication: whether it is with the doctors or the patients, or even suppliers or insurance companies, the pharmacist will have to communicate confidently and appropriately as part of their everyday tasks. This assessment puts the candidate into a work-related situation and needs them to use their communication skills to solve a problem.
- Decision Making: working under pressure in a sometimes fraught environment can put anyone‘s decision-making skills to the test, and for a pharmacist making the wrong decision could have deadly consequences. The decision making assessment allows the candidate to prove how they make their decisions and how confident they are in finding the right course of action.
- Accountability: in a similar vein to making the right decision, the pharmacist will be responsible for the safety of the patient by ensuring that all procedures and protocols are followed - and they will be held accountable if they are not. In this assessment, the candidate will show how they take responsibility and hold themselves - and others - accountable.
- Time Management: pharmacists can be very busy and will need to split their time between dispensing medications, providing advice, and completing administrative tasks like record keeping. The time management test is based on work-related scenarios, and the candidate has to demonstrate that they can balance a hectic workload and keep up with commitments.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a pharmacist?
Technical skills for a pharmacist might vary depending on the location, and competency in using different software programs can sometimes be useful. However, there are certain aptitudes and abilities that you should test a potential pharmacist for, because these are the ones that are found in successful pharmacists. The below tests could be useful in hiring the right pharmacist:
- Verbal Reasoning: in the verbal reasoning assessment, the candidate is being tested on their ability to quickly read, understand and analyze information in the form of a written passage. This aptitude will allow a pharmacist to make reasoned decisions based on written data.
- Numerical Reasoning: although not strictly a maths test, the numerical reasoning assessment will show how well a candidate can use basic mathematical operators to solve a problem, and how they can apply their knowledge.
- Logical Reasoning: a pharmacist needs to be able to think critically about a problem, and that means applying logic. In this assessment, the candidate has to demonstrate that they can spot patterns and trends and apply that knowledge to find the right answer.
- Error Checking: an eye for detail is important for a pharmacist, especially when handling life-changing medications. The error checking test is used to assess a candidate on their ability to spot the differences between two seemingly identical pieces of information.
- Situational Judgement: the pharmacist will often find themselves in different work situations and needs to be able to use their best judgment to solve a problem or issue. This test presents different scenarios to the candidate, and they need to choose the most appropriate course of action that will solve the problem.
Our recommended test battery for a pharmacist
Using the right combination of pre-employment screening tests in any recruitment process will save time and money in the hiring process, and while the above-listed tests are all excellent choices in their own right, they might be considered a bit too much of an administrative burden for the recruitment team, as well as a lot of work for the candidate.
Below is our recommended test battery of assessments that would be most useful in finding a great pharmacist to join the team:
- Numerical Reasoning: candidates are presented with questions that are based on data in a table or a graph. To answer the question, they will need to perform some basic calculations using operators (multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction) as well as percentages, ratios, and fractions. The answers are presented in multiple-choice format.
- Communication: in the communication assessment, the candidate is presented with a series of realistic workplace scenarios that require a solution. They need to choose the right course of action to take from the multiple-choice options presented, and their choice will demonstrate their communication skill.
- Logical Reasoning: candidates are presented with a series of images or shapes that are in a sequence governed by a specific rule. In each sequence, there is a missing item, and the candidate needs to select the right answer from the multiple-choice options by the logical application of the rule.
- Leadership: in the leadership assessment, the candidate is presented with some work-based problems as scenarios. These problems have several possible outcomes and the candidate needs to choose the course of action that is most like how they would solve the problem.
To streamline your recruitment process further, we have a pharmacist job knowledge test that is based on up-to-date industry regulations, past education, and experience, as well as the skills, aptitudes, and competencies that a successful pharmacist has.