Admissions Step 3: Interview Process

For the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, consistent with University of California system-wide practices, including UC Schools of Medicine, UC Schools of Pharmacy at San Francisco, San Diego, and Irvine will conduct remote/virtual admissions interviews for the 2020-2021 academic year for all candidates invited to interview.

The primary purpose of the interview is to assess your communication skills, but we are also interested in your problem-solving skills and your ability to think critically.

When will I be interviewed?

Interviews are by invitation only. They are held in January at UCSF. We begin emailing invitations in mid-December. The invitations will include instructions for accepting or declining the offer.

Do I have to be interviewed?

Yes. The interview is a required part of the application process. If you decline our invitation, your application will be canceled and you cannot be considered for admission.

What happens on the day of the interview?

Interview: UCSF School of Pharmacy uses the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format. Although a major focus of the interview is assessing your communications skills, the interview format will also allow us to assess critical thinking skills, empathy, and future plans.

Essay Exercise: You will be given 45 minutes to write an essay on one of three topics. These topics are not academic in nature, nor do they test your knowledge in specific subjects. This exercise can help the admissions committee assess your writing skills, as well as your problem solving and critical thinking abilities.

How should I prepare?

Practice your communication skills and spontaneous writing skills. Try writing an essay on a random topic to hone your analytical and organizational writing skills. If you feel that you have difficulty communicating, or with interviews in general, consider taking a public speaking or communications course to build your confidence. In addition, you should research the field of pharmacy and have some awareness of current issues in health care.

How do I get to my interview?

Your interview invitation will have all the details.

Where can I stay overnight?

See Information for Visitors.

Interview tips

  1. Be relaxed, be yourself, but be prepared. You need to have a sound understanding of the interview process. This is a first impression exercise, and you need to come across as calm, self-confident, emotionally stable, bright, mature, disciplined, and able to think on your feet.

  2. Do your homework: Know the school and the program. There was a reason you applied to this school and chose this field—recall why and be able to convey that during the interview, if asked.

  3. Practice: Do a mock interview session, preferably more than one. Use resources such as an undergraduate advising center or a faculty mentor. Ask to schedule a mock interview, or at least to discuss interview strategies so you are more prepared when you arrive.

  4. Familiarize yourself with current trends in the field of pharmacy and health care in general.

More on this topic in our admissions director’s blog


Although not required reading, you’ll find additional comments in A Successful Interview Day: Expectation Meets Preparation, a blog post by Admissions Director Joel W. Gonzales.

Frequently asked questions about the interview process

  1. Is every applicant interviewed?
    No. We receive applications from many more individuals than we are able to interview. This number is not fixed, but on average, we issue approximately 250 invitations per year.
  2. Can I reschedule my appointment?
    Our office grants permission to reschedule an interview only for the following 5 reasons:

    1. medical emergency or illness
    2. conflict with religious observances
    3. conflict with a professional exam
    4. conflict with a college course examination
    5. conflict with another pharmacy school interview.

    Additional details are provided with your interview invitation notice.

  3. How should I dress?
    Although we have no dress code requirement, most applicants opt for professional attire.
  4. What should I bring with me to the interview?
    You should bring:
    1. your email invitation (printed or saved on a mobile device)
    2. your valid photo ID, and
    3. a pen to write your essay
  5. What if I am late for my interview? or What if I miss my interview?
    Extenuating circumstances beyond your control will be considered, but if you fail to appear at your assigned interview day and time, your application will most likely be canceled.

See all frequently asked questions about PharmD admissions

Next step: Step 4: After Applying