UCSF

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.

For 2021 Interviewees: Please check this page regularly, leading up to your interview. We will continue adding/updating information as our Interview Days approach.

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.

Interviewee resources/handouts

Important handouts and resources have been uploaded for easy access. Visit Admissions Interview Days - Applicant Materials (UCSF). Many of these documents will be referenced during the Pre-Interview Sessions.

When will I be interviewed?

Interviews are by invitation only. They are held in January 2021. 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.

How are interview days structured?

In 2021, our interview days will be held online. In addition, to avoid “Zoom Fatigue,” we are scheduling each applicant’s interview over a two-day period.

Pre-Interview Session:
Topics covered include: orientation/overview, presentation on UCSF’s three-year PharmD program; financial aid presentation; student break-out sessions (ask questions of our current students!)

Interview + Essay Day: The candidate interview and essay exercise are held on the same day. (More information is below.)

What happens on the day of the interview?

Interview: For January 2021 interviews, UCSF School of Pharmacy will pause our MMI format and, instead, utilize a traditional interview format. You will interview with a faculty member and a current student (together) for approximately 45 minutes. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions. 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 a selected topic. The 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. For 2021, the essay will be administered online and submitted electronically. At the appointed time of your essay, we will provide a link for you to access the essay prompt, compose your essay online, and submit electronically within the 45-minute time frame.

ZOOM interviewing

All our presentations, interviews, and essay exercises will be conducted using the ZOOM app. Please note the following:

  1. You must access ZOOM through the app. Accessing it through an internet browser will not allow you to participate in our process. Please double-check you are opening ZOOM through the downloaded app.
  2. For the interview and essay, your camera MUST be on.

Guidelines and best practices for videoconferencing

  • You MUST download and utilize the Zoom Client for Meetings app (available at the Zoom Download Center) to access meetings. Accessing Zoom through an internet browser will not allow you to participate in our interview process. Again, you must use the Zoom app, not a web browser.
  • Applicants must have their own meeting space and the ability to log in separately for the meetings. Only the applicants invited to interview will be admitted to the session.
  • Each applicant should have a quiet space without distractions for the entire time of your interview and essay.
  • Applicants must have their video on and be on screen throughout the entire time including presentation, essay, and interview. UCSF School of Pharmacy will not accept picture placeholders or blank screens with names on them for participation in the interview. Anyone using picture placeholders or blank screens with their names will be instructed to turn on their video.
  • Please make sure ahead of time that your name on the screen reflects your name as it appears on your PharmCAS application.
  • Applicants must be dressed professionally as if you were interviewing on-site.
  • UCSF School of Pharmacy will not record any of the meetings. You are prohibited to record any part of your interview experience at UCSF.
  • Earphones/buds are recommended, but not required, during the interview in order to limit background noise and ensure privacy.
  • It is strongly recommended that all applicants access their Zoom account 24 hours before to ensure there are no updates to the application.

Zoom tips

We know many of you are familiar with using Zoom. However, we still recommend taking time to prepare for your UCSF online interview. This includes setting up your space, updating your computer, downloading the Zoom app, adjusting space/lighting, etc. The internet provides MANY resources on how to interview successfully via Zoom, including Indeed’s article on 18 Tips for Succeeding During Your Zoom Interview. The following tips are covered:

  1. Use the mute button.
  2. Look into the camera while speaking.
  3. Choose a professional background.
  4. Find a brightly lit room.
  5. Pick a quiet space.
  6. Silence your phone.
  7. Maintain your focus.
  8. Turn off notifications.
  9. Use a laptop or computer.
  10. Charge your laptop.
  11. Update your computer.
  12. Find a good internet connection.
  13. Communicate with your household.
  14. Wear professional attire.
  15. Keep your screen clear.
  16. Practice using Zoom.
  17. Use appropriate body language.
  18. Ask your interviewer questions.

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.

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

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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. With our interviews being held via Zoom, it’s still important to dress professionally.
  4. 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