How to Find Your Next Pharmacist | Hiring Best Practices

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How to Find Your Next Pharmacist | Hiring Best Practices
January 21, 2022
RxLocal Team

When a trusted team member hands in a resignation letter, you probably experience a few different feelings. On the one hand, you’re sad to see them go: packing up their experience, expertise, and the time you spent together in the pharmacy. At the same time, though, you’re excited about the new opportunities ahead of them, and you know you’ll keep in touch.

Between both of those emotions, though, you take a moment to look to the future and ask yourself, stress settling in: Who’s going to take their place?


The process of finding — and hiring — a new pharmacist is no easy feat. In fact, NCPA reports that 68% of community pharmacies are having a hard time filling positions this year. In an unpredictable job market like this one, it can feel impossible to attract the right candidates, sort through applications, and pick the right fit for your team and your patients. The hiring process takes up valuable time, money, and resources, so it’s important that you not only find the right fit, but that you do so quickly.


Where do you start, though?


If you’re in the market to fill a pharmacist role, look no further. This step-by-step guide walks you through the hiring process, from start to finish, and provides you with important information and helpful resources to make hiring quick and easy.


Follow these steps and find your next pharmacist in no time:


1. Do Some Prep Work

Eager to have your pharmacy full again, you might be tempted to jump into applications and interviews. Before you do, though, take a moment to remember: picking a new pharmacist is an incredibly important decision. It deserves careful consideration. And it starts with knowing what you’re looking for in the first place.


As you start your hiring process, then, take some time to think about what you want from a new pharmacist. Consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements for this new position. Envision what the ideal candidate would look like — including their education, experience, and skills — and what value they would add to your pharmacy.


Are you looking for someone to jump in and join the team, or are you searching for someone to fill a leadership role? Do you need an experienced dispenser, or someone interested in clinical services? What does your pharmacy have enough of; what do you need more of? What kind of person would fit in well with your patients?


As you brainstorm about this new position, you may find it helpful to meet with your team and discuss what’s needed. Together, you can hone in on what your ideal candidate looks like and set a standard to follow once applications start rolling in.


2. Post the Position

When you figure out what you’re looking for, use that information to write up a job listing. Traditionally, job listings include the following information:


  • Introduction: The introduction is typically the first section of the job listing, which provides a brief overview of the pharmacy, your areas of expertise, and your involvement in the community.


  • Job Summary: Next, the job summary outlines the specific duties of the new position. It offers insight into what the candidate will be doing on a day-to-day basis, including interacting with patients, carrying out clinical programs, and doing necessary behind-the-scenes work.


  • Skills and Qualifications: This section explains the minimum requirements that applicants must meet to be considered. Typically, this section includes requirements relating to education, (Pharm.D. degree or pharmacist license), experience, and technical knowledge needed on the job.


  • Benefits: The benefits section outlines what candidates can expect to receive in exchange for their work. Benefits typically include a set salary or base pay, insurance packages, and any other perks that you feel are worth mentioning.


  • Next Steps: The fifth, and final section, of the job listing, explains the next steps for candidates interested in applying. In general, next steps involve completing an application, followed by a pre-employment assessment and a scheduled interview (if the application is accepted).


Your job listing should come with an application attached. It should also ask for supplemental information, like a résumé, an (optional) cover letter, a reference list, and licensing information to be sent in with the application.


After writing, reviewing, and finalizing your job listing, you can post it to the appropriate channels. Try advertising on these platforms or in these places:


  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Glassdoor
  • Your website / social media channels
  • Local pharmacy schools
  • Local or state associations
  • Local newspapers


Decide how long you will keep your listing up — if you will set a deadline or review applicants on a first-come-first-served basis — and inform applicants accordingly. When applications start coming in, you can start the process of evaluation and elimination.


3. Send Out Assessments

When you receive a few applications, take a first look. Review résumés, read cover letters, and verify licensing information for each applicant. Then, divide the applications into two stacks: ones that have potential and ones that don’t.

For candidates that show potential, reach out to them with next steps. In this case, that includes sending out a pre-employment assessment.


Pre-employment assessments, also called talent assessments, are online tests that can help you determine whether or not a candidate will be a good fit for your pharmacy. Typically, these assessments include both aptitude and personality tests.

They can provide a more comprehensive look at a candidate. Many companies offer assessment services, all at different costs.


Look into any of these services to learn more:



  • Criteria: This service offers a number of different tests candidates can take. It scores everything from aptitude (cognitive, mechanical, and attention skills) to basic skills (from typing and numeric entry) to personality. Pricing is based on business size.
  • WonScore: This service quizzes candidates on cognitive ability, personality, and motivation. Answers are quantified into one unified score (WonScore) and can be compared to others.
  • Mercer | Mettl: Mercer | Mettl tests candidates on both core traits and acquired skills to give a more complete picture of their aptitude. The platform offers a number of options, with personalized pricing plans.



4. Conduct Interviews

After reviewing applications and assessments, you can narrow down your applicant pool and select a few candidates that you’d like to interview.


Different companies conduct interviews in different ways, but all interviews are designed with the same goal in mind: to get to know the candidate beyond their application. More specifically, interviews can give you a better indication of a person’s personality, potential, and whether or not they will mesh well with the rest of your team.


Some pharmacies do over-the-phone screening interviews to get started; some jump right into in-person interviews. Some even conduct “working interviews,” which let the candidate work in the pharmacy for a day to see how they handle real-life situations.


The format of your interviews will depend on the size of your applicant pool (over-the-phone interviews can be a good way to narrow down larger applicant pools), as well as how much time and resources you have on your hands.


Some pharmacies prefer to do one-on-one interviews so that they can get to know the candidate on a personal basis. Others prefer to bring in multiple interviews so that they can hear multiple perspectives about a particular applicant.


However you decide to go about your interviews, follow these best practices to ensure that they run as smoothly as possible:



  • Create a warm, welcoming environment
  • At the beginning of the interview, provide a detailed description of the pharmacist’s role and responsibilities
  • Be open and honest about your expectations for the candidate
  • Focus on having a conversation rather than a question-and-answer session
  • Ask targeted, open-ended questions
  • Practice active listening
  • Maintain solid eye contact and body language
  • Make sure to take notes
  • At the end of the interview, ask if the candidate has any questions
  • Describe the next steps and set a timeline for when the candidate can expect to hear back from you



5. Evaluate Applicants

After closing your applications and conducting each of your interviews, it’s time to make some big decisions. As you move into the evaluation stage of the hiring process, give yourself time to consider each candidate as a whole. You’ll want to factor in résumés, assessments, and interviews, and go from there.


Keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to hiring. The most educated or most experienced pharmacist may not be the best fit for your pharmacy; the one who shows the most potential may be.


Decide what’s important to you, and use those values to guide your decision.


If you conducted interviews with other members of your team, you may want to take some time to hear everyone else’s input. Ask your team to rank each applicant or make a case of why their pick is the best pick. Talking it out together can help you feel confident in your decision, and it can make sure that everyone is on the same page.



6. Make a Decision, Extend an Offer

Consider your options carefully, but don’t wait too long: the job market moves quickly and you don’t want your top candidate to get taken away. If you feel confident about a particular candidate, make the decision to extend them a job offer. As a backup plan, it’s a good idea to have a second, third, and fourth candidate in mind.


If the offer is accepted, you can take a moment to celebrate with your team and then start preparing to welcome your new team member. If the offer isn’t accepted, go back to the drawing board and move forward with your backup plan.


Hiring can be a long process, but finding the right person for your pharmacy makes it well worth the wait.


Next time you need to hire a new pharmacist, follow these six simple steps to attract great candidates and pick someone that you’ll want to stick with your pharmacy for years to come.