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35 pharmacy technician interview questions to help you hire skilled pharmacy staff

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Pharmacy technicians prepare and administer medications, verify prescriptions and dosages, manage inventory, process insurance claims, and answer customers’ questions. To be successful and provide the right assistance to pharmacists and customers, they need a strong eye for detail, excellent communication skills, and the right technical knowledge. 

If you’re looking to hire a pharmacy technician, you need to evaluate candidates’ skills accurately and objectively – and identify the best match for the role. Although resumes and certifications can give you an idea of whether a candidate is qualified for the role, they don’t give you any insight into their customer service skills, time management, or specific expertise. 

The best way to assess applicants’ skills is by combining pre-employment skills testing with the right pharmacy technician interview questions. 

In this article, you’ll find our selection of the best interview questions to ask candidates, along with guidelines on how to evaluate answers. We’ll also explain how to leverage skills tests to build a fast and efficient recruitment process.

How to assess a pharmacy technician’s skills?

The formal requirements for pharmacy technicians vary by country and state. In many US states, pharmacy technicians must complete a training program and pass a certification exam, such as the one administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB)

Beyond asking for specific certifications, however, you also need to make sure you’re able to evaluate candidates’ skills objectively and impartially to make the right hiring decision. 

The best way to do this is to ask all candidates to take an online skills assessment and then invite the best ones to an interview, to gain a deeper understanding of their experience, knowledge, and soft skills. 

With TestGorilla, you can easily build a talent assessment for pharmacy technicians consisting of up to five skills tests. Here are some the tests we recommend for the role:

  • Pharmacy Technician: This test assesses the core competencies of the role, such as prescription and inventory management, medication dispensing, and patient communication.

  • Attention to Detail: Accuracy is crucial for avoiding medication errors and ensuring prescriptions are filled correctly.

  • Numerical Reasoning: Managing prescriptions requires strong basic math skills and a good aptitude with numbers. 

  • Customer Service: Communication with customers is an integral part of a pharmacy technician’s role. Make sure applicants know how to interact with customers and provide stellar customer service.

  • Time Management: Pharmacy technicians need to be well organized and manage their time effectively. Evaluate candidates’ time management skills with this test.

  • Communication: Assess candidates’ written and verbal communication skills and make sure they’re able to communicate clearly and effectively in a professional setting. 

Then, you simply need to look at candidates’ results, filter out unqualified candidates, and invite the top performers to an interview.

18 interview questions for pharmacy technicians (+ sample answers)

To help you assess pharmacy technicians’ skills, we’ve compiled a list of the best interview questions to ask candidates and provided sample answers to help you evaluate their responses.

1. Describe the steps you take to ensure you're interpreting prescriptions correctly.

The best candidates will have an excellent attention to detail and a methodical approach for interpreting prescriptions in order to ensure patient safety. 

Look for mentions of specific steps such as:

  • Verifying the patient's information

  • Cross-referencing the medication name and dosage against the prescription

  • Consulting with the pharmacist if there's any ambiguity or potential for drug interactions

  • Double-checking everything before dispensing the medication

Pharmacy technicians also need to be up to date with common abbreviations and drug names.

Use our Attention to Detail test to identify applicants who have a strong eye for detail.

2. What is your experience with pharmacy management systems?

Look for hands-on experience with specific pharmacy management systems, such as:

  • PioneerRx

  • RX30

  • Pharmaserv

They should be well-aware of the functionalities that these systems provide and be able to explain how they use them to process prescriptions, manage patient information, and manage inventory.

Even if they don’t mention the software you’re using, look for candidates who show a willingness to learn new technologies.

3. Explain what a drug's half-life is and how it affects dosing.

A drug's half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from the body. Candidates should be well-aware of the importance of half-life for determining how often a drug should be taken to maintain its therapeutic effect without becoming toxic. 

Experienced pharmacy technicians might mention that they’d adjust dosing schedules for patients with renal or hepatic impairment, or talk about the half-life of medications with a narrow therapeutic index.

4. Can you name the major drug classifications and give examples of each?

Candidates should be able to categorize drugs into major classes, such as: 

  • Antibiotics, such as penicillin

  • Antihypertensives, such as lisinopril

  • Antidiabetics, such as metformin

  • Analgesics, such as acetaminophen

Look for responses that not only list these categories and examples but also touch on the mechanism of action, common uses, and potential side effects. 

5. What’s your experience with inventory management and stock rotation?

Some of the best practices for managing and rotating stock to prevent medication expiration and shortages include: 

  • Conducting regular inventory audits

  • Using first-expire-first-out (FEFO) principles

  • Working with suppliers to manage orders effectively

Experience with automated inventory systems and the ability to forecast demand based on historical data are also a plus. 

Top candidates might also explain how they've improved inventory processes or resolved issues related to overstocking or stockouts in the past. 

6. What measures do you take to ensure patient confidentiality?

Candidates should show a strong understanding of the importance of patient confidentiality and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). 

Look for mentions of practical measures candidates would take, such as to: 

  • Secure patient records

  • Ensure computer screens displaying patient information are not visible to unauthorized staff or other patients

  • Discuss patient information only with authorized staff in private settings

  • Shred documents with patient information

  • Use secure, password-protected systems for electronic records

Use our HIPAA test to evaluate candidates’ familiarity with HIPAA’s requirements and applications.

7. What steps do you follow when you receive a prescription with a potential drug interaction?

Skilled pharmacy technicians will outline a clear process involving the following steps: 

  • Verify the prescription 

  • Use pharmacy management systems or drug reference tools to identify potential interactions

  • Alert the pharmacist to the potential interaction

  • Call the prescribing physician for clarification or alternatives 

The best applicants will explain how they’d educate patients about potential interactions and symptoms to watch for, under the pharmacist's direction.

8. Explain how to calculate dosages for pediatric patients.

Pediatric dosage calculations require a high degree of precision to avoid over- or underdosing and are often based on the child's weight. 

Candidates should explain that they use formulas such as the Clark's rule or the Fried's rule, double-check their work, and consult with a pharmacist before dispensing medication for a pediatric patient.

9. Describe the procedure for handling a medication recall.

Pharmacy technicians should be familiar with the standard protocol for medication recalls and explain how they’d identify affected lots or batches through inventory records. In such instances, promptly removing recalled medications from pharmacy shelves and inventory is key, followed by notifying the pharmacist and returning the medication to the manufacturer.

More senior candidates might have experience in contacting patients who may have gotten recalled medication and coordinating alternatives with healthcare providers.

10. What is your experience with administering vaccinations?

Not all pharmacy technicians in all states are authorized to administer vaccinations, those who are should describe their training, certification, and experience in detail. 

For example, they might have completed an accredited immunization program and talk about the types of vaccinations they have administered, how they maintain a clean and safe environment for immunization, and the procedure for monitoring patients for adverse reactions post-vaccination. 

Additionally, candidates could explain how they manage vaccine inventories and what storage and handling practices they use to ensure vaccine efficacy. 

Their ability to educate patients about vaccines, including their benefits and potential side effects, is a valuable skill. 

11. How do you ensure the correct storage conditions for temperature-sensitive medications?

Are candidates familiar with the specific storage requirements for various medications? Do they know which ones require refrigeration? The integrity of temperature-sensitive drugs depends on pharmacy staff’s ability to handle them properly.

Applicants might also mention that they monitor storage unit temperatures regularly, use temperature logs, and ensure refrigeration units have backup power sources they can rely on in the case of an outage. 

12. What is your method for checking for expired medications in the pharmacy?

Inventory management in a pharmacy requires: 

  • Monthly checks for upcoming expirations 

  • A rotation system that ensures older stock is used first (first-expire-first-out, or FEFO)

Look for candidates who can explain how they stay organized when documenting and removing expired medications from the inventory. This indicates a strong commitment to patient safety.

13. What experience do you have with handling controlled substances and ensuring compliance with regulations?

Candidates should be very familiar with regulations related to controlled substances (such as the DEA) and explain how they ensure compliance through accurate record-keeping, secure storage, and careful inventory management. 

Applicants might also discuss their experience with conducting regular audits of controlled substances, reconciling quantities, and reporting discrepancies as required by law. 

14. What protocols do you follow for disposing of expired or unused medications?

Improper disposal can have negative effects on the environment and public health, so it’s important that pharmacy technicians are well-versed in safe disposal methods, such as: 

  • Designated medication take-back programs

  • Reverse distribution vendors

  • Approved destruction methods for non-returnable medications

They might also mention the importance of separating different types of waste such as hazardous vs. non-hazardous – and explain how they ensure that they dispose of controlled substances correctly. 

15. What are the critical points to consider when handling cytotoxic drugs?

Cytotoxic drugs are used primarily in cancer treatment and can be hazardous. Candidates should be able to explain how they’d protect themselves, other staff, and patients from exposure to such medication. 

For example, they can do this by using personal protective equipment (PPE), applying proper containment and administration techniques, and following specific disposal procedures for cytotoxic waste. 

16. How do you approach educating a patient about potential side effects of their medication?

Candidates should understand the importance of providing clear, unambiguous information and directions when discussing side effects, ensuring patients are aware of what to watch for without causing unnecessary alarm. 

They should cover the most common or severe side effects first and then move on to minor ones. Look for applicants who are able to adapt their communication style to the patient's level of understanding and provide practical advice on how to manage minor adverse effects and when to seek medical advice. 

Use our Communication test to make sure candidates are able to communicate clearly and effectively with patients – or find out how to assess communication skills during an interview.

17. How do you deal with language barriers when counseling patients?

Look for candidates who show sensitivity and resourcefulness in overcoming language barriers. For example, they might: 

  • Use a translation app

  • Try to find and print out pharmacy materials in the patient's preferred language

  • Use signs or gestures

  • Ask a colleague who speaks the language to help them out

Whatever the strategies they mention, pharmacy technicians should always make sure patients have understood the information correctly. 

18. How do you handle a situation where a patient's medication history indicates potential non-adherence?

Skilled pharmacy technicians will know how to approach the topic of a patient’s non-adherence without judgment. 

Expect them to point out that there may be various reasons behind it, such as forgetfulness, harsh side effects, or a limited therapeutic benefit, and to explain that they’d first look to understand the specific reason, before working with the patient to find a solution. For example, they might recommend using pill organizers or reminders, or advise the patient to get in touch with their prescribing physician to adjust the treatment plan, explore alternatives, or look for ways to reduce side effects. 

17 extra pharmacy technician interview questions you can ask candidates

If you need more inspiration, here are 17 additional interview questions you can use in your interviews with pharmacy technicians: 

  • How do you contribute to a positive work environment in a pharmacy? 

  • What would you do if you noticed that a coworker made a mistake when dispensing medication to a patient?

  • What's your experience with automated dispensing systems?

  • Describe the process of returning unused medications.

  • How do you handle customer queries regarding over-the-counter medications?

  • Describe how you would handle a discrepancy in inventory levels.

  • What experience do you have with electronic prescription services?

  • How do you approach a situation where a patient disagrees with your advice?

  • Describe your experience with patient medication profiles and history reviews.

  • Describe a time when you identified a potential error in a prescription and how you resolved it.

  • How do you ensure effective communication with patients who have limited medical knowledge?

  • Describe a time when you contributed to improving a procedure in the pharmacy.

  • How do you handle feedback from patients?

  • Describe the procedure for compounding an ointment or cream.

  • Describe the differences between aseptic and non-aseptic compounding.

  • Explain the process of preparing total parenteral nutrition (TPN) solutions.

  • What steps do you take to ensure the proper disposal of sharps and other hazardous waste in the pharmacy?

Use the right interview questions and skills tests to hire experienced pharmacy technicians

To hire the best people for your pharmacy, you need to build a skills-first recruitment process. According to our research on skills-based hiring, 90% of employers reduce mis-hires when they take a skills-based approach to recruitment.

The two main elements of skills-first hiring are skills tests and structured interviews. First, invite all candidates to take an assessment to see who has the right skills for the role. Then, then interview your best talent, using the pharmacy technician interview questions above, to find the perfect fit.

Sign up for a 30-minute live demo to chat with one of our team members and see whether TestGorilla is the right solution for you – or try out our free plan to start assessing pharmacy technicians’ skills today. 

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