With the added requirements of Covid-19 on ours systems, it’s a good idea to hire an OTC assistant to help out. Here’s what to look for.

Do you need an extra pair of hands in your pharmacy? With people around the world visiting chemists more often than ever, now is the best time to bring in some extra help. Hiring an over the counter assistant is one way to help your pharmacy run smoother as your customer demand increases.

Finding the best person is not always an easy task, though. Especially if you’ve never hired staff members before. That’s why we’ve pulled together this helpful guide to assist you with your search to find the right OTC assistant on your first go.

Define What an OTC Assistant Is

When advertising a new pharmacy job, it’s essential to define what you envision the role to look like. Generally, the size of the pharmacy will dictate the scope of the OTC assistant’s role.

For most chemists, an over the counter assistant is a team member who works under the guidance and direction of a registered pharmacist. They’re often viewed as the face of the business and are responsible for multiple tasks that can range from clerical duties to product ordering.

You need to be crystal clear about how you see the OCT assistant fitting into your pharmacy. This will ensure that you attract the right candidate for the job.

Outline What Tasks an OTC Assistant Will Carry Out?

Not every pharmacy operates in the same way. This means the tasks an OTC assistant will be responsible for will be different for every chemist. Some of the most common daily tasks that an OTC assistant will perform include:

  • Answering customer inquiries via phone, email, and face to face
  • Completion of the relevant paperwork
  • Delivery of prescriptions if in a hospital environment
  • Dispensing medicines once the pharmacist has fulfilled the script
  • Ensuring compliance with the relevant regulations and pharmacy policies
  • Monitoring the prescription filling process
  • Liaising with other healthcare providers as required
  • Maintaining patient information electronically
  • Maintenance of stock lists and reordering stock as required
  • Maintaining drug stock while under the supervision of the pharmacist
  • Ordering any pharmacy items
  • Packaging of prescriptions
  • Providing the pharmacist with prescriptions requiring filling
  • Preparing relevant billing information for medications
  • Creation of labels for prescription packages
  • Sales of over the counter medications
  • Keeping up to date with the latest Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland news and regulations
  • Stocking shelves as required
  • Receiving deliveries

There are many other tasks that an OTC assistant can be responsible for. You should be upfront with all candidates about what tasks you expect them to perform. This will ensure that you find someone with the necessary skills and experience to handle the jobs that you expect them to complete.

List What Skills an OTC Assistant Will Need?

While there are generally no entry requirements to become a pharmacy assistant, there are some skills that are vital to be prosperous in the role. Some of the skills you want to identify in resumes are:

Team Player

An OTC assistant to work well with others. Not only will you have to work closely with them, but they will need to get along with other team members and colleagues outside of the pharmacy. They must know how to take directions, be comfortable taking on additional duties, and anticipate everyone’s needs.

Organizational Skills

It’s the responsibility of the OTC assistant to keep the pharmacy running smoothly. This means ensuring that the shelves get stocked, there are enough supplies, and customer details are maintained. While urgent tasks will come up, the OTC assistant must be able to juggle multiple responsibilities as required.

Problem Solving

You don’t want every single issue brought to your attention. The purpose of having an OTC assistant is that they can take some of the burdens of the business off of your shoulders.

Your pharmacy assistant should have a high level of emotional intelligence and creativity to be able to solve conflicts with customers, coworkers, and insurance companies. They should also have a calm demeanor to ensure that arguments don’t form, and complaints don’t require escalation.

Computer Literacy

As technology continues to evolve in pharmacies, it’s imperative that your OTC assistant can keep up with the changes. Computers are necessary to be able to produce accurate counts of pills for subscription, maintain patient information and history, as well as file insurance claims.


Your pharmacy assistant needs to be proficient in written and verbal communication. They will interact with a variety of people and should be able to alter their language accordingly.

An OTC assistant will primarily handle customer inquiries. But they will also speak and correspond with you and colleagues. It’s important they know how to use appropriate language for everyone they interact with.

Attention to Detail

Handling medical information requires a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. Your OTC assistant will be processing prescriptions that involve material such as dosage levels, drug intolerances, and allergies.

There’s no room for mistakes. So the candidate needs to have the necessary experience in fields that require this trait.

Mathematical Ability

While a degree in mathematics is not necessary, your OTC assistant should be proficient in the fundamentals. They will come across plenty of numbers on the job, such as when ordering stock, packaging medications, and handling money.

Customer Service

Your OTC assistant will often be the first person your customers will meet. They are the face of your company, and as such, they should possess superior customer service skills. Some of the customer-oriented duties can include answering basic inquiries, referring them to the pharmacist, and explaining the difference between various products.

What Experience Should an OTC Assistant Have?

Experience working in a pharmacy should not be a necessity for an OTC assistant. But you don’t want someone with some prior work experience or the appropriate qualifications.

As an over the counter assistant will be primarily working with customers, they should have some experience in customer-facing roles. This can demonstrate that they can communicate clearly, show empathy as required, and possibly have money-handling experience.

They should also be comfortable using computers and data entry software. This kind of experience can demonstrate that they can be trusted to maintain important records.

Holding the Accredited Medicines Counter Assistants Course is a bonus. But if they don’t have the certificate, it will need to be acquired within three months of starting the job. They have a maximum of three years to complete it, and this will provide them with any additional knowledge required to be successful in the role.

What Type of Interview Questions Should You Ask?

There’s not a standard questionnaire when it comes to interviewing for an OTC assistant role. But these are the most common interview questions that are asked when meeting with a potential candidate for a pharmacy role.

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why do you want this job?
  • How would you handle trouble with coworkers?
  • How would you handle an unhappy customer?
  • A customer tells you that their medication doesn’t work – how do you respond?
  • What career aspirations do you have?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

These questions should provide you with the answers that you need to select the right candidate. Some of the types of responses that you should be looking for are:

  • How they describe themselves as a worker
  • Examples that demonstrate they’re a good worker
  • Their goals and what drives them
  • How an OTC assistant position helps their career
  • How their values line up with your company culture
  • A demonstration of their management skills
  • Their approach to conflict resolution
  • Their understanding of the position and what it entails
  • Their level of patience

You must ask the same questions to all candidates so that you can evaluate them fairly. This also helps if an interviewee requests feedback or wants to know why they weren’t successful. If you have set criteria by which you’re judging candidates, then this makes this inquiry easier to respond to.

Who Can Help You With Your Search?

If you’re looking to employ an OTC assistant, then it’s worth partnering up with recruiters who are experts in the field. Medpharm specializes in staffing solutions for pharmacies across Ireland. We have an in-depth understanding of the sector and ensure all candidates are fully compliant.

We also conduct full background checks and have the necessary registration with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland. We even have a global database with candidates ready to get started. Get in touch with us today to find out how Medpharm can assist you in your search for your next OTC assistant.