5 TIPS TO PREPARE FOR YOUR PA SCHOOL INTERVIEW
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the most nerve-wracking yet thrilling point thus far of the application cycle! By being granted an interview, you’re already one step closer to becoming a PA; you’ve effectively translated your personal strengths and academic achievements to the faculty - now they want to meet YOU. Until this point, the admissions faculty has only known who you are by your academic achievements and patient care experience hours translated on to a piece of paper. But now this is your opportunity to show the faculty the unique individual you are and the amazing Physician Assistant you’re striving to become. So let’s take advantage of this. Here are some ways I recommend to prep for the next most important day of your future:
1. Rid yourself of all those insecurities and get excited!
You’ve made it further than 75% of the total applicants submitting to CASPA- and that’s a lot. Once the reality starts to settle that you have actually placed an interview, the nerves will kick in -- get these bad boys out just as quickly as they set in.
Here is the absolute truth of the matter: You received an interview because the
faculty knows you’re capable - on paper.
The only purpose of the interview is to prove to the faculty you are who you said you were on the application and to make sure you have interpersonal skills to develop into an adept provider. So friends, do not doubt this capability for one second, because that will just lead to more doubt --wasting precious time that you could be preparing!
2. Do a bit more digging
Get on the school’s website and read about the staff. It’s a lot easier to meet people and impress them if you already know a little bit about them.
Some programs allow you to ‘mingle’ with the faculty before the interviews begin, so knowing the background of where each faculty member practiced would be a great conversation starter and shows them you were interested enough to do your research. Regardless of how the interview styles go, it would only benefit you to know more about the program you’re interviewing at!
Do not be surprised if the interviewing faculty asks questions to you about their program.
I’ve received questions similar to these in my past interviews:
“Why did you choose our program?” & “What do you like best about our curriculum?”.
In fact, I can almost guarantee every program will ask at least one of these- prepare to answer them with intention & with specifics- it’ll show them your level of interest!
I personally did not use this tip, but so many of my friends within the program did- so I highly recommend it! Pouring your heart out on paper is much different than conveying it to a panel of intimidating faculty. Practicing how you want to express yourself to the faculty will only prepare you in the long run. Ask a family member to sit down with you to roleplay these tough questions, practicing in front of the mirror, etc-- it will only add to the confidence you will need to get you through this big day.
Sometimes questions about yourself can be the hardest, here are some questions to guide you through your practice session:
“Why do you want to be a PA?” (<- always expect this one, 100%),
“What are some of your weaknesses?”
“What do you like to do in your spare time?”
“How do you handle conflict?”
“Explain your leadership/research/volunteer experiences”
“What extracurricular activities are you engaged in?”
“Which of your college courses interested you the most?”
“Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?”
“Why PA instead of NP?”
As a side note: if the program uses an MMI styled interview, get on YouTube and practice the different types of questions so you aren’t thrown off when you first ender the room.
4. Lets talk about the attire
Check and double check that you have an appropriate outfit, and find something to make you stand out (but like, in a tasteful way)- I personally wore a grey suit with a blush colored blouse underneath- grey worked well for me since the majority of the applicants were wearing black. But my key recommendation for attire is to choose a professional outfit that you will feel comfortable in. If a pop of color makes you too nervous to try out, then don’t do it- and thinking about how tight your skirt fits, if the length of your tie is appropriate, etc. will only distract you when you need to be focusing on far more important things!
5. Seek out & find a current student!
Talk to someone who has already interviewed for the same school or a similar school. This doesn’t have to be an in-person engagement! In fact, a resource that helped me in so many ways during my application cycle was the Physician Assistant program forums where students would chat about how their interview went for that cycle and what to expect! Knowing that others are asking the same questions and giving each other feedback is so helpful!
Before your interview is over try finding someone in the class above the term you’re entering in who can show you around the city-this could be your new potential home for the next 2-3 years and you want to make sure you can see yourself living there!
Friends, this post can be elaborated on in so many avenues, but I firmly believe applying these tips will make you a stronger applicant preparing for this big day!
All the best,