I’m currently in San Fran with my mom as she attends a conference to keep her NP license current and it’s literally been a world wind of fun! I’m going to post about my adventures and all the fun things we’ve done here at the end of my trip (Sunday). I’ll be flying back to DC then and getting ready for the start of Fall semester-YAY!
But, let’s get down to it. The interview. Aka the gate to getting into PA school. Today I’m going to be breaking down some ways to prepare for the interview as soon as you get your invite. Monday will be what to wear to the interview. Wednesday will be what to bring to the interview. And Friday will be what to do the night before the interview! Then the following week I’m going to be going into some of the typical formats of interviews. And finally, some typical or atypical questions that I would ask someone if I was interviewing them. I try to refrain from giving you guys ideas on how to answer the questions, because honestly, your answer needs to be a true representation of YOU! That is how you’re going to really showcase what kind of qualities you bring to the table and why you deserve your spot.
YOU GOT AN INTERVIEW! CONGRATS!! Now the real work starts
Step 1: Freak out. You got an interview and that is absolutely amazing. It means you are one step closer of accomplishing your dream of becoming a PA. Most schools have about a 1/4 chance of getting in after you get an interview. And that is a LOT better odds than the odds of getting an actual interview. So you deserve to celebrate. I think I spent a lot of time jumping up and down and screaming like a little girl after I got my first interview
Step 2: Accept it. So, most schools will give you a date of your interview. Unless it is ABSOLUTELY NOT POSSIBLE, accept the interview date. It’s a lot easier to accept than to try and reschedule. This interview should be one of the most important things in your life, so you want to make it fit into your life. Also, the earlier you accept, sometimes the better it can be. Some schools (like GWU or Baylor) allow students the opportunity to stay with a student for free. This is something you SHOULD do, and it comes on a first come first serve basis. Staying with a student was one of the best decisions that I made. It was so convenient and so helpful; the student was great at giving me advice and showing me around both times.
Step 3: Figure out your housing and travel. The earlier you cement this, the better. Less worry and it makes it easier for ou to focus on the fun parts of preparing for the interview. Often times, a school will email out a list of hotels in the area that give discounts to students. If the don’t, feel free to email the person and ask them. This is a common and very good question to what to know the answer to. If the area is too expensive (aka Northeastern and Boston area), check out airBnB. I LOVE staying in these. They’re super great and normally a lot more economically priced. Another suggestion: try to stay close to the school; within walking distance is great for a city or within a close Uber ride. You don’t want to be worrying about transportation and being late when you’re already nervous for the actual interview.
Now the fun stuff: prepping for the interview portion!
Step 4: Do research on the school’s interview process. A lot of schools will have this listed on the website and it is so, so important you know what you’re getting into. It could be a group interview, one-on-one, two-on-one, or MMI format. Depending on what style will change what kind of questions you are asked and how you should answer (I’ll be going into this Monday, Sep. 5). Also, you want to learn who could possibly be interviewing you. Some will have alumni, professors, or even students interview. It all depends and it’s good to be kind of prepared. This may or may not be listed on the website, but you can also check out the PA forum and see if it is answered on there.
Step 5: Read this book. I found it VERY helpful just to read and see some typical answers and questions asked. There are also a bunch of examples of PA school interview questions online. My only hesitation with this is it can be overly stressful to do too much research. So try to find that happy medium.
Step 6: Practice. I would drive home and literally just talk to myself in the car. I would ask myself random questions like why I wanted to be a PA, and try to answer them. DO NOT memorize questions and your answers. You want to be as real as possible during the interview process, and when you memorize questions the interviewers will be able to tell. I just practiced so that I would know what points I wanted to hit during my interview-for instance I wanted to talk about my patient care experience, my mom being a NP and how that influenced me to be a PA, and why I had worked so hard, so quickly for my goal. Then during the interview, it was nice to have these little bullet point thoughts to hit.
Step 7: Research. Be up to date on some of the current dilemmas that the PA profession is facing (like the change of our name to PA from physician assistant to the fight about our continuing licensure). Know what the affordable health care act is; know how it affects PAs. Know the problems Primary Care providers are facing and why PAs are thought of as being great solutions to these problems. Know about why some of the older PA providers are insulted by the HUGE increase in the number of PA schools. These are just some of the topics you should be aware of and prepared to answer questions about.
Step 8: Know your resume forwards and backwards. Interviewers LOVE to pick out random pieces of information from your resume. The little thing you did freshman year? Know it and be prepared to talk about why you did it and what you learned from it. Hesitation in the interview is expected, but you don’t want them to worry about whether you actually did something or not.
Step 9: Practice an interview with someone. A lot of schools have a career center where you can go to do a practice interview and be “graded” on it. If your school doesn’t have this (or you’re not in school), try to get a family or friend to help you do this. They can just give good pointers on eye contact, facial expression, body language, all of which is important. *fun fact I learned in PA school: if a patient doesn’t remember exactly what you said, they WILL remember how you said it. This shows how important body language is!
Step 10: Believe in yourself. Be confident you have prepared enough to handle to interview and that you will do well! Having confidence is more than half the battle.
Honestly, an interview already means you have a “spot”. It means the schools wants you badly enough out of 1000ish people. Most interviews are just to see how well you mess with the faculty and other students already accepts, or just to see what your personality is. An interview is as much of a test to see how much you fit with the program as it is to see how much the program fits with you. They want to impress you and make you fall in love with the program. So remember, they’re working just as hard as you are during the interview process.
Peace out friends