Here begins my first blog post series: The Physician Assistant Interview. I'm excited to share my thoughts on the interview process because I've gone through it two cycles in a row! This is a big topic that requires a lot of detail so listen up and listen well.
I want to start the series up with the first thing you would be planning to do after receiving an interview email or phone call, which is preparation! Preparation can mean a lot of different things to different people, but here are some steps I took that made a world of difference from my interview experience last cycle to this cycle. After I received my first interview invitation email this past cycle I immediately began researching the school itself, its reputation among the PA community, and I began to look deeply into the program's website. Like many others, interviews have never come easy for me because it can be uncomfortable for me to sell myself to strangers about who I am and what I can offer. Because of this insecurity I prepared my best for the interview season by researching the top ~40 Physician Assistant interview questions and typing out what I would like to answer if I were asked those questions in real life. I am SO thankful I did this, it definitely took some time, but it was abundantly worth it because I became more confident in myself and what I can truly offer as a student and as a future Physician Assistant. In my experience, I was asked maybe around 10 varying questions throughout all 4 of my interviews, but mainly I was asked about myself and my experiences.
Things I would make sure I knew before walking into an interview:
Physician Assistant program's mission and vision statements
Physician Assistant program's curriculum including didactic year and clinical year
WHY you chose to apply to this program and what about yourself matches up with what the program is offering
I've read many forums where people have stated that they didn't prepare for the interview and did perfectly fine as much as I've seen where people say they should've prepared more to do better than they did. Know yourself and your habits and prepare in a way that matches with your personality. It's important to feel as comfortable as you can (beyond the nerves) in your interview or you can come off rehearsed or awkward. Practice sample interview questions with family or friends, counselors/work shops in undergraduate school, or with a Physician Assistant that has recently been through it.
Other small things to remember to prepare for that can make a good impression and allow you to stay organized:
Print your resume/CV on Resume Paper. I did this and actually received compliments on it. Just another way of sticking a name to a face and having them remember you when it comes to decision time. Another accent for resumes is a File Jacket that you will place your resume in to give to your interviewer.
On interview day, bring a portfolio to carry your outstanding transcripts, resume, CV, etc. to stay organized. Also, it makes you look even that more professional!
Really research these programs and compare them to each other. Some schools may use problem based learning vs traditional, offer medical spanish training vs not offering any foreign language training, allow you to choose your clinical sites, or not. MAKE SURE you ask the hard questions (at least 3) to your interviewer that allow them to know you're very serious about their program and what they can offer you. It is a cheesy saying, but you are interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you. You want to end up at a school that offers you a place that is most conducive to your learning styles and habits. Prepare these questions and write them down on a notepad and place it in your portfolio.
For all my girls out there, if you choose to bring a purse or tote, bring the extra things that make you feel put together. That lip gloss, body spray, gum or mints can make a world of difference in your confidence, don't forget them!
BUY THANK YOU NOTES! I believe this is normal etiquette for any type of interview, and I know it can never hurt your chances of getting accepted. Buy them in advance so you will be ready to write notes immediately after your interview day to send out.
In the next blog post of this series, I'll be sampling some of the more common interview questions and the answers I've come up with to fully answer the question. I'll also be giving away my copy of "How to Ace the Physician Assistant Interview" by Andrew J. Rodican that I believe helped me gather my thoughts before my interviews on my Instagram. If you have any interview questions you would have no idea how to answer, comment below, on Instagram or email me them and I'll answer them the way I think would relay your best traits to your interviewer.