In what situations do you feel most comfortable and confident? Is it when you aren’t worried about impressing people? Is it when you’re conversant in the topic being discussed? Is it when you’re allowed to make mistakes or is it something as simple as wearing a certain jacket you feel makes you look more professional?
It would be great if you could bring these elements into an interview setting.
Unfortunately, it’s frowned upon to show up to an interview in your sweats, no matter how comfortable they make you feel. Comfy clothes aside, how can you translate your most confident moments into an important interview?
- Remember your interviewer is a human.
Rather than being convinced your interviewer is an evil cyborg programmed to give you unnecessarily grueling questions and use you as a part of a intricate plan to take over the world, try to view your interview as an informative conversation with a pleasant human person. You’re there to tell them about your amazing qualifications and relevant experiences; they’re there to find out what sets you apart from other applicants and makes you a great candidate for their program. See? All friends here! If you can approach the interview as an opportunity instead of a firing squad, your whole interview will be more pleasant.
- Research and get informed.
The more you can prepare, the more knowledgeable you’ll be and the more comfortable you’ll feel. That goes for the specific PA program and the interview itself.
There are a few questions that are frequently asked at PA school interviews. (Here’s a list of some to consider: https://www.aaspa.com/page.asp?tid=153) Research them and prepare your answers, and remember to consider that the same question can be phrased a few different ways. If you’re only prepared for a certain wording of a question, you’ll find yourself stumped if it’s asked in a slightly different way. Practicing your answers will help them come more naturally and sound less rehearsed (even if it’s taken rehearsing to make them sound unrehearsed!)
Also, be sure to do your homework about the school and/or program. PA programs are highly competitive, and during the interview you want to demonstrate a knowledge of the program. It’s wise to have some specifics, such as reasons why this program will be a good fit for you, and what made you want to apply to this school.
- Focus on strengths, even in weakness
This is an opportunity for you to share about the things that have made you who you are. You get to talk about what inspires you, informs your approach patient care, and your passion for the Physician Assistant field. It’s unlikely that one candidate will have every single attribute the program looks for, so it’s important to admit there might be areas where you need more experience or improvement. Don’t gloss over this. Being willing to admit to “growth areas” is a sign of strength. We’re going for confidence, not arrogance. An arrogant person is unwilling to admit mistakes or that anything might be less than 100% fantastic (we won’t talk about politics right now), while confidence conveys a knowledge of oneself, a comfort in one’s abilities, and a willingness to allow someone else to also be knowledgeable without that diminishing anything about you.
If you keep these few tips in mind, you’ll be on the way to a successful interview that allows you to share how you’re uniquely qualified to become a PA.
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Here are a couple other articles with interview advice.