Getting into a PA program is tough. If you make it to the interview you should feel really proud of yourself! Getting an interview is quite the feat. But once you get there you want to make sure you are prepared. There are definitely a few questions that you can expect. They will be asked in one form or another. Today we are going to focus on a particularly tricky question. The dreaded, ambiguous, difficult question that you will hear in your interviews. It is so basic, but why is it so hard to articulate? I can guarantee that this question will follow you to every job interview as well, in one form or another. Are you ready for it?
Question : Tell me about yourself
What they want:
Admissions committees are evaluating everything about you. So even though this seems like a benign question, stay alert. Most programs are looking for confident people that can think on their feet. They want people who can articulate their thoughts and are relatable. This question allows the ad com to evaluate your maturity, your depth, and your personality to see if you would fit with their student body. Its really important to be transparent and honest. This is the time to show your true personality, not list your stats.
What they don’t want:
Rehearsed, calculated responses. This is not the question to be super formal and guarded. Generic and boring is not a good first impression. Don’t use this time to tell them why you are a good candidate and would be perfect for their program. There will be other opportunities for that. This is about being you and giving them an opportunity to get to know you.
A good example:
I am a marathon runner, I love to run! It is something I do to relieve stress and it challenges me. So far I have been to 15 different states to run marathons. Once I am in PA school, I know I may have to cut back a little bit, but I hope to use some of my down time running. I also am really into bacteriology. Most people don’t quite understand my love of microbes! For the last 3 years I worked part time in a lab doing research and I find it very fascinating. I’ve always been a person who follows their interests to the fullest. I work really hard to do my best. Whether I am training for a marathon, or if I am working on an experiment in the lab, I kind of geek out. I am naturally inclined to push until I succeed.
A bad example:
My name is Rachael and I am 35 years old. I live in Minnesota and I really think I would be a good fit for your program. I have a 4.0 science GPA and I have 2500 hours of direct patient care hours. I also have 500 hours of volunteering. I like to study and spend most of my free time in the library. I will be a really good PA and I am very passionate about the field. If you accept me into your program I will be very happy.
In the first example, we get to know the candidate. They shared some interesting hobbies and interests as well as some strong character traits. In the second example we got none of that. We got a list of stats and information that can be found in their application. They did not share any interesting facts about themselves and didn’t convince us that they have any traits needed to be a good PA. The second answer was flat. Don’t be afraid to be interesting! The admissions committees spent a lot of time choosing you to invite for an interview. So go ahead and let them get to know the wonderful, interesting, beautiful you!