After months of building up your application, weeks of perfecting your personal statement and endless days of awaiting responses from programs, you've been invited to an interview! Congratulations! You're one step closer to being accepted. You now have approximately 1 in 3 chances of being accepted after being invited to an interview. This is crunch time. One step closer to your dream. Are you ready to walk through the doors and demonstrate your best self?
An interview is just that. You are promoting yourself, selling yourself to the interviewer. These are the essential tips to make you 1 of the 3.
1. Dress to Impress
First impressions are everlasting and make all the difference. Always wear a crisp, well ironed suit. Men, always include a necktie. Ladies, it doesn't matter if you wear a pantsuit or a skirt suit. Just be sure the skirt ends at an appropriate length, if you go the skirt route. Try to maintain a subtle color palette. Stick to neutrals rather than the big bright colors. Try to minimize excessive jewelry and excessive makeup. Always smile. A smile is your best and more powerful accessory.
2. Arrive early or visit the campus the day prior.
A professor of mine had always said: “if you're early, you’re on time. If you're on time, you're late. If you're late, you're fired”. It may seem dramatic but it's something that has stuck with me ever since. Because of this, I've always been the first to arrive at an interview and trust me, the board notices. Give yourself time to get lost, for highways to be closed or even for yourself to spill a little coffee. Always give yourself ample amount of time. Our advice is to arrive one hour early UNLESS you have visited the campus the night before. In which case, arrive 30 minutes early.. You do not want to be the last one to slip through the door as the presentation is beginning. Arriving early will give you a chance to find the right building, find the right floor, and find the right room. Additionally, arriving early or the first one gives you a tremendous opportunity to open up a dialogue with your potential interviewers. You can make a good impression for yourself before even stepping in the interview room! And as always, you can always practice your elevator speech in the bathroom or put finishing touches on your look. Or what I do, take a couple deep breaths, calm myself and rock out to some good music.
3. Research the school.
Always be prepared for each individual interview. There are generic questions that will be asked of you in every interview, however, there will also be personalized questions about each program as well. “Why do you want to be a part of this PA program?” It always pays off to know details about the program in order to fully answer that question. How long is it? What's the course load? What's the PANCE passing rate? Who are the faculty? What organizations are they involved in? What's the class size? What connections does the school have to hospital systems near by? By looking for the answers to these questions, you'll find yourself forming a more detailed opinion about the program itself. Does it have everything you've ever dreamed of? Do the rotation sites focus on an outpatient setting and you've always seen yourself in an inpatient setting?
4. Research the profession
This is probably a no brainer. Research the profession and be fully aware of what the career entails. It will help you avoid fatal flaws during your interview. One of THE WORST things you can do at an interview is undermine the role of a PA or refer to the profession as a ‘Physician’s Assistant’ (automatic rejection). Researching the official definition and the many different aspects of the role of a PA in healthcare will help you avoid fatal flaws such as that. Did you know AAPA recently passed legislature changing the way PAs are to introduce themselves? We are to introduce ourselves as “PAs” as opposed to the outdated “Physician Assistant”. There is a movement to study the impact if our job title were to be changed. These talking points can easily score you brownie points. Aside from the profession itself, research the national organizations that represent and influence PAs nationwide. Research the roles of these organizations and what they offer to you and the profession as a whole. Look to see if there is a state level organization, be familiar with that. You can never be too prepared, you can never have too much knowledge.
5. The school is interviewing you and vice versa.
Ask about particulars of the program that aren't found on the school website. Ask about what field most of the graduates work in. Ask about the social life of the students. Ask anything to help you decide if this school is a place you can dedicate the next 2-3 years of your life to. As any PA or PA-S can tell you, those you share a classroom with will become your family. Because PA school is very rigorous, seeing your friends and family is very difficult. With that said, it is important to be able to decompress and let some steam out. Be sure your program will give you an opportunity to do just that. Ask about any leadership roles or opportunities the program is able to provide if becoming a leader in our profession is important to you. Aside from the program itself, ask questions about the faculty. This will help you in two ways. It will help you determine how widespread the connections the faculty has for future endeavours. It will also help make the interview more personal. Aakash weaved his personal statement through golf anecdotes and ultimately, his entire interview was conversing about golf with a fellow golf enthusiast. You never know where these conversations will lead you. Be prepared to speak about anything and everything, of course all in a positive light.
6. Review your personal statement and your CASPA application
This is all the information the interview has about you. They will inquire about what you've written about. If you mentioned you were a Girl Scout in the volunteer section, they may ask about your experience as a scout. If you've listed a second language, be prepared to possibly have your interview in that language. If in your personal statement, you mentioned that life changing patient who ensured your mission to become a PA, they may ask for details about that encounter. Be familiar with all aspects of your application and be prepared to elaborate on all aspects of your application. We had a classmate who mentioned she was fluent in sign language, and low and behold, her interview was completely in sign language! Do not lie on your resume!
7. Review your social media
Just like a job, the school will search for you on major social media platform. Be sure to put your best foot forward. If your profile picture is of you doing a keg stand, that probably is not the image you want to set forward. A good rule of thumb is, “would my grandmother approve of this picture?” If the answer is no, remove the picture. Now that doesn't mean you have to take down all the pictures, a simple adjustment of your security settings will be plenty. Just be aware that generally after you are accepted, some faculty may reach out to be “friends on Facebook” or add you to a group consisting of your future classmates. Be sure to keep your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter as professional as possible.
Although you worked your butt off to get to this interview, realize that it wouldn’t have been possible without the admission committee. You are one of thousands to be invited to the interview, be thankful! Remember to get business cards, names, emails, phone numbers and addresses of your interviewers. Genuinely, thank every single member of the admission committee by sending them personalized thank you emails/cards.
We provide more in depth and personalized interview tips, including the mock interview through our services. Click this hyperlink to check it out. If any questions, as always, free feel to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us at our IG @thehumeruspa.