Interviewing for PA School 101:
Congratulations! Being selected for an interview is a great step forward in achieving your goal of becoming a Physician Assistant (PA). PA programs conduct interviews in order to get a more in-depth look at their applicants. You may ask, “What are programs looking for when they invite me to an interview?” Well, generally speaking, we’re trying to figure out whether or not you have what it takes to succeed in graduate school and the profession. We are able to gauge this based on your level of maturity, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation. At your interview, you will be demonstrating how you manage stress, think on your feet, and present yourself. It is important to remember that most interviewers will be paying attention to three specific things when you answer questions:
• Your answer
• How well you can organize your thinking
• How well you express yourself
During this important day, you also need to be evaluating the program to ensure that it is a good fit for you. You should have an opportunity to see the facilities, meet the faculty, and hopefully, current students, as well. Below are a few key points to help you perform well during your interview day.
1 – Be On Time and Well Rested
This seems obvious but it needs to be stressed. If you are late to your interview, are you also going to be late to class or your clinical rotations? Are you serious about becoming a PA? Try and get enough sleep the night before and leave extra time for you to travel to the interview. Arrive 15-30 minutes early!
2 – Research the PA Profession
It is important for you to understand the role of the PA and any current issues within the profession. If you have shadowed multiple PA’s, think about their roles and what they did on a daily basis. In order to strengthen your knowledge, you can go to the American Academy of Physician Assistants website and look at current events, issues, and PA roles.
3 – Practice, Practice, Practice!
Rehearse commonly asked questions. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to talk about yourself. You want to seem well rehearsed but not robotic. Present yourself enthusiastically and honestly, be yourself!
4 – Be Professional
Dress the part! Non-verbal communication is important – have good posture, a firm handshake, positive eye contact and facial expressions. Limit any nervous gestures or mannerisms.
Do you have any other tips that helped you get into PA school? If so, we hope you’ll comment them below.
Ryan Adler is currently an Assistant Professor of PA Studies at the University of Mount Union, where he graduated with his Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) in 2011. Ryan received his Bachelor of Athletic Training from the University of Toledo in 2009 and is now pursuing his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Organizational Leadership & Healthcare Administration from Grand Canyon University.
“I applied to 10 PA programs and visited several of the schools. It was evident from the interview process at Mount Union that I wasn’t going to be a number, but an individual in the program with the opportunity to have individualized attention if needed. The facilities were among the best that I had seen.” – Read more about Ryan’s exceptional story here.
To learn more about Mount Union’s Physician Assistant Studies Program or to apply, visit http://www.mountunion.edu/physician-assistant-program.