Breaking Down PA School Interview Questions IV

This weeks question was submitted via e-mail and its a two-for-one! If you have a question you want broken down be sure to e-mail me at:

Q: What is your greatest strength?

What are they looking for?

  • This is pretty straight forward.  What do you do well?  What characteristic do you possess that makes you an excellent candidate and will make you a great PA?
  • Try to wrap the quality into a story to show that you have demonstrated that behavior in the past.  Behavioral interviewing is a large part of PA schools.  Admissions committees believe the old saying “history repeats itself”. Show them in addition to telling them with a story.

What not to say:

  • I’m a great student, I graduated with a 4.0 (they will have all these stats and likely on your resume).
  • Anything really vague or that they can get from your resume. Remember anything open-ended you are asked in your interview is your chance to tell them anything about yourself and why you are the top 1-4% of applications they received.
  • Don’t brag too much.  There is confidence and there is cocky. Be confident, not cocky. 

What to say:

  • I was not asked this on my interview.  Had I been asked I would have said perseverance.  I had a long, pre-determined and daunting road to the point of applying to PA school.  I saw something I wanted and went after it with my heart and soul. I had arrived at this point and would use the same perseverance to make my way through PA school and throughout my career.
  • Be genuine. People can sense when you give them a bunch of bologna.
  • This is a very individual answer. In my opinion appropriate answers include: compassion, team player, adaptability, thriving under stress and being able to work effectively with many different individuals (there are many more but these are just examples to get you started).

Q: What is your greatest weakness?

What are they looking for?

  • Also quite straight forward, but a little more messy than your strength.
  • You always want the weakness to be something you turn in to a strength, but not be overwhelming.
  • Demonstrate that you understand what you need to work on and how you can better yourself

What not to say:

  • Anything that can be misconstrued as a quality that would make you difficult to work with your impede your work as a PA or PA student
  • Stay away from politics, religion or anything that can be construed as racism–all very very bad things.  Anything that can be emotionally charged should always be avoided in interviews (I hope all of these things are obvious and not qualities anyone posesses but just as a friendly reminder).

What to say:

  • I was not asked this question for my PA school interview either that I remember.  However, I have been asked this at many interviews prior to PA school.  My answer has always been “Low tolerance for a poor work ethic” aka I can’t stand laziness.  I further state that I tend to take on responsibilities of others and it can take away from the quality for which I perform my own job.  I’ve since learned to better stay within my means by still being a team player.
  • What do you need to improve on? Are you too hard on yourself/you own worst enemy? Do you have a tendency to be an over-achiever and not know when to take breaks and relax? Do you take on too much responsibility in a group setting? Trouble stepping back and following because you’re a natural leader? All of these are good examples
  • Remember: BE GENUINE!  I cannot stress this enough, it’s so easy to see when someone is insincere.



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