Ok! So, you’ve managed to get yourself an interview, which is great–you’re already beating the odds. All of the time you’ve spent freaking out about “OMG will I get an interview”, is now spent as follows “OMG how do I prepare for the interview”. No stress, I have helpful hints.
History of the Profession
Read through mission statements of the AAPA, know facts about the profession and its history. When and how did it start, what do PA’s value, etc etc. Also sneak in statements that show you know what the PA profession is about and the differences between PA’s and other medical professionals.
Facts about the Program
Not every program is created equally. Educate yourself about the ins and outs of every program that you interview. Specifically, read through their mission statement. Chances are somewhere on their website they will talk about the type of student they are looking for, chances are you have already looked there and applied because you felt you would be a good fit–make sure you relay that in your interview. Don’t “cookie cut” your answers to all program. Tailor what you say.
Faculty & Staff
Know the faculty and staff. You may find yourself with awkward silent time that needs to be filled in your interview depending on the structure. Don’t allow there to be awkwardness–HUGE red flag. Programs don’t want socially odd people so show them that you can be kind and make small talk. Log on to their website and read about them, their areas of practice, appointments and published research. They want to see you’re a good human!
I literally read a book about how to get into physician assistant school. It seems aggressive; however, totally worth it. For the piece of mind that you are well prepared and the fact that it actually aides the preparation process. The book I used was called “How to Ace the Physician Assistant Interview”. Click here to buy.
Know where you are going the night before. I don’t care if you have lived in the city all of your life. Do a test run the day before at the time of your interview. Estimate for traffic and know what/if there are any obstacles such as road work that you might encounter. If you’re estimated travel time is 30 minutes allow an hour. If your interview starts at 8, aim to be there by 7:15-7:30. The LAST thing you want is to be late, get lost or be flustered. I arrived at my interview at 7:15 and it did not start until 8am. I sat, drank my coffee and mentally prepped.
I know, captain obvious here. Its hard to do I realize, I have been there. However, the more relaxed you are the better you are able to show the admission panel you’re a great fit for their program.
Be Insightful & Inquisitive
Ask questions. DO NOT ask questions that you can find the answer to on the website. It just looks like you didn’t take the time to do your research.
Demonstrate Passion & Commitment
However you decide to make this next point known, do it (well tastefully)! Let them know that PA school is your number one priority. That being said if you honestly cannot commit to PA school being first and foremost in your life you need to re-evaluate if this is truly the right path. I’m not saying that you need to tell them “I’m going to do absolutely, positively nothing else for 2 years!” Not only is that crazy and not healthy, no admission panel is going to want to hear that. They are looking for well balanced people who understand balance. On the same note–make sure they know you have a high level commitment.
It’s ok to ask about expected time to hear a decision. Most programs will tell you 2-4 weeks. I was lucky and only had to wait one week and was accepted to the only program I interviewed because it was my first choice.
Send Thank You’s
Some people do, some don’t–I did and I hand wrote them. None of this new age email crap that is impersonal. Make sure you mention something you spoke about during your interview. I had my envelopes preaddressed and stamped so that after my interview I went directly to Starbucks wrote out my cards and dropped them in the mail.
It can take a few weeks. Don’t pester the administrative person or faculty.