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This is everything you've been working towards. You have landed your first PA school interview. It's time to prepare but where do you start? Here are some tips to help you rock your interview!
1. Research the Program
When interviewers ask you why you are interested in their program you want to be able to respond with a solid answer. By researching the program and reviewing their website prior to the interview, you will be able to provide them with an answer catered toward their school. You want to understand the history of the program as well as basic understanding of the curriculum. Each programs' curriculum may slightly vary; so by seeing what the program has to offer, you will be able to express the reason for your interest in training there.
2. Dress the Part
This is your first impression and while you want them to remember you, you want it to be for the right reasons. Both men and women should wear suits. Women can choose a pant suit or a skirt suit but be mindful of the length of your skirt (if it hits your knees it is usually a safe bet). Be modest in the color that you choose. Not interested in wearing black? Navy and charcoal are great alternatives.
Females can wear heels or flats, whatever you like. If you choose heels, keep in mind you will likely be doing a good bit of walking as you tour the facility. You certainly do not want to lag behind the interviewers because your feet hurt or it's difficult to walk.
3. Bring a Portfolio
It does not have to be anything fancy, but simply something you can keep a pen in. Place any important documents needed (like extra copies of your CV that are printed on resume paper of course, or directions to help you find the facility the day of your interview) in the portfolio as well. This also becomes a good place to store business cards that you collect throughout the day. The legal pad found within most portfolios is also very helpful for taking notes on the day of your interview.
4. Be Early
If you are on time, consider yourself late. Arrive to your interview 15 minutes early. Under no circumstance do you want to look tardy. If you're unfamiliar with the area, make a test run to the facility the day before. If that is not an option, use google maps to visualize the street view and call a few days before and get specific directions to ensure you know exactly where to go.
5. Be Ready to Talk About Yourself
Your interview is a time when the staff can get to know you for who you are. They want to understand why you've chosen to become a PA, what experiences have molded you along the way, and what you stand for. Before interviewing it is important to spend time jotting down some of your "aha moments". The moments that struck you and reinforced your decision to become a physician assistant. Also, be prepared to talk about your strengths and your weaknesses. When you discuss your weaknesses you can also provide them with solutions that you have implemented to try to improve them.
6. Be Respectful
Be kind to everyone that you encounter. Each person that you interact with matters and may relay messages to the person you are about to meet. (Side note, administrative assistants/program coordinators play a huge role too). Hugs are not appropriate when meeting anyone, but a sturdy handshake is.
7. Send Thank You Notes
A polite way to wrap up an interview is by writing a thank you note. I prefer sending them within 24 hours of the interview. This can be as simple as writing an email graciously thanking the interviewer for giving you the opportunity to interview at their program (briefly expressing why you feel the program would be fitting).
Have any tips you would like to share? Comment below.