Every PA school shortlists applicants and then invites its chosen few for an interview. The physician assistant interview questions are tough and every invited applicant must be fully prepared with the answers. Remember that you must not call the school for an interview – if you do, your application will not be considered favorably.
Important Factors about the Physician Assistant Interview:
- The interview counts big. You may have the best scores, education, experience, essays, etc., but the PA school wants to know more about you as a person. They want to figure out if you’re practical, understanding, calm, mature, collected, honest, compassionate, trustworthy, confident, and more. And, they can only figure out all these factors in an interview and by asking you some real tough questions.
- The interviewers want to see if you are an excellent communicator. You will be dealing with patients and doctors and therefore your communication must be sharp, focused, polite and effective. You must be able to build an emotional bridge with your audience and the interviewers want to check whether you can. Remember, communication is paramount, if you cannot communicate your thoughts, ideas, decisions, or judgments well, and if you give the impression that you cannot connect emotionally, you will not be selected.
The Interview Process
The interview starts with talks by the directors and financial aid officer. Applicants are given 4-5 written questions to answer. After the written test, the applicants are split up into 2 groups. One group starts the interview process and the other group sits in class with the 1st year semester students. Remember, that your behavior is being monitored all the time – so be appropriate and formal. The interviews are divided into 3 parts – student interview (1st year and 2nd year students will interview you), group interview (by 2-3 PAs or MDs) and single interview (by a psychologist).
Setting the Tone for the Interview
Start with a firm handshake. While answering questions, use gestures where applicable. If you sit tight with folded arms you will appear stiff. If you fidget your hands, you will be considered as a nervous person. Smile often and create a reassuring persona. Maintain a firm and confident posture and make eye contact with the person or persons asking the questions. Be honest and believable, do not make tall claims, and do not over-sell yourself.
The tone of your voice must be confident and reassuring. Your first question will not be asked. It relates to your physical appearance. So, make a great first impression – wear formal, maintain a good posture, maintain eye contact, smile and be a likeable person. Start well by creating a visual connection. You can practice this at home – just remember to grab a video of yourself and watch it to correct/better yourself. Do not dominate the conversation in the beginning. Exchange hellos, engage in a polite conversation with everyone, and then let them do the interviewing.
Top 10 Physician Assistant Interview Questions
- How has academics prepared you for the profession? Your answer must demonstrate how you managed academics, part-time work, and volunteer work. Give the feel that you can handle multitasking easily and have great time management skills.
- Tell us about your favorite books? Don’t mention the Robert Ludlum thriller you read, but go ahead and talk about a great biography you have read and mention what it was about the book that impressed you the most. Talk about a couple of your all-time favorite books.
- What are the main problems faced by America’s healthcare system? Well, to answer this question, you must be knowledgeable about the healthcare industry. It will do you a world of good if you keep up-to-speed with the healthcare industry on a continuous basis instead of reading a few journals before the interview.
- Why do you want to become a physician assistant? This is an important question and you must answer it carefully. The interviewer can question your choice by asking you why you did not choose to be a NP (nurse practitioner).
- Have you applied to some other programs? You must honestly list the programs you have applied for and discuss why you have selected these.
- How different are you from the other budding PAs? You must talk about physician assistant prerequisites you have fulfilled, your courses, experience, interactions, team accomplishments, associations, etc, in such a manner that the interviewer is convinced that you are one of the top applicants.
- What does a PA do? Your answer must be based on practical experiences. If you do not have any experience, then state your “understanding” of the profession.
- Has any patient left a deep impact on you? By this question, the interviewer is trying to figure out your compassionate and communication quotients. Answer the question truthfully based on your actual experiences.
- Describe the most stressful situation you have been in and how did you deal with it? The interviewer is trying to estimate your stress levels and understand how you react in an emergency situation. He must not get the feeling that you panic easily.
- How can you ensure you will complete the program if you are accepted? The interviewer is trying to judge your commitment and perseverance. If you have hopped around, explain what made you do it.
Well, these are the top physician assistant interview questions you can expect to be asked. There will be many more. All you have to do is prepare and just be yourself at the interview. Good luck.