How to Ace the Physician Assistant School Interview

Instructor: Marissa Baranauskas
Admission into physician assistant programs is competitive and usually entails an interview. Check out information and resources that prepare you to ace your physician assistant school interview.

Preparing for Your Physician Assistant School Interview

A successful interview process generally requires that you have extensive knowledge about yourself, the profession, and the organization to which you are applying. Preparation within the following areas allows you to answer potential physician assistant (PA) school interview questions with ease.

Get Ready for Personal Questions

A large portion of the interview will focus on you, the applicant! Before going into an interview, question your desire to enter into this profession, the motivating factors that led you to pursue a career as a physician assistant, your goals, and your own personal strengths or weaknesses. In addition, be prepared for questions about what skills you already possess and what skills you'd like to hone further through the program. Successful physician assistants typically have excellent communication skills. Other skills interviewers may be looking for in a PA school applicant include compassion, attention to detail, and problem solving skills.

Interviewers are also looking for applicants who are prepared for the academic rigor of their PA program, so be sure to look back on your previous coursework for challenging courses you may have excelled at.

Check out our collection of lessons on career assessments for some assistance with this self-inventory.

Know the Profession

The physician assistant school interview is a chance for you to communicate your knowledge of the profession and important issues within the field of healthcare to the interviewer. Most applicants to PA school generally have experience working as a registered nurse (RN). Other applicants may have worked as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics. Take a look at our resources on professional development for nurses to familiarize yourself with common concerns that could be discussed, including ethics, record keeping, stress management, and communication.

Research the School

As of 2014, there were over 200 accredited physician assistant education programs. Research the specific program you have applied to as well as its faculty members. You should be familiar with the clinical sites of these programs, the curriculum, and any faculty research. You can browse our lessons on researching a college for some practical advice on how to do this.

Practice Common Interview Questions

After you have gathered knowledge about yourself, the program, and the profession, you should be fully prepared to provide answers to some common PA school interview questions. Try going through this list of questions several times with a partner to gain confidence with your responses.

  • Why do you want to be a physician assistant?
  • How would you define the roles and responsibilities of a physician assistant?
  • How do you see the field of healthcare changing in the next ten years?
  • What are some of the significant issues physician assistants currently face, and how would you deal with them?
  • What contributions would you make to our program?
  • What questions do you have for us?

For more information about what to expect in admissions interviews, visit this lesson on the college admissions interview.

During and After the Interview

Dress Appropriately

You should dress conservatively wearing neutral colors such as grey, blue, or black to the interview. If possible, ask about the dress code at the program to which you are applying. Healthcare professionals generally are required to wear closed-toe, low-heeled shoes. Take note not to wear cologne, perfume, or large pieces of jewelry to the meeting.

Follow-up Procedures

After the interview, there are still steps you can take to make a lasting impression on the program to which you are applying. Send a formal thank-you letter expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to interview and your continued interest in the school.

Additional Interviewing Tips

For more advice on how to successfully interview, check out this course to further enhance your Job Interview Skills. You'll find information on speaking and listening during the interview, avoiding common interviewing pitfalls, and following up after the interview.

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