Congratulations on scoring a PA school interview! That is a huge accomplishment unto itself - don’t forget to take a look around and realize that you were selected out of a vast range of other competitive students from around the world. Once you walk out of that room after your interview, no matter what happens you already made it to a beautiful and huge milestone for yourself. Do not forget to be mindful and enjoy this amazing day.
If you're worried about making a great impression during your interviews, here are some tips that will help you showcase the very best version of yourself.
Start to practice interview questions by yourself in front of the mirror and have a friend or family member do mock interviews with you so that you begin to get the hang of interviews. Try your best and practice a few weeks before the interview. It is also a good idea to research the school that you are about to interview at and see what their specific program is known for so that you can try and incorporate that into some of your answers. Knowing this could be a huge advantage for you during the interview process and can make you stand out.
You would be surprised how much your demeanor affects you and the energy that you carry and convey. Keep your head raised high, and smile throughout the day so that you seem approachable. Don’t think that you are acting or doing this for others. This is actually for yourself; this is the energy that you will begin to attract. If you want to meet other people that are happy and have good energy that day, it all first starts within yourself. You have many opportunities that day for networking, growth, and absorbing new insights, so do not forget that your mindset, energy and thought process is what is actually leading you throughout your interview process. Take advantage of your interview day/days and keep a good and positive energy flowing internally and externally so that you can attract what you want.
Body language is immeasurable in all forms of communication, especially when you are meeting new people. Your demeanor, energy and confidence introduce itself even before you speak. Make sure that you obviously do not act out of your character or do not try to be someone or something that you are not, but try to be mindful of your posture, gestures, and body language. Try to catch yourself when you are starting to slouch/curve forward or crossing your arms. Crossing your arms can show that you seem insecure or that you are going into a defense mechanism, it does not give an inviting feel. Stay calm and relaxed, especially when speaking. Sometimes when people get nervous they tend to talk too fast or blab on when not necessary, be cautious of that, sometimes less is more. Don’t get me wrong, all of this is said easier than done, but at least trying to be conscious and mindful of it definitely does help keep you calm.
At this point the school has invited you in for an interview to see who you are in person and how you can connect to others. Essentially in the medical field you are going to need to try to connect to your patients, but many times it is while you are under pressure. So during the interview process they want to see how well you work under pressure, while simultaneously maintaining staying empathetic and logical. This is your time to communicate, socialize and just be yourself! Let your personality naturally shine through. It is actually way harder to be someone or something that you are not. Talk about what you’re passionate about. Elaborate on some experience that means a lot to you or something that has shaped you to become who you are today. The people in the room can sense your energy and your body language, don’t forget that. So if you’re authentically being yourself and talking about something that really resonates with you, they will pick up on how genuine you are on that. You know who are you are, don’t forget how far you have come and don’t doubt yourself, you got this!
If you mess up on something it’s not a big deal, just laugh and smile. Freaking out or panicking will just make you and the situation worse. You will feel like you did poorly on some questions and excelled in others. Don’t take things so seriously; everyone is going to be extremely nervous, including yourself. You’ll look back and laugh at the parts you thought you messed up on, don’t worry this is all temporary, enjoy it, you’ll never get these uncomfortable growing pains back. Laughing and smiling could bring light to yourself, the situation and others around you that are extremely anxious as well.
Try to make friends while you are there. It’ll help take some pressure off of you and others by talking and getting to know the people around you. It is also a really good opportunity to meet future roommates in the case that you both get in. Exchanging phone numbers and information is a good way to also keep in touch with others regarding updates of the program after the interview. Making friends at the interview is also beneficial because you are meeting others that are in the same shoes as you. As much as you try to explain to your friends or family what you just experienced or are going through, this random vulnerable person just like you understands it a bit better because they’re going through it too!
You should be proud of yourself for who you are and for being at the interview that you are at that day. Many other students could have been there, but YOU are there.
AFTER YOUR INTERVIEW
You will not realize what your weaknesses are during interviews until you’re actually under pressure and experiencing it. When you leave the interview, take a moment to process and soak in what your weaknesses and strengths were so you can practice, emphasize and tackle them to conduct yourself even better for your next interviews. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other students; everyone has their own journey and timing. Don’t forget that you are only human, you are not perfect, but you are not your mistakes either. You did the best you could do in that moment with the knowledge that you knew. Remember, you are not in control of everything; you obviously have to work hard and try your best, but then let go and let things work itself out. Just remember everything is going to be all right, sometimes even better than you expected.
About the author:
Melissa Lilian Elist is currently a physician assistant student at University of California, Davis, cohort of 2021. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and an emphasis in Disability Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. She is a preventative care advocate and is very proactive in mindfulness, consciousness, and self-love. You can find Melissa on Instagram and reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.