Interviewing Strategies

Before the Interview

AASPA - Interviewing Strategies

The night before your PA program interview is time to clear your mind of other stressors and psych yourself up in your own way for your next day’s performance. Remind yourself, that the person you will be playing will in fact be easy, because you are simply playing yourself. But as with any performance practice, preparation and self-reflection make it stronger.

By this point you should be comfortable in your answers to anticipated questions as described in How to Prepare for your Interview. Now you need to focus on how you present your best asset – yourself.

Your evaluation begins the moment you enter the interviewing room. This in no way is a hostile environment. Remember that if you have gotten this far, you have advocates on the admissions committee and your role today is to confirm their understanding of your academic excellence, clinical maturity, why you want to be a PA, your understanding of the various roles PAs play in the medical team and your level of ability to communicate under stress.

Manner of Dress

Men – Wear your best conservative business suit, with a crisply pressed white shirt and appropriate tasteful tie. Be sure your shoes are shined and you are clean-shaven, or if you have a beard, that it is properly groomed. Do not put on more than a dab of cologne if you use it. This is a day you do not want to forget to use antiperspirant.

Women – Wear your best conservative business suit, either a skirt or pantsuit in a low-key color (black, navy, brown, hunter green, for example), with a crisply pressed blouse if the suit's style calls for it. Conservative, matching pumps with a medium-sized heel are good; open-toed shoes should be avoided.

Keep jewelry to a minimum, and what jewelry you do wear should be understated, such as non-dangling, non-flashy earrings, one or two rings maximum, etc. Makeup should also be understated and not excessive, as should perfume and/or cologne. Finally, make sure your nails are manicured and presentable – clear nail polish or a subdued nail color, for example, is perfectly fine, on short or medium-length nails one would expect to find on the hands of a health care professional. And, as with the men, don't forget to use antiperspirant.

First Impressions – Greeting and Meeting People

Much of communication is non-verbal; therefore, be aware of your body language at all times. Have it represent yourself the way you want to be seen – kind, comfortable, prepared, excited and confident.

  • Warm comfortable smile
  • Eye contact
  • Remember their name
  • Firm, not hard, handshake
  • Stand and sit in good posture

Strategies during the Interview

Keep a warm comfortable smile, sitting posture and eye contact. If there are multiple interviewers, keep eye contact with the individual who is asking you a question, but divide your eye contact equally to all interviewers while delivering your answer.

Continue to keep up your first impression body language at all times representing yourself the way you want to be seen – kind, comfortable, prepared, excited and confident.

If you are given a complicated question that you did not anticipate, attempt to determine if it is similar to any combination of variants of questions you prepared for and while formulating and delivering your answer remember:

  • Who you are
  • What you are good at
  • What you want to do
  • What you love to do
  • Do not lie

Keep your calm at all times. Do not show anger or frustration, but humor at appropriate spontaneous times is fine. Do not use self-deprecating humor.

Understand that the interviewer is human also and understands the position you are in. Remember that they want to like you, not find fault in you. The expression on some interviewers’ faces may not be a true testament to what they may be thinking of you or your answer. So keep smiling, stay on message and try your best.

Tough interviewers understand that their interview is not a walk in the park, and if you keep your cool, and show your preparedness, excitement, compassion, and humble confidence throughout their tough interview, they will be impressed after you leave.