PA school interviews are multilayered. Answering an interview question goes beyond simply what you say.
Your answers are evaluated not just for their content, but for your confidence, insight, and self-awareness.
Likewise, PA school interview questions can be dissected into several components. Most questions relate, in some way, to PA school or a PA career.
When asked “What do you look for in a coworker?” we can assume a program is also asking what we look for in a classmate. When tasked to “Tell me about a time you had a difficult interaction with a customer,” we can surmise that a program is trying to see if you have the fortitude to handle a patient meltdown.
During a PA school interview, your best responses will be those that cover both the question asked and the “questions behind the question,” the QBIQ. Finding the QBIQ starts with considering how each interview question relates to PA school or a PA career. What additional questions (beyond the one asked) should you be answering to prove you are ready?
In this post, you’ll see how easy it is to turn your answers from good to great by answering the QBIQ of your interview questions.
First, you must start with a true weakness. It’s more than obvious to an admissions committee when you are trying to pass off a strength as a weakness. Choose a weakness that you’ve worked to improve.
In discussing how you have worked on your weakness, you have the opportunity to demonstrate how these adaptive skills have readied you for the rigor of PA school or the pressure of a PA career.
[A NOTE ABOUT BEING A PERFECTIONIST]
Claiming to be a perfectionist isn't a great answer. Being a perfectionist isn’t just a good attention to detail, it means it is nearly impossible for you to move on from a task or project.
If you were a real perfectionist, it would mean that you couldn’t get through a patient visit in under an hour. You’d never be satisfied that a patient coming in with a sore throat did not need a full body scan. How would you take it if an insurance company did not cover your preferred medication?
As a provider, you have to come to a conclusion promptly and implement a treatment plan. Insisting on perfection is a handicap that you do not want as a future clinician.
Additionally, this answer is overused and unoriginal. It does not seem genuine, and it bores an interview committee. I promise that you have a more interesting weakness to discuss. It’s worth figuring out what that is.
So, let’s now use an example to answer the interview question.
“One of my biggest weaknesses has been poor time management. I never really had to study in high school, so during my freshman year of college I had a lot of trouble managing my time between my job and my classes.”
The interview question was answered accurately; a true weakness was given. Now, to develop the best answer to this question, we should cover the QBIQ.
“I’m the kind of person who has a lot of interests at once, and it took some time for me to learn how to set my priorities and focus on my goals. Now, I write down my top two long term goals every month, and every day, I write my top 2-3 tasks that I need to accomplish that day to get me closer to my goals. Writing things down helps me to acknowledge my priorities, and from there, I can better manage how to spend my time. It is still a struggle, but I have learned strategies to help me manage my time in both the short term and long term.”
Managing your time poorly could be a huge problem for as a PA student. However, showing that you have experience working on managing your time, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, can help a committee see how you could adapt in a PA program.
The key to developing your best answer to this (and any other) interview question is to respond to the question asked directly and to cover all of the QBIQ in your reply. Naming a weakness without talking about how you’ve coped with it or worked to overcome it does not help you.
Being honest about a weakness and showing the work you have done to improve can be powerful. It can be a more important interview question than one asking you about your strengths.
By outlining a weakness, you have the opportunity to discuss how you adapt, learn, and grow, which will all be important factors as a PA student and as a PA.
Thinking about and incorporating the questions behind interview questions into your answers will result in stronger replies that better reflect your experience, personality, and suitability to be a PA.
By practicing this technique with just a few questions, you can learn to use the QBIQ to your advantage during a PA school interview.
Use these prior examples to practice finding your QBIQ: