Even with preparation, it can be difficult to control that sinking feeling in your stomach on the day of your PA school interview.
The emotions—fear, anxiety, shame—and the resulting behaviors—speaking too fast, having a flat tone, avoiding eye contact—can be hard to rein in once the interview is underway. But, there is hope.
First, it is important to understand that you cannot control your emotions at a given moment, but you can control your behavior. When you are in an interview, you may feel anxious, but you can consciously choose to slow down the rate of your speech.
Secondly, when done right, your interview preparation can help you gain confidence, affecting the intensity and types of emotions you will eventually experience during a PA school interview.
In this post, you'll learn a three-part approach focused on using behaviors (rather than trying to control emotions) to conquer anxiety in a PA school interview.
1. Prepare for that PA school interview
While there are common questions asked in a PA school interview, you should take the time to prepare for each interview separately.
Read the materials sent to you by the PA program. Not only will you learn what to expect on interview day, but the information provided may also come up during your interview or in an on-site essay.
Search the pre-PA forums to learn about the interview styles of programs. Do they have one-on-one, group interviews, MMI, or a mix?
If you are near the school or can arrive in town a day early, practice the route you will take. Nothing starts your interview day off on the wrong note quite like showing up in a sweaty panic 20 minutes late.
Understanding what to expect on interview day will help to put you at ease when the day comes.
2. Be a human
One of the most common things you'll hear from candidates after they've gotten into PA school is you should "just be yourself" during a PA school interview.
I don't find this advice particularly helpful. I get what these former applicants are saying—that you are deserving of success as you are. But, this vague instruction doesn't do a thing to help you relax when interview day arrives.
I think better advice is to understand who you are.
Before a PA school interview, carve out time to consider who you are beyond being a PA school candidate. What's your favorite movie? What kind of books do you like? What's your working style? What are your strengths and your likes? What are your goals as a PA?
This type of reflection is not necessarily geared towards answering interview questions. It's more about thinking about yourself from a more well-rounded perspective.
You are more than a PA school prep machine. There is more to you than just answers to interview questions. The better you understand who you are as a person, as a whole person, the more confident you will be going into a PA school interview. And, you'll also be less likely to be thrown off by unexpected questions.
3. Engage with others outside of the actual interview session
On interview day, you will likely have the opportunity to meet with other interviewees, faculty, and current students outside of your interview session. Take the opportunity to speak with those around you, even if you are nervous at first.
Talking with other people before or between structured sessions will allow you to get out of your head. Connecting with others will help to make you feel comfortable, and you will naturally relax as your comfort level increases.
As a bonus, you can learn valuable information about the program from faculty members and current students that may be helpful in your interview session. You might also have an extra opportunity to get your questions answered.
Engaging with other applicants may also benefit you if there is a group interview session later in the day.
Staying relaxed for a PA school interview may be easier said than done, but a few simple tactics can help even those prone to freeze under pressure.
Preparing for each program individually, understanding who you are both as a candidate and person, and engaging with others on interview day are actions you can take to help control your emotions.
By implementing these steps, you can help to decrease your interview day anxiety and go into an interview with a boost of confidence.
Want to develop your best answer and improve your interview performance? Looking to prepare for a particular interview style? A Mock PA School Interview can help you get there.
This personalized, one-on-one interview prep will decrease your anxiety and allow you to feel prepared for any PA program interview.