Leading up to your PA school interview day, it is natural to focus on interview styles and how you will field the common interview questions.
But when your interview is a day or two away, it is helpful to shift your focus, even just for a bit, from the questions you might be asked to the logistics of the big day.
In this post, you'll learn the vital steps to take just before your PA school interview day and day-of tricks to help things go a bit more smoothly.
One to two days before your interview
1. Review all interview materials the program has sent you
You may have missed something on a prior read through.
Interview notices often tell you the schedule for the day, the style of interview you can expect, and if there are any pre-interview events the day or night prior. On occasion, they even name your interviewers.
PA programs are not usually elusive about what to expect on interview day, so brush up on the information they provide you. If you have multiple interviews at different programs, this step can also help you keep the details of the current program fresh.
2. Review interviewer information, if provided
If a school is kind enough to tell you who will be interviewing you, it's your job to do some digging. Find out if they are a faculty member, how long they have been with the program, and the specialties in which they've practiced.
Knowing someone's background can give you an advantage in how you deliver your answers to questions. It also presents a huge advantage if you have the opportunity to ask questions. You can show you did your homework by asking questions that are specific to your interviewer.
3. Wear a suit
Some people will try to fight me on this. Yes, other clothes that are not a suit can look professional. However, if you are the one person not wearing a suit, it will make you uncomfortable and mess with your confidence.
It doesn't have to be a fancy suit, or it can just resemble a suit with a sportcoat or blazer. You can always take off the jacket if you want to get more casual, just wear something underneath that is conducive to an outer-layer removal.
4. Practice your route
Showing up late will likely make you an emotional (and possibly a physical) wreck. If you're in town early or live close enough to where you'll be interviewing, practice traveling the route you will take.
Depending on the day of your interview, remember to leave enough time for weekday traffic or account for less frequent public transportation on weekends.
5. What to take
Take a small notebook and pen with you to the interview. You won't need much else other than your regular daily gear.
Gather business cards of your interviewers if available, but if not, the notebook will allow you to jot down names as you go. It also gives you a way to include a quick note about the individual that you may want to reference later in a thank you card or email.
If you are taking a bag, keep the contents minimal. You don't want someone to have to hold your ankles while you dive in for that notebook.
Interview Day Pearls
1. A group information session usually comes first
If you are interviewing with other candidates, your day is likely to start with a faculty member briefing the group on some program highlights. Everyone's adrenaline is pumping, but this is pretty low key.
Allow yourself to relax and pay attention to the information discussed. It may be of use later in your interview and may provide some ideas for questions you can ask later in the day.
2. There will likely be a tour
At some point in the day, you will be shown around campus and any lab facilities. This tour is usually done by a faculty member or a current PA student in groups smaller than in the first information session.
Here's a secret: whoever is showing you around may be reporting to the selection committee. So, this tour can be a perfect, less pressure-filled time for you to shine.
Ask questions about the PA program. If a current PA student is your guide, ask about their experience and why they chose the program. Engage with your fellow interviewees. This part of the day presents an extra chance for you to show your interpersonal skills and build some bridges.
3. Have a plan for a same-day essay
Programs will often tell you in advance if writing an essay will be part of your interview, but not all will. So, whether you know about an essay or not, you should be ready for one.
Some programs will ask you to write about something related to the materials they sent you before the interview, gauging whether or not you read them. It's a little tricky, I know, but it's another reason to do your day-before prep.
How do you get ready for an unknown essay topic? When writing under pressure, it's helpful first to identify what your conclusion will be. From there, you can work backward to build a mini outline to ensure you are structuring your ideas to move towards your conclusion.
By having a clear end goal in mind, this strategy prevents you from rambling on or running out of time.
Your first PA school interview is exciting and a little scary at the same time. Taking a few easy steps a day or two before can give you a break from the mental work of preparing for interview questions, reduce your anxiety, and help you feel more ready for the big day.
Your interview is about more than the answers you give to questions. Using these day-before and day-of tips can help you prepare for the full experience.