The 5 PA School Interview Questions You Need To Know ASAP

When you wake up on interview day, you shouldn’t be wondering what the interview panel will ask you. If you don’t know what you’re going up against because you haven’t taken the time to prepare for your interview, you may find yourself at an extreme disadvantage.

Listed below are the 5 most common interview questions potential PA students are asked. You should take ample time before interview day to prepare answers to these questions- doing this can save you from poor interview performance.  Make sure you give yourself enough time to brainstorm the answers to your questions but also internalize them.  Having these questions memorized to the point where you can answer them as quickly as “when is your birthday” will help you stay relaxed on interview day.

1. When and how did the PA profession begin? Are you familiar with the history of the PA profession?

If you did your prep work, this should be a no brainer.  Showcasing you have all the right skills and temperament to be a successful PA is great, but if you don’t know the history of the profession you’re going into, your motives for being there may be questioned (or worse, you’ll come off as unprepared).

If you need to review, the AAPA has a great section on their website dedicated to the history of the PA profession.

2. How do you think healthcare reform will affect the PA profession?

You should always be up on current events related to the PA profession. It seems like health care is in the news more and more, so if there are any current legislative protocols affecting PA care, either in your state or nationwide, you’ll want to be aware of them before you step foot in the interview room. Things like healthcare delivery, major insurance overhauls, changes in healthcare settings, telemedicine, or new opportunities for PAs are important items to focus on.  You never know what follow up questions your panel will ask based on your initial response, so make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of any topics you decide to talk about!

3. What are some of the greatest challenges facing PAs today?

Once again, if you did your homework, you should be in a good place. Focus on state-to-state regulatory issues, the public view of doubt that surrounds advanced practitioners like PAs, or even issues in your local or state legislature. If you can accurately and succinctly talk about current issues, you’ll demonstrate that you have a high level of outside understanding and enthusiasm about the PA profession.

4. Why do you want to become a PA and not a NP/MD/RN/Physician/etc.?

Your personal reasons for becoming a PA may be compelling, but they won’t convince a room of PAs if you don’t have concrete facts to back up your claims. Be ready to dive into the advantages of being a PA (flexible career, shorter yet more consistent work hours, shorter time spent in school, etc.).  Wanting to “help people” isn’t enough, so make sure your rationale is compelling, specific, and believable.

5. Why do you want to attend our program? What makes [name of school] stand out?

Your interview panel is interested in learning about why you want to become a PA, but they also want to know why you specifically chose their program for your training. Each school is different, so you’ll need to pick a compelling reason why you chose each specific program. Try to focus on the aspects that called to you in the first place such as class size, specialization opportunities, or program structure.  If you like the fact that they have a cadaver lab, have clinical rotations at a specific facility, or if you shadowed under one of their alumni, be sure to include your personal details- just make sure you don’t confuse your programs!