Your Panel Uses These Three Criteria To Judge Your PA School Interview Performance

With any task, performing to the best of your ability is much easier if you know what criteria you’re being judged against. Having an idea of what your interview committee is looking for during your interview can help you prepare more efficiently and answer questions in a more effective way. Think about it- it’s much easier to get a high score on a test if you know how you’re being scored, so why not apply this to your interview?

The three qualities most PA programs look for are your cognitive and verbal abilities, your motivations for becoming a PA, and your interpersonal skills. Without giving your interview committee a clear view of what you have to offer in all three areas, you may fall short of the “ideal” candidate. Here’s what you need to know and, specifically, what your panel will be looking for in both your personal narrative and on interview day.

Cognitive and Verbal Abilities
Programs are competitive in that they’re all vying for the smartest and most capable candidates out there. While your GPA may speak to your cognitive abilities, you also need to show that you have the ability to think critically, view situations objectively, can manage your time well, and are capable of high-level communication, particularly in stressful situations. Preparing anecdotes that center around times you utilized these qualities is a great way to show off you possess the necessary cognitive and verbal skills.

Your motivations for becoming a PA can significantly impact your chances of getting accepted. Programs will try their best to flesh out your motivations because, while being a PA is lucrative, its impossible to do the job well if all you’re looking to do is make a “comfortable living”. Being motivated purely by money or status is a surefire way to get rejected from any PA program, but a lack of motivation can hurt your chances just as much as the wrong motivation. If you have minimal medical or healthcare experience or no working knowledge of the PA profession, your interview panel may question your motivations for applying. Be sure to include examples of patient contact experience in your personal narrative or interview responses. In addition, be sure you’re familiar with the responsibilities of a PA, as well as the history of the profession- the more knowledgeable you are, the more intelligent and motivated you appear.

Interpersonal Skills
Nobody likes to work with a grouch or a bad communicator. PAs need to have stellar interpersonal skills if they want to be successful. Showcasing examples of your people skills or when you were a cooperative team player are great ways to put your interpersonal skills on display. If you decide to include an anecdote where you were in a group setting, be sure to acknowledge that you were part of a group as not to misrepresent the situation but try your best to focus on only the parts you directly contributed (it is your interview after all!)   The admissions committee is not only looking for a top-notch communicator, but they want someone capable of demonstrating compassion, empathy, and stress management skills. If you feel like you’re lacking in these areas or need an extra boost to your interpersonal skills, try to come off as warm, open, and natural as you possibly can during your interview so you can create rapport with your interview panel.