Are your answers as strong as your application?

A strong answer to an interview question can take many shapes and forms, but it should always have a significant impact. In most situations, the interview committee is looking for a strong answer rather than an answer that’s necessarily right or wrong (unless the question is purely fact-based, then you’ll want to make sure your answer is correct). Regardless, crafting a strong answer comes from preparation and attentiveness.

If your answers include the key elements below, you know you’re on the right path towards acing some of the most difficult questions asked during your interview.

Align yourself with the requirements of the program
First of all, you’ll want to appraise your attributes and getting a good sense of what you bring to the table as a prospective student. Once you’ve done this, compare your attributes to the specific skills each program is seeking and try to highlight those specific skills in your answer.

Support your claims
It’s one thing to say you’re a good fit for the program, but backing up your claims is another thing entirely. Your interview panel won’t automatically assume you’re a liar, but it always helps to have proof for your statements. Support your claims by using quotes from colleagues or supervisors when giving a summary of your experience.

Demonstrate Planning and Discipline
Your answer should demonstrate your level of preparation and commitment to becoming a PA. Make sure to do you’re up to date with healthcare news, particularly any current events that directly impact PAs. Be sure to internalize the history and overview of the PA profession, as this topic will definitely come up. As a bonus, try to walk into your interview with a firm understanding of the program with whom you’re interviewing- it will show that you’re specifically interested in their program and they’ll show you interest in return.

Display Confidence
Confidence is a key trait of a successful PA, and it’s important to show that you can remain confident under stress. That being said, don’t get carried away otherwise you’ll come off as arrogant. Remember, PAs need to be empathetic yet confident in order to provide the best patient interaction they possibly can.

Express Open Mindedness
A successfully PA is not only confident, they’re open to new opportunities. Showing how an adverse situation turned into a learning experience is a great way to put your open mindedness on display. Be careful to keep yourself grounded- having unrealistic “change the world” level goals will actually paint you as an impractical person, so keep your sights open but only for realistic goals.

Be Flexible
Along with open mindedness, you should portray yourself as a flexible person. If you’re open to opportunity and flexible enough to make yourself valuable in any situation, your interview committee will be able to imagine you in a variety of settings.

If you come prepared with a pocket full of strong answers, your interview committee will focus more on you as an individual rather than the components of your answers. If your committee is interested in you, they may end up going “off script” which can relieve a lot of pressure in the interview room. If all goes well, your committee will be engaged by your answers to the point that your interview will start to feel more like a conversation!