Tips & Tricks For Answering Behavioral Questions at your PA School Interview

During your interview process, you’ll be asked behavioral questions. The goal of questions like these is to isolate examples of skills, characteristics, and experiences that directly relate to your value as a prospective PA.   Answering these types of questions well is vital because they give your interviewers clear, concrete examples of who you are as an individual.  You’ll want to make sure your answers are not only full of detail, but clear and concise.

Nothing sets you up for success better than prior preparation. Taking the time to go over the most common behavioral questions asked during an interview is a great way to practice and get comfortable with these types of questions. In addition to practicing common behavioral prompts, you’ll be able to easily answer any behavioral question thrown at you by using the following tricks.

Don’t Be Negative
Avoid negativity at all costs. You can still talk about obstacles you’ve overcome, but you’ll want to focus on the positive aspects of the situation rather than the negatives (this is actually a great way to highlight your best attributes and show growth at the same time). If you focus too much on negativity, you may come off as a doubtful or skeptical person, so do your best to find that silver lining.

Pinpoint Obstacles you’ve Overcome
Showing that you’ve overcome obstacles in life is a great way to clearly highlight how you’ve used your strengths to master your weaknesses. If you choose to go this route, be sure to keep it positive and always relate it back to what you learned from the experience. Interview committees aren’t looking for perfect robots; they’re looking for competent human beings capable of growth, openness to learning, and adaptability.

Focus On Patient Care and Contact
You should always jump at the chance to showcase examples of patient interaction you’ve had in the past. If you feel like you’re lacking quality shadowing or hands-on experience, try to bring your answers back to the topic of patient interaction, even if they don’t directly relate to an experience where you had direct patient contact. Framing your answers in a way that shows you’re focused on the patient will convey that you have your priorities and motivations in the right place.

Work Hard? Show It Off!
Work ethic goes a long way. Choosing examples of experiences where you’ve gone “above and beyond” will show that you have a hard work ethic, a good attitude, and leadership qualities. Remember, your interviewers are trying to weed out who has the qualities needed to succeed not only in their program but as a working PA.

Include some Action to Keep Things Interesting
Situations where action or decision making was required are typically more exciting. Highlighting a time when you had to solve a problem, adapt to your surroundings, or improvise shows that you have critical and creative thinking skills. Depending on the example you choose, it can also show that you have good decision making skills under pressure. Not only are these traits highly desirable for a PA, but your interviewer will be more likely to be interested in your answer because the subject matter is compelling.

Vary Your Examples
During your interview preparation, you should come up with a handful of interesting experiences you can use when answering behavioral questions. These experiences should vary in subject matter and tone and be compelling anecdotes. If you use the same examples over and over or your experiences are nearly identical in tone and subject matter, you may come off as inexperienced or unprepared.

You’d be surprised how easy it is to give great responses to behavioral questions by creating a rapport with your interviewers. Creating a good rapport removes stress from the interview room and allows you to create a conversation rather than a back and forth Q&A session.