The Key Elements of a Strong Answer to PA School Interview Questions

When it comes to answering an interview question, many will tell you that there is a right and a wrong answer- but what about a strong answer?  A strong answer can take many shapes and forms, but it should always have a significant impact.  Regardless, crafting a strong answer takes hard work and preparation.  By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to formulate strong answers for some of the most common yet difficult questions asked during your interview.

Align yourself with the requirements of the program
You’ve already spent time appraising your attributes, so make sure the most applicable ones to the PA profession get mentioned in your answers.  Compare your skill set to the necessary skill set of a PA and see where the two overlap.

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. While nobody operates under the assumption that you’re coming into the interview to tell lies, 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 that you are thoughtful, disciplined, and are properly prepared.  Make sure to do your homework by researching any facts that may come up in your interview, particularly when answering relevant questions about health care laws or the specific program for which you’re interviewing.  Be sure to internalize the history and overview of the PA profession, as this topic will definitely come up.

Show Confidence
Through proper preparation and discipline, your answers will come off as knowledgeable and in turn, you will appear more confident.  Confidence is a key trait of a good PA, and it’s important to show that you can remain confident under stress.  Be careful though- do not seem too overconfident as you may 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
In your answer, demonstrate that you’re always open to opportunity.  Showing how an adverse situation turned into a learning or growing experience is a great way to do this.  At the same time, you don’t want to give off too much of a “change the world” attitude. Having too large or unrealistic goals will actually paint you as an impractical person, so keep your sights open but only for attainable 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 take less stock in the format and syntax of your answers, and focus more on your potential. The best thing you can do is impress your committee enough to have them go “off script”.  Focus on your technical, people, and communication skills by alluding to them in your answers, and try to avoid mentioning them directly.  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.