Answering a very common PA school interview question:
“Tell us about yourself.”
Over the years I’ve done hundreds of Mock interviews with PA school applicants from all over the country. It is amazing how many applicants do not know how to answer one of the most frequently asked questions they’ll encounter at their interview.
When an interviewer asks you “Tell me about yourself,” the interviewer wants you to provide examples of the qualities you have that would make you an excellent candidate for their program, and for the PA profession.
Many applicants answer this question in the following manner: “My name is Sandra and I’m from Oklahoma. I have three beautiful children and a wonderful husband. My husband owns a successful business in town. My children have reached the age where I can now focus on “me” and my education, and I am excited to be on the path of pursuing a career as a PA.”
There are a few problems with this answer. The applicant gives too much personal information.
- The committee surely knows the applicant’s name, so there is no value in providing that information in the answer.
- The applicant has three children. Will she be missing class frequently? How about clinical rotations?
- She also mentions the fact that her husband owns a successful business in town. Will she be willing to move out of the area? Move the children?
I am very big on infusing Qualities into every question you may be asked at the interview. I provide specific examples of how I do this on my website, under the Interview tab. Start by listing five qualities (you can demonstrate) that are pertinent to becoming a PA student/PA.
Sandra has strong communication skills. She has many years of clinical experience as a medical assistant (MA.) Her real strength is her ability to be a team player. She prides herself on being employee of the year, for two years in a row.
Follow Your Script
Prepare a script that includes the information you want to convey. Begin by talking about past experiences and proven success.
“I have been a medical assistant for the past seven years. My most recent experience has been in a multidisciplinary group of family practitioners, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and pulmonologists. One reason I particularly enjoy this position, and the challenges with it, is the opportunity to connect with patients and various clinical providers. In my last job, I formed some significant patient and provider relationships and I was voted employee of the year, two years in a row.”
Next, mention your strengths/qualities and abilities:
“My real strength is my ability to learn quickly and collaborate with all of the specialists in my office.”
Conclude with a statement about your current situation:
“What I am looking for now is a career that will allow me to use my qualities and skills in a newly enhanced role, being able to diagnose and treat patients, while being an effective member of a health care team.”
Practice with your script until you feel confident about what you want to emphasize in your statement. Your script should help you stay on track, but you shouldn’t memorize it—you don’t want to sound stiff and rehearsed. It should sound natural and conversational.
Even if you are not asked this question at your interview, this preparation will help you focus on the qualities you have to offer. You will also find that you can use the information in this exercise to assist in answering other questions. The more you can talk about your qualities, the better chance you will have as being a great fit for the program and the profession.
For more information on the PA school interview, visit my website at andrewrodican.com
Andrew J. Rodican, PA-C