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How do I tell them what they want to hear?

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What do interview boards WANT to hear? I feel like the omnipresent "strengths vs weaknesses" question is a little tricky, like they might read more into the flaws rather than positives. What flaws do they absolutely not tolerate? Not to mention, how can anyone "stand apart" when pretty much everyone has gone on the same mission trips, done the same HCE, and done the same volunteer? Is there really anyway to stand apart from your peers? Also, how much does one have to know about doctor-PA relationship and NP vs PA?


I'm a good interviewer, and I'm not afraid to talk to people but I feel like the interview process is set up to see how creatively you can tell them what they want to hear rather than actually getting to know you. I'm a long ways away from this point but I can't help but sweat hearing all the horror stories of "I should have said this" or "I should NOT have said this." Any further details on the interview process is welcome, thank you.

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This really depends on the school. I interviewed at two schools and had a completely different experience with each. My suggestion is to read through the forums for the programs you are interested in and you will get a better idea.


My policy always was to be honest. These people interview a lot and can see through any BS. For the strengths and weaknesses, be honest, but show how you've used it to grow or it's made you stronger. Don't go with something weird or off the wall and don't say you work too hard, it a cliched answer.


What makes you stand apart is you, your passion, and what you bring to the program. Anyone can go on a mission trip and take science classes, not everyone can work in medicine or make it through a PA program. The goal of a good interview process is to identify who fits the program best, will succeed, and will represent the program positively as a PA. 


Always keep in mind that you are interviewing the program as well; find a school where you fit. Yes, the goal is to become a PA. However, going to a school that you don't like could make for a miserable 2-3 years. Plus, you probably won't learn as well nor will you get as much out of the time and money you spend as you would at a school that fits you. 

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Here is a radical concept from someone who sometimes sits on the other side of the table: be who you really are.  That's you at your best and most consistent.


Be relaxed, be responsive, Keep your answers short (less than a minute for sure.) Know what the profession is (from your shadowing experiences, HCE, research, etc). Be a team player who would work well with others. As I've told others, act like you would if your boyfriend/girlfriend took you to meet his/her parents.


Yes, there are some questions you need to have thought about in advance (not making up answers that you think they'll like). Personal strengths, weaknesses, something you had to overcome, what would you do if your SP was about to make a dangerous error (the answer is not to shout or tackle him!). What's the profession like? What might you like to do after you graduate (it's OK not to know yet, just what options are you considering now and why).


If you are in a group setting (i.e., you all get to answer the same question), acknowledge what the answerer before you said and build on it. Don't be a jerk.


Don't be wound tightly when you show up or act like not getting into that particular school will destroy your life. There are other schools, other years, and worst comes to worst, other things to do with your life. It is hard to think clearly and respond well if you feel you will be executed if you answer a question wrong. You won't be.


Good luck!

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Honestly, I know that this is going to be hard to do, but you need to RELAX.


From my experience interviewing at 4 PA programs (Will be starting PA school this August):


1) Do not approach the interview as if it were a do or die affair. Show enough enthusiasm by knowing the program's goals and objectives, but do NOT come off desperate.


2) Walk in to the interview and answer questions with confidence. 


3) When asked a question, it's okay to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts. Don't feel pressured to have an already made answer.


4) Try to incorporate your answers/experiences into a story (obviously don't lie). People remember stories better.


5) Scenario type questions? Approach it this way: What was the scenario? Who was involved? What was the outcome? What did you learn from it?


6) Be yourself! I am very goofy, and I tried to incorporate that during my interviews (while remaining professional). This is also dependent on the interviewers; if they look serious, please remain serious. If they crack a few jokes, respond likewise. Basically, pay attention to the mood and tone of your interviewers. Goodluck

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When it comes to the weakness question I have two pieces of advice:


1. Be honest but don't hang yourself with the rope they are handing you.


2. When you tell your weakness ALWAYS follow immediately (in your initial sentence before they respond) with how you have and are dealing with/rectifying that weakness. Possibly how you are making that weakness a strength.




Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2


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Piggybacking on what others have said, you want to give them a sense of who you are as a real person. Think about how many stories you've heard about a person getting a job because someone on the inside knew them. Now think about how many stories you've heard where a person was denied a job for the same reason -- few to none. People generally prefer the devil they know over the devil they don't know. Your odds at any interview are almost always going to be improved the more they get to know you as a real person (unless you have some serious character flaws, in which case you're doomed either way). If you give fake answers it will be apparent and they'll be left wondering who you really are. 


Having said that, the most effective interview answers have a right amount of honesty. You can answer the "biggest weakness" question with your second biggest weakness if that is a significantly better response. Aside from being honest, a good answer to the biggest weakness question is usually a quality that is improvable and that won't significantly hinder your studies or your ability to perform your job with compassion and competence.


One other thing, this isn't necessarily for the OP in particular but it's something that some people entering the professional world need to be aware of: if you haven't started already then you need to practice being a professional in other dimensions of your life. If, for instance, you drop F-bombs in every other sentence you speak during your day-to-day life, then you're going to fumble during interviews because suddenly you'll be forced to come up with new ways to express your thoughts. If, during your day-to-day life, you don't try to find professional and respectful ways of handling situations life throws at you, then you're going to struggle in interviews when you're asked questions about how to handle delicate situations you might face in the future. On the other hand, if you make an honest effort to be a compassionate person in your dealings with others then it will show, and these are qualities that you can consciously choose to cultivate. It's been my observation that the people who are the worst at interviews are often young adults who have little experience in the professional world and generally act like drunken frat boys. They can't show their real character and they know it. The person they have to be during the interview is so far flung from the person they really are, and the resultant stiff awkwardness is plain to see. Don't. be. that. guy.

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