PA School Interview Questions

So, you have completed the CASPA and sifted through secondary applications.  Then comes the day when you get the email that you have been awaiting.  Your first PA school interview!   The next big step will be preparing for your interview.

Today we will be going over PA school interview questions.  We will break down the interview style and perhaps some common PA school interview questions that you may be asked!


Do Your Studying

Before you even enter the city where the school that you will be interviewing at, you need to do your research about the program.  You need to dive deep into the program’s curriculum, their mission statement, and what makes them unique.

Additionally, you need to know how you feel like you would fit into their program and why you would be a good candidate for their school.

If you have friends or colleagues that went through the same PA school, reach out to them and see what their interview was like, what the program was actually like, and what to expect on the day of the interview.

As much as the school is interviewing you for a position in their physician assistant program, remember, you are interviewing them as well to make sure that it is a good fit for you. 

You want to walk into your interview already being a “student” of their program; meaning that you should have done your homework and know ample information about the school before even setting foot on their campus.


Interview Day

Now it is the day for the interview.  It sounds cliché, but relax and just be yourself.  You will have already done all of the preparing that you need to do, and now it is just time to knock it out of the park.

First thing is first, dress formally.  If you are a male or female, wear a suit.  It is better to be overdressed rather than underdressed in these situations.  No, that does not mean go out and rent a tuxedo or suits like Harry and Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber.  For a male, a black suit with a dress shirt and tie is perfect and professional.

Next, show up on time… and by on time, I mean at least 15-30 minutes early.  If you can spend the night prior going to the location of the interview and plot your path from the hotel to the program and then what building as well as trying to find the room numbers.  The more familiar you are with the location, the better.

On interview day there will likely be several events to attend and participate in.  Such as at the interview for the physician assistant school that I attended had an informal question and answer session the night before the interview with pizza, then on the interview day there was a period of time where we sat in on a problem-based learning (PBL) group or participated in a PBL group, and then of course the interviews.

Also remember, even it an event seems informal and like you can let your guard down, always remember that someone may be watching and taking note of your involvement, attitude, and things you say. 


Common PA School Interview Questions

Regarding the interviews, PA schools can do a few different options including multiple small or one-on-one interviews, or a panel interview all at once.  Do not get worried nor worked up about the style or set up of these interviews.

As I mentioned above, these programs are wanting to get to know you as a person and as a future healthcare professional.  Additionally, these physician assistant programs are wanting to get to know if you will be a good fit for their program.

Thankfully many of these programs will do it in a similar way by asking similar questions.  So, let’s get into some of the more common PA school interview questions and answers that may be asked during physician assistant school interviews.

One of the most common questions you will be asked, and it will often be the initial question that you are asked is, “tell me more about yourself.”

This open-ended sentence used as a question in this instance could lead an applicant down many different rabbit holes.  The key to this question, just like with the interview process in general is being prepared.  Know before the interview day starts how you plan to answer this question.

An excellent way to attack this question is by responding with a statement that firstly shows your involvement, experience, or commitment to medicine.  This could be your work and experiences before applying to physician assistant school as a nurse, radiology technologist, laboratory assistant, etc. 

Secondly, you want to show and display your passion for entering this field.  This can be done in a myriad of ways, but a common way to do so is by relating a life experience that you have been through and how it led you down the path where you are today, and how it will make you a better clinician in the future.

Thirdly, is being able to convey that you can handle the rigors of physician assistant school.  This can be displayed by briefly mentioning the extracurriculars, athletics, or life circumstances that you completed or went through while managing undergraduate studies.

Lastly, is wrapping all three of the topics mentioned above into how these are related to being a successful applicant and future student in their physician assistant program, and even further as a practicing physician assistant.

A second PA school interview question that will often be asked is..

Why do you want to be a PA?

You want to answer the question with a specific answer about why you want to be a physician assistant.  You do not want to do this by saying things that you do not like about other healthcare professional fields; however, you want to say for example that you have worked with or shadowed nurse practitioners, physicians, and physician assistants and found that working as a physician assistant has…. (whatever qualities that you find attractive in becoming a PA).

These qualities might be the balance between autonomy in practice but also having the ability to collaborate with your supervising physician, the ability to spend more time with your patients, to be able to practice medicine and take care of patients within 2-3 years, or the flexibility that PAs have to change specialty and the flexibility of their schedule and lifestyle.

The third common PA school interview question that likely will be asked is...

Why do you want to attend this program? 

This reflects back to the initial duty before coming to the interview.  Did you complete your studying and homework?  You should know what makes this program special, their curriculum, and mission statement.  You should be able to discuss why you fit the mold of their ideal candidate to a “T.”

Whether that be you feel like you are good at collaborating with your colleagues and classmates and love presenting and teaching your classmates, which may be great qualities for a problem-based learning curriculum program.  Or perhaps you are from the state or region where your interview is located, and you have the passion for returning back to your home area and for serving the people in that community which meets the program’s mission statement.

The best way to answer this question is by knowing as much as you can about the respective program and how you fit and mold into what there are aspiring to include in the program.


Role Reversal

We discussed some of the more common physician assistant interview questions, next, usually at the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer.

You want to always have at least one question prepared to ask the interviewer about their program.  My go to when I was interviewing was:

“If you had a son or daughter in my position, interviewing to your program, and if they had the opportunity to attend this program, why would you want them to attend here versus another program?”


Preparation is The Key

As I have hit on this entire article about PA school interview questions, the key takeaway is to be prepared.  Know your answers to commonly asked interview questions, sit down with a friend or colleague and ask each other these questions so you can verbalize your answers.

If you need more structured practice or a mock interview, reach out to us at Medgeeks (Link), and a practicing physician assistant like myself can provide a mock interview with feedback through our Pre-PA course.

The biggest disservice that you could do to yourself is to go into your interview cold turkey and unprepared expecting success.  Practice is the key to success with most things in life, and it is no different when interviewing to physician assistant schools!