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PA School Interview Questions & Answers

December 13, 2022
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PA School Interview Questions With AnswersOther Common PA School Interview QuestionsPA School Interview TipsWhat NOT To Do In A PA School Interview FAQs: PA School Interview


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/13/22

We’ve provided a list of PA school interview questions and how to answer them to help boost your confidence for your interview!

Progressing into the next steps of the application process and getting invited for an interview is just as exciting as it is nerve-racking. 

The interview is the first time where the admissions committee will meet you and get to know you as an individual. To secure a spot in the college of your dreams, you’ll need to ace the interview. 

One of the best ways to guarantee your success in the interview is to prepare, and we’ve got you covered! We have a list of interview questions along with guidance on how to answer some of the most commonly asked questions.

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PA School Interview Questions With Answers

Here, we list some common PA school interview questions with tips on how to answer them to help you prepare for your interview. 

Before we get into the list, don’t make the mistake that some students make by searching up a list of questions and memorizing answers to each question. This should be avoided because your answers may come across as rehearsed and unnatural. 

A quality that med schools look for is the ability to think on your feet and communicate effectively, and having your answers memorized beforehand does not demonstrate either of these skills. 

Secondly, you cannot guarantee what questions will actually be asked during the interview. You may waste a lot of time memorizing and practicing for questions that you aren’t even asked. 

Instead, use this list as a guide to give you ideas on what information interviewers want from you and strategies to answer questions.

1. Tell Us About Yourself

This is a dreaded question for most, and if you feel a bit awkward and unsure about how to answer this question, you are not alone. 

Here is a great chance to show off your interests and hobbies, especially those that medical schools look for on resumes. Talk about the extracurricular activities that you’ve been involved in that demonstrate core values and skills that healthcare workers exhibit, such as empathy and leadership. 

2. Why Do You Want To Attend PA School?

This is almost a guaranteed question that will be asked during any PA school interview. PA school is very demanding and stressful, and the healthcare field itself often means long hours and high-stress situations. 

Not everyone can handle the demands of the job, and college interviewers want to know if you can. If you do not have strong reasons for wanting to attend PA school, it may suggest to the interviewers that you have not really thought through the realities of PA school.  

There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but college admissions officers will be looking for your dedication and genuine interest in becoming a PA. Be as specific as possible when answering this question. For example, describe who inspired you to become a PA, or describe a specific instance or experience that changed your career goal towards healthcare.  

3. Why Did You Pick Our Institution? 

PA school is competitive, and colleges want to admit students who seem genuinely interested in attending their school and program. The best way to scope out applicants who actually want to attend the school is by evaluating how they answer this question. 

As you answer this question, stay positive! No college admissions teams want to hear an applicant be negative about the program before the student even attends the school. Highlight particular aspects of the school and program in your answer. Being specific demonstrates that you have done some research about the school. 

You can mention class sizes, faculty research, campus culture, and other programs offered to students (such as clubs or associations). Make sure to describe how the school and its program suits your needs and goals. 

4. How Do You Plan on Overcoming the Workload and Other Challenges of PA School?

PA school is not easy. The University of Utah interviewed two of its PA program students who explained that, in their experience, PA school is time-consuming and pretty demanding. The two students say that the workload really picks up in the last two years of the program, especially. 

College admissions committees will want to know that if you are admitted to the program, you are able to be successful. As well, the committee wants to ensure the candidate is aware of the academic rigor of the program. 

Be confident and assured as you answer this question. You need to convince the interviewers that you are capable and prepared to handle the workload and other challenges of PA school. 

With this being said, make sure that you know the expectations of PA school and the potential workload before going into the interview. Again, be specific and make the connection between the workload and your solutions clear. 

5. What Do You Consider Your Greatest Strengths and Greatest Weaknesses In Health Care?

This is a really important question. The key thing to keep in mind when you answer this question is to be honest and genuine. Share your strengths and what makes you a great candidate, but don’t gloss over your weaknesses either. 

It's not easy to be vulnerable with strangers, especially those you want to impress. But honesty, professionalism, and self-reflection all make a great healthcare worker, and these are all qualities necessary to talk about your weaknesses. 

Wrap up your response with a commitment to work on your areas of weakness and continue to grow professionally and personally. 

6. Do You Have Any Questions for Us?

This is an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the school and program. As you ask your questions, try to leave them open-ended to get as much information from the admissions committee as possible. 

Even if most of your questions have already been answered, it is still a good idea to try to ask one or two questions if given the chance. This shows genuine enthusiasm for the program. It also shows a level of preparedness that admissions committee members always look for.

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Other Common PA School Interview Questions

Your interview will consist of more than the previous questions, so it’s best to know what to expect from other common PA school interview questions.

See below for a list of other interview questions you may be asked. 

  1. What makes you a good candidate for our program?
  2. What would you bring to the program?
  3. How do you deal with stress?
  4. How do you study most efficiently?
  5. What is appealing about the location of the school? 
  6. Describe your time management skills. 
  7. What do you want to get out of the program?
  8. Do you see the roles of PA changing in the future?
  9.  Do you have a supportive group of family/friends around you?
  10.  Where do you want to be in five years?
  11.  How do you define professionalism?
  12.  What qualities do you think are important to being a good PA?
  13.  When did you decide to pursue PA school?
  14.  Why do you want to be a PA instead of a doctor?
  15.  Tell us about a situation where you demonstrated strong leadership skills. 
  16.  What are your goals in medicine?
  17.  In your opinion, what are the biggest issues/barriers in medicine today?
  18.  If you could do anything different in your undergrad, what would you change?
  19.  Where do you want to work once you graduate?
  20.  Who inspires you, and why?
  21.  What was the last book you read?
  22.  What is the thing you enjoy most about being a PA?
  23.  Why should we pick you over other applicants?
  24.  What are your hobbies and interests?
  25.  Describe a situation where you were under extreme stress, and how did you handle it?
  26.  What will you do if you don’t get into PA school this year?
  27.  How would you describe your morals and ethics?
  28.  What do you do on a typical day?
  29.  Tell us about a time where you disagreed with instructions from your supervisor, and how did you handle this situation?
  30.  Do you prefer to work independently or within a team?

Strategically prepare how you would like to answer some of these questions (and be honest!), and you’ll do well in the interview. 

If your interview happens to be virtual, we’ve got some great tips on how to prepare for online med school interviews too!

PA School Interview Tips

Here are a few things you can do to ace your interview and impress the admissions committee:

1. Be Prepared

Most people find interviews hard and stressful if they are unprepared for them. Preparing in advance is essential to feeling and presenting yourself as a confident, approachable, and professional candidate. 

You can start preparing by reviewing common questions asked during PA school interviews and considering how you will answer them.  

2. Be On Time

This one is self-explanatory. Admissions teams look for candidates who are reliable and professional. With this being said, don’t show up too early either, as it could create an inconvenience for the interviewers. 

3. Be Professional

Throughout your interview, keep a friendly but professional manner. Shake your interviewers’ hands, look them in the eye as you answer questions, and look engaged and interested in what they have to say.

4. Empathize With Your Interviewers

Acknowledge all the hard work your interviewers are doing. You can say something along the lines of “I bet this has been a really long day for you all!” to show that you acknowledge how they might be feeling. The ability to emphasize is also a good quality for healthcare professionals to possess!

5. Dress Appropriately

Professionalism goes a long way, and you can make a great first impression by dressing appropriately and professionally for your interview. 

6. Be Yourself

This one may seem obvious, but it really is important. Admissions committees have done tons of interviews and will be able to spot if someone is being insincere. 

Follow these tips, and you have a great chance at success!

What NOT To Do In A PA School Interview 

It’s helpful to know what to do during an interview; it can be just as helpful to know what to stay clear of as well. Here a few things to avoid during your PA school interview. 

1. Criticizing Past Employers

Even if you have had bad experiences with employers, do not speak negatively about them. This comes across as unprofessional and off-putting for any interviewer. 

2. Be Unprofessional in the Waiting Area

Your interview begins as soon as you arrive. Don’t act unprofessionally in any way while you’re in the waiting room, even if it seems like no one is watching you. 

Administrative assistants, employees, and other students and applicants will probably notice your behavior. If you are acting inappropriately, this will most likely get back to the interviewers in one way or another. 

3. Share Irrelevant Information or Ask Irrelevant Questions

You only have a specific amount of time allocated for your interview, and you don’t want to waste it sharing information or asking questions that do not pertain to the school or program. While you may be genuinely curious about something that doesn’t necessarily relate to the program or even the school, your interview is not the time to ask these questions. 

4. Using Cliches in Your Answers

No one wants to hear the cliché answers that you want to become a PA because you “have a passion for helping people.” Interviewers have heard these responses hundreds of times before, and it comes across as impersonal and insincere. 

Be yourself and be honest. Interviewers want to hear from the real you, not what you think they may want to hear.

FAQs: PA School Interview

If you still have questions about PA school interviews, no worries! We answer some of your frequently asked questions below. 

1. What Should I Expect at a PA School Interview?

Expect to be asked a lot of biographical questions about yourself, your values, and what you do in your free time. For example, an interviewer may ask what book you last read. While they may seem irrelevant, the admissions committee wants to know about you and your hobbies as much as possible. 

You can also expect to be asked behavioral questions. These questions will place you in an imagined scenario where you have to describe what you would do in the situation. These questions test your problem-solving skills, conflict-resolution skills, and interpersonal skills. 

Interviewers will also ask questions to gauge how suitable the program is for you and vice versa. These questions include, “why do you want to attend our program?,” and “what is the most important quality for someone to have?” The interviewers are trying to scope out if you would be a good fit for the school and program. 

Lastly, bank on being asked ethical questions. Being a PA requires high levels of integrity and ethical duties. Anticipate being asked a few ethical dilemma questions to evaluate your ethics and principles. 

2. What Percentage of PA Applicants Get Interviews?

Acceptance rates for PA schools are pretty competitive. According to the Physician Assistant Education Association, only about 30% of PA school applicants get accepted into PA schools. This means 3 out of ten applicants get into a PA school. 

It is highly recommended that you apply early to increase your chances of getting into a PA school!

3. Are PA School Interviews Hard?

PA school interviews shouldn't be too difficult if you know what to expect and prepare for it. If you know the expectations before going into the interview and have some ideas on how you can best answer questions, you will do fine! 

Going in prepared does not necessarily mean you’ll ultimately be accepted, though it does maximize your chances of doing great during the interview and impressing your interviewers. 

The hardest part of interviewing is being stressed out and lacking confidence. This will almost certainly reflect in how you present yourself and your answers, which could also affect your chances of getting accepted. 

While nerves are to be expected (this is, after all, a very important interview), you’ll want to manage your pre-interview anxiety as much as possible. 

4. How Do I Prepare for a PA Interview?

The best way to prepare for a PA interview is to go over potential questions you may be asked. Go over your own resume and application, as the interviewers will likely ask you about both. 

If you have a gap in your resume or a low score in a course or final exam, it's likely the interviewers will ask you to explain further. Don’t dwell on any past faults or blunders, but do be transparent and candid. Whenever you have to talk about your weaknesses, aim to end your answer with a commitment to self-improvement. 

Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve gone through some of the most common PA school interview questions with some tips on how to answer them, hopefully, you feel more prepared about going into your interview! 

As you begin to read through the questions, remember to keep away from memorizing answers to potential questions. This is ultimately a waste of time and isn’t an effective strategy for success. You can, however, write down points on a sticky note or paper and bring them into the interview for reminders and guidance.

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