Standing Out in Physician Assistant School Interviews: Key Strategies for Success

interview tips pre-pa Apr 18, 2024
PA interview


Congratulations! You've made it to the interview stage of the physician assistant (PA) school application process. This is a significant achievement, as it means that the admissions committee has recognized your potential as a future PA. The interview provides a unique opportunity to showcase your personality, qualifications, and passion for the profession. However, the interview can also be nerve-wracking and intimidating. In this article, we will discuss key strategies to help you stand out and excel in your physician assistant school interviews, increasing your chances of acceptance into the PA program of your dreams.


  1. Research the PA Program Thoroughly 

Before your interview, conduct in-depth research on the PA program you are applying to. Familiarize yourself with the program's mission, values, curriculum, and clinical rotation opportunities. Understanding the program's strengths and unique aspects will enable you to tailor your responses during the interview to align with what the program is looking for in potential students.


  1. Practice with Mock Interviews 

Consider participating in mock interviews with mentors, advisors, or through a physician assistant admissions coaching service. Mock interviews allow you to simulate the actual interview experience and receive constructive feedback on your responses, body language, and communication style. Practicing in a simulated setting can boost your confidence and help you refine your answers.


  1. Showcase Your Communication Skills 

Effective communication is a crucial skill for physician assistants. During the interview, be articulate, concise, and expressive in your responses. Practice active listening and ensure that you understand the questions before answering. Speak clearly and confidently, and maintain eye contact with the interviewers to establish a strong connection.


  1. Be Authentic and Genuine 

Authenticity is key to making a lasting impression during your PA school interview. Be true to yourself and avoid trying to give answers that you think the interviewers want to hear. Share your genuine experiences, motivations, and aspirations, as this will demonstrate your sincerity and passion for the PA profession.


  1. Demonstrate Your Interpersonal Skills 

As a physician assistant, you will be working closely with patients, healthcare teams, and colleagues. Emphasize your ability to work effectively in a team environment and demonstrate your interpersonal skills during the interview. Show empathy, compassion, and cultural competence, as these qualities are highly valued in healthcare professionals.


  1. Prepare for Behavioral and Situational Questions 

Expect to encounter behavioral and situational questions during your PA school interview. Behavioral questions ask about past experiences, while situational questions assess your ability to handle hypothetical scenarios. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses and provide specific examples of how you have handled challenges in the past.


  1. Articulate Your Motivation for Becoming a PA 

Be prepared to explain why you chose to pursue a career as a physician assistant. Share the experiences that inspired you to pursue this profession and how you envision contributing to the field of healthcare as a PA. Your passion and commitment to patient care should shine through in your response.


  1. Highlight Your Healthcare Experience 

Physician assistant programs highly value applicants with healthcare experience. Highlight any relevant clinical experience, volunteering, or shadowing that you have undertaken. Discuss the insights you gained from these experiences and how they solidified your decision to become a PA.


  1. Ask Thoughtful Questions 

At the end of the interview, you will likely have the opportunity to ask questions. Prepare thoughtful and insightful questions about the program, its faculty, clinical rotations, or opportunities for research and specialization. Asking well-researched questions demonstrates your genuine interest in the program and your eagerness to learn.


  1. Dress Professionally and Arrive Early 

Dress professionally for the interview to make a positive first impression. Arrive early to the interview location to avoid unnecessary stress and to show respect for the interviewers' time. Punctuality reflects your responsibility and commitment to the application process.


  1. Express Gratitude and Follow Up 

After the interview, send personalized thank-you notes to each interviewer expressing your gratitude for the opportunity to interview. Reiterate your enthusiasm for the program and appreciation for their time and consideration. Sending thank-you notes can leave a positive and lasting impression on the interviewers.



The physician assistant school interview is a critical component of the admissions process, allowing you to showcase your qualifications, personality, and passion for the PA profession. By thoroughly researching the program, practicing with mock interviews, and showcasing your communication and interpersonal skills, you can stand out and make a positive impression on the admissions committee. Be authentic, articulate your motivation for becoming a PA, and share specific examples of your experiences and accomplishments. Remember to prepare for behavioral and situational questions and ask thoughtful questions at the end of the interview. Dress professionally, arrive early, and express gratitude through thank-you notes after the interview. By implementing these key strategies, you can approach your physician assistant school interviews with confidence and increase your chances of acceptance into your desired PA program. For additional guidance and support throughout the interview process, consider seeking assistance from a qualified physician assistant admissions coach who can provide valuable insights and advice.

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