Physician Assistant School Mock Interview
Thoughts of my looming interview terrified me. I was scared that once I entered that interviewing room that my brain would shut off from nerves and stress. My anxiety stemmed from past experiences. I would trip over words, stutter, forget my train of thought, etc. Whenever this happened, I would get more flustered and my communication skills would fly right out the window. I was scared that if I had one of these mental road blocks during the interview, I would not make a good impression and thus lose an opportunity for placement at the Physician Assistant program I wanted to attend.
I could tell while practicing interview-style questions with my husband this fear was interfering with my ability to answer questions. I was so scared I wouldn't know what to say... and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. My poor husband probably thought I had no chance of getting in! Here is an example of one of our practice sessions:
Bryan (my husband): "So tell me why you want to be a PA."
Me: "Um... because PAs are AWESOME!" [Bryan just stares at me]
Bryan: "Let's try this again. Why do you want to be a PA?" [I giggle nervously]
Me: "Uh..." [Long pause]
Bryan: "You know? You're not really winning me over on this one."
Now don't get me wrong. I have plenty of reasons why I want to be a PA: I love healthcare, I love helping people, I want to practice medicine as part of a collaborative team, I want to volunteer and make a difference in my community! I have so many more reasons yet I couldn't even think of one when my husband asked me?
I think part of the problem was that I was too comfortable with my husband. I wasn't too scared that if I answered a question poorly that he was going to give me the boot! The only problem with this was that I wasn't gaining any confidence from these epically awful practice sessions. (Nothing against you Bryan!) I just kept having these nagging feelings that if I couldn't even impressively answer questions with my own husband there was no way I was going to impress my interviewers.
I was sharing my fears with a couple I had become good friends with through church. They offered to do a mock interview with me. I eagerly accepted. He was an assistant superintendent of a school district and had interviewed many. She had her doctorate in nursing so I knew I couldn't pull a smooth one regarding medical questions. This experience was the biggest builder of my confidence I had ever experienced.
We wanted to make the mock interview as realistic as possible so I dressed up in my suit that I had bought for the interview. It was scheduled for 8pm so I had time to eat dinner, but found that my nerves were choking out my appetite. I was so nervous because I personally felt that however I did at this mock interview would directly reflect how well I would perform at the actual interview.
Eight PM found me sitting in the couple's formal living room to conduct a "formal" interview. Sweat graced my brow (and unfortunately other places) as we began the interview. At first my responses were a little shaky, but I tried to maintain a sense of professionalism. Pleased that I hadn't train-wrecked after the first several questions, I started to get this happy, almost giddy, sensation in my gut. I started to feel like I could do this! And as I continued to answer questions without tripping over my words, my voice became strong and my posture became tall. I could do this! I was a capable adult who had a strong, sincere desire to be a Physician Assistant, and I had worked hard to get this far! I had no reason to be scared or timid. The PA program had extended an interview to me because they thought I was PA material!
It's hard to describe the feeling of confidence. I guess the best way for me to describe it is as empowering. The fear that had once consumed me had vanished. I knew that I would interview well the following week at my real interview, and if I didn't get accepted it wasn't because I didn't try my best.
This wonderful couple gave me good feedback on my mock interview -- what they liked and what they thought I could improve on. They both shared personal experiences that helped me recognize what would be appropriate for my own interview. They also gave me words of encouragement and support.
Truly this couple gave me the confidence that carried me through my interview. I am so grateful to them, my husband, and family and friends who supported me. Their support gave me wings.
For those of you that have been extended an invitation for an interview, I highly recommend that you find someone to practice a mock interview with. Whether to build your own confidence or gauge how well you are prepared, the experience will definitely be worth your time!