Interview Questions for PA School:
Here are my top 100 interview questions that I have come up with from personal experience and research. During Mock Interviews, we run through some of these questions and any others that may be specific to your application, and then discuss your answers to determine any flaws or weaknesses. It's also important to identify any bad habits you may have. Comment below with your answers to these questions and we can evaluate your answers!
For more questions and interview advice, check out the Physician Assistant School Interview Guide.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Why do you want to be a PA? (as opposed to a doctor or NP?)
What is the difference in the nursing model and medical model for teaching?
What does a PA do?
What makes you a good candidate for our program?
What qualities or skills do you have that you think would make you a valuable student and classmate?
What would you bring to the class?
How have you prepared to be an effective PA?
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing PAs?
Why do you think you would be successful in PA school?
How do you study best?
How do you deal with stress?
How are your time management skills?
What was your most challenging course of undergrad and why?
Why do you want to go to this specific school?
What is appealing about “location” of school?
What are you looking for in a PA program?
Have you applied elsewhere?
What is your biggest weakness?
What is your biggest strength?
Do you work better by yourself or with others?
Is there a specific specialty or ideal job that you see yourself in as a PA?
What qualities make a successful PA?
How do you feel Obamacare will influence PAs?
How do you see the role of PAs changing in the future?
What are some difficulties that you feel like PAs are facing?
Do you feel like you would be limited by any of the regulations on PAs either nationally or in the state you plan to work in?
Are there any laws that you feel like limit the PA profession unfairly?
Are there any laws that you feel should be passed to further the progression of the PA profession?
How would having a family/children affect your performance in PA school? (This is a valid question if you mentioned anything about this in your personal statement, or if you bring it up.)
How do you think being a younger/older applicant may affect your performance in the program?
Tell me about your support system?
What are your plans if you are not accepted to a PA program this year.
What are your thoughts on the newer online PA programs?
What are your thoughts on the new bridge programs from PA to MD?
What are your thoughts on the name “physician assistant,” and the push for a name change to "physician associate."
Tell me about your support system
Reassure me that you are not going to fail out
What do you know about the history of the PA profession.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Can you explain your….lower grade/low GRE/lack of shadowing or HCE?
If you could do anything differently in undergrad, what would it be?
Who is the most important member on a healthcare team?
What are your goals in medicine?
Tell me about the last physician you worked for.
What are some possible negative parts of being a PA?
When did you decide to pursue PA school?
Was there anything unique you observed while shadowing?
What is the most selfless thing you have done?
Describe a time when you have had to overcome adversity.
If a student fails a test, is it the student’s fault or the teacher’s fault?
Describe a situation you have had with a difficult patient.
Describe a situation with a patient that had a significant impact on you.
How do you deal with high stress situations. Give an example
Describe a time that you have struggled academically, and how you dealt with it.
Your supervising MD asks you to go administer a medication to a patient. You do not agree with his decision and feel it could harm the patient. What do you do?
You see a co-worker taking medication from the dispense cart and putting it in their bag. What do you do?
You are at a baseball game and the woman in front of you has a very suspicious mole that you suspect could be melanoma. What do you do?
You are in a surgery and the anesthesiologist starts making inappropriate comments about the patient once they are asleep. What do you do in this situation?
A patient you are seeing insists on seeing an MD. How do you handle this?
Describe a situation you have had with a patient who made an impact on you.
You have a patient who is not proficient in English, and you do not know their language. What can you do to assist with their difficulties?
Describe a time you had to make an ethical decision.
You’re in an OR and have suspicions that the surgeon may be intoxicated. What do you do?
You are about to leave for the day and realize that you gave a patient medicine they are allergic to. What do you do?
You are seeing a Jehovah’s Witness patient that does not accept blood transfusions due to religious reasons, but it would be life saving. What do you do?
Your patient is diagnosed with HIV, but doesn’t want to tell their partner. What do you do?
A classmate offers you an old exam they have before the test. What do you do?
Tell me about a time you’ve had to use teamwork to solve a problem.
Do you think it’s more important to get patients seen or spend time with patients?
You prescribed a 13 year old birth control, and the pt’s mother calls and is angry. What do you say?
Sometimes you may disagree from others in instances that you think they may be making a mistake. Talk about a time when you had to disagree with someone else to get a positive outcome.
Give an example of a situation in which you did more than was expected of you.
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI)
If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?
If you were a color, what color would you be and why?
If you were dressing up to go on a halloween party for kids, what would you dress up as and why?
Who, living or dead, would you invite to dinner and what would you serve them?
What kind of car would you be?
What would you do if you hit your neighbor’s dog?
Give directions to someone for how to put on gloves
Help this student complete the following task…
Interpret the graph shown in the room.
You discover that one of your classmates has become romantically involved and moved into a house with her community-based clinical preceptor in your health professions training program. What should be done, if anything? Enter the room and discuss your position with the interviewer. (Jones, et al., 2011)
A friend in your class tells you his mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. He is overwhelmed by his studies and may drop out of the program to spend time with his mother. How do you counsel your friend?
Joe is a pizza delivery worker. The pizza shop he works for has a 30 minutes or less delivery guarantee or else the customer does not have to pay. On Joe’s most recent delivery, he spots a woman bleeding on the street. There is no one else around and the woman seems to be unable to move by herself. However, Joe knows that if he returns empty handed again, he will be fired from this job which he most desperately needs. What do you think Joe should do? Justify your solution in terms of practical and ethical considerations.
“Liberation Therapy” (LT), a vascular operation developed to potentially cure multiple sclerosis (MS) in certain patients, has recently come under very serious criticism - delaying its widespread use. Among other experimental flaws, critics cite a small sample size in the original evidence used to support LT. As a healthcare policy maker, your job is to weigh the pros and cons in approving novel drugs and therapies. Please discuss the issues you would consider during an approval process for LT.
Because of federal and provincial subsidy policies and return-of-service agreements, international medical graduates (IMGs) now make up an increasingly large proportion of rural doctors. As a consequence, the shortage of doctors in rural areas has prompted many family medicine residencies to increase their quotas for IMGs in their programs. Effectively, this development is leading to a relative reduction in spots available for Canadian medical graduates. Please discuss the pros and cons of such a development.
Discuss one of your pastimes outside of school and how the skills you acquired from this activity will help you in your career.
You are a family physician seeing Jane, a 67 year old woman with a recent history of multiple fragility fractures. You diagnose her with osteoporosis and prescribe some bisphosphonate drugs and other pharmacological treatments. Jane tells you that she has heard some good things over the internet about alternative medicine treatments such as Chinese medicine, and she is adamant on trying these as well. You are concerned about the use of these alternative medicine treatments and the possible negative effects they could have on Jane’s health. How would you handle the situation and what would you recommend Jane do? Discuss any ethical considerations that are present.
You are on the committee for selecting a new Dean of Science. What characteristics and/or qualities would you look for when selecting an effective dean?
In June 2011, the infamous Vancouver riots took place after their hockey team lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. Stores were ransacked and cars were burned. Hundreds of people were injured and sent to overcrowded hospitals. As the police chief in Vancouver, what measures or policies would you put in place to make sure this does not happen again?
Clostridium Difficile (C. difficile) is a type of bacteria that increases its activity with most antibiotic use, and is therefore very difficult to treat. Research shows that the most effective way to prevent the spread of infection is frequent handwashing. However, many people have flat-out refused to wash their hands in hospitals. The government is contemplating passing a policy to make it mandatory for people entering hospitals to wash their hands or else risk not being seen by doctors and being escorted out of the building against their will. Do you think the government should go ahead with this plan? Consider and discuss the legal, ethical or practical problems that exist for each action option and conclude with a persuasive argument supporting your decision.
Discuss an experience that allowed you to learn something important about yourself. How will this lesson help you succeed in your career?
If you could have any other job, besides being a PA, what would you do.
If you were to win the lottery for 100 million dollars. What would you do? Would you still want to be a PA?
What is the last book you read.
What is your life saying?
What are your hobbies outside of school?
Is there anything else I need to know about you?