If you haven’t experienced an interview for a PA position yet, it might be helpful to know just what you could be walking into. Being blindsided in any interview is never fun, so here are a few things you might experience.
The PA interview usually starts with meeting at the HR department or office of the practice manager. Often a tour is given of the hospital or office. The purpose of the tour (usually given by someone non-medical) is to introduce the candidate to members of the team: receptionists, unit secretaries, doctors, PA/NP’s, nurses, nursing aids, and others. Often the actual time with the attending physician or sponsoring physician is minimal and is usually time squeezed out between patients or OR cases. It is not uncommon to sit in a waiting room or break room and have 10 minutes to meet the doctor that will be the decision maker. Despite that, treat each person as if they are critical to the team. In some cases, that nurse you meet who has been there for 20 years will have a say in whether or not you get the job.
The main things that will be noted about you is confidence, ability to communicate well under pressure, and interest in the field. Most doctors love to talk about what they do, so that is a good area for you to ask questions. Often egos are high and they strive to feel that what they do is the best and crucial for the planet. If an Orthopedic doc has just finished a total knee repair, he will often want to talk about his way of perfecting the repair. If a PA wants to land a job with that Ortho doc, it would be great to understand his technique.
Basic tips for your interview:
You will represent the practice or the doctor, so they need to feel confident that the patients will feel you are capable.
Appear interested in the area of medicine in which you are applying.
Research the doctor to discover what areas of medicine they enjoy, or what the specialty area within the specialty is that they like. Learn about areas of research or training with a leader in the field, and possibly where they attended medical school, etc.
Be able to translate academic understanding to practical bedside medicine.
This requires being able to think fast on your feet and communicate clearly. This, like the first tip will be a part of the assessment for the same reason. The doctor needs to be sure you will interact with the patients in an educated and respectful manner.
Be able to handle difficult situations.
Medical complications or delivering bad news, to name a few. Good communication in general is a must as a PA.
Demonstrate great people skills.
Often you will be introduced to 10-20 people over the course of the interview. Assume even the nurse that has worked there for 10 years has a say in if you get the job.
Be able to answer this question: “Why did you go to PA school?”
In this case, the doctor is often looking for a fascination with medicine, a desire to help people, or an inspiring story about something in your past that propelled you into the field. Don’t make anything up, be real and genuine because in the end, whether or not you get the job, that’s what matters most.
We hope you feel a little more prepared for your interview. If you need any extra help, just let us know, and good luck!