Lessons Learned From My Physician Assistant Interview Questions
I had my first phone interview for a job and it was completely blindsiding. At the 2016 AAPA conference in May, I was able to meet several vendors and recruiters from around the U.S. at the Exhibit Hall. Several of those were from Texas, my home state. The AAPA exhibit hall has one of the many benefits that you won’t find in other places – networking.
Sure, the conference is expensive, but if you have the funds to go or your PA program will fund your trip – make sure to bring business cards, a suit/dress, and a positive attitude with you. Many students share hotels or find nearby housing and commute into the conference. If you book and plan early enough, you can get great deals on flights.
Did you know that AAPA student members receive a discount on conference fees? Did you know that networking events like this are especially helpful if you’re looking for jobs outside your state? I hope after reading this you’ve looked up where the AAPA 2017 conference is – see you in Vegas peeps! May 15-17, 2017.
PA Interview Questions I Was Asked
Back to my story – I had no idea the recruiter who took my name and email down back in mid-May would actually follow through. Her colleague followed up with me a few weeks ago in a phone screening. I was asked pretty basic physician assistant job interview questions such as:
- What do you know about working for our company?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Name a time when you made a mistake and how did you handled it (in the clinical setting)?
- Name a time when you and a clinical supervisor disagreed on something and how did you approach it?
- What are you looking for in a job (location, hours, on-call, inpatient vs. outpatient)? How flexible are you?
- What starting salary are you looking for?
- What experience have you had before PA school?
- What are your plans/goals 5 years from now?
As you can imagine, I was pretty nervous, but tried not to let it be heard. My thought process was rushed and I could tell my words were a little disconnected. Wouldn’t yours be if they called you asking for an impromptu interview as you were about to jump in the shower?
Lesson 1: Prepare Your Answers Ahead of Time
This opportunity has showed me you have to be ready at all times for moments like this. Know who you are and think about where you are headed. Figure out what you are looking for, and weigh the pros and cons. Working under pressure at the last minute may be a strength, but do you know what your weaknesses are and what areas you can improve in? Have you reflected often enough on your experiences?
Lesson 2: Have Questions for the Interviewer
Do you have good questions to ask your future employer? Do you know what a competitive starting salary is for a new grad? These are all questions you should be thinking about outside of PA school and while you’re in school.
Lesson 3: Join AAPA
If you haven’t seen it yet, AAPA also has a Career ComPAnion for new grads that is super helpful and available if you’re an AAPA member. Being an AAPA member also gets you access to the annual Salary Report, which gives you lots of insight as to what type of starting salary and benefits you should be looking for as a new grad.
You’ll learn about how your salary compares to other states and is even broken down by specialty. You’ll also get access to PA JobSource and a guide on State Laws and Regulations for when the time is ready. Also included in membership fees are subscriptions to JAAPA and PA Professional. If you haven’t already, join us on AAPA’s Huddle for extra resources and ideas.
A student membership runs $75 for the entire duration of PA school. Pre-PA students can also join AAPA for $100.
Lesson 4: Take Every Opportunity to Network
So, why spend the time writing about this? Well, one of the many reasons I started my blog was to share my knowledge and experience with other people. During the last two years as a PA student, I’ve realized some of the best experiences and most valuable relationships I’ve made were through organizations like AAPA and PAEA. You’ve got to get yourself out there and meet people. You’ve got to stop telling yourself you can’t afford it or that you don’t have the time. Figure out ways to make time and find funding (maybe even fundraise). This is how I’ve become successful and that’s why I share it with you today. Good luck!
The AAPA Career ComPAnion includes information on creating a professional profile/portfolio, what to expect on rotations, finding your first job, preparing for an interview, compensation, budgeting your loans, and much more. Also, if you haven’t already, you should probably create a LinkedIn profile, and get your resume up and running now. Keep it updated as you navigate through PA school and remember to add your scholarships/awards and any opportunities you’ve had. This will help you build a professional network that you can eventually use to get your foot in the door.
Written By: Paul Gonzales, PA-S2 FROM DOSE OF PA
Paul Gonzales, PA-S2 was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He is the second to youngest of five biological siblings, but also has two half sisters that are also older than him. He started PA school in 2014 at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. He previously worked for St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas while attending the University of Texas at Austin.