Job of a physician assistant is an excellent career choice in healthcare. You will learn the basics under the guided supervision of an experienced physician, and get ready to start your own medical practice–if you decide to advance your education down the road.
Another alternative is devoting yourself fully to the career of a PA, playing vital role in healthcare, and enjoying the meaningful purpose the job can give to your everyday life. But how to get this job in an interview? What questions will they ask you? And how to make a good impression on the people in the hiring committee? We will have a look at the topic in this article. Let’s start with the questions.
Why do you want to work in our practice, and not in another place?
You have a few options here. Either you can focus on the convenience of the job, saying that you have a good traffic connection with the place, or that the working hours suit your daily schedule. Another option is to praise them for something they do better than their competitors (or perhaps worse), and claim it as the reason for your choice.
One way or another, they should have a feeling that you really want to work for them, and chose them on purpose.
What characterize a good physician assistant in your view?
You can again approach this questions from various angles. One of them is mentioning working duties, one by one, and emphasizing that a good PA is able to take care of each of these duties. Another, more holistic approach, is saying that a good physician assistant has a close and smooth cooperation with the physician, and that they deliver an excellent service to the patients.
How do you imagine a typical day in work, if we hire you.
Job description will help you to understand what you will do. You can list the duties, or you can come up with your own idea of a working day.
The key is to show them that you expect to have your hands full, and to always have something to do. Do not talk about coffee breaks or a tasty lunch–of course you will enjoy these little pleasures, but you should focus on your working duties while talking about a typical day in work.
From your point of view, what are the main duties of the physician assistant?
Working as a member of the health care team, taking medical histories, examining and treating patients, ordering and interpreting laboratory tests and X-rays, making diagnoses, and prescribing medications, the PAs do more less the same things as the physicians do–just they do it under a supervision of someone more experienced.
Have you any experience with prescribing drugs, surgery assistance, or conducting physical exams?
Try to speak with some enthusiasm while narrating your clinical experience. Tell them that you enjoy doing what doctors do, that you understand the meaningful purpose of your work, and are not afraid of any common task.
And if you haven’t done anything yet, tell them that you are eager to learn, and after all the theoretical studies and careful observation of other physicians in work, you can’t wait to finally put your hands to the test.
How would you deal with an angry patient?
Angry, sad, happy, scared. You will meet people in all kinds of mental conditions while working as a healthcare practitioner. Show the interviewers that you are ready for it, that you understand the emotions patients experience, and will approach every person with understanding and respect. You can also say that you try your best to not be affected by the bad behavior of some patients.
Do you prefer to give orders, or to take them?
You should say that you have no problems with both, but emphasize that you understand your position, and will respect the orders of the leading physician.
On the other hand, you will often instruct patients, and even other medical personnel (think medical receptionists, nurses, medical assistants) on what they should do. Therefor you should be ready to give orders as well.
Other questions you may face in your PA interview
- What is the most important thing you’ve learned at school?
- What motivates you the most in work?
- Tell us about a time when you went above and beyond (for a patient, for a colleague).
- Describe a time when you had to deal with an angry patient (customer).
- Describe a time when you faced an ethical dilemma.
- Tell us about a time when you had to make a decision without all information you needed.
- Describe a time when you did not know how to solve a problem. What did you do?
- What tasks do you not enjoy doing?
- Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.
- After everything we’ve discussed here, do you have any questions?
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Personal preferences play a role in this interview
Personal preferences matter a lot in this case–you are probably already aware of it. The physicians spend a lot time with their assistants, and they will not hire you unless they feel good with you. It is something natural, and you should keep it on your mind while interviewing for this job. What does it mean in practice?
You should definitely try to be nice, you should show respect and recognition for their work and their medical practice. Do not talk only about yourself, your studies and skills. Talk also about them–their practice, their goals, their life.
We feel good with people of the same “blood group”, but we also enjoy company of people who recognize us for our career, for what we have achieved. And that is exactly what you should try to do in an interview…
Do some research about your future employer
- Find out as much as you can about the physician and their practice. The knowledge will help you to answer some questions, but it will also help you to discover things you can praise them for. If you apply for a job at a clinic, and will work with different doctors during the day, you should focus on the healthcare institution in your research. What do they specialize in? How do they work? What is their reputation in a local community? What do patients say about them?
- Check the industry news. The physician can, and also want to, learn something from their assistants. Show them that you have some knowledge of the latest trends, that you can actually bring some value to their practice.
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a Physician Assistant belongs to tricky job interviews. There isn’t something like a standard interview template for the position, and the questions can differ a lot from one place to another.
In some cases, they will ask you only a couple of basic questions about your motivation, goals and experience, whereas elsewhere you may face plethora of scenario-based questions, and compete with dozens of candidates for the job.
The best thing you do is preparing for a variety of questions, so you are ready for each possibility (check our Interview Success Package for premium answers to all tricky interview questions). It is also important to do a good research about your future place of work, and to try to make the best possible connection with your interviewers.
Luck favors the prepared mind. If you do not underestimate any part of your preparation, you should walk away with a new employment contract… I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Body language in an interview – What do your gestures and movements say about you? Can we control our non-verbal communication? Interesting post that will help you to understand the basics of non-verbal communication in an interview.
- How to overcome interview nerves – Get rid of anxiety and deliver your very best.
* Special Tip: You can also download the list of 10 questions in a one-page-long .PDF document, and practice your interview answers anytime later, even when offline: