Veterinary schools engage in interviews to varying degrees. Some go back and forth on doing them or not. There is not particularly compelling evidence that interviews improve the selection process, but it’s hard to let go of them. It SEEMS like sitting down talking with someone should help us determine if they will be successful or not. So, for those schools that do interviews, how do you really nail the interview?
Your goal is to have notes made by the interviewers that you are an above-average candidate. You do not have to aim to be a superstar candidate or the best candidate and, in fact, aiming for that is likely to backfire. As always, aim for zero. Here are some general tips which will help you with any vet school interview.
Be concise but not parsimonious with your answers. When you are asked a question, answer it without rambling. However, try not to answer with one or two sentences. You need an opportunity to showcase yourself, and answering questions is how you do so. Answer the question directly and expand on your answer. If you find you are speaking for more than about three minutes on a reply, it’s probably too long or rambling.
Use examples. Whenever possible, use examples from your own experience. If you are given an ethical conundrum, try to relate it to something you had to tackle yourself in the recent past. Always share what you learned from the experience and how you might do things better in the future.
Be secure. If you need a question repeated, ask so politely. If you need to take notes, do so. Take the time to take a sip of water. You don’t have to answer in a rapid-fire manner. Consider your answer before giving it if you need to.
Be prepared. Why do you want to go to that institution? You should have researched this before the interview and have some answers prepared. Why are you a good candidate? Be genuine but not generic. If given an opportunity, have questions to ask them. Remember, it’s about finding the right fit– you need to make sure this institution is where you want to go to school.
If you hit these points, you will come off as poised and professional- a future colleague to the interview team. Although the interview is rarely a make-or-break decision for the admissions team, it does factor into their decision making. I have seen some interviewees who impressed the heck out of me, and others which were definitely unremarkable. If you follow the short list above, you are more likely to edge into that impressive group. Are there scenarios you have heard of where you think the above would not be helpful?