I have been reluctant to write this post for a while. Not because I feel like discussing interview questions is cheating. As we have covered before, preparation is expected for an interview- if you don’t research and prepare, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
I think my reluctance centers around two issues:
- There are plenty of other people out there on the internet who can address this and
- Vet schools are so individualistic with their interviews that it’s nearly impossible to provide helpful, generalized advice. So here is my best effort to help you prepare for questions asked during your vet school interview.
First, it should not have to be said, you should research specific questions asked by specific schools. Some may consider this to be undermining the system, like getting the questions for a test before the exam. I disagree with that because I think interviewees SHOULD be prepared to answer the questions. I want to test what they say and how they say it; I don’t want to try to stump them, surprise them, or confuse them. If the interviewee is surprised, I am gauging their ability to respond to stress, not necessarily their answer to the question. If this is part of the “point” of the interview, fine, I just think that’s unconstructive.
Go out onto the internet and type in “vet school interview questions” and get some ideas for the specific questions you may get asked. There are a wide variety of ways to categorize these questions, and I will do so along these lines: compassion, competence, and curiosity. Compassion is what brings you vet school, competence is what you get during school, and you need curiosity to be a good vet throughout your life. I think, fundamentally, schools want to evaluate these three domains.
Compassion may be tested with questions about ethical challenges, your determination/grit, your leadership, and interpersonal conflicts. Competence may be tested with questions about difficult decisions, your performance in school or other activities, what you know about the profession/school, and what you’ve learned from various experiences. Curiosity may be tested with questions about how you handled an unknown situation, your involvement in research, and your career aspirations.
You absolutely need to have a good answer for, “Why do you want to come here?” Regurgitating a talking point from the presentation you just heard about the school is fine, but fairly transparent and doesn’t do much to advance your interview. You should have an answer to that question before you even leave for the interview. Like all interview answers, it should be succinct but demonstrate a bit about your personality or interests.
As I have mentioned before, make sure to use examples from your life in your responses. I also strongly recommend you have questions for the interviewers. Ones that I think are helpful for prospective students are, “What do you like about the school/What brought you to work here?” “What would you change about the school if you could?” and “Why do you feel the student experience is better here than anywhere else?”
You can’t have a prepared answer for every question, which is another reason I am not inclined to provide specific questions. Also, questions asked in previous years may change or no longer be asked. I think having a holistic, philosophical approach to answering interview questions is better than preparing specific answers for every question you can think of. Nonetheless, you should think of a couple of very common questions and think about the type of answer you might give. If it comes off as too polished and prepared, it may not be interpreted as being very sincere. So think about answers, but don’t rehearse them exhaustively.
What questions are you most worried about being asked in an interview?