Trevor’s Story: Practice Makes Perfect
After graduating, my plan was to become a physician assistant (PA). But because the PA profession is ranked among the top professions in the United States, PA programs are highly competitive and demanding. Despite the challenging road ahead, I was attracted to this career because of the amount of time I could spend with my family.
The year I applied to PA school, I was one of 20,000 applicants, the largest number ever recorded. Of the 20,000 applicants, most are well qualified and have plenty of health care experience. I was told during the application process how hard it is to get in your first time around; even if I got an interview, I would still have the most difficult part of the process ahead of me. Despite these obstacles, I continued my applications and sent them off to the schools I wished to attend. The wait was awful. I remember constantly hitting the refresh button on my inbox as I hoped for news from the schools.
Finally, I received an interview invite. I was excited and nervous at the same time. With little idea about how to get ready for an interview, I prepared as much as I could, and just went into the interview and had a good time. Although I answered all the questions and felt good about it, a week later I heard from the school that I was denied. This was difficult for me to hear, because I didn’t know how else I could have prepared.
With several other PA program interviews scheduled, I knew I had to do something new to get ready. Luckily, I heard from a close friend that the Church has resources to help people in my situation. I looked into it, and I found the phone number to an LDS Employment Resource Services office in my area. Not really sure what to expect, I called the office, explained my situation, and was invited to the employment resource center for some interview preparation.
The next week I came in for mock interviews. My employment adviser shook my hand, turned on the video camera, and then we both sat down. The interview was professional and felt close to the real thing. After the interview, my employment adviser and I watched it. We talked about the things I was doing right, the things I was doing wrong, and the things I wasn’t even doing at all. He gave me tips and assured me that everything was going to work out.
I remember watching my first mock interview. It was a little embarrassing seeing all the ways I needed to improve. The key to interviewing is learning to stand out and set yourself apart from other candidates. I realized that even though I answered all of the questions perfectly, I looked boring! And that is exactly how schools would see me if I didn’t change.
The biggest thing I learned from the coaching I received at the employment center was to be present in the interview. This means that it’s not just about giving the right answers, but how you deliver your answers. And that is exactly how I failed my first interview. I answered the questions perfectly, but that is all I did. I needed to add emotion!
My adviser told me to get excited when answering questions and to let my passion show. All I needed to do was smile, laugh, and bring the interviewers into my experiences.
I applied what I had learned and had awesome interviews with the remaining schools. I got into four physician assistant programs, and I couldn’t have done it without LDS Employment Resource Services.