Back in August, I was invited to interview for PA school. I didn't say much about it here as I fear failure and getting to the interview stage is like being within arms reach of the dream. It was too close, and felt very fragile. Instead I spent weeks agonizing over how to articulate my flaws without making them sound too negative. It's pretty hard to justify "I don't take direction well." "I am too independent" "I actually hate people" "I lack motivation." "I am too laid back." "I'm only in this for the money". You cannot be honest. And definitely answers like "I care too much" Or "I am too thorough" are frowned upon.
Googling "how to survive a PA school interview" is a slippery and horrible slope. Everyone has advice. Most of which was very useful. Some of which was down right terrifying.
"They will ask you about the shortcomings of your application." one said. Good lord. Where to start with that. I have to think of an excuse for getting a C in Chem 102? Doesn't everyone know that chemistry is the worst? But that would not be an acceptable answer, of course.
"And then they'll put a camera in front of you and ask you a non sequitur like 'What was the last novel you read?' or 'Tell us a joke'" Okay, like, what?! I don't want to go to a place that wants to play with their interviewees anyway. The scheme of 'let's just try to throw them off their game' is horrible to me.
"Here's a list of 300 (no lie) questions that you will probably be asked" promised another. Did I prepare an answer for all of these questions? No. Did I read them all? Also no. Because I am not completely crazy and I don't want to be.
I did obsessively write answers to the most common questions everyone agreed on and kept coming back to how to be flawed but also the worlds most perfect human being.
And this doesn't even cover what I called the "pantsuit emergency". I don't do clothes. Never have- but I realized that I had nothing appropriate to wear for an interview. Or any occasion outside of lounging and going to a fair. So my friend (bless her) became my personal shopper and got me out of my pantsuit emergency by making me buy a skirt and blouse. I think she is missing her true calling because she made me like clothes. Me. Like. Clothes.
So, as the date approached, I began asking friends what my flaws were. Not the best idea because no one is honest unless you wait until they're drunk. Even then, there is no good answer to that question that doesn't make you look weak.
The day of, I took the kayak out in the morning. I paddled out my anxiety and then had to change into a dress in the schools bathroom. Anxiety back up to an 11.
I found the little corridor they placed us in wishing I hadn't broken a sweat trying to put hose on. It's such a strange dynamic. Everyone is very tense and silently sighing or drumming their fingers. Everyone (unless they are the worlds most perfect human being) is judging everyone who came in the door, especially me. "Dang. They look ready. Why didn't I wear something like that? I am the only one without a jacket! Stupid sweater! Why didn't I bring a pen?" And then I made the mistake of talking to them and then I knew for sure. "Ooh. They're qualified. They're kind. They're competent." The group would share a laugh over finding the room, or parking, or something equally mundane, and then we would settle back into awkward silence and judgement.
The interview itself, once I got started, felt like no big deal. I was interviewed by three faculty members and it was so conversational and relaxed, I forgot about all of my worries. It was kind of nice as the interviewers didn't know anything about me. They purposefully didn't read my resume or essay. In one way this was great as I could talk about anything. In another way it was scary as I had to pepper my accomplishments into the conversation without sounding pompous. In the end, I didn't cuss, and I didn't cry so it felt like a success. But then the second guessing started. Did I say the right things? Did they realize I was joking when I said that? "Did I come off as a jerk?" "Did I even tell them that I am a paramedic?" The whole thing is a blur and they never asked about my flaws.