By Paige Roth
I almost fell out of bed when I received my first vet school interview. After submitting my application, it truly never occurred to me that this day would actually come — the day where I would actually have to book my flight to a new city, dry clean my suit and delve into the facts about a program that might actually accept me.
When the excitement died down, I realized I really didn’t have the first clue what to expect from a vet school interview. Sure, plenty of my friends had come home with war stories from medical school interviews, but if I have learned anything from this process it is to never assume the vet schools and med schools think alike. And while I have had my fair share of professional interviews, I knew better than to underestimate the task ahead of me. I once again set out on the familiar quest through the interwebs.
As I scrolled through lists of possible interview questions, I found myself stuck on the simplest inquiries — “Tell me about yourself.” I rattled off a practice answer while alone in my bedroom. Wait. Did that sound “vetty” enough? I could have given that response to the Starbuck’s Barista. I tried again. Now that just sounded like the silly little girl who decided to become a vet at her best friends puppy party. This was going nowhere.
I needed professional help. Below are a few tricks I tried to prepare for my interview — everything from what to say to what to wear. Ultimately, I was very happy with my interview. I was well prepared, had a wonderful experience, sweat through my suit and GOT ACCEPTED!!
- Sign up for that Career Services Interview Prep Course. For a moment the thought crossed my mind: “I’ve done interviews before. I can just read over the practice questions. No need for this session.” Banish that thought. You are wrong. A practice interview was the single best decision I made before my interview. Why? First, I had to practice talking for over an hour. It is hard to form coherent thoughts, especially when you are asked to do it over and over again. It gave me the chance to fine tune my answers and get some valuable feedback. Not to mention, every single question in my actual interview was something I had practiced during my career counselor’s session.
- Write out and practice your answers. I hand wrote bulleted answers to each of the major questions (i.e. Why this school? Why do you want to be a vet?). I practiced them enough so that they flowed, but not so much that I sounded like a robot. As a flashcard addict, this strategy made me feel so much better. I was able to review my bullets before my interview to calm my nerves.
- Get to your interview VERY early. I showed up an hour before my interview (because that’s when my ride could drop me off). I was sure I would be foolishly early, but wasn’t the first one there! In fact, two vet students were sitting in the admissions office answering questions. Their insights were some of the most helpful facts I learned during my visit and I’m sure our hour-long conversation reflected well on my interest in the school.
- Be prepared to wait. There were a limited number of panelists for about twenty students. Naturally, I was last on the list. I was stuck in a room full of anxious fellow applicants. I had to force myself to tune out over-confident Charlie who rattled over every medical mystery he’d solved to date and timid Tina who wanted to tell anyone who would listen how terrifying the panelists were. Bring a book or bury your nose in some admissions materials and just remind yourself that you deserve to be in that room just as much as everyone else.
- Wear your most professional outfit. I was afraid I would be stuffy and over dressed. I wore a black suit with a conservative black and white blouse. I’m short, so I opted to wear low heels. My outfit was just right. If there are any more interviews in the future, I plan to wear the exact same thing! I would, however, recommend a change of flats if the day involves a tour. There was no way to look elegant while climbing over cattle grates in heels. But, as the dean put it, “Vet students don’t complain” : )
It’s worth noting that this interview was not in the MMI format, just a panel of interviewers with a sheet of set questions. If I do attend an MMI interview, you can expect another post!!