I know from perusing the Student Doctor Network Pre-Veterinary Forum that many schools have already started sending out invitations for interviews. For those of you who receive them – Congrats! It’s one of the most exciting and yet terrifying feeling to get that invite, so I’ve got some advice for you.
When You Receive an Invite
- Remain calm! Yes, you are entitled to jumping up and down and running around and all, but let’s remember, it’s an interview – – not an acceptance – – so keep it cool!
- Many schools have you schedule your interview time yourself rather than designating a specific time to you. Call promptly to schedule – don’t wait days or weeks! When scheduling, it’s hard to say whether a given date/time is best, but if you know the period of time that they will be interviewing during, try to go for the very beginning or the very end. Why? Look up “primacy and recency effects” – – it’s a psychological thing.
Prepping for the Interview
- Check out the experiences of interviewees from previous years by visiting the Student Doctor Network Interview Feedback
- Reread your application – in its entirety! Multiple times, if necessary to make sure you know what you wrote.
- Determine your weaknesses. Be hard on yourself because the admissions committee might be hard on you and the last thing you want is to be unprepared for the seemingly brutal criticism.
- Determine your strengths. What qualities would you like to highlight to the admissions committee or your interviewer(s).
- Think of some experiences that highlight your leadership and problem-solving qualities. If you are going to have any behavioral interview questions, most of the questions are getting at these qualities. Just remember, behavioral questions are NOT about telling a good story/experience, they are an opportunity for you to show the interviewer(s) your desirable qualities that will make you an excellent veterinarian!
The Night Before / Morning Of
- Get a good night’s sleep!
- Make sure your clothes are clean, and wrinkle-free!
- Eat normally – don’t eat or drink anything that is unusual for you. As for alcohol, if you are of legal age, having a glass of wine or whatever is not going to kill you, but make sure you don’t indulge to the point that you show up to your interview hungover!
- Coffee – if you’re accustomed to a cup or two in the morning, by all means – do what is normal, nothing more! We wouldn’t want you running on half-speed, after all! But this is NOT the time to try a double shot of espresso if you’re used to a single cup-o-joe! Likewise, if you are not accustomed to caffeine regularly, do NOT change that now! The last thing you want is to be wired and jittery during your interview!
- Breathe deeply!
During the Interview
- Greet your interviewer…with a smile, a firm handshake, and repeat their name.
- Remember to smile during your interview and make eye contact.
- Be prepared to say, “I don’t know.” if you find yourself facing a truly difficult question that you either don’t know the answer or aren’t sure how to answer. On this note, come up with multiple ways of phrasing “I don’t know” so you don’t sound like a broken record in case you have to use it more than once. For example, if you are asked about something that you have never heard of, you can reply, “I’m not familiar with that, could you explain it to me.” That type of reply is an “I don’t know” in disguise. It shows honesty but at the same time an interest in learning, both of which are great qualities for future veterinarians to possess!
- Upon exiting, thank your interviewer by name for their time and with a firm handshake.
After the interview
- Thank You Notes – Check with the schools you are applying to for their policy on thank you notes sent to interviewers. Some schools have strict policies against such notes, so it would be best to respect each school’s policy.