So you’ve been invited to interview for veterinary school – congratulations! You’ve clearly made an impression on the admission committee. Your application has given them reason to believe you’re worthy of a place in their program. It won’t be your application that earns you a seat in the classroom, though. To cross the final hurdle and cement your admission into veterinary school, you’ll need to ace your interview.
Test scores, work experience and grades can indeed say a lot about a candidate, but admissions committees schedule interviews so they can meet prospective students for themselves. It’s an opportunity for you to expand on the highlights of your résumé and put a friendly face to a name and your accolades. Veterinary schools are looking to create the most well-rounded class possible, and the interview is your chance to demonstrate your compatibility with the program.
Put your best foot forward in your veterinary school interviews by using these practical tips to prepare:
Do Your Homework
Before you begin studying for your interview, do some research on what to expect. Every veterinary admission committee will have slightly different formats and expectations for interviews. Some schedule panel interviews to speak with multiple candidates at once. Others offer a full day of welcome mixers, tours and individual interviews with each candidate. By understanding the full scope of the interview process, you’ll minimize the risk of unwelcome surprises. Even better, the complete picture of the interview process will allow you to fine-tune your preparation strategy.
Beyond the format of the interview, it helps to get into the heads of the admission committee members. Research what separates this particular veterinary program from others and be ready to speak on the differences. Committee members will appreciate your ability to talk authoritatively about why you’re passionate about their specific program.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The key to a successful interview? Get out of your own way! Too often, veterinary school candidates allow the pressure to get to them. Nervousness is to be expected when stakes are high, but it’s important to mitigate the side effects of that anxiety ahead of the interview. Only through rigorous practice can you truly offset the impact of your nerves.
Once your interview is scheduled, map out a practice routine for yourself. Ask friends to conduct mock interviews, and when they’re not available, practice answering questions in the mirror. By getting in the habit of speaking on your achievements, goals and passion for veterinary science, you’ll be more relaxed on the day of the real interview.
Talk Through Sample Questions
While it’s important to practice speaking confidently about your application and résumé, overpreparation can lead to a robotic cadence. To ensure you don’t sound overly rehearsed, try talking through sample interview questions with a friend. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the most common topics of veterinary school interviews while maintaining the fresh, conversational style for which interviewers will be looking.
Here are a few practice questions to guide your preparation:
- What sparked your interest in veterinary science?
- What skills do you believe all veterinarians should possess?
- What will be your biggest challenge in veterinary school?
- What’s the biggest obstacle faced by modern veterinary medicine?
- Of all your achievements, which are you most proud? Why?
- What will you do upon completion of the program? What are your career plans?
- Discuss a mistake you’ve made and how you handled the situation.
- Why should we choose you over other applicants?
There are dozens of databases of practice interview questions available online. Use this list to begin preparing, but look to other resources to round out your collection of sample questions.
Veterinary schools want students who are intellectually curious. The standout applicants will be the ones who go beyond expectations and challenge the status quo. To this end, indulge in the subjects you’ve always wanted to know more about. Do some reading on veterinary medicine news topics that interest you and be prepared to discuss them should they arise in the interview.
In a similar vein, channel your curiosity into questions for the admissions committee. Be ready to ask thoughtful questions about the program, career paths and the state of veterinary medicine at large. By voicing professional, incisive questions, you’ll come across as professional and genuine.
The Day of the Interview
Arrive early on the day of your interview to give yourself plenty of time to orient yourself on campus. Dress professionally and extend your very best manners when speaking with the admission committee. Should you get the chance to speak with committee members outside the interview setting, keep things polite and friendly.
Above all else, try not to let your nerves get to you! While it’s normal to feel a little anxious about the meeting, it’s important to remember that interviews go both ways. You may feel like you’re in the hot seat, but you’re interviewing the school just as much as the committee is interviewing you!