5 Tips To Help You Ace Your PT School Interviews
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
You've completed your prerequisite courses. Finished your shadowing hours. Submitted your applications to your desired physical therapy schools. What's next?
There's 1 more thing to hurdle before you are accepted into physical therapy school: the interview.
While some programs do not require applicant interviews, for the schools that do, the interview is an important component of the admissions process.
During one of my admissions interviews, I had a 45-minute 1-on-1 conversation with a professor, while at another, it was a group setting where I was asked questions alongside 6 other applicants.
Regardless of the interview format, here are a few tips to help you prepare for your physical therapy school interviews:
Know what to expect before you arrive. Once you're fortunate enough to score an interview, find out what the day will be like. Will you go on a tour of the school and sit in on an information session? Will there be a chance to speak with current students? Will your interview be private or with other applicants?
Knowing what to expect before your interview will help you do some background reading and research before you arrive, think of any questions you might have, and importantly, it'll help you feel a little more at ease the day of the interview. Feel free to contact the program and ask the questions above; trust me, it'll help calm some of those "game-day" nerves.
Be ready for common questions. It's likely that you'll be asked to answer basic questions about yourself and your application, such as: Why do you want to be a physical therapist? Why do you want to go to school at this college or university? Why did you pick your undergraduate college and major? What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
These might seem irrelevant when it comes to entering physical therapy school, but these foundational questions matter. This information will give the interviewer background and detail to you that your application may not alway provide.
When I was of the midst of application season, I pictured someone asking me these questions, and imagined how I might answer. Not only did it help me prepare, but it helped me learn a bit about myself and remind me of the choices and decisions made to set me on this career path.
Expect some surprise. In the group interview I took part in, we were each asked different impersonal questions, such as "When was the last time you got angry?" and "What would you do if you saw a classmate cheating on a test?" The 6 of my fellow applicants and I heard every answer from one another. Talk about being put on the spot!
It's impossible to prepare yourself for every possible question or scenario, but that doesn't mean that you should worry. For questions like these, remember there is no single correct answer. The interviewer is trying to gain insight into who you are.
For example; he or she doesn't actually care about what ticked you off last week; instead the professor wants to know how you handled it.
Practice, practice, practice. Before the interview, write down some of the questions that you think you'll be asked and hand them over to a friend or relative. Again, you may or may not get these questions, and the interviewer will be a stranger, but it'll give you practice.
While I knew in my head why I wanted to be a PT or attend a certain school, I realized when practicing with someone else that I was overly wordy and lacking clarity in my answeres. Although it felt silly telling my husband why I wanted to go to physical therapy school, rehearsing—but not memorizing—gave me the chance to alleviate my awkwardness and ease my jitters.
Relax and pay attention. Not every applicant gets an interview, so if you're chosen for an interview slot, congratulations! That means the hardest part is over.
Unless you demonstrate poor interpersonal skills or show that you won't be a good fit for the school, you likely will have a good chance of being accepted—but don't take the interview any less seriously. Likewise, since schools know that many of their interviewees will be admitted, they're also trying to sell themselves.
Set aside your nervousness for a little bit and listen carefully to how the school presents itself. Also see what current students think of their program. Make sure the things you hear align with what you want and need as a student and as a future professional.
So suit up in your finest business wear and get ready to show these schools who you are and how great of a future physical therapist you will be. Good luck!
Have tips for how you got through your physical therapy school interviews? Leave them in the comments section below.
Jasmine Marcus, PT, DPT, is a practicing physical therapist and writer in New York. You can connect with her through her website, on Twitter at: @JMarcusDPT, and on Instagram at: @JMarcusDPT.