Aug 01, 2019
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
I will be a senior in college this fall and will be interviewing for admittance to veterinary schools. I am really nervous about the entire process. I’m not sure how to approach questions. The interview is scheduled to last an hour. Applicants in previous years told me they were interviewed by as many as four or five individuals in separate rooms. A different question was posted outside each door and I will be given two minutes to prepare. Can you give me any guidance?
Hopeful Veterinary College Student
Personal interviews are challenging but also a chance to sell yourself
Dear Hopeful Veterinary Student,
Keep in mind that the value of a personal interview is that it is “eyeball to eyeball.”
This is an opportunity to “sell” yourself to another human being. The formal application process reveals only so much about you. While the difficulty of your classes, grade-point average and writing ability all play a role in an on-paper assessment of an applicant, the personal interview is designed to go beyond these formal qualifications and discover something about you that only a live meeting can reveal.
Interviews for veterinary school are much like those for medical school. They are designed to see how well you perform under pressure. That is why they typically are conducted by several interviewers, with each one looking for different personality traits. They will be looking to see if you panic when faced with a question you don’t know how to answer, or do you exhibit confidence and greet each question with an eagerness that shows you can think on your feet?
Multiple interviews often follow a good-cop, bad-cop script. One interviewer will be nice and easy to talk to while the other will be tough and cold — bordering on rudeness. They are looking for how well you can handle mood changes and difficult situations. Many of their questions will have no right answer, which is their purpose.
For example, they may ask you to tell them about your three best traits and three worst traits. This question remains among the most frequently asked queries because it puts the candidate on the spot. If you are not careful, you can come off sounding egotistical or, at the other end of the spectrum, a self-effacing procrastinator.
The good cop might ask, “If admitted, what do you think you will contribute?” The bad cop might ask, “What makes you think you are better than everyone else applying for admission?” The good cop might say, “If your family were sitting in on this interview, what story would they tell you to tell me?”
The interviewers are looking for a degree of authenticity. They know you want to be a veterinarian and have invested heavily in the pursuit of that goal. But not everyone has the personality to take on those professional challenges.
One of my clients planned on going into the Army Veterinarian Corps after graduation. During her interview she was given this hypothetical situation — If she were taking care of the general’s dog and discovered it had been badly abused, would she write him up in the report?
Her captain told her it could lead to her being transferred to the Aleutian Islands for the rest of her enlistment. Clearly, they were looking for elements of integrity and honesty. She took an oath. Would she violate it for the sake of her career? How would you answer that question?
Interviewers will ask you about your veterinary experience and possibly about mandatory spay and neuter laws. They could inquire about what you see as challenges to the veterinarian community and what you would do to resolve them. You need to be well-informed on topical issues in the field.
If you do have a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), they will probably want to know what sparked your interest in a veterinary career. Be prepared for them to ask you why you chose their school.
Check with your college career placement department to see if they have mock interview sessions so that you can hone your interview skills.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
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