Here is the Interview Part II! In this section of the application process I'll discuss what my experience was overall for Optometry school interviews and do separate posts about specific schools. That way you don't have to be too overwhelmed with the interview information.
When you interview, this is your chance to be yourself and shine. Corny, but 100% true. Like your wardrobe, you need to put your best self forward. Don't act like you would in front of friends, but do act like yourself around close adults you respect (and want respect from).
The interview day started out with an introduction from a school administrator or the person in charge of the application process. They welcomed me and directed me to the central area where the applicants meet n' greet. In this area, you will most likely be given a name tag and a booklet of information that includes financial aid information, estimated budgets, your schedule of the day, and programs the school offers. There is a high chance there will be a selection of bagels, muffins, juices, and coffee for you to nibble on before the introduction to the program begins. I always tried to eat something before arriving to the school (a protein-rich meal with fruit was very filling), because I knew my nerves would be too high to do anything with the buffet.
After the meet-n-greet, you will have a run-down of what your schedule will be for the day. Typically, your schedule can look 1 of 2 ways: meetings with financial aid, campus tours, a student panel, and lunch followed by the interviews. Or, interviews first with meetings to follow. It depends on the school. However, it is a guarantee that if an essay is involved, it is always done after the introduction. Do not sweat this part. The prompt is usually basic and there to give you an opportunity to think on your feet and show your communication skills. There is a misconception these essays are meant to determine if an applicant plagiarized their personal statement. This is not the case unless you really have something to hide, so just write from your heart.
After the 15-30 minute written prompt, you will head off to your meetings, tours, or interviews. Be prepared to ask questions, know some info about the school, drink water whenever offered, and have good shoes! You'll be walking around a lot, attempting to smile and be friendly when you're really freaked out. At Pacific University I was there from 7:45am to 4:45pm! Having water, mints, and/or good shoes for the long haul is vital. By having a few questions specific to the school prepared you have something to work into the conversation and get what you need out of the experience. Remember you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. The night before my interviews I would review my research of the school and jot down questions divided into two categories. One category were general questions that could be asked during tours or student panels while the other category of questions were very specific to the school's program left for the interview. This was helpful because some questions are better answered by students (how to balance the work load with real life?), while others are better for administrators (tell me more about the required research thesis).
Each school interviews applicants differently. At Pacific we were spread out throughout the campus in different buildings. At PCO-Salus we were in the same building, same floor, but different rooms. My interview at SCCO was in the same room where I did my written prompt, while my interviewer at ICO took me to his personal office. There is no specific written formula for what goes on, but the only thing you can control is how you present yourself.
To break it down, here were some, but not all, of the questions I was asked.
1. Why do you want to be an Optometrist?
2. Why do you want to attend our school?
3. What is your academic weakness? Strength?
4. What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
5. You did a lot of extra-curriculars in college. Which one stands out the most and why?
6. If you were in this type of ethical situation, what would you do?
7. Who do you admire most and why?
8. What do you do for fun or how do you relieve stress?
9. If you could do anything besides Optometry, what would it be?
10. How would you describe or explain what an Optometrist does to a random person?
As you can see, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of who you are as a person and if you will make a good optometrist. The questions asked are evaluating you ability to get through the rigorous program. Some of these questions you WILL get asked (#1,2, and 8 are definite). You don't need to have a prepared, well rehearsed response to all of the listed questions. However, be very clear with your message for why you want to be an Optometrist. This is "The Big One".
Like preparing my questions the night before, I also wrote very rough draft responses to a few of these questions so I could have a visual of what I wanted to say. It worked out my nerves and helped a lot!
Hopefully this gives you a clearer picture of a general interview day. I can give more details about my days at Salus, ICO, Pacific, and SCCO in later posts.
Good luck and enjoy your day!
Until Next Time,