Pro tips for your final step as an optometry school candidate.
I was just in your dress shoes two years ago. That semester, I spent more hours talking to myself in the shower than to real humans. My interview prep consisted of searching for school specific interview questions and memorizing “mottos and missions”. Looking back on it, that wasn’t what I needed and that isn’t what you need either. But this is:
Before the Interview: Develop your individual story.
We spend so much time walking through undergrad following the checkmarks: Coursework? (check). OAT? (check). Observation? (check). Recommendations? (check). By the time we’ve checked everything off our list and are headed towards interviews, we’ve barely had time to reflect on what drove us down this path in the first place.
The admissions committee can look at your application and see that you we were on an academic journey towards optometry school, but what isn’t on paper is the emotional and intellectual growth along the way. The interview is the perfect opportunity to show that you’ve spent time evaluating your career path and have realistic expectations of what you’re getting into.
During the Interview: Be you—don’t transform into what you think the program’s looking for.
Before my interview a sales associate told me to purchase a gray suit jacket with a matching skirt. She told me “Everyone wears gray and that’s THE professional color to interview in”. Her advice made me nervous because my heart was set on a navy pant suit with small pinstripes. In the end, I ended up going with my gut because I felt more confident in the unique suit. I will never forget what happened when I walked into my first interview: I was greeted with smiles and a lighthearted, “Thank you—for saving us from a sea of GRAY!”.
In the interview your personality can be translated in several dimensions. From what to wear to how your communicate, pick what is TRUE to yourself. If you’re goofy, show small dimensions of that. If humor isn’t your forte, don’t force what isn’t natural. You’ll feel more comfortable if you are being the REAL you, and the admissions committee will pick up on it too.
After the Interview: Go “old school” to stand apart.
You’ve worked hard to get to where you are. In a pool of 1,200 applicants, it’s important to not only stand out during your interview but remain memorable after it. Give yourself a better advantage and physically leave something the admissions committee can remember you by.
After each of my interviews I hand wrote thank you notes to each person that I met that day. If my interviews were out of state, I made sure to send them out before I left so they would be delivered more quickly. The old fashioned courtesy shows the committee how much the opportunity means to you, and gives your application the perfect final touch.
Best of luck on your interview journey and remember: just let them see your vision, accommodate when questions get tough, and enjoy how fundus the process can be.