To you, planning ahead is a no-brainer. You don’t think twice about drafting an outline before composing an essay or scheduling a follow-up appointment immediately following a visit to the dentist. Even as you work through veterinary school applications, you’re already thinking about what’s down the road.
Thinking ahead is particularly helpful for aspiring veterinarians like you, because preparing for program interviews takes time. Admissions committees go way beyond surface questions to gain a firm understanding of what type of student you are and what you would bring to the profession. They expect thoughtful responses.
It can be a little daunting to figure out how to prepare when you don’t know exactly which vet school interview questions you’ll encounter. Before you get too worried, you should know there are a lot of common questions that nearly every program will ask. Get ready to start rehearsing.
8 Common vet school interview questions
If you simply search for the vet school interview questions past students have been asked, you’ll quickly find yourself with an insurmountable list. We reached out to Jeffrey Bates, Director of Admissions at St. George’s University (SGU), to help home in on some of the general questions you should expect. He even has some tips for putting your best foot forward when interview day arrives.
According to Bates, you’d be wise to prepare answers for the following questions:
1. Why do you want to be a veterinarian?
Consider this your bread-and-butter question. Every veterinary medicine program will want to delve into your motivations for pursuing a career as a vet, and they expect you to have given it some thought. Simply expressing your love for animals likely won’t get you very far.
“The biggest thing is to find out if the student truly knows what they’re getting themselves into, that they truly know this is what they want to do,” Bates says.
"The biggest thing is to find out if the student truly knows what they’re getting themselves into."
You may find yourself struggling to verbalize your reasons for pursing veterinary medicine. Try doing a little bit of research on what different types of veterinarians do in a typical day. If you’re interested in becoming a food safety vet, for example, you might realize you’re motivated to help combat antimicrobial resistance.
2. Why do you think you would be a good veterinarian?
Pre-vet students who get invited for interviews have already made an impression on admissions committees. They’re already familiar with your academic record, so they’re typically looking to gain a better understanding of how your personal qualities show you’re a good match for a career in veterinary medicine. When answering this question, be sure to use specific examples.
3. Why are you interested in our program?
Applying to plenty of vet programs is typical. In fact, the most recent data from the Association of American Veterinary Colleges (AAVMC) shows pre-vet students apply to an average of about five schools. There’s no harm in applying to even more, but you don’t want to do so blindly.
“We really want to find out if a student has done their research and see that they know a little bit about the school,” Bates says. It’ll be pretty hard to convince an admissions committee to accept you if you fail to demonstrate a solid understanding of their specific program.
"We really want to find out if a student has done their research and see that they know a little bit about the school."
4. How do you plan to overcome challenges you’ll face in this field?
There are a lot of different ways interviewers try to get a better sense of your ability to overcome adversity. They may ask you to walk through how you would handle a stressful situation years from now. They could even ask you to talk about what was going on during a time when your academic performance suffered a bit.
“Students should definitely be prepared to answer that type of question,” Bates acknowledges. “I tell students, ‘That's what the interview is for. It’s for you to explain to us anything that doesn't show up on paper.’”
5. Do you recognize ethical issues you might face going forward?
Not everything about practicing veterinary medicine is straightforward. Conflicts of interest can lead to some tricky ethical decisions. You may have a client who wishes to euthanize a pet that you consider to be healthy. Or maybe you realize you accidentally mixed up vaccinations for two of your patients during a particularly crazy day.
Veterinary programs may not expect you to understand how to handle such difficult situations, but they do want to know that you recognize veterinarians sometimes face moral dilemmas. “We ask them if they recognize any ethical issues that may come across their desk as a veterinarian,” Bates says.
6. How have you overcome difficulties working in a team setting?
Many of the skills required to be a veterinarian are related to teamwork. Coordinating with colleagues, being socially perceptive, teaching others how to perform tasks, and engaging in active listening are all good examples.
"We want to see that they’re able to work well with others."
Expect to be questioned about how well you work with other individuals and what you do when you run into conflicts. “We want to see that they’re able to work well with others,” Bates says.
7. What are your plans for financing your education?
As blunt as this sounds, it’s an important question. Asking about your plans to pay for your education is another way an interviewer can assess whether you truly know what you’re signing up for by enrolling in veterinary school. Bates says it’s critical that pre-vet students understand they’ll be paying off student loan debt for a while.
If you don’t yet have a firm understanding of how much different programs cost, then take a look at the AAVMC’s Cost Comparison Tool. It allows you to compare tuition and cost of attendance for different programs.
8. Do you have any questions for me?
While you will be doing most of the answering, you should also come prepared with some questions of your own. “Our interviews are really set up for you to get to know us as well,” Bates explains. “We want students to come to that interview prepared to ask questions.”
The interview is a great opportunity to learn more about the program. You can even ask whether it’s possible to connect with a current student to hear their perspective on vet school so far.
Tips for preparing for vet school interviews
Practicing might not make you perfect, but it’ll certainly help you prepare. The more time you spend verbalizing your experiences, and not just thinking about them, the more comfortable you’ll be. It’s a good idea to enlist some help when an interview is on the horizon.
“I tell students to do mock interviews with their academic advisors, if they can, or with their friends or family,” Bates recommends.
"I tell students to do mock interviews with their academic advisors."
The interview is also a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism. You should dress business casual and pay close attention to the clock. “Be on time—be early,” Bates advises.
Lastly, try not to get too stressed out. Receiving an interview invitation is a sign that you’re a great candidate the program is seriously considering. They’re trying to learn more about you, not stump you.
“Relax and be yourself,” Bates advises. “If you’ve been approved for an interview, you’ve obviously put in a lot of work to get to that point already.”
Ask some questions of your own
Now that you have a better understanding of the vet school interview questions you’re most likely to encounter, it’s time to practice as much as you can. Take advantage of any mock interview services available to you or even practice speaking in front of a mirror.
A great interview can help you get one step closer to obtaining an acceptance letter. Of course, you don’t want to commit to the first school that accepts you without taking a closer look at the program. Make sure you’re choosing a veterinary medicine program that can help you achieve your goals by reading our article, “6 Things the Top Veterinary Schools Have in Common.”
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