Sweating Cats and Dogs

The goal is to be honest and genuine in your interview.

I’ve talked about the application process in The End is Only the Beginning Parts 1 and 2, but today I wanted to expand more on, perhaps, the most important part of the application: the interview. The interview is where admissions committees take the people that look good on paper (GPA, GRE, extracurricular activities, and experiences) and get to know them better to make sure they will fit in with the school’s philosophy and environment. Schools love strong applicants, but not if those applicants are also unsociable and condescending. Veterinary medicine is all about teamwork and working with those who have different experiences, so it’s important that personalities mesh reasonably well. I’m going to share about my interview experience with Dr. Tod Schadler, the Associate Dean of Student Services and Admissions, and also give some tips that I found along the way that really helped me.

First Impressions Make A Difference

Here are some tips for men and women; I went with business casual, but many interviewees came dressed in business professional. Click for a bigger picture.

Have you ever seen someone in a professional environment that stood out because they were dressed completely wrong? There’s a reason there is a professional dress code. While I shouldn’t judge someone based solely on their clothing, when someone comes to a research conference dressed sloppily, I question their ability to present themselves and their ideas clearly and succinctly. The same thing happens with interviews; the first thing interviewers see is your clothing, accessories, and personal grooming. Veterinary school is a professional school, and students will be expected to be able to handle themselves in a professional environment from the day they step into the classroom. Now, will students be expected to wear a suit everyday to class? Of course not; we’re going to be working with large animals and cadavers, which would ruin clothes very quickly. However, small animal clinics will often require business casual attire, and the school needs to know that students can be trusted to be appropriate representatives. So, for my interview, I put my best foot forward with a long-sleeve blouse, dark gray pants, flats, simple earrings and necklace, and neatly groomed hair pulled out of my face.

Be Prepared

The vet school interview is not something that you want to go into blindly. For my interview, I reviewed my VMCAS and supplemental very carefully because this is the information that Dr. Schadler would be privy to before my interview. I wanted to make sure that if he asked me a question about one of my experiences, I could place that experience in my mind and quickly and easily formulate an answer. I also looked up some sample vet school interview questions and prepared hypothetical answers to some of the scenarios presented. Here’s a great resource that describes many of the different types of questions that could be asked and how to approach answering them. It’s important to come across as genuine and interested, so even though I practiced some answers, I didn’t try to “can” any of my responses; often, canned responses sound apathetic, which is definitely something I wanted to avoid! The other big tip that I got (from my awesome parents!) was to take time to think through the question and formulate an answer before speaking. It’s okay to take a few seconds to gather your thoughts so that you can present a comprehensive answer instead of stumbling over your words.

My Experience

My interview with Dr. Schadler was the most enjoyable interview I’ve ever had. LMU-CVM’s interview philosophy is to get to know the applicants better and basically have a conversation with them instead of grilling about questions they may not know the answer to. The interview began with some “getting to know you” questions about my background and interest in veterinary medicine. Next, Dr. Schadler wanted to make sure I understood what I was getting into financially: the average vet student graduates with a debt of over $160,000 (source: AVMA) while only making $67,535 as a first year vet if they go straight into private practice, which 53% of graduates do (source: AVMA). Vet school is not cheap, but it’s an investment in my future; I’m fortunate to have wonderful parents who are willing to help support me through vet school so I can pursue my dream. Finally, Dr. Schadler asked me the toughest question: What was my favorite movie? Being an avid Star Trek fan and an even more avid Benedict Cumberbatch fan, there was only one answer: Star Trek Into Darkness. I went on to summarize the basic plot of the movie and how I could relate to Khan, who seems to be the “evil one” but is only trying to save his people. The line that stood out to me most in the movie was when Khan said, “My crew is my family, Kirk. Is there anything you would not do for your family?” Like Khan, I would do anything for my family (including friends I consider family); I think that one of my better traits is my willingness to defend those I love. My interview concluded with Dr. Schadler asking if I had any questions about the program, which I did; he was able to address the concerns and inquiries I had, which made me feel more comfortable about the new school. I think it is very important to ask questions. It shows that you are interested and did prior research on the school. The hour interview flew by! When he said time was up, I was surprised; the experience had been less of an interview and more of a conversation where we got to talk about the profession and its future, which made it fun and engaging. I left feeling confident about how I had done. Interviewees had the option to participate in a campus tour post interview. The tour is led by CVM ambassadors, who are current LMU students, so it was a good chance to ask about student life in Harrogate and see the on campus dorms.

It’s always good etiquette to write your interviewer a thank-you note.

The vet school interview was exciting, nerve-wracking, and enjoyable all at the same time for me. By being prepared and making a good first impression, I felt more confident in my abilities to express myself and my interests genuinely to Dr. Schadler. Many of my classmates that I’ve talked to felt the same way about their interviews; they really enjoyed the experience and didn’t feel the pressure that other schools put candidates under. LMU-CVM doesn’t just want to admit people to a class, they want to construct a team of people that will work well together, and they use the interview to get to know their applicants. Next cycle, there will be two interviewers per student so a more well-rounded impression of the applicant can be made.

If you have any questions about interviewing for vet school, please leave me a comment or email me! I would love to help you out!

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Posted on April 8, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. What’s the oldest person that they are willing to accept in LMU vet school?

  2. Thanks so much for posting this. I have an interview in December and I am super nervous!

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