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Great Interviewing for Optometry Applicants

Throughout my career, I have been involved in many "interviews". Sometimes I was on the left side of the table and sometimes on the right side of the table, but in all cases having a few interview skills helped me. I remember the first time that I was going into a deposition with a bunch of attorneys. (No, I wasn't in trouble, but rather I was testifying in a case involving an optometry student) My attorney told me this, "Just answer each question and never expound upon your answer." He suggested that the best answers were "Yes", "No", or "I do not recall." Well, I can tell you that this legal advice does not apply for an applicant to optometry school. In fact, I'd tell you to "tell some stories", "show your personality", and "demonstrate your passion". Let's take each of these recommendations individually.

"Tell some stories!" It is important when you are trying to enter a profession to let the interviewers know what was the moment when you decided that optometry was the right path for you. Don't say things like, "My Mom said that optometry is a good profession." or "I hear that OD's make good money!" But, spend some time talking about the moment that you knew you were willing to commit a big chunk of your life to this profession. Was there a moment while you were shadowing that the OD helped change a patient's life? If so, tell that story! Was there a moment in your Human Anatomy course that you thought, "Wow...the eye is amazing!"? If so, tell that story and be specific. Set the scene. Make the interviewers feel what you felt at that moment in time.

"Show your personality!" As OD's we spend a lot of time with a wide variety of patients. In fact, we know that primary care physicians spend about 8 minutes with each patient whereas optometrists spend about 24 minutes with each patient. That is three times the amount of direct patient contact time! So, we must be good communicators and we must have an engaging personality! This is your chance as an interviewee to let your personality shine. Don't try to talk like a "doctor", but be yourself. Don't be a robot. We know that students have prepared for interviews with mock-interviews, online research and practice, but still give answers with your own voice. The only way for the interviewers to truly know you is for you to be yourself! And, trust me, that is what they want to hear!

"Demonstrate your passion!" I guess I could have said - passion or passions! I think it is very important during an interview to show your enthusiasm, energy and commitment to things that you have done in your life. Did you study abroad? Did you do research in a lab? Did you work in an OD's office? Did you participate in sports? Did you volunteer on a mission trip? Whatever it is in your life that gives you about it! This is important because what we are passionate about defines us. It doesn't have to be optometry related in any way. I remember students telling me about - equestrian riding, musical theater, political activism, martial arts, and other pursuits. In fact, these are often the way I remember these optometrists today. My point is that showing your passion for something demonstrates to the interviewers that you have the fortitude to be successful.

So, as the interviews for this cycle wrap up and begin again for next cycle at the end of the summer, please keep these tips in mind. Be prepared...of course! But, be yourself! Within the profession of optometry, we celebrate diversity so your authentic self is what we really need to see. Good luck!

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