Acing an interview can be difficult and stressful, so going over some vet school interview questions to help you practice can make all the difference in the world, and net you a spot in your top-choice school based on your vet school rankings.
The best approach to any preparation for an interview will include a full mock interview – a professionally-run scenario that mimics the interview experience so you know exactly what to expect. Or you might want to try an interview skills workshop. But, before even trying a mock interview, it can be very, very helpful to go over some practice questions and answers.
To that end, in this article we will take a look at some sample questions with answers and give you some extra possibilities for questions so you can practice on your own.
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Vet School Interview Questions with Sample Answers
1) Why do you want to be a vet?
Sample Answer: “I used to own a dog named Tag, which was a fun thing to put on a collar tag, and he went everywhere with me. When I was a teenager, Tag slipped while following me through the woods out back of my place, and he really hurt his leg.
Tag was a big dog, and carrying him back was hard. But I had to because his leg was broken. The level of comfort I could offer to that dog was rewarding and gratifying. At the same time, I felt so helpless because I knew very little about medicine or what to do with a hurt animal.
Our vet patched up Tag and he lived to limp another day, but I wanted to learn more about what to do with an animal in crisis. So, I started learning basic animal first aid, and I asked our vet – Dr. Zimmerman – a lot of questions which he was kind enough to answer.
With my basic knowledge, I started volunteering at a shelter and working directly with animals, as well as making a formal study of animal medicine. I quickly learned how to detect warning signs of common rescue animal problems, like worms or physical disabilities, and how to help the animal recover or heal.
In my post-secondary studies, I began taking zoology classes as a result of my experiences working with animals, which had solidified my decision to become a vet.
If I can provide the comfort and care that Dr. Zimmerman did for me and for Tag, and if I can be the difference in an animal’s life, I will be immensely proud and happy regardless of whatever else happens to me.”
2) Why are you interested in our program?
Sample Answer: “Several things have attracted me to your specific program.
First, I am very interested in working with exotic animals and your program has several courses dealing with exotic animals that are highly rated and recommended. My cousin actually went through your program and couldn’t speak highly enough about those courses. Exotic animal care is paramount for me. I discovered a love of exotic animals when I found work in a serpentarium and loved working with all the strange snakes they had.
That isn’t the only reason, of course. Your program emphasizes working directly with animals right from the start and has a much more prominent hands-on component than other schools and programs.
Finally, I have family living in this city; I’ve always loved it, loved visiting here, and I have a good support network already established, so this place does feel a bit like a second home already. I think that comfort level will help me in my studies and just ensure a great quality of life.”
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3) What experience do you have working with animals?
Sample Answer: “My first experiences with animals are with my pets. I had several growing up, two dogs, a cat, a fish, and three guinea pigs. Caring for several pets at once required me to learn the different needs that different animals have, as well as how to keep track of feeding and cleaning schedules. I learned to appreciate each animal’s personality and the kind of personal care and attention they need.
I always wanted to be a pro-active pet owner, so I also took the time to learn about their medical needs, how to keep them in good health, and what the common ailments and problems were with the pets I owned.
That led me to getting a job working at a pet store where I added to the number of animals I was comfortable with. I even overcame a fear of spiders to care for them as well. I expanded on my knowledge of feeding habits, and learned about how to make sure each animal had the best living environment possible. I got to tell customers how to care for their animals, and teaching others solidified my own knowledge base, making it second nature for me to know how to care for a wide variety of pets, from turtles to parrots.
I also got a part-time job walking dogs. This job helped me emphasize the more relational aspect of animals. It’s easy to get caught up in the care of animals as feeding, health, and environment, but animals need company just as we do. I believe that a vet’s job includes developing a rapport with their animals, just as any doctor needs a comfortable, open bedside manner.
Finally, I volunteered to help at an animal shelter, and that position included medical care for animals. Animals would come in with a lot of problems having been accumulated from years of neglect, and we would have to nurse them to health, follow medical regimens, and care routines, and so I am familiar with a lot of different treatments from that experience.”
4) What is your favorite animal and why?
Sample Answer: “It’s so hard to choose! My first loves were cats, and I’ve always loved those, but if I were getting specific, I’d say the Maine coon cat. They’re gentle and intelligent, and I think both of those traits are very important. It’s good to test my intellect and try to grow it as much as possible, and of course, gentleness is important to anybody who is in a caretaking profession.”
5) Tell us about yourself
Sample Answer: “If I have a book in my hand, a cup of tea at my side, and a cat in my lap, I’m good for the day. That’s me in a nutshell.
Brewing tea is an art form, and can help me focus and think when life starts to get too chaotic or taxing. There is also precision in a perfectly-brewed cup of tea, and I enjoy it almost as an art form.
One of my pastimes is meditation, which I have been practicing for three years now. Learning to meditate has put me in touch with my physical self, as well as provided another way to keep my mind sharp and focused.
However, I don’t want to be isolated. The cat in my lap is an essential component because I want to form relationships. I strive to maintain good communication with my family, and I include y cat, Charlemagne, as part of my connection network. He has taught me to communicate in ways I didn’t know I could, developing an understanding between us. Animals connect me to nature and that peaceful feeling. They make me a better communicator.
I try to communicate as often as possible, keeping up with old friends and family far away. I love hearing about what a cousin is up to, or how a friend’s job search is going. The ongoing, daily connections are invaluable to me, and I am grateful for them.”
6) Tell us about a time you failed and how you recovered from that
Sample Answer: “My very first job was working in a coffee shop and I really screwed up a customer’s order. I think I got the whole thing wrong. I was feeling very rushed and I wound up just making a whole lot of errors.
The customer could see that I was flustered, and just told me it was okay, he remembered being new at work, too. He told me a story where, on his first day working a grill in a fast food place, he set his co-worker's uniform on fire!
He told me to take my time, he wasn’t in a rush, and that gave me the opportunity to regroup, remember my training, and get everything right.
I learned that day that any error can be fixed, and to maintain my focus. I also got a good lesson in empathy from my customer. I remember this any time I am tempted to judge somebody else – I always put myself in their shoes first, and remember to be a more empathetic person.”
7) What would you do if you thought one of your clients was abusing their pets?
Sample Answer: “I would want to know what the signs of abuse were, specifically on the pet. I wouldn’t want to just accuse somebody of something, but if I noticed markings on the animal I would ask about them. If the answer seemed suspect to me, I would follow up by asking to see the pet back in a short period of time to make sure that they were healing and not exhibiting any new signs of distress or physical harm.
Regardless of what the explanation was, I would pay close attention to how the person interacted with their animals and other people’s animals. If it seemed suspicious, I would have a conversation with the person about animal care; it’s possible they think it’s okay to treat animals that way because of a bad example set, so a gentle correction might be an eye-opener for them.
I would go over records to see if their animals had a history of unexplained or suspiciously-obtained injuries. I would also want to know if multiple animals they brought in exhibited other signs of abuse.
If I was concerned that their animal was going to be abused at home, I would recommend that they leave the animal with me for observation, if possible, to remove the animal from an abusive environment.
I would do all of this as soon as possible – I wouldn’t want to delay in helping those animals.
Finally, if I saw evidence of animal abuse, I would report the abuse to authorities to start a legal proceeding and investigation.”
8) What is your opinion of animal living conditions on farms?
Sample Answer: “Animal welfare is an important issue, and I do know that there are different schools of thought as to how to treat pets and farm animals.
While I do understand that the agriculture industry has animals as a product, and so they are not the same as pets, I also believe that all living beings deserve care and a high quality of life.
I understand that farms are not the same as households in terms of caring for pets, whether with feeding, cleaning, because of the large numbers involved in farming.
I want to see animals that are given the maximum freedom of movement possible, as well as animals that can socialize with one another and be in as natural an environment as they can. I believe encouraging free range farms is an admirable goal and I think that will improve animal welfare greatly.”
9) What is your best trait?
Sample Answer: “I think my sense of humor. It’s hard to make that come across in an interview, but I love laughing and making people laugh.
I had a job at a hardware store and I was sorting nails all morning. Somebody came up, just as I was finishing, and asked me for a Robertson screw in a specific size and where to find it. I handed them a pack of nails in the same size as they had asked for in screws. They got a confused look just as I realized what I had done. I laughed, took the pack back and started leading them to the screws. “Sorry,” I said, “Those aren’t Robertson heads, those are hammer heads.” We shared a laugh and I got him what he needed.
Humor has helped me a lot in life, because if you can laugh at yourself and you can laugh at your problems, it really helps with stress and with learning and growing as a person. Since I can laugh at myself, I can learn from my mistakes really easily and I keep my stress levels low.
Plus, it’s just fun to laugh.”
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10) What kind of a vet do you see yourself becoming?
Sample Answer: “I want to work with horses. I got to work with horses a lot growing up, and I have seen the massive impact that they make in their caretakers’ lives. Some horses are for show, some are therapy animals, and some are just companions, but they all need care.
Being around those horses taught me how to interact with animals that are often skittish or nervous, but that are big enough to cause damage if they act on that fear. I learned how to approach animals, calm them down, sense their nervousness, and use my own demeanor to help guide them and make them feel better.
I also learned plenty of practical skills for all animals, like feeding, grooming, and how to set up exercise routines for animals that need to run and move frequently.
Finally, I learned how to keep horses in good health, considering diet, shoeing, proper riding form, and how to work them without overworking them.
There are several places near where I live that keep horses, with multiple owners per farm boarding many horses. To me, getting to work with those animals would be my main goal.
To that end, I think I would like to specialize in farms and horses and work in those environments.”
More Vet School Interview Questions to Practice With
- Have you ever had a conflict with a colleague? How did you handle that situation?
- What’s your best subject in school?
- Do you have any ethical concerns with zoos?
- What do you think of animals being used as entertainment, whether in the circus or the film and television industry?
- Do you eat meat? Why or why not?
- If you could own any pet in the world, what would you own and why?
- Do you have any phobias of any animals?
- If you developed allergies later in life, as some do, how would that affect your practice?
- What’s your favorite vacation you have taken?
- What’s your favorite experience working with an animal?
- If an animal you were working on was violent, how would you handle that or go about dealing with that situation?
- What is your leadership style?
- Tell me about a time when you solved a conflict or helped resolve an argument.
- Should live animals be used to practice surgery?
- Did you ever fail a class in school? How did you handle that?
- What do you think of animal rights groups like PETA?
- If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
- What is the best trait you could have as a vet?
- What do you need to work on the most before becoming a vet?
- If you couldn’t become a vet, what would you do with your career instead?
Your interview is the place for you to put yourself forward so that your most admirable traits and unique, individual personality shines through for the admissions committee. Along with your personal statement, your interview will give the admissions committee its best look at who you really are.
The interview is your chance to show you are the perfect candidate for veterinary school, and your chosen school, specifically.
You stand out more through an interview and become more to the admissions committee than just numbers on a page. Take the opportunity and make the most of it.
1. How long should my answers be?
This really depends on the question.
Your main goal should be to answer the question in full. Try to stick to no more than 2 minutes. Being concise is always better than rambling.
2. Should I memorize my answers?
No, for several reasons. First, you can’t anticipate exactly what questions they’ll ask, so you’ll be stuck memorizing pages of material for questions that won’t even come up.
Most importantly, however, a memorized answer sounds memorized and unnatural. Your answers should be polished and practiced, but not rehearsed word-for-word.
3. How early should I be to my interview?
Earlier is better. Late is unacceptable, so arrive at least a half an hour early to your interview. Map your route before the day of your interview, and if possible, go over the route by driving it beforehand. Take the most reliable transport you possibly can. Don’t be late.
4. Can I reschedule my interview?
If there are days you cannot make an interview, you should note that when applying to vet school. If you cannot make your interview date for some emergency reason, let the school know as soon as possible, but know that most schools won’t want to reschedule for anything other than a true crisis. Move everything you can to make your interview.
5. What should I really not do during an interview?
The worst thing to do is come across as unprofessional. Along with this, don’t exhibit any negative traits. Being surly, curt, or sarcastic will make you unprofessional and unlikeable. Behave as you would at work.
6. What are the most common questions?
You are all but guaranteed to encounter, “Why do you want to be a vet?”, “Tell us about yourself,” and “Why our school/program?”
7. What is the best way to practice for an interview?
A mock interview, performed by professionals, will get you the best results. These are simulations of a real interview, and will give you as close an experience to the real thing as you can get, including length, plus provide you with feedback.
8. How many people will interview me?
That depends on the school and the interview format. Anything from a one-on-one to a panel interview might be possible, so be ready for different scenarios. Your school will probably tell you the format of the interview beforehand.
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