Updated on August 30th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 30
What are you reading right now?
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Do you feed your mind on a regular basis? What kind of literature do you prefer and why? Talk to the interviewers about a book that you are currently reading. If you are not currently reading a book - talk about one that has impacted you the most.
"Currently I am reading 'Ego is the Enemy' by Ryan Holiday. It is a book about ambition, resilience and success. I feel that everyone should read it - it comes highly recommended."
Your work load at our school will be high. How do you handle stress?
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The interviewers want to see that you will be capable of handling the stressful workload associated with the optometry program at their university.
Are you someone who is able to handle stress like it's nothing or do you implode when times get tough? Talk to the interviewers about your ability to manage the pressure of a heavy and challenging work load.
"I handle stress very well and if you call my previous professors for references, they will attest to this fact. When I am under pressure with a challenging work load, I focus on the task at hand and make sure to not get distracted. Staying on deadline is very helpful and I will ask for help when necessary to alleviate some stress."
Do you consider yourself a leader? When have you led a team?
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Perhaps you have led a club at school, been an assistant coach for a youth sports team, or were on the advisory board for a local non-profit organization. You should always be prepared to show the interviewer that you have a natural ability to lead others. Whether you have led a group of 500, or a team of 2, you must display to the interviewer that you are capable of handling the responsibility that comes with being a leader.
Talk about your desire to be a leader. Share with the interviewer that you strive to be a role model for others. Explain that you jump at the opportunity to lead groups, encourage your counterparts, and be a face of confidence when challenges arise.
"In my current school, I am the president of the social committee. I love that I have the opportunity to encourage student engagement while being a positive influence on the culture at my university. I am a natural leader because I start with leading by example. As a leader, I make myself available to others who need mentor-ship, a bit of assistance in adjusting to university life, or just a listening ear when they've had a tough day. I am confident in my leadership abilities when it comes to my career as an optometrist."
What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing optometry school?
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The interviewers want to know about your knowledge surrounding the challenges of optometry school. It's great to wear rose colored glasses from time to time, but you must also be realistic when it comes to the difficulties you will face while earning your PhD.
Before your interview, take a look at the course components. Are there any areas that you foresee to be a big challenge?
"I understand that optometry school is going to be one of the greatest challenges of my life. I looked through the course outline here and, from what I see, I think the biggest challenge for me will be visual neurophysiology. I have heard that it is the most challenging course so I have already hired a tutor in anticipation."
6. As an optometrist, how will you keep in touch with your community's needs? The interviewers want to see that you have an interest in volunteering and giving back to your community. Talk about any volunteer work or community organizations that are close to your heart. Here is an answer example: "Currently, I visit the old age home in my area on a regular basis and help the residents with their daily tasks. I think that volunteerism is incredibly important. For that reason, when I am an optometrist, I will be giving back to my community by offering free eye exams to those who cannot afford regular eye care."7. Why are you choosing optometry over other health care professions? What is your motivation behind your desire to become an optometrist? The answer to this question can be very simple or really difficult depending on your situation. Are you truly motivated to become an optometrist or is this just one of many career choices for you?
Think of the things that attract you towards a career in optometry. Perhaps it's the feeling of achievement when you help restore someone's eyesight or maybe a personal reason that motivates you. Whatever your main driver may be, remain positive and honest in your answer. Here is an answer example: "When I was a small kid my grandfather lost his eye sight due to glaucoma and it was really difficult to see him feel so helpless and defeated. I wanted to help him but I didn't have the skills at that time. That's when I decided my medical specialty would be optometry. It's not as popular of a practice in the medical field, but eyesight is so important."8. Do you have aspirations to own your own practice in the future? What appeals to you about business ownership? The interviewer wants to know about your future plans and if you have intentions of joining an existing practice, or starting your own. Be honest about your plans and desire for your career path. Here is an answer example: "My ultimate goal would be to open my own practice one day, as I want to control the prices of my services and provide affordable optometry services to my community. I do have an entrepreneurial spirit so I feel that opening my own practice would scratch that itch as well."9. When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work? Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. When you work in the medical field, those setbacks can be amplified. While attending university, even more so because your grades can greatly determine the success of your future career. Discuss with the interviewers how you typically cope with setbacks. Here is an answer example: "Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be very disheartening, especially when involving a project that I have put a lot of time and effort into. I understand that setbacks happen often, and to everyone - despite their level of expertise or years of experience. If I experience a major setback I will take a few moments to internally debrief, get some fresh air if possible, or discuss what I could have done differently with a mentor. Then, I move on. Rather than dwell on my mistakes, I choose to learn from them."10. How well do you think you have performed in this interview today? This question is a stress test! The interviewers simply want to know if you are happy with your performance in the interview. There is always room for improvement; however, you want to avoid picking your interview apart.
If you feel the interview went well: "I feel that I was well prepared for the questions that you asked me today and am happy with my performance in this interview. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. Can I ask if there is anything I can clarify for you, or elaborate on, from today's conversation?"
If you feel you could have performed better: "I feel that I was well prepared for the majority of the questions you have asked me today; however, I would like to clarify my answer on one particular point...." Then, return to the question you may have stumbled on and answer how you would have liked to the first time. Here is an answer example: "I feel that I was well prepared for the questions that you asked me today and am happy with my performance in this interview. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. Can I ask if there is anything I can clarify for you, or elaborate on, from today's conversation?"11. Who in your life mentors, or inspires you? Your life's inspiration can come from a book, a mentor, your family, a celebrity, an author - literally anyone! Talk to the interviewers about who has inspired your life and why. Here is an answer example: "I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has most greatly inspired me has been my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face no matter how hard she worked and she loved everyone. She was well respected and always gave more than she received. I try to live like her as much as I can."12. How do you respond to feedback and criticism? Describe a situation where your work was criticized. What was your immediate reaction to the situation? The interviewers want to see that you are confident and mature enough to accept feedback and criticism in a positive way, even when it is unsolicited.
Not all feedback will be delivered in a friendly, easy to absorb manner. Think to a time when you received feedback or criticism that was bit hurtful or surprising. Discuss how you reacted in a productive way.
It is important that you highlight for the interviewers that you were able to take the criticism and learn from it. Talk about how you successfully implemented change. Here is an answer example: "Last year I received a low grade on a chemistry project. When I approached my professor about the low grade, he said to me 'You can do better. I expected more from you'. I was taken aback at first but once I had time to absorb what was said, I realized that he expected more from me because he had high expectations of what I was capable of doing. It was a compliment, and a challenge, all rolled into one! I re-did the assignment with more gusto and passion the second time around. My grade improved significantly and I did thank that professor for holding me to a higher standard."13. How does your family feel about you becoming an optometrist? Do you have a great deal of support? The interviewers want to know that if you were accepted into their school that you would have the support required for your heavy and challenging work load.
Discuss a bit about your family such as anyone who lives near you or how your family expresses their excitement for your career. You can also mention anyone in your family who may have had a similar path in optometry. Here is an answer example: "My family is incredibly proud of me for attending optometry school. My father is especially keen as he also graduated from this university. Both of my parents, as well as my older brother, live in the area so I will have a very strong and encouraging support system should I be accepted into your school."14. Which optometry related newspapers, journals or publications do you read to stay in touch with new industry discoveries, and current events? The interviewers want to see that you have a keen interest in continually learning your craft. The optometry industry is ever changing! Talk about how you stay up to date on industry trends, new breakthroughs, optometry related concerns, and more.
List a couple of optometry related medical journals that you like to read and discuss how often you dive into related news. Perhaps you subscribe to a particular magazine, blog, or follow certain social media accounts.
It's also a great idea to ask the interviewers about their favorite ways to stay in touch on related current events. Asking this question in return can make for a great dialogue, and you never know what you will learn! Here is an answer example: "I am sure to read AOA News, and INVISION Mag, on a regular basis. In addition to these medical journals, I also subscribe to Berkeley Eye Center's online blog. It's important to diversify where your news comes from and I would love some fresh suggestions. What are your favorite places for news on current trends?"15. What other schools of optometry have you applied to and where does our school rank? The interviewers would like to understand the types of schools you are interested in. Knowing where you are applying will help them to better understand if their university will be able to meet your specific needs and educational desires or goals. You should be transparent when answering this question but be sure to avoid saying anything offensive such as 'this school is my last choice'. Pick out the number one reason why you want to attend their school and focus on that. Here is an answer example: "I have applied to four other optometry schools. Those schools are A, B, C, and D. My interest in your university is strong because you are highly regarded in the industry. The reputation of your school is unmatched. I would be so proud to say that I graduated from this school."16. We want students who have a true passion for optometry. What appeals to you most, about working in the field of optometry? The interviewers would like to understand what drives your pursuit of a career in the field of optometry. Your core passion is what will keep you going on the toughest of days in university. For the interviewers to understand how to motivate you, they need to know what fires you up!
It is okay to share a personal story when answering this question. Perhaps you can discuss what initiated your interest in attending optometry school to begin with. Whatever drives you, make sure the interviewers can feel your passion! Here is an answer example: "There are a number of factors that drive my passion for a career in optometry. If I had to pinpoint one main driver, I would say that helping others to see well, be able to read with ease, and drive safely, are all very fulfilling gifts to give others. Everyone deserves to have full sight, and I love the idea that I could help others in that way."17. What achievement are you most proud of, so far, on your path to becoming an optometrist? The interviewers would like to know what areas of achievement are most important to you. Perhaps you have maintained an exceptional GPA or maybe you excelled in school while also working a part time job. Maybe you finished top of your class and received a special award for your achievements. Think of any accolades that you may have received along the way. Here is an answer example: "The achievement that I am most proud of, so far, was completing my undergrad, top of my class. While maintaining very strong grades, I was also President of our school's Diversity Club, and I spent time volunteering at the local vision drive."18. Tell us something that we would not know about you from reading your CV. The interviewers would like to get to know you apart from what is written on your CV and school transcripts. You are certainly not obligated to discuss personal matters such as your relationship status, for instance. Stick with a couple of fun facts to show the interviewers that you are a real person, too.
Your answer should be unique so that you are a memorable candidate! For example, you might share that you enjoy beat-boxing or making origami swans. Be prepared for the interviewers to ask you to perform your skill on the spot when its possible! (This will make you unforgettable!) Here is an answer example: "I am an avid marathon runner and have traveled to 10 countries in the last 3 years to compete in a variety of races. I am a competitive individual and enjoy keeping fit."19. What research did you conduct before choosing to apply to our school? The interviewers want to know which considerations you put in before sending your application to their university. What they really do not want to hear is that you blindly sent out a million applications, hoping that something would stick. Share with the interviewers the consideration you put into your application.
Some methods of consideration could have been:
- Talking to / interviewing alumni of the school.
- Attending an open house at the university.
- Extensive online research.
- Researching who the most renowned graduates of their optometry program are.
- Meeting with a career counselor and asking for recommendations.
- Speaking with a current student at the university, specifically someone in the program you are interested in. Here is an answer example: "I was sure to conduct a great deal of research before applying to your university. I started by interviewing some alumni that I know, and I also spoke with a couple of your current students who are in the optometry program. Last year I attended the open house here as well. Your school left a very positive impression on me which is why I chose to apply here."20. Tell us about an area of weakness that you would like to improve on while attending university. Pick a weakness that is not a core skill for your success as an optometry student. You can be candid in your answer; recognizing that you aren't great at something and acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving on this weakness.
Perhaps you are watching TED talks to gain skills in a particular area, reading the latest-and-greatest book on the subject, or maybe you are taking a seminar at a nearby community centre. We are all human with our own weaknesses, so don't be afraid to share yours! Here is an answer example: "I believe I could improve on my written and verbal communication skills as I tend to be more blunt than I would like to be at times. I have enrolled myself in a week long workshop this summer with the goal of becoming a more eloquent communicator. I hope to gain skills in this workshop that I can continue to utilize during my university career."21. What do you know about our university? It's likely that the interviewers have seen hundreds of applicants, so a question like this is an opportunity for you to stand out. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, make some effort to conduct research on the school. You don't need to be an expert on their entire history, but you do need to be knowledgeable on their programs, culture, and recent accolades.
Start by searching their website and take special note of any recent news articles, events or contributions they have made to the community or student body. Identify their mission and values so that you can be clear on what they stand for. Here is an answer example: "The passion for community and elevated learning at your school really jumps out to me. It is probably why you are the longest standing university in the entire state. I also love the effort that your school puts in when it comes to residencies and placements for your optometry school graduates. It is very obvious that your faculty goes beyond the general expectations of a university to ensure it's students' success."22. What questions do you have for us about our university? It is very important that you come to your interview prepared with questions for the interviewers. Having prepared questions shows the panel that you are keenly interested in what they do, specifically, at their university.
Remember that people like to talk about what they know! By having insightful questions prepared, you are setting the stage for the interviewers to tell you many important and helpful details about their process, and their educational facility. Keep the majority of your questions academically related. Asking too much about the culture, social life, and extra-curricular activities may cause you to appear unfocused.
Here are some ideas:
- If you could give me any piece of advice, what would that be?
- Is there anything in my application, or anything that I said in today's interview, that I can clarify for you?
- What is the most important thing I should know about my first week at your school, should I be accepted?
- Can you tell me about some of the exciting opportunities I could take advantage of, should I attend your university?
- What do you feel is the most unique offering at your school, compared to others in the area? Here is an answer example: "I would love to learn more about this university, from your perspective. What is the biggest competitive edge you have over your competitors?"23. Talk to us about your current GPA. Are you satisfied with your current GPA or would you change it if you could? Talk to the interviewers about your undergrad experience.
If you were satisfied with your GPA: "I graduated top of my class and am very proud of my accomplishments during my undergraduate studies. The experience taught me to study hard and set attainable goals for myself."
If you were not satisfied with your GPA: "I feel that my GPA could have been higher; however, I was working full time while attending classes. All in all, I did learn a lot about discipline and commitment." Here is an answer example: "I graduated top of my class and am very proud of my accomplishments during my undergraduate studies. The experience taught me to study hard and set attainable goals for myself."24. We believe in the continual development of our students, both professionally and personally. What is your self-development plan? Having a self-development plan is incredibly important for anyone. The interviewers want to know what your plan is, and how attending their school will be beneficial to that plan. If they are going to invest in you, they need to know that you have a plan in place for investing in yourself also.
Some ideas for self-development:
- Listening to an inspiring podcaster
- Attending personal development workshops
- Spending time volunteering in a capacity related to your career goals
- Utilizing a mentor
- Hiring a tutor
- Learning another language
- Reading books associated with success Here is an answer example: "I agree that self-development is crucial for continual growth and achievement. I am committed to investing in myself and some of the ways I do this is by attending personal development workshops, and meeting with my mentor once per month."25. What do you feel is the single most important quality an optometrist should possess? The interviewers want to see that you have some insight into the desired qualities and characteristics of a successful optometrist. This is an opportunity to give a unique answer so try to dig deeper than "strong attention to detail" or "strong communication skills".
Some ideas for you:
- Unrelenting drive
- Desire for improvement
- Patience and Fortitude
- Self Confidence Here is an answer example: "strong attention to detail"26. Why should our school accept you over another optometry student with the same qualifications? The interviewers are looking for unique qualities and statements that make you stand out from the other students wishing to attend their university.
Put yourself in their position. You are looking at multiple talented candidates, all have stellar grades, all have drive, and all have potential to be renowned alumni. What would be the primary reason to choose YOU over everyone else?
Some things that make you a stand out candidate:
- Recent volunteer work
- An existing connection to the faculty or facility
- A memorable and personal story of struggle and triumph
- An unusual skill such as speaking multiple languages, or knowing sign language
- An additional degree, diploma, or certification
- Proof that you continually focus on personal and professional development Here is an answer example: "I believe I am the strongest student for your optometry program because I am incredibly dedicated to my professional and personal development. Since beginning my undergraduate program I have committed to taking a personal development workshop twice per year. The topics have included communication, person-ability, multi-tasking, organization, and even persuasive writing. I plan to take these skills and apply them to my graduate studies as well."27. Tell us about your overall academic performance, so far. Where have you excelled, and where could you improve? The interviewers want to know how your undergraduate program has prepared you for attending their optometry school. Discuss what interested you the most, and where you had the biggest challenges. While attending undergraduate studies, you likely learned some core skills that would be transferable.
Think about what you learned:
- Time Management
- Creative Thinking
- Proposal Writing
- Public Speaking
- Presentation Building
- Independent Learning
- Academic Research
- Self-Motivation Here is an answer example: "I am very proud of my achievements during my undergrad education. Those courses added so much value that I will bring to my graduate program. My best courses included X, Y, and Z. I feel that I excelled in these because they are related to the specialty I plan to end up in. As far as areas of improvement, I think that I can better myself in terms of time management. I overextended myself last semester with volunteer opportunities and my study time suffered slightly. Now that I have identified the reason behind my time management challenges, I will only see improvement, moving forward."28. Optometry school is expensive. Have you made a solid financial plan for tuition costs at our school, and beyond? The interviewers want to be assured that you will be able to afford the tuition associated with attending their school. Optometry school is an investment and you need to be sure that you can handle the financial requirements associated with your acceptance. Keep your answer brief, and to the point. Simply let the interviewers know that you have a solid financial plan for your schooling. Here is an answer example: "I have been making arrangements for many years to afford attendance to optometry school. My finances are in good order."29. In your opinion, what is the most concerning topic facing optometry today? Being an aspiring optometrist means that you need to take a keen interest in current events by closely following the challenges the industry faces. The interviewers want to see that your interest is deep and that you spend time learning, and understanding, the challenges you will face in your future career as an optometrist.
Discuss what you feel to be a primary concerning issue, and be sure to ask the interviewers what they personally see as the most concerning issue in the field today. This is an opportunity to start a very insightful conversation. Here is an answer example: "I feel that the most concerning issue in the field of optometry is the fact that many children do not receive regular eye exams. Affordable exams should be accessible to anyone, regardless of their financial or social status, which is why I plan to offer free exams to children under 12 years old, when I open my own practice. What do you feel are the most concerning issues facing the medical industry today?"30. It is important that our school exercises great discernment when choosing applicants. What is your plan if you are not accepted into our optometry program this year? The interviewers want to know that you have thought out all options, and scenarios, in the event that you are not accepted into their optometry program.
The way that you answer this question will show the interviewers that you have an interest in the field of optometry that goes deeper than your immediate acceptance into their school. Let the interviewers know that one rejection won't stop you at all! Talk about your plan to reapply, if rejected.
It is important you show the interviewers that you have confidence, and drive. It'll take more than one rejection to keep you down! Here is an answer example: "Should I not be accepted into optometry school the first time, I plan to reapply the following year. I would take that year to upgrade any required courses and prepare an even stronger application. My life's goal is to become an optometrist and I certainly won't take one rejection as a final answer."
Author of Optometry School Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 09/18/2017 Last modified on: 08/30/2018
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