By Olivia Norton ’16
The Texas A&M Department of Animal Science does more than provide students seeking a future in veterinary medicine with the classroom experience necessary to meet their goals. For years, professors and advisors have been going the extra mile to ensure student success on not only the rigorous Texas A&M vet school application but in the interview room, as well.
The Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science is one of the top universities for veterinary medicine in the country, so the quality of students applying is top notch.
The practice of offering students who have applied to veterinary school with mock interviews is not new. In fact, the beginnings of these interviews can be traced back to Dr. Howard Hesby’s class “How to obtain a position in agriculture.” Hesby brought in numerous professionals from the agricultural sector to provide insight into the students’ chosen fields. He also invited a series of veterinarians to conduct mock interviews for the students who had their sights set on that career path.
These interviews simulated the environment each student would face in an actual application setting. “Before a recent change in style, the entrance interviews consisted of a panel of three to four vets directly from the vet school,” explained Dr. Glenn Holub, instructional assistant professor. “This panel would sit down with one student at a time for about 45 minutes.”
Years later when Holub took over the current ANSC 402 class, the opportunity for students to experience mock interviews was still available. Former animal science students who were in vet school volunteered their time and acted as the interviewers. This approach offered students not only realistic experience but immediate feedback on their performance from previously successful students.
Two years ago the vet school made changes to the interview style. In an effort to provide interested students with the best preparation available, the mock interviews evolved as well. Today, the interviews are called ‘mini, multiple interviews.’ The students visit three different rooms over the course of an hour with two veterinarians in each room. “The change came about so three people didn’t determine a student’s fate, 12 do.” said Holub.
Last fall, the department held its first mock interviews. Six former animal science vet students were brought in and paired up, placed in three different rooms. Because of time and available space, only half of the mini, multiple interview was held. But the response from students who went through the mock interviews as well as the actual MMI was overwhelmingly positive.
“Our students who participated in our mock interviews said they found it so very helpful,” Holub said. “Feeling prepared and confident gives the students an edge that is very essential to doing well in that high pressure situation.”
The mock interviews held again this fall were not only the most realistic yet but also the largest. Sixty-two students participated in the half hour session. With the organizational help of Dr. Thomas Hairgrove, livestock and food animal systems coordinator, there was a veterinarian from the field in each of the 12 rooms along with a former animal science student. Posted on the door of each room was a scenario and question. The student was given two minutes to formulate their answer. After discussing their solution to the given scenario, they were directed to the next room.
Following the half hour session, each student was invited to return and receive oral feedback from each of the veterinarians they consulted. Written feedback also was available from each interviewer.
Senior animal science major Brent Hale participated in the mock interviews for a second year and found them increasingly helpful.
“I believe that this is one of the best opportunities that our department can give vet school hopefuls in order to prepare us for the application process. Both years, the questions have been very indicative of the question types that are used in the multiple mini interviews that the vet school uses.”
After applying his junior year, Hale returned to the process this fall with experience gained. “This being my second year to apply and having gotten an interview last year, I know the types of questions that are asked in the actual interviews, and Dr. Holub does a great job in developing the topic questions used in the mock interviews. Going through the mock interviews also helps to prepare us for the time constraints of the interviews and gives us the opportunity to practice brainstorming our responses in the given two minutes and develop our answers in the six minutes given with the interviewers,” Hale said.
As the requirements and styles of the vet school interviews change, likewise so will the mock interviews held each year. Providing these students the best opportunity for success is one example of what makes the Department of Animal Science unique.
Olivia Norton ’16 is a sophomore animal science major from Texarkana, Texas.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.