DVM Behavioral Interview

The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine conducts a behavioral interview as part of the evaluation process for applicants seeking admission to the DVM program. The interview reflects a growing trend in candidate evaluation and a response to changes in the veterinary profession, where success depends on the ability to handle more than just animal issues. Interviews are typically conducted in late January and early February.

Why does the University of Minnesota interview applicants?

In response to growing disparities between veterinary skills and employer demands, the University of Minnesota partnered with a small group of veterinary colleges to conduct a nationwide study of success in the veterinary medical profession. The study examined the professional success of practicing veterinarians as a combination of factors, with a focus on competencies gained through veterinary medical schooling.

Research results revealed a set of non-technical competencies developed over time, consisting of personality traits, abilities, interests, and values, which have a very important role in determining the success of a veterinarian. Yet unlike technical competencies, many non-technical competencies cannot be acquired during the short period of veterinary training. Participants agreed that veterinary students who do not possess certain non-technical competencies may not be adequately prepared for the profession.

What is a behavioral interview?

In the past, traditional interviews used to select veterinary candidates have focused on experience, largely ignoring the more enduring non-technical competencies.

The behavioral interviewer is trained to objectively collect and evaluate information, using a series of questions that focus on the competencies required for success in the profession. A typical question in a behavioral interview would be, “Tell me about a time when…” This allows the candidate to illustrate knowledge, skills, and abilities by giving specific examples from past experiences, thus revealing the non-technical competencies a candidate has demonstrated in previous similar situations. Behavioral interviews are used frequently in industry and business, as they have shown to be a much more effective indication of future performance than traditional interviews that ask a candidate to describe what they would do in a hypothetical situation.

Each scorable question will focus around one of the following behaviors:

Drive for results
Ability to act autonomously and confidently
Relationship building

What can I expect during my interview?

Interviews will last approximately 45 minutes and consist of approximately 7 interview questions. This includes one “get to know you” question which is not scored, and 6 scored questions which focus around specific competencies. 

Interviewees will be meeting with two individuals selected from a team of veterinary faculty, professional staff, alumni, and external veterinarians who have been trained in conducting a behavioral interview. The flow will be conversational in nature and members of the interview team may ask follow-up questions. The interview team will not have had access to applicant files in advance.

How to prepare

Behavioral interview questions are unique and applicants may be caught off guard if unprepared. A great place to start is by researching the concept of a behavioral interview. There are great resources available online, many of which provide practice questions within the context of a professional workplace environment. Beware of websites that claim to list the exact interview questions asked here at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine -- they are inaccurate. Instead, developing a strong understanding of the interview concept will better prepare you for any question asked! 
Many colleges and universities offer practice or "mock" interview sessions through career services and/or alumni relations. We recommend applicants wear business professional attire. There are great clothing assistance programs available. Ready for Success and Dressed for Success are local to the Twin Cities, though other metropolitan areas throughout the country have similar programs.