Receiving an invitation to interview is an exciting step in the medical school application process. If you’ve been selected to interview it means that the med school has vetted your application and you have passed the academic threshold for enrollment. Congratulations!
Now the medical school wants to meet you to gather more information through an interview. To prepare fully for the interview you should understand its purpose, which is multifaceted. During the interview the following elements are assessed:
- Communication skills. Are you comfortable interacting with others, both students and faculty? Would you be a good member of a team and work well with your peers and others?
- Personal traits and characteristics. Do your interpersonal skills project that you would be comfortable caring for patients? Do you add depth and breadth to a medical school class? Are you mature and able to handle the responsibility of patient care?
- Experiences and knowledge of the medical profession. Can you speak convincingly about your past experiences and how they have informed your goal of a career in medicine? Do you truly know what you’re getting into?
- Good fit. Are you a good “fit” for that particular medical school? Do your goals and personality align with the school’s ethos?
The medical interview is also used as a recruitment tool; it’s a chance for the school to showcase its offerings and to entice you to enroll if admitted. Also remember that the interview is your chance to vet the school and decide whether it’s a good fit for you.
While the prospect of a medical school interview is incredibly exciting for medical school applicants, it can also induce fear. Rest assured that the vast majority of medical school interviews are not stressful. Think of the interview as an opportunity to have a conversation with someone who is interested in learning more about you, your background, and your motivation for a career in medicine.
The key to doing well at a medical school interview is to prepare well and be yourself. You’ve toiled long and hard to get to this point and your excitement for medical school should be palpable. Prior to going to an actual interview you should have some idea as to the format offered at the school. There are several different kinds of interviews, described in a previous blog post. Some schools offer blind interviews (the interviewer has not seen your file) while others have an open file policy (the interviewer/s have access to your credentials). Still other schools offer the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format. Some schools do one-on-one interviews and others use a group format. No matter the format applicants should use the following guidelines to prepare:
1. Know your story. This sounds obvious but it’s crucial to be able to clearly articulate your path to medicine. If asked, “So tell me about yourself,” a query often used in the blind interview, you should be able to give a quick synopsis (<5 minutes) of your background, motivation for a career in medicine, and the experiences you’ve had which have reinforced your focus on the medical profession. Be sure to review the secondary you submitted to the medical school where you are interviewing. No doubt you wrote essays for many secondaries in the medical school application process, and it is often hard to remember what you wrote for each school. Continue reading