No matter how great your application looks on paper, the interview portion of the medical school admissions process is what sets you apart from the competition.
If you’re applying to medical school, chances are you have an impressive background with a combination of good grades, high test scores, and a long list of extra-curricular activities. But the problem is your competition also has all of those things. The interview is your chance to show your unique personality, interests, and other attributes that leave a lasting impression.
The idea of interviewing may be nerve-wracking, but by following the tips in this guide, you’ll be prepared to give a successful interview and walk in feeling confident and excited.
1. Research the medical school you are applying to and know as much about the school as possible. Identifying information about the school will demonstrate to the admissions advisor that you’re invested in the idea of your future at that institution.
2. Practice your answers, but do not memorize them verbatim. It can be helpful to make a list of possible interview questions and then draft your answers in a simple document, highlighting the main points you want to hit in your response. Some basic questions, like “tell me about yourself?”, can cause the student to stumble if not adequately prepared.
Here are some questions you should be prepared to answer.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
- What or who inspired you to pursue an MD degree?
- Why do you want to attend this school specifically?
- What are you looking for in deciding which school to attend?
- What research opportunities have you contributed to?
- What is your greatest strength and weakness?
- What have you done that shows initiative?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake in your undergrad career. How did you resolve it?
- Do you enjoy participating in group projects or do you prefer to work alone?
- How do you stay up to date with the latest in medical advancements and technology?
- Can you tell me about a recent medical or technological advancement you find interesting?
- What is your experience with volunteer organizations?
- How has your undergrad experience shaped how you see your future?
- What do you think makes a great physician?
- What specialties interest you and why?
- What special qualities do you feel you possess that set you apart from other candidates?
- Have you had to overcome any adversity that has better prepared you for a career in medicine?
- What do you think will be the hardest part of medical school? How do you plan to overcome the challenge?
- What do you feel is the biggest challenge that is facing the medical field today?
- Tell me something you are passionate about.
- If you couldn’t pursue medicine, what would you pursue?
- What is your favorite book?
- How do you handle failure/stress?
- What is the one thing you want me to convey to the admission committee about you?
3. Conduct mock interviews. It’s one thing to study your answers to possible questions, but quite another to say your answers out loud in a conversational setting. Ask your pre-med advisor to have a practice interview with you beforehand. They will be able to provide critiques from a valuable perspective.
4. Prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask the admissions advisor at the end of the interview. Possible questions include “What do you wish more people knew about the school?” or “What research opportunities does the school offer?”
5. Be professional and polite. While these things may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many people break these rules in their interviews.
- Arrive on time. This one is a no-brainer.
- If the interview is virtual, make sure the surroundings are private, clean, and free from distraction.
- Make eye contact with the interviewer. Avoiding eye contact indicates nervousness or deception — neither of those are words you want to be associated with you.
- Wear business professional attire (even during virtual interviews). Do not wear jeans, t-shirts, anything dirty/with holes, or anything that can distract
- the interviewer from what you are saying. The focus should be on you — not your clothes or jewelry.
- Do not wear perfume or cologne. Many people have allergies and a heavy scent can be distracting.
- Avoid pacifying mannerisms. This can include fidgeting or using filler words, such as “like” or “um.”
- Be polite to everyone. It’s a common tactic for interviewers to ask administrative staff how a person behaved in the lobby or waiting area. If you are rude to a receptionist, rest assured that the interviewer will be informed later.
6. Relax, take a deep breath, and go into the interview confident (but not arrogant). While you want to showcase your best qualities and potential for success, you still want to show your true self.
7. Once you’ve completed the interview, thank the interviewer for their time and ask when you can expect to hear back on the next steps.
8. Email the interviewer a thank you message the following day thanking them for their time and expressing your continued interest in the school.
Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to impress at your interview. Now that you’re prepared, relax, congratulate yourself for making it this far, and let your beautiful personality shine through!