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Premed Advising

The Med School Interview

The medical school interview gives the medical school an opportunity to learn more about the applicant, but it also should be used to give the applicant an opportunity to find out more about the medical school.

  • Preparation:
    • If you cannot make an interview, notify the school.
    • Ask if the school arranges for an overnight stay with a medical student. This is a great way to find out more about the medical school.
    • Know something about the school and why you think it would be a good choice for you. Request a catalog from the admissions office and study it before you go.
    • It is especially important to refresh your memory on what you wrote on your application, since you probably will be questioned about it. For example, if you wrote on your application that you engaged in research, you should be prepared to elaborate on the work that you did. If you kept a copy of your application, review it. If not, some schools have "open" files where you have access to your application.
    • Find out the type of interview (e.g. one-one-one versus a panel interview) to get psychologically ready.
    • Read feedback from students who have participated in medical school interviews.
  • Interview Day: Some Guidelines
    • BE ON TIME!
    • Dress professionally. Do not wear anything that would be distracting to the interviewer.
    • Be courteous to everyone.
    • Maintain good eye contact, without boring a hole into the interviewer with continuous eye contact.
    • Sit in a dignified manner. Don't grip the chair, slouch, or wave hands around uncontrollably.
    • Relax and be yourself. Confidence, thoughtfulness and thoroughness will be appreciated. Be honest and open.
    • If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification. Some interviewers deliberately ask ambiguous questions to see how you think on the spot.
    • If a question makes you uncomfortable, relay this to the interviewer, with your reasons. Answer the question to be best of your ability. (It is tricky to handle a inappropriate question, such as your age, marital status, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin. If one of these questions is asked, the director of admissions should be notified sometime after the interview.)
    • Career choice and motivation are usually explored. Be prepared to relay your goals, values, experiences, insights, your understanding of societal values and your definition of success.

Check out this from Aspiring Docs

The Medical School Interview: Notes from a lecture by Jeremiah Fleenor, MD

"Core information" that must be conveyed in every interview:
  1. Your experience in medicine. Because of the way medical careers are presented in media, most people develop a notion (usually quite romanticized) of what such a career would be like, when in reality the actual practice of medicine is quite different. You need to explain your experiences that have helped you to understand the reality of a medical career.
  2. You have the longevity, discipline, motivation, and resiliency to succeed in medical school. How can you convey the evidence of these traits?
  3. You have thought about, and to some degree understand, the current and future state of medicine.
  4. How can you convey to the interviewer that you are "one of them," that you have spent enough time observing and shadowing a physician that you have a sense of the professionalism, the compassion, the breadth of knowledge, and the organization that a successful career in medicine demands.
  5. Five High Yield Questions From a Med School Admissions Interview

    Every question has a purpose, and often a question is a front to elicit something deeper. Your challenge is to answer the question in a way that informs the interviewer of your suitability for medical school.
    1. "Tell me a little about yourself"

      An open-ended question that allows the applicant to go where-ever they like. This question allows you to take control of the interview to some degree by laying out the core information; what you want to be asked about. Think of this as serving conceptual hors d'oeuvre to the interviewer. These are short previews of your passions, experiences, hobbies, travel, etc. The danger: don't ramble!
    2. "Why do you want to be a doctor?"
      • Here is where you answer "Is this person one of us?"
      • Your experiences in medicine
      • Beyond "nice" and "compassionate": "I am smart enough"
      • Stories from your history that motivate you
    3. What would you do if you weren't accepted into med school?
      • Express disappointment
      • You would want to know why you weren't accepted, fix those areas and reapply.
      • If med school was not a possibility, describe a career or activity with elements that attract those passions, interests, and talents that are drawing you to medicine.
      • "I want to keep learning. I am a life-long learner."
      • Comment only on something negative if this information can be learned by the application committee, then: acknowledge it, explain why and what you are doing to fix it.
    4. Is there anything that you have wanted to share that you haven t addressed so far? ("I didn t get a chance to tell you about... ")
    5. Do you have any questions for me?
      • Allows for information gathering about their institution and its mission
      • Changes in curriculum; flexibility of curriculum (in regards to electives)
      • Best attributes of school
      • Collegial interactions amongst students
      • Never inquire about sensitive or silly problems (i.e., staff shake-up, quality of food in cafeteria, etc)
  6. Conclusion:
    1. Some or all of these questions will be on the interview
    2. Think about how to convey all of the core information
    3. Learn to recognize the question behind the question
    4. Recognize that there is no "right" or "wrong" answer to most of these questions, only honest answers that reflect your greatest strengths as they relate to med school and a medical career.
    5. Practice, practice, practice
    6. Engage in mock interviews