How To Master The Medical School Interview

Once you reach the medical school interview stage of the medical school admission process, it means you have passed all “screenings” to get to that stage. It also means you possess the academic credentials required by the medical school. Congratulations! From that point on, your “interview performance” and how you are perceived on interview day will be the most critical factor in your success. Medical schools use the interview to understand your motivations for a career in medicine and to learn about your personal qualities and characteristics.

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Interview Preparation

Anything about which you have written in your application is fair game for discussion. Be sure to review your primary application, secondary application, and any update letters you have sent the school. You must be able to speak articulately about each of your experiences, what you learned from them, and how they led you to and confirmed your interest in medicine. If you have listed any research in your application, be sure you can explain and discuss it intelligently. Also be able to talk about your academic interests and anything you have done since submitting your application.

The best way to prepare for medical school interviews is to really think about your path and how you got to the seat in which you are sitting on interview day. This may sound simple, but I am always surprised when candidates who obviously have great experiences and have done “all the right things” to get into medical school cannot connect the dots in their own experience. Think about the overarching themes in your background, when you decided to pursue a career in medicine, and what helped confirm your interest. How has one experience led you to the next? By creating your agenda, you will know your exact path to medicine.

Doing mock interviews will not only help you become better at talking about yourself, what’s important to you, and what you have accomplished, but it will also help you learn about any distracting habits you may have. What does your body language say about you? How about your expressions? Projecting confidence, but not being overconfident, and making it clear you are open, approachable, and professional during your interview are key. Only with practice will you know if you possess these qualities. With more practice you will also be more confident on interview day.

When do Medical Schools Send out Interview Invitations?

Medical schools start to extend interview invitations as early as July or August of the application year. Your application will only be reviewed once it is complete.

When Do Medical Schools Start Interviewing?

Medical schools start interviewing as early as July or August of the application year. However, most medical schools conduct the bulk of interviews September through February. Interviews can be conducted into April, however, depending on the medical school.

Traditional Interview Questions

There are two major types of medical school interviews, the traditional interview and the multiple mini interview.

The majority of interviews are “traditional” one on one interviews. These interviews are most commonly a question and answer format and often transition into conversational interviews or discussions. Traditional interviews fall into one of three categories – open, closed, or partially closed file. The best way to answer traditional interview questions is to answer authentically and honestly. Don’t try to spin your responses. Medical school admissions committees are seeking mature students with integrity.

Below are some common traditional interview questions:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why do you want to be a doctor?
  3. Where do you see yourself in the future?
  4. Tell me about a time you failed.
  5. What do you like to do in your free time?

Attire & Hygiene

Consider this your first professional job interview and dress accordingly. How would you want your doctor to look so he or she projects competence, knowledge, and compassion? By “looking the part,” you demonstrate respect for the process, the profession, and for the people who are taking time from their day to interview you. If the weather is cold or it is raining, it is acceptable to wear appropriate gear. You will be given a space to keep your belongings. Above all, I encourage students to be comfortable; while you can’t wear your sweatpants, the more comfortable you are, the more confident you will be. And remember, it’s not a fashion show!

Interview Day: What To Expect

Interview Format & Schedule

Traditional interview days vary but follow a general pattern. Some schools will allow you to go to classes with students, but the schedule generally is similar to the one below.

8:30 AM: Arrive at the interview office
9:00 AM: Presentation by a dean or director of admissions
about the school
10:30 AM: Interview #1
12 noon: Lunch
1:00 PM: Interview #2
2:30 PM: School tour conducted by current medical students

Typically you will interview with one to three people. If you have multiple interviews, one might be with a current student. Most interviews are 30 minutes.

The MMI (Multiple Mini Interview)

The multiple mini interview was developed in Canada, and more and more medical schools in the United States use it. Students rotate through a variety of “stations,” remaining at each for eight to 10 minutes to address a particular question, complete a task, or work with another student. For example, the interviewer may give you a scenario and ask how you would behave, how you might describe the situation to a person involved in the scenario or how you would interpret the issues the scenario presents. In general, these mini interviews are designed to evaluate your professionalism, communication skills, ability to work with a team, compassion, and ability to consider all aspects of a situation. This type of interview is becoming increasingly more common in the US.

After The Interview: Follow Up

After your medical school interview we encourage students to send thank you emails to your interviewers unless a school specifically tells you not to send them! Thank you notes to your interviewers will not influence your candidacy, but it is good manners to write them. Ideally, your notes should be concise yet should touch on some aspect of your interview that was unique. You should also mention something that you like about the school that relates to your interests and the topics discussed during your interview. Just like other aspects of this process, your note should reflect the tone of your interview. For example, if you had a great connection with an interviewer, your note might be longer and more personal. But, if your interview was brief and superficial, you might only mention specific things you like about the school.

When Do You Hear Back After The Interview?

You can hear back from medical schools as soon as four weeks after your interview or as long as several months. For schools with rolling admissions, the wait time is particularly variable. Some schools have set notification dates for all students who interview. Those notification dates are usually in March.

About MedEdits

MedEdits helps students get admitted to medical school and residency programs. Our consultants have years of experience serving on medical school admissions committees, and as faculty members at the top medical schools in the country.

Need Help With Your Medical School Interview?

Schedule a Free 15 Minute Consultation with a MedEdits expert.

Top Amazon Ranked Traditional Medical School Interview Guide

 

The Medical School Interview by Dr. Jessica Freedman

Based on her experience as an admissions officer and as a private advisor, Dr. Freedman provides guidance on what to expect on interview day, how to influence what is discussed during your interview and what you can do to ensure a stellar interview performance. She also writes about what goes on “behind the scenes” after your interview and provides a transcript for a sample interview.

The Medical School Interview includes:

  • What you must do to prepare
  • What the interviewer is trying to assess
  • How to influence the course of your interview
  • The different types of interviewers and how this impacts your experience
  • How you are evaluated
  • What happens at the admission committee meeting after you leave
  • A sample interview with questions and answers

Medical School Interview Information for Every School in the Country