Very appreciative of the feedback and support of my mini-blog series discussing medical school interviews! This post will be dedicated to discussing tips for the traditional interview.
What is the traditional medical school interview? They’re typically held in a one-on-one fashion with you and the interviewer. Interviews can be open or closed file, meaning the person interviewing you may have access to your application, CV, etc., or they are going into the interview blind, will make their assessments following, and will THEN look at your application, etc. While majority of traditional interviews occur in a one-on-one fashion, some schools may have more than one person interviewing you. This isn’t too common, but it’s just something extra to be prepared for.
There are pretty typical interview questions that you will be asked. Here are tips to assist with answering them-
1.)Why do you want to attend XYZ medical school?
-Look up the school’s mission statement and core values. You don’t need to memorize them, but know the gist. State that you’re interested in the school because their mission statement and core values line with your personal aspirations/mission/core values, and be able to provide examples from your CV/resume to SHOW this.
-You can talk about the value of diversity within the school.
-You can discuss your involvement with MAPS, Black/Latin Student Unions, etc. and how you TOO value diversity, and HOW you will help the institution increase their diversity overall if accepted.
-You can talk about a medical school’s mission to helping underserved and disadvantaged populations.
-Provide examples of HOW you’ve been a part of assisting similar populations, and WHY that would make you a good fit for that medical school.
-You can discuss the history of the medical school, noting important discoveries, milestones, etc. This shows that you did your homework, and are serious about the medical school.
-Bottom line, you can answer the ‘WHY THIS SCHOOL” question in several different ways. What’s most important is providing examples to help show that you are a good fit for the school in your explanation.
2.)Answering Red Flags on Applications
No applicant is perfect by any means! If you feel that there are any red flags on your application, be sure to have GREAT explanations during the interview process. For example, my MCAT was a red flag.
I discussed having a strong GPA and academic track-record in spite of my MCAT score. I also discussed how my collegiate neuroscience courses were taught by a retired Pediatric Neurologist who would often give test questions directly from USMLE and doing very well in those classes. I additionally talk about my improvement between taking the MCAT twice.
-Bottom line, come prepared with a convincing argument if you feel there are doubts within your application.
3.)What do you like to do in your free time?
This is your opportunity to shine outside of academics! If you love to cook, talk about it! If you love to play music, discuss it! MOST IMPORTANT-BE HONEST because interviewers will ask you to discuss your hobbies even further..at my home institution, one student said he enjoyed learning foreign languages, and was “fluent” in Japanese. His interviewer was actually fluent in Japanese..turns out, the applicant couldn’t hold a basic conversation, and it made him look bad.
Flip side, I am a classical pianist of nearly 20 years. For one interview, I spent 90% of the time discussing favorite composers, classical pieces, and the history of music in general. I was easily able to connect with my interviewer, and it turned out to be a wonderful connection, because I was accepted at that medical school! If you have the opportunity to know who will be interviewing you, look them up the school’s website! Sometimes, they have listed a few of their hobbies. If you have something in common, talk about it!
4.)What questions do you have about XZY medical school?
VERY IMPORTANT SECTION! When you the interviewee are asked if you have questions about the medical school, the worst thing to say is “No.” While you’re being interviewed, YOU TOO are interviewing the school to see if you are a good fit!
Be sure to ask relevant questions that aren’t so easily found on the school’s website.
-Where do you see the medical school’s diversity initiative in the next 5 years?
-What do you like most about this medical institution?
-Why did you choose your medical specialty?
-What do you like to do in your free time?
-What opportunities are there for medical students to get involved in research?
Ask good questions that can lead to further conversation. Funny enough, doctors like to talk about themselves (haha).
In conclusion, interviewing can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Your interviewers are VERY excited to meet you, and just want to get to know you better. You wouldn’t have been offered an interview if they didn’t think you were capable of being a start student; getting an interview is more than half the battle. Put your best foot forward, be yourself, and show them that you’re amazing!
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