9 Tips to Help You Ace Your Medical School Interview
So, you’ve gotten to the point where you have submitted all of your applications, and now you are finally hearing back from some schools with invitations to interview! While this task may seem daunting, it certainly doesn’t have to be. After all, interviews are not only a great way for the school to learn more about you, but they are also the opportunity where you get to assess whether the school is the right place for you. Whether you’re not sure where to begin with your preparation, or you’re looking for some last-minute advice, read on to discover our top 10 tips for how to ace any medical school interview.
Do practice, but don’t memorize
Just as you would for any interview, you should make sure that you practice answering any and all possible questions that you think you might be asked. You should prepare to be asked questions about your academic background, your application, why you want to go to medical school, and more. It may be helpful for you to sit down with a friend or family member and have them “mock interview” you, so you can practice answering questions you might be faced with in a more casual practice setting. Remember that while practice is key, memorization is not. The last thing you want to do in your medical school interview is to sit there and recite your answers to questions from memory. Not only will the interviewers will be able to tell that you had your responses memorized, but this means that it will be even harder for you to get back on track if they ask you a curveball question.
Do your research
Before going into any medical school interview, prepare yourself by doing as much in-depth research as you can to get to know the school and the program specifically. When you are doing this research, take note of aspects of the program that may be of specific interest to you, and be prepared to answer the question “Why our school over others?”. Coming into the interview and being able to show that you have taken the time to learn about the school and the program will show that you truly care and want to learn more. Additionally, it is crucial to do your research before every interview so that you can ensure that you don’t ask questions in which the answers can be easily found on the school’s website.
Come with questions
Generally, at the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewers. This is an opportunity to show them that you have been listening throughout the interview, as well as another opportunity for you to show them that you have done your research on the specifics of their school, program, and courses. When you are preparing for your interview, try to write down a handful of strong and off-beat questions that you are genuinely interested in knowing the answers to. Not only will you get those questions answered, but this will show your interviewers that you are thinking outside the box.
This one should be a given, but it is important to look your best when you are going for a medical school interview. This means wearing formal attire that is not revealing or inappropriate in any way. You should make sure that whatever you wear is not only professional but also that it will be comfortable enough for you to wear for a whole day around campus. Shoe choice is crucial here – your medical school interview is probably not the time to wear a pair of 6-inch heels or your most uncomfortable pair of loafers.
This is key for any interview you go on, and that certainly does not exclude medical school interviews. If (or when) your interviewers ask you questions such as “Why do you want to attend XYZ school?”, “What got you interested in studying medicine?” or “Can you explain your grade from Introductory Biology?”, be truthful in your responses. Most medical school interviewers have a fair amount of experience doing what they do, making it easy for them to tell if you are making up a story as you go or fumbling over your answer. Remember that interviewers understand that everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes, so don’t be afraid to be honest and genuine in that respect. Additionally, while it is important to differentiate yourself from other applicants and show you are unique, it is equally as important to make sure that you are answering the questions that are asked in YOUR voice, rather than pretending to be someone you’re not.
Be friendly and have a positive attitude
Remember to smile, be upbeat, and show the interviewers that you are happy to be there. When you answer and ask questions, show them through your voice and your body language that you are genuinely interested in the conversation. Also, it is likely that you may take a tour around the campus and/or meet multiple people throughout your interview. Therefore, remember to be nice to everyone you meet!
Show them what makes you stand out
Maybe you have an interesting story about what got you interested in studying medicine, or you had the opportunity to take part in a community service trip or part-time job that opened up your eyes to what is possible in the world of medicine. Whatever it is, everyone has a story about why they chose the field, why they feel that they are qualified, and what makes them different from all the rest. When you are preparing for your interviews, make sure you take the time to dig deep into yourself and try to answer these questions, so you can be prepared for when they come your way during an interview.
It is extremely common to feel nervous when going into a medical school interview. If you are just feeling nervous about the whole thing in general, perhaps try doing some activity beforehand that will be likely to relax you, such as a 5-minute meditation or journaling how you are feeling. One medical school student recalled that his secret to success in his interviews was “converting that nervous energy into excitement and enthusiasm”. Thinking about the things you might be nervous about and focusing that nervousness into excitement is a great way to get your mind focusing on a different area. When you are faced with a tough or thought-provoking question, don’t panic! Listen to what the interviewer asked, think clearly about how you want to respond, and answer the question as best you can. If you need a little bit of time to formulate your response, that is okay too!
Send a thank-you note after
Just like any interview, it is common etiquette to send an email or thank-you note to your interviewers to, well, thank them for interviewing you! Sending a thank-you note is a solid way to make a strong and lasting impression, and is a great way to differentiate you from the sea of other applicants. Your thank-you note should be respectful, include a thank-you (obviously!) and it should highlight some of the specific points that you spoke about in your conversation so the interviewer will be able to better remember your interview and connect it to your name. Remember that this is likely the last impression that the interviewers will have of you after you have left the room, so make sure it is professional and respectful.