As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been flying all around the country lately for medical school interviews and while it can be kind of stressful, it’s also super fun! After going through a few, I sort of developed a strategy for being as prepared as possible and for minimizing the stress of the process. For any pre-meds out there, I figured I would share!
A little disclaimer: this method seems to be working for me (I got my first acceptance two weeks ago!!) and I hope it helps someone out there, but there are so many different ways to prepare and I am by no means a professional interviewer or pre-med advisor lol… so feel free to completely disregard this method and definitely post a comment if you have additional ideas or strategies! Anyway… here it goes.
Step 1: Find out what kind of interview you will be attending
- Different types of interviews:
- Three-person panel (in my experience, this usually consists of one current medical student, a professor/faculty member, and a physician, although this can definitely vary).
- Multiple Mini Interview (MMI—usually more scenario-based and ethics-focused)
- Will the interview be…
- Open (interviewer(s) know your entire application including GPA, MCAT, experiences)
- Partially blind (interviewer(s) may not know GPA or MCAT, but have access to your secondary application and/or experiences—or vice versa)
- Blind (interviewer(s) do not know anything about you or your application)
- Where to look:
- School Website
- Interview Invitation/Confirmation Email
- Student Doctor Network (SDN)
Step 2: Get more familiar with the school
- Why this is helpful:
- You can better answer the question “Why this school?” (I was asked this at every interview I attended).
- You can better formulate a list of good questions that aren’t easily answered by the website (every interview that I attended finished with the interviewer(s) asking if I had any questions).
- What to look for:
- Research opportunities for students
- Community outreach opportunities (like whether the school offers a student-run free clinic or something similar)
- Curriculum description
- Match rate
- Match list
- Board scores
- Clinical rotation site information
- Where to look:
Once you’ve done this, make two lists. List number one should include what you like about the school and list number two should include any questions you have that you couldn’t find the answers to on the website.
Step 3: Know your application
- Primary application (Personal statement, experience descriptions)
- Secondary application essays
Regardless of whether or not your interview is open, you should know your application inside and out. That way, you are prepared to elaborate on what you wrote. Be prepared to explain why your experiences are meaningful to you and what you gained from them.
Step 4: Be ready to explain your research
You want to make sure you can explain your research well and you want your interviewer(s) to see how passionate you are about it. I like to re-read my research articles and then explain some of the key points to friends or family members and answer any follow-up questions they may have.
Step 5: Stay informed!
It’s probably a good idea to stay informed regardless of whether or not you have a medical school interview coming up, but I have been asked a few questions regarding current events so I think it’s definitely important to stay up to date with the latest news. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should probably be aware.
I like to go to nytimes.com and read the articles on the front page as well as in the health and science sections. You could also just watch the news or use a different newspaper source.
Step 6: Have a basic understanding of ObamaCare
I doubt medical schools expect you to be an expert on this stuff, but you should probably have a basic understanding of the Affordable Care Act and how it is impacting physicians, patients, and medicine in general. Here are a few videos that I found super helpful for learning the basics:
- “ObamaCare: The Affordable Care Act Explained”
- “Is Obamacare Working? The Affordable Care Act Five Years Later”
Step 7: Practice!
Practice in the mirror. Practice with friends. Practice with family. Practice with a video camera. You should start brainstorming ideas for very common questions such as, “why medicine,” “why do you want to be a physician,” and “tell me about yourself.” You should also get comfortable answering questions concisely and clearly, and organizing your thoughts on the spot.
Here are a few links to websites that I used for practice questions:
Step 8: Relax, be yourself, and don’t expect to know the answer to every question
Once you are done preparing, be confident in all of the work you put in, relax, and be yourself. This was one of the most difficult things for me because I always wanted to be whatever the school was looking for. But trust me, you will come off much more genuine if you are yourself and if you answer questions honestly. You want to go to the school that is right for you, so being yourself is really the best advice. Also, you should go into your interview expecting to be asked questions that you haven’t thought of or that you don’t know the answer to. And you should be okay with that. They don’t expect you to know every answer and sometimes they just want to see how you handle stress. The best thing to do is be confident and go with the flow 🙂 And have fun!
So that’s it! I hope this post helps someone out there and good luck to everyone interviewing! I know you’ll do great! Stay tuned for my first vlog with Rich about our interview experiences thus far.