If you have been following along with our monthly series of medical school application guides, now that September has rolled around you are likely already finished or close to finishing your secondary applications. Some of you may already have received interview invitations! The interview, as you might imagine, is a crucial component of the application process, and while it is often less strenuous than writing an endless number of essays, it presents its own challenges and requires special preparation. Here are some things to keep in mind as you start to get ready for interviews (and they will get easier as they continue!):
1. Remember that interview day is a two-way street.
Yes, the school is still trying to assess how you will fit into their incoming class, but they invited you to interview because they’re also interested in showing off their resources. Take an interest in what they show you and pay attention to the areas that are highlighted - this can give you a lot of insight into what the school finds important and help you to determine whether your priorities align. Remembering that the school is trying to show off to you also can help relieve some of your stress!
2. Have your “story” prepared.
In your essays, you are asked a question and expected to give a thoughtful, edited, formulated answer. Interviews are much less structured, and the format can vary widely between different schools (more on that in next month’s post!). Before you go on your interview, come up with a cohesive story of your past journey and the way you envision transitioning your current interests into your future career. This can be challenging to do; start by thinking about the experiences you’ve had that you feel have impacted you the most. How did these influence your decision to pursue medical school? Did they give you insight into specific subsets of the medical field which you would like to pursue? What are you looking for in a school to help you support those interests? Having an internal map can help you answer questions on the spot, and also allows you to decide how the school’s offerings fit into your future plan.
3. Be very familiar with your primary and secondary application!
Usually, the person (or people) interviewing you will be given a full copy of your AMCAS and your secondary application to the school. People will use these differently - some may read them right before your interview, some may refer to them during the interview, some review them afterwards, and some may completely ignore the materials. Odds are, though, that your interviewer will review them at some point; you want to be sure that nothing you say in the interview is contradictory to something you have already told the school. You also want to make sure you aren’t being repetitive - the point of the interview is to give the school an idea of you in a new dimension, which rehashing the same activities and coursework won’t do.
4. Dress appropriately.
This point is short and sweet, and hopefully obvious. Everyone likes to say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is that if you show up to your medical school interview in jeans and a t-shirt, you most likely are going to make a bad first impression, or at least, convey that you aren’t taking it seriously. Consider the interview a formal job interview, where suits are the norm.
The interview can feel like a whole different ball game from the first parts of the application process, but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed! Applicants often find the interviews the most fun part - it’s exciting to actually learn about what being a medical student is like and to meet the hundreds of other students who will be entering the profession with you. Allow yourself to learn from the day, and just be yourself. Congratulate yourself on getting this far!
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