Medical School Admissions: Dos and Don'ts of the Med School Interview

Posted by Zoe Sansted on 10/29/14 9:30 AM


Your actual med school interview might not be this bad, but it won't be a cakewalk, either.


So, you got an interview. Congratulations!

You made it through years of classes, hours of MCAT tutoring, and an endless medical school admissions process all to get here: the interview. Here are some tips to get you through that stressful but fun and exciting day!

Before interview day

DO be professional in your correspondence.

Respond promptly to your invite. If you have been offered a specific date and need to change it (and you have a good reason) most schools will accommodate you. If you are only going to be in the country for one month, or you only want to fly to California once, for example, feel free to let the school know that even before receiving an interview invite. It will make scheduling easier for everyone.

DO buy a nice black or grey suit, shoes, and (for ladies) a purse.

These are essentials. Also for ladies, tours involve taking stairs A LOT, so consider this when choosing shoes.

DO research the school.

What makes the school unique? From the school’s perspective, what makes someone a good fit for this school? You should have a sense of what the medical school admissions committee values in an applicant, and know a couple of programs or extracurriculars that you would be interested in if you end up there. For example, if you did volunteer work in college, try to remember the name of a specific volunteer organization at the school that you can name-drop.

DON’T memorize a bunch of facts and statistics about the school.

They will tell you all of that on interview day.

DON’T do anything crazy!

When I was interviewing, I heard stories of people dyeing their hair darker or wearing fake glasses to try to look more grown-up or “smart.” Interviewing is stressful and can make you question a lot. They picked you for a reason, because they like the real you! So don’t go messing with that!

On interview day

DO leave yourself plenty of time to get there.

Whether you’re staying on campus or in a hotel the night before, or you’re arriving that morning, you never know what could happen and you don’t want to be late.

DO pay attention.

Interview day is FULL of meetings and presentations about the school. This is the admissions directors’ chance to tell you what they think is special about their school. If you pay attention, they are essentially doing research for you! Feel free to steal some of the highlights for when you talk about why you like the school in your interview.

DO be yourself—well, the best version of yourself!

In your interview, what you say should be genuine. Don’t exaggerate your involvement in an organization or make up an interest just because it fits the school well. What you’ve done is actually cool, and your interviewer will think it’s cool, too.

DO remember your social skills.

Your smarts got you the interview: now they want to see if you’re a normal person. Communication skills are essential to being a doctor, and you have them. So prove it! If nothing else, show that you’re more than just grades and scores: you’re a kind and sociable person.

DO adapt to your interviewer’s style and personality.

Some interviewers want to talk the entire time. Some don’t say anything. Let them! Interviewers will remember you fondly if they enjoyed the conversation and spending time with you. And they will enjoy it most if you let them conduct the interview how they want. That doesn’t mean be silent when your interviewer is silent, but quite the opposite! In a silent moment with a shy interviewer, try saying something like “And another reason I fit so well with this school is….” The pressure shouldn’t be all on them to continue the conversation.

DO redirect and steer the conversation towards yourself and the school.

If your interviewer wants to talk about soccer the whole time, you should let them talk about soccer. But you also need to throw in things about yourself that are relevant even if not asked. Letting them talk about what they want will allow them to remember you fondly, but advocating for yourself (even if not asked) will allow them to advocate for you to other interviewers.

DON’T forget: they’re always watching you!

Whether it’s actually true or not, treat the entire interview day like it’s your interview. Be on time, be polite and friendly to the other medical students, and be courteous to the staff. Stay present: don’t wander off or skip events no matter how boring they are, and always appear interested.

After interview day

DO send a thank you note to your interviewer.

Email is the standard, but snail mail can also add a nice personal touch. Some schools will give you instructions of where to send email or snail mail thank you notes: listen to them! If they specifically ask for email, there’s a reason.

DO write down what you thought about the school.

I suggest doing this immediately after interview day. Remember, they’re not just choosing you: you’re also choosing them! You impressed them, but did they impress you? Interview day is also a time for the school to sell themselves to you, so record whether you liked what you saw. It will make deciding on a school much easier later on.

And most importantly: RELAX. All the MCAT preparation and med school admissions consulting paid off. The hard part is over. They like you! Now you just have to let your naturally fabulous self shine through!

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Tags: medical school admissions