Whether you’ve dreamed of being a doctor since you were three years old or this doctor thing only recently started seeming like a good idea, your days of being “pre-med” are almost over. You dodged getting weeded out by Organic Chemistry, you got through the MCAT. You shadowed doctors, you maybe even worked in a research lab. You carefully crafted your personal statement and you powered through that primary application. You slaved over those secondary applications and now you are finally receiving interview invitations.
Congratulations, you look good on paper. This is why you got invited to interview at medical school A, B, and C. You should be very proud of yourself. Medical schools can only offer interviews to a tiny fraction of their applicant pool. So, you must have done something right. In writing, you’re quite the catch. Now it’s time to see if this holds true in person.
Here are things to consider on the medical school interview trail:
You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you
The purpose of the interview for the admissions committee is to determine whether or not you are a good fit for the medical school. You have a stellar application, but so do the hundreds of other students being interviewed. Being a good fit for a medical school goes beyond having the credentials. And there’s no fancy algorithm for it so you couldn’t fake the funk even if you wanted to. That’s the beauty of the interview. You may not be a good fit for a medical school and that’s totally okay. However, in spending half a day there, you may discover that a medical school is not a good fit for you. Your interview day alone can inform your decision on where to go to get your medical education. Why do you think so much effort is put into it? You have to choose the medical school just as much as the medical school has to choose you. As you move along the interview trail, remember that you are a looking for place to spend the next four years of your life at minimum. This is no small thing. You can’t just transfer medical schools if you realize later that the one you matriculated into is not for you.
You are expected to know your application like the back of your hand
Your interviewer just asked you to elaborate on a very minor detail in your personal statement. And now he wants you to speak more on that research project you did a billion years ago. One of the worst things you can do on your interview day is not know what you wrote in your application. It could be that it’s been so long since you submitted it that you simply forgot. That is not an excuse. This was not a surprise interview – you knew exactly what day you’d be here, and you could have easily read over your application the night before. Don’t put yourself in a position where your inability to recollect minutiae from your application is attributed to you fabricating the information. You can’t undo that thought in your interviewer’s head once it’s there.
If you don’t have questions for them, are you really interested?
The admissions committee will do a pretty thorough job of answering the most popular questions before they can even be asked. This will not stop your interviewer from asking you if you have any questions for them at the end of your interview. Do not say no. This is the time that you are able to show your interest in the medical school. There are plenty of things you can inquire about. The admissions committee would have only covered the bread and butter stuff. Take a moment to think about what you’d like to leave knowing. Prepare some questions the night before if you have to.
Be yourself. There’s a major difference between practice and total scripting
You have no idea just how much interviewers hate when they get “perfect” answers in response to their questions. While it is important to have a general idea of what you’d say if asked about this or that, resist the urge to memorize. There’s nothing scripted about medicine and your interviewer wants to see if you have the communication skills needed to care for patients. If you’re answering questions like you’re reciting a script, it’s safe to assume that you’ve blown it.
Don’t worry about the next person
You will meet so many other applicants on your interview trail. Some of them will have gone to a prestigious undergraduate school, which you may or may not be able to say for yourself. Some of them will already have doctorate degrees, which you may or may not be able to say for yourself. Some of them may be super artsy and cool and fascinating, which you may or may not be able to say for yourself. You cannot, by any means, be discouraged by the applicants you meet along the way. You have been invited here for your own unique reasons. You have to trust that you are a competitive applicant and think about the hardcore facts: you were among the small fraction of applicants that are being interviewed. Own your successes. Believe in your credentials. Speak about them with confidence.
Current students are won’t be able to tell you everything
If you want to get the best idea of what your day to day would be like as a student at the school, talking to current students is the way to go. They were in your shoes not too long ago. And if they are first years, it hasn’t even been a full year since they’ve hopped off the medical school interview trail. While they will do their best to break everything down for you and be super enthusiastic to do so, there are some things that you won’t understand until you’re in it. Don’t let that stress you out. The purpose of interview day is not for you to leave feeling like you know everything there is to know about the school. You’ll certainly know enough though.
Good luck on your interviews!
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