I have interviewed many applicants for admission to the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. I absolutely love it; I’m always so impressed by the applicants and what they have accomplished as well as the energy they bring to the medical school. For most interviewers, including me, the interview is simply a chance to get to know you better and match the person to the application. We aren’t trying to trick you or test your knowledge. While the interview is often the most anxiety provoking part of the application process, it should actually be the easiest! The topic of the interview is you. Who’s a better expert on you than, well, you?
Here are 3 tips from my own interviews that I hope will help you with yours.
1. Be authentic!
Remember, your written application and interview are two separate parts of your application. If you have been invited to interview, then the admissions committee already thinks you have the academic chops to manage their curriculum. You should be proud of yourself for that! At some schools, your interviewer doesn’t even have access to your file. That means your interview interaction is their only chance to try to gauge who you are. The more you obfuscate that by trying to highlight what you think the interviewer wants, rather than who you are, the less we are able to get to know you and imagine how you’ll fit into our community.
2. Be clear!
Prepping for the interview takes time for the interviewer as well, and many have quite busy schedules. I always read my applicants’ files in depth, but it may have been a couple days before your interview. I may not remember details and will definitely not remember acronyms regarding your activities. The more you can guide me along and connect the dots, the better. Also, keep in mind, we all have different backgrounds. I have a liberal arts background, so it’s easy to lose me talking about highly technical research. The more you break it down for me, the better I can appreciate your amazing accomplishments. If I’m having trouble understanding an applicant, I often tell them to teach me as if I were a high schooler.
3. Enjoy yourself!
This may sound silly, but I mean it! If you’re having a good time, odds are I am too. My most difficult interviews were the ones where I felt I had to pry information from the applicant. Those I rated most highly were those whom I was able to have a more informal (but professional) conversation with. I felt I got to learn much more about those applicants’ interests and passions and envision what they could offer the school, which led to stronger reviews.
Cambridge Coaching has the most qualified team of medical school writing coaches available anywhere. Our team is composed of MD, MD-PhDs, and professional writers because we understand that the best coach is going to help you produce a dazzling AMCAS essay, as well as a suite of supplementary materials that provides a persuasive, integrated argument for why you belong in medical school.
The challenge of the medical school application process isn’t just due to the workload, either. It has to do with the sheer competitiveness of the system. You can’t take anything for granted; every aspect of your application has to be solid - your GPA, your MCAT, your recommendations, your interviews, your activities, and your personal statement. That’s why we go beyond the usual options and offer coaching that covers the entire application, not just your personal statement. While we are happy to work with clients on a single essay or drafts, we find that we achieve the best results with clients who work with us throughout their application process - from the MCAT through to the admissions deadlines.
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