An interview is an important step in the application procedure and it can be exciting and informative. This is your primary way of seeing what their medical school is like…their students, faculty, geographic location, mission, when and where you would interact with patients, and other details of their programs. For the medical school, the interview gives them a chance to learn about you... your ability to talk and interact with others, your enthusiasm, motivation, knowledge of medicine, and the reason you have chosen to apply to their medical school. Sometimes it is an opportunity to discuss items of interest (or concern) in your application. And sometimes an interview can be stressful. The best way to handle anxiety and stress is to prepare well.
The preparation for an interview should be slightly different for each school. Consider the following:
An "open informed" interviewer will have seen your application materials. A "closed blind" interviewer will not. A "partially blind" interviewer has access to only parts of your application; this might be your metrics (MCAT, grades) or personal information (essays, personal statement) but not both. Understanding who your interviewer is means you can anticipate what they want to know about you and then you can compose your answers with that in mind, providing more details and background if appropriate.
A traditional interview is one where you sit down with one person (faculty, admissions committee, medical student) for a meeting that might last 30 minutes. These interviews may be informal and much like a conversation, or a series of questions and answers. You may have several interviews during your visit. A panel interview is where you are interviewed by several people at a time. A group interview is where you and other candidates are interviewed by several people at a time. A multiple mini interview (MMI) is where you rotate between stations, interviewing with six to ten interviewers. You may have one to two minutes to read a prompted question and then six to eight minutes to respond with an answer, before moving on to the next station. The questions asked may be more traditional, or focus on ethical situations, puzzles, or scenarios.
General Preparation Tips
- Research the school you will be attending. Understand their mission, curriculum, values, programs and opportunities.
- Review your application and personal essay; you can be asked to speak about anything that you mentioned in your application.
- Ask their Admissions Office for any logistical aspects you are unsure of (interview style, location, etc.)
- Be prepared to discuss current issues in healthcare.
- Be prepared to discuss why you have chosen medicine and how you have made that decision.
- Practice. Make notes of salient points, write out potential answers to questions if that helps you focus an answer. Practice interviewing with friends or family. Thinking through answers is not the same as saying them out loud. Practice enough that you are comfortable answering a variety of questions. Don't memorize answers - you need to be thoughtful, spontaneous, reflective and responsive to your interviewer. Sign up for a mock interview with us when you have your first invitation to an interview.
For more information on interviews, see:
AAMC Aspiring Docs: Preparing for Medical School Interviews
AAMC Aspiring Docs: Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)