How To Prepare For The Medical School Interview

Hello everyone, it’s been a minute. Medical school (Anatomy) has been kicking my behind, but I am back here with another banger! It is fall season meaning interview season in medical school application terms. If you got an interview, then CONGRATULATIONS, you are so close to the finish line! If not, no worries good news will be coming your way Godwilling.

With COVID and everything else happening, interviews are now online. There are some people who have asked me for advice and what to do to prepare for potential interviews and I thought I should outline it here. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Virtual interviews be like…

Before the interview:

1.Research your school

Before anything, make sure you find out more about your school! Sometimes we apply on a whim and we might get an interview from an unexpected school. Go to their website and find out what you like about their school and why you think you would be best fit for it. If you have LinkedIn, see if you can find people who go to that school and ask them for advice on the interview and the school culture there

2. Find out whether the school is a traditional interview or an MMI

There are two main types of interviews, the traditional one, where it is you talking to one person for 30-45 minutes and another one for around that same time. Then there is the MMI also known as the Multiple Mini Interview where there are different rooms that are filled with scenarios and you have 2 minutes to read/answer the prompt to yourself and 6 minutes to respond. I personally preferred the traditional interview because the prompts from the MMI could be anything. This is why is good to determine what type of interview it is before you go to the interview.

3. Do practice questions by yourself

I cannot emphasize practicing for the interview. People think that they should not practice for an interview and it should just be natural. Um….nope. You need to practice. You need to get those um’s away, answer the question properly, maintaining eye contact, and minimizing any annoying habits you have. If I did not practice, I do not think I would be where I am today.

For practicing my yourself, I would go through the general questions that are usually asked by medical schools like why you would like to become a physician, why this school, your strengths and weaknesses etc. I have links of practice questions below. What I did was type out my answers and then I would record myself answering the question. After that, I would listen to the recording and figure out the habits I should try avoiding such as saying “like” too much and “um”.

You obviously do not want to feel rehearsed during interview day, but you want to feel comfortable. I know when I usually do not practice, I feel like a deer in headlights. But it will help you feel more confident.

Questions for traditional interview:

Questions for MMI:

4. Practicing with others

You can only see your own mistakes so much. For interviewing, I recommend practicing with others with someone acting as the interviewer. It is going to feel overwhelming and awkward at first, but over time you will get comfortable. They can let you know your mistakes, your strengths and your overall performance.

I went to the Younkin’s Success Center at Ohio State and a counselor there personally helped me strengthen my interviewing skills. He told me it’s like practicing for a concert, you have to practice it every day and it does not just come naturally as some people say. Initially, I was so shy and felt scared but overtime I felt confident in my answers and our practice interview sessions became conversational. So, I definitely recommend finding someone like that but if not, have a sibling or family member do it, it truly helps.

For the MMIs, it was a little different. My counselor would give me a question and set a timer for two minutes. That was the time where I wrote down everything in order to answer the question. Then when the time was up, I was given six minutes to respond. I really did not like preparing for the MMIs but it sure helped when it came to preparing for the traditional ones. Make sure you craft your answers like an essay with a beginning, middle and an end. You are telling a story about yourself through the random questions they ask!

5. Refer back to your application

The medical school chose you to interview because they want to see whether or not you match the description from the application sent. They chose you, now make them want you! Go back to your medical school application and make sure you remember what you put. You do not want to be contradictory. I have actually heard the medical school admissions talk about people who seemed like the polar opposite of the application they sent in and it was not a good look. They hope you are the person that you said you were!

Interview Day:

Now it’s the day! Breathe in, breathe out. You got this!

1.Make sure to find a quiet area with good lighting

I also had some of my interviews online, so I made sure to go to a place in the house with the best lighting and where no one was there. It was hard because I have 4 other siblings and they were trying to being loud in the background but after some snitching, I made it work.

2. Wear a professional outfit

Pretty self-explanatory. Even though it’s online, please look professional and give your appearance some thought.

3. Be engaged

Usually before the main interview they give a virtual tour of their school and have an informational session. Be sure to ask them questions and to the students at the school. In my opinion that makes you stand out better.

4. Be yourself

During the interview, just be yourself. Of course, you are going to feel nervous but remember to breathe and talk. During some of my interviews ,we talked about a lot of things like why I wanted to become a physician, my experience as a phlebotomist (blog about that coming soon), as president of a student organization, my research etc. Some of interviews took a course away from the main subject and I remember talking about R Kelly’s wild behavior with one of them of my interviewers! At the end of the day be yourself and show them your personality.

5. Ask questions

When they ask, “do you have any questions for us?”, make sure you do. This is your time to know about the school. Ask about their resources, how they support students etc. This will let them know that you care. I have linked a document of questions that you could ask in case you cannot come up with some.

Link for questions to ask:

After the interview:

1.Send an email of gratitude

If the school allows it, send your interviewers a letter or email thanking them. It is very professional, and it lets them know that you value the time they took to interview you. Tell them one thing that you liked and how much you really love the school. Here’s an example of mine:

2. Following up

Make sure to follow up with the school and do not let them forget about you. I personally did not do update letters, but I know a lot of applicants who did. Update them on any research or leadership experiences you are doing, grades etc so that you let them know that you are dedicated.

And…that’s pretty much it. I remember when I got that acceptance letter via email all the stress and anxiety that I endured felt like it was worth it. I still pinch myself because I truly cannot believe that I am here today and if I have given up along the way, I would not be here. So do not give up, keep your head high, and most importantly, believe in yourself. You will become a physician!

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