Author: Sean Childs MD
Finally, after all of the required forms, applications and costs, you have been awarded with the long desired “interview.” Now is a time to celebrate, but also to begin preparing for what is the most crucial, high stakes portion of the entire application process.
Whether it is your first interview or you last, they all will feel the same…one lone day to show faculty, physicians and even students that you are a MUST for their acceptance lists.
Additionally, many will be told that this is not only a day for medical schools to interview applicants, but also a day for applicants to interview the medical school. As cliché as this may sound, it is 100% true and very important to remember. So, whether you are asking yourself “What can I possibly do to make this school want me out of the other 700 applicants” or “How will I know if this medical school is for me?,” … read on and hopefully your questions will be answered.
Always Have You Game Face On Your Interview Day
From the minute you hit “submit” on your application to the day you begin your first day as a medical student, you must treat all communication with medical school staff/students/admissions as a official interview. At any stage in the process, treating anyone with disrespect or making candid/inappropriate comments can be the single strike that will land you with a rejection letter. Everyone involved in the admissions process knows that there is a very limited window available to get to know potential applicants. With this in mind, any slip up, distasteful comment or interaction may be enough of a flag on an applicant to prevent them from obtaining the much-desired acceptance letter. In this day and age, with the extreme abundance of qualified medical school applicants, everyone must remember that in addition to showing medical schools why they should be chosen for acceptance, it is equally important to NOT give them any reasons for rejection. Thus, from the time you respond to invitation emails to the day you get your acceptance letter, treat every interaction with medical school, regardless of the individual, as an official interview. Be kind, be courteous, and stay true to who you are at all time, for you never know who can be your ally or your enemy.
Interviewing the School..
Whether you believe it or not, the common teaching that an interview is a two way street is fully correct and important to remember. While applicants are often only focused on obtaining acceptances at as many institutions as possible, they can often overlook the subtleties that make each institution uniquely different…and which make them ideal for different applicants. One of the most important concepts that can drawn from the interview process itself is that medical schools, while responsible for teaching the same content, are all rather different in their delivery and style. In addition, each medical school attracts and is comprised of a unique type of student body. Thus, any time spent at an institution during the interview process should be viewed as a precious opportunity to gauge your fit among the community behind each medical school.
During the interview day, applicants have free range to observe, talk with, interact with and question any student or faculty they meet.
They must realize the importance of these interactions as they can first hand “feel out” their fit within the community they may end up calling home for 4 or more crucial years of their life. Common questions may include what they do for fun, their favorite/least favorite aspects of the school, what they were looking for in a medical school and whether or not they would repeat their decision if they had the chance to do it all over again.
From Interviewer to Interviewee
Whether it is your first or your last, whether it is at a “reach” school or safety net interviews can be a source of anxiety and fear…but they don’t always have to be. Interviewers are not out to get applicants, as often believed to be. They have what can be thought of as 2 main jobs: 1.) To get to know you as a person, something that a piece of paper or electronic file cannot fully do, 2.) To determine whether you would be a good fit and addition to their medical school and community. With those two things in mind, the interview can be transformed into a more relaxing, even enjoyable process. Applicants should try to relax and be themselves, in a professional setting, to reveal to interviewers why they belong at that institution. Taking time to peruse a medical school’s website prior to the interview can assist in finding the basic tenets upon which the schools educational foundation is based upon. Taking time to ponder what personal characteristics one possess to make them an ideal applicant can help to guide the interview and make them seem like a perfect fit. Be sure to answer all questions truthfully and to always ask yourself “why do I belong here” and “what is it about my application that makes me uniquely posed to succeed at this institution.”