How To Interview For Medical School

Your interview could be the deciding factor in your application process. Once you are awarded an interview, the school is prepared to admit you based on your past academic performance/accolades. At that point, it’s all about your interview.

Here are some tips from Varsity Tutors to help you ace your interview.

Don’t try to sell yourself too much: Once you’re in that interview seat, the school already knows your MCAT scores, where you went to undergrad, how many hours of community service you boast, etc…etc. They know you’re intelligent and motivated on paper, now you need to prove yourself off paper.

Be prepared: Most interviewers will ask a series of generic questions and a series of tough questions. However, most are not acting like cutting investigative journalists trying to expose your flaws, and there is never a right or wrong answer. Here are a few common, sample questions. You should either practice these questions or have pre-meditated answers.

Generic questions:

1. What are your career plans and what led you to this decision?
2. Tell me about why you are interested in this program.
4. What was your favorite college course and why?
5. What do you hope to gain from this experience?
6. Tell me about a time when you demonstrated initiative.
7. What are your specific goals in medicine?

Tougher questions:

1. How do you handle death?
2. What class did you struggle with most during you undergrad and why?
4. Describe how you can effectively deal with someone in crisis.
3. Say you only have time to save one person’s life. Who would you choose between a 20-year-old drug addict and an 80 year-old-woman?

Speak up: You don’t have to yell at your interviewer, but if you are a quiet, soft-speaker he/she will believe you’re unintelligent and lack confidence. Speak loudly and clearly to show you’re confident and ready to succeed.

Do not be too talkative. Never talk for more than 2-3 minutes consecutively. That gives you more than enough time to completely answer any question. Try to create a balanced dialogue with your interviewer, and give him/her a chance to talk. If you’re droning on for too long, he/she will doze off, and that is the absolute last thing you want.

Do not lie: If your interviewer really wants to, he/she could verify any fact…all the way down to what high school clubs you were in.

Learn how MCAT tutors can help you improve your chances of acceptance into a top med school. 

Find something non-academic to talk about: You’re not the first person your interviewer will ever meet with…probably not even the first person that day. So, please, for their sake spark up a conversation unrelated to academics. They will be delighted to talk about something different, and that will help you stand out. You could talk about famous landmarks, museums, architecture, tourists attractions, sports teams, restaurants, etc that are popular in the school’s city. Also, you can never go wrong by bringing up the weather.

Look the part: The obvious: wear something conservative and classy. Dark colored suits are appropriate. The not so obvious: look like you have a little money (even if you don’t). Spend the $5 on a nice looking pen – don’t bring a cheap Bic or Papermate one. Buy a classy leather-bound portfolio to put your work samples in. Your interviewer will probably already have your file, but bring extra copies of work you have done. Again, spend the extra money and go to Kinkos to have them professionally print and bind your work samples. You’re interviewing for med school, not Burger King.

Ask specific questions: The questions you ask are a direct reflection how interested you are in the school; so make them as thoughtful as possible. Try to frame your questions around specific topics. For example, avoid asking what the school’s special programs are – you should already know that. Instead, ask what sets that program apart from other schools’ or why it is so successful.

Again, instead of asking if students have published research at this school, find a particular student who has and ask how he/she was able to do so, what classes he/she took, etc.

Write a thoughtful thank you note: Former med school interviewers suggest sending an email 48 hours after your interview is best. Try to make your thank you letter as personalized as possible by including something you and your interviewer connected over or even laughed about. Do not try to sell yourself again. And if you say the school is your first choice, chances are, your interviewer will not believe you, which could harm your entire application process.