So you’ve rushed to take your MCAT and prepare your personal statement, now you wait till applications open. Then you rush to submit your apps, then you wait to receive secondaries. Then you rush to finish the secondaries, then you wait to receive an interview invite. Then you get anxious, and now it’s the night before your medical school interview – the last chance you’ll have to leave an impression on a school.
A lot of applicants find interviews to be the most stressful portion of the app cycle, but in reality, it’s the perfect chance to share how you’ve come as an individual.
Come with an open mind
You’re going to meet all sorts of people during the interview day – deans, professors, current students, and other applicants who make you look like dirt. Keep an open mind and realize that you are here for a reason. You passed some sort of initial evaluation and warranted an interview slot which could have been given to somebody else. Respect this privilege and make the most of it.
The night before attending your interview, utilize brochures and websites to learn about the school, their curriculum, their hospitals, and their future goals. You won’t be an “expert”, but perhaps something might catch your eye that you’d like to further inquire about during your interviews. Remember, interview day is a two-way street. Schools are looking to recruit new students while you are looking to find your “best match.” There’s no point of interviewing unless you would hypothetically attend that school, so be proactive and ask questions!
Stay calm but focused
Whether you have a student or faculty interviewer, a one-on-one or panel interview, or any weird combination of circumstances you did not foresee, stay calm! If you have an interview that seems to be getting off track, politely steer it back into focus. Remember, you only have a finite amount of time to convey your ability to professionally interact with your interviewer, so do it!
This is one of my pet peeves. From time to time, I’ll have interviewees (either knowingly or unintentionally) interject a statement about themselves or the medical profession which make me question their stance. As a student myself, I really don’t dwell on it, but a faculty member may have found those remarks to be presumptuous and juvenile. Be mindful of what you say and remember humility above all else.
“Honesty is the best policy” really does apply to interviews. When they ask if you have a particular speciality in mind, be honest! It’s completely okay to say you don’t. When asked about other schools you’ve applied to, interviewed at, or been accepted to… be – honest! Never underestimate to what degree schools communicate with each other. By the same token, don’t add information which was never asked for. If you’re interviewing at school X and are asked why you want to attend their institution, don’t say you really don’t; it’s just your backup school. 😀
So in conclusion, remember that your interview day deals exactly with that – the INTERVIEW! Focus more on the here and now and don’t worry about weaknesses in your application (although you should be able to identify them and be able to explain how you are improving on them). Best of luck to everyone on the interview trails! 🙂