Today I’m going to give some advice on how to approach med school interviews! Or rather, how to approach the interview day. My application cycle is coming to an end successfully, though it feels like just yesterday that I was exploring Chicago and falling in love with the city before my first interview. There’s a LOT of advice out there on every facet of the application process, so I’m just going to focus on what I learned from my own experiences.
Do mock interviews before you go.
Even if your interview skills are stellar, practice the big questions at home: Why medicine? Tell me about your self. Why this school? These questions will inevitably come up, and even the most eloquent person might have things they want to say, but might not think to say unless they had thought about the question at home. I practiced interviewing with my little brother and my dad, but some schools’ prehealth offices offer mock interview services that will give you feedback. Not gonna lie, I flashcarded myself when there was no one around to practice with. And yes, I’m turning “flashcard” into a verb. More than anything, I think practicing questions gave me a confidence boost that I could pull out to use during the real deal.
Make time to explore the location
Remember – you might be spending the next four years of your life in this city! I get that not everyone can take time off work/school in addition to the days they have to interview, but the time spent exploring the cities was so precious to me, I’d say absolutely do it if you can. You can get a feel of where students live, how you can pursue your interests outside of medicine, and just whether you like the vibe of the city. Plus, you may just end up on an adventure if you’re out and about on your own. Whatever you do though, make sure to get a good night’s rest before your interview.
Don’t just arrive on time, arrive early.
This one may seem like a no brainer, but it’s amazing how being in an unfamiliar setting can interfere with your intended punctuality. Whether you opt to get to the school with your student host, by public transportation, uber/taxi, walk, or drive, plan to be at the admissions office or wherever the school indicated 30-45 minutes ahead of time. And if you plan to use Uber, first determine whether there will be very many drivers out on the road in the early morning. I was panicking before my SUNY Downstate interview because I assumed that an area like Brooklyn would be teeming with Ubers, but apparently not at 7am.
Don’t hesitate to talk about things outside of your application.
Your interviewer wants to get to know who you are as a person. One of my interviewers specifically said that he wanted to see if he could imagine an applicant as his colleague, someone to converse with and spend time with. Easy enough, right? In practice, it was actually kind of difficult for me. On one hand, it’s like, “I need to convince this person that I’m suited for med school,” but on the other hand, you’re like, “I want to answer that if I wasn’t going into a health-related field, I’d want to be a cheesemonger, help!” Allow your personality to shine through–using your best judgment, of course.
Be open and cordial with your fellow interviewees.
Even though I was pretty exhausted at the end of interview days from being “on” the entire time, I greatly enjoyed meeting people in the same boat as me! There are so many accomplished young people out there, it might be intimidating at first, but it really helps to talk to each other and kind of diffuse the stress of interviewing that way. It goes without saying that you should still remain professional, even if there aren’t any faculty or staff listening in on your conversations.
Send thank you cards if you want.
Some schools will give you directions on how to send cards, some schools will explicitly tell you not to send them (cough, USC). Send them if you feel like you connected with your interviewer or out of courtesy, but not because you think it’ll affect your admission decision either way. At least with the majority of schools, it’s not a dealbreaker and shouldn’t be.
All right, that’s all for now! I hope some future applicants find this helpful, and feel free to comment your own two cents!
P.S. I think I’m going to gradually make this blog un-anonymous because there’s no real reason for my identity to be hidden, and it’s hindering my ability to write freely. 🙂