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Health Professions Advising

Leslie Bell
Interim Health Professions Advisor
315-859-4338

The Health Professions Advising Office is located on the third floor of Bristol Center.

Medicine

The Interview

Overview

For medical school applicants, the admissions interview is the last step in the application process before the admissions committee determines which applicants will be invited to join the school community as students. If you've been granted an interview, you've been deemed an attractive candidate. This website is designed to help you prepare for and succeed with the interview process. Yet, as with the personal statement, this Web site cannot tell you what to say during the interview; rather, it can only give you some strategies to help you be your best.

For Further Reading...


How the Interview is Used

At the interview stage of the admissions process, medical schools know the remaining applicants have the ability to succeed in a challenging academic environment. The interview process therefore affords the admissions committees a chance to get to know the "real person" behind that stellar academic record and determine whether that person possesses the necessary personal qualities required of a future physician:

  • Intellectual curiosity/love of learning
  • Social awareness/cultural competency
  • Empathy/ Compassion
  • Altruism/ Concern for Others
  • Communication/ Interpersonal Skills
  • Maturity


Sharpening Your Interview Skills

Interviewing is a skill, and, like any skill, the more you practice it, the closer you'll be to mastering it. This section is therefore designed to help you improve your interviewing skill so that you'll hopefully be able to handle anything the interviewer throws at you.


Know Thyself (and Be Yourself)

The primary focus of the interview will be on you as both a person and an applicant to medical school. You should be comfortable talking about yourself and using specific examples to show the interviewer who you are. Furthermore, you should always be yourself in the interview. Honesty and sincerity are the keys to success. Don't lie, try to be someone you're not, or say what you think the admissions committee wants you to say. View some introspective questions to help you out.


Review Your Application

Look at your entire AMCAS and secondary application objectively. When reviewing your application, pay particular attention to your essay as many interviews use it as a source of questions. You should be very familiar with everything you wrote down and be prepared to talk about it at length with specific examples.


Define Your Message (and Learn How to Stay On It)

To define your message, you should develop at least three key points about yourself that you wish to communicate to the interviewer during the interview. For each point, think about specific examples you can use to support what you're saying. Learn how to actively incorporate what your points into your answers so that you maintain control over the message you are sending to the interviewer.


Put a Positive Spin on Things

Resist the urge to apologize for or react defensively about any areas of weakness, even if they're pointed out to you. Instead, offer a matter-of-fact explanation, and then explain how the experience surrounding the weakness helped you grow or what you gained from it.


"Is there anything else you'd like to say?"

At the end of the interview, many interviewers will often ask you if there is anything else you'd like to say before ending the interview. You should definitely use this opportunity to say something that you think should be said but didn't have a chance to say during the interview. If you don't have anything specific to add, use this time to reiterate your message. Whatever you do, don't leave the interview without feeling confident that you have communicated everything you wanted to say to the interviewer.


Practice Answering Common Interview Questions

Click here for a list of some practice interview questions from each category. It is important to note that this list doesn't pretend to be predictive or comprehensive: you won't encounter all of these questions, and you may be asked some that are not on the list. If you take the time to examine these questions, however, you'll have the confidence to answer most questions that come your way. Develop thorough and precise answers for each question type, and think about the different experiences you could talk about to demonstrate each point you would like to make.


Studentdoctor.net

This site offers descriptions of interviews by students who've interviewed in the past year school-by-school. You can look up the schools that have invited you for an interview and prepare based on questions they've asked of other candidates. Note, however, that there is no way to verify the accuracy of the information, so you should not rely exclusively on this site for your preparation.


Mock Interview

The Career Center offers mock interviews where you can answer some practice questions while someone else is evaluating your speaking style, the content of your answers, body language, and overall presence. It can also video tape your mock interview to allow for a more detailed critique of your performance and so that you can observe what you look and sound like from another person's perspective.


The Interview is a Two-Way Street

The interview experience is a two-way street. On the one hand, it is a time for the admissions committee to check you out as a possible student. On the other hand, you should also approach the interview day as chance to determine whether or not you would want to attend that particular medical school, assuming you have multiple acceptances. Make sure you use the interview to evaluate what the school has to offer. Before your interview day, conduct some preliminary research on the school's website to become better acquainted with the school's academic program and to identify the aspects of that program that you wish to learn more about. There will be numerous opportunities throughout the interview day to talk with students, faculty, and staff about the school, so don't leave until you get all your questions about it answered.


Scheduling Your Interview

Because of many medical schools' rolling admissions policies (in which they decide on whether to accept applicants in the order in which they interview), it is to your benefit to schedule your interview as early as possible because the sooner you have your interview, the sooner you'll be considered for acceptance (at a time when the class is not yet full).

Financial or availability reasons may compel you to try to schedule groups of interviews in particular geographic areas so that you don't have to make multiple trips to the same far-away destination. If you get one interview in a far-flung region and haven't yet heard from another school in the same place, don't hesitate to give the second school a call and politely inform them of your situation.


The Interview Day

The interview day normally consists of six parts: a welcome from the admissions office (possibly with a light breakfast), information sessions on the curriculum, financial aid, etc., a lunch (usually with students), a student-led tour, two interviews (usually around 30-45 minutes each), and a wrap-up session. You should call up the school for the specifics of the interview day, especially the length and format of your interview.

You should treat every interaction during the interview day as if that person is evaluating you, so act accordingly. This even applies to the medical students you meet. Click here for some additional tips on how to manage the interview day.


Follow-Up

As soon as you finish with your interview, write down your impressions of the school while they're still fresh in your head. This information will become invaluable when you are deciding between competing acceptance offers later on, especially since it may have been a few months since you visited the school for your interview. Keep the information folder you no doubt received at the beginning of the interview day for future reference.

Next, you should write the admissions director and your interviewers thank-you cards. This is not only polite, but it is also a good opportunity for you to remind them of your interest in the school and why you think you'd make a good addition to their student body. You should write a formal, general letter of thanks to the admissions director and a more specific, more personal note to your interviewers. The admissions office and interviewers do get a lot of these notes, so be concise and polite but try to reference the most memorable aspect of the conversation to jog their memory about you.

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