In a nutshell, medical schools are looking for applicants who are articulate, sincere and significantly interested in their school. Candidates with these characteristics-those who are able to communicate their passion for medicine and intellectual curiosity with confidence and grace-tend to have very successful interviews.
Below, you will find a few tips on how to make a great in-person impression on a medical school you may wish to attend. We think you will find these tips invaluable.
Are you articulate?
How you answer the interviewer's first one or two questions will say quite a lot about you. In particular, you should be prepared to answer the question, "Tell me about yourself" with wit and style. Whatever the question, remember that the medical school interview is essentially a conversation. This means that all of the rules of good conversation apply here. Be animated and thoughtful in your response to questions. Avoid interrupting your interviewer, and steer clear of making off-color, politically incorrect, or boastful remarks. Once you get rolling, remember the time constraints you are under and try not to ramble.
In preparing for the interview, expect the unexpected. Know how you might approach questions for which you do not have a readily available response, since "winging it" in such a situation would be too difficult. If you cannot immediately phrase a response to a question, try repeating it in your own words, so the interviewer will know you are considering it and understand what is being asked. This technique can sometimes help you as well, since it gives you more time to think. And simply by rephrasing the question, you may be analyzing and assimilating it, making it easier to answer.
Also be aware that interviewers communicate with each other. If you struggled with a particular question in the first interview, your second interviewer may know this and give you a second chance to address the question. Be ready to handle it more deftly this time around.
At the same time, do avoid scripting answers to questions beforehand. Providing your interviewer with "canned" answers will make you sound phony. A better way to prepare is to identify key issues within sample interview questions and come to an understanding of how you feel about these issues. That way, if similar questions come up during your interview, you will be able to answer them sincerely, in your own words. Also, vary your tone of voice. Answers given in a monotone have a way of sounding phony as well as boring.
Be prepared to discuss problems you have had of which your interviewer may be aware. Mediocre grades, inconsistencies and personal challenges are all things your interviewer may ask about. It may be difficult to address these issues spontaneously, with honesty and tact, if you haven't prepared to do so. Before going into the interview, know how and why you made the mistake, what you learned from it, and why it won't happen again.
Also, reread your primary essay and secondary application. This will show your interviewer that you are a person who means (and remembers) what he or she says. Further, your consistency will make you seem especially focused.
How interested are you in this school?
You will get a chance-probably near the end of your interview-to ask questions about the school with which you are interviewing. The questions you ask should be related to the school's mission or objective, its research, and its faculty.
Miscellaneous Final Note
Avoid defensiveness. Interviewers have been known, on rare occasion, to ask very tough questions on taboo subjects. Understand that the motivation of your interviewer in this case is to ascertain how you might react to unexpected stress. Try to respond with humor, and stay calm.
It may help to remember at this point that the school has invited you to an interview because it thinks you are an outstanding applicant. If you are still nervous despite this, the following techniques may help you to relax:
- Get enough sleep.
- Concentrate on the conversation.
- If you don't understand something, ask for clarification.
- Maintain comfortable eye contact.
- Don't allow a long, uncomfortable silence.
- Rely on your Core Themes-the main points you made in your essays and other application materials about why you should be accepted to medical school.