Medical School Interview: Expecting The Unexpected

November 16, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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If you’ve received an invitation to interview, it means that your application letter was impressive and admissions office believes that you are qualified to attend their school. However, you must remember that an interview invitation is no guarantee that you will be given admission. The main goal of the interview is to help the admissions authorities separate the students with strong potential from those that are less impressive. They’ve read your application and seen your numbers. Now they want to size you up in person.

Students observing surgery at Iringa Regional in Tanzania What To Expect At The Interview 

Specific interview policies differ from one med school to another, but in most schools, the interview committee will be made up of faculty members and representatives from admissions and student affairs. Some of the more progressive schools even ask upper–level med students to participate in the interview.

Interview formats vary as well with some medical schools conducting panel interviews and others conducting individual, one–on–one interviews.

From the interviewers’ point of view, their main aim is to build a realistic picture of you as a potential med student in their school. They want to see what lies beyond the transcript and MCAT score. At the interview, remember authenticity is crucial. Don’t try to be who you aren’t. Be true to yourself, say what you think and you will do well.

Getting To Know The Real You & How Well You Perform Under Stress

In addition to everything else, one of the things that most schools want to evaluate during the interview is how well you function when you are under stress. Towards this end, they intentionally put you in an uncomfortable position simply to observe how you react under pressure. Do you stay calm and composed and react confidently no matter what or do you get flustered and fall apart when things do not go exactly your way? Proponents of this approach believe that it gets you to reveal your composed façade and reveal your true self. 

Typical tactics that interviewers use include asking questions about sensitive or controversial topics, asking probing questions about personal matters, shooting off a series of rapid-fire trivia questions or showing disapproval at most of your answers, either through negative body language or challenging remarks.

The last thing you need to do is to get rattled and lose your composure. Instead, if you find yourself at the receiving end of this type of interview, try and remember that it is all part of the evaluation. Relax and think of what and how to reply. Your answers and how you say them will say a lot about who your strength of character and your ability to think coolly even when under pressure.

After the Interview

Irrespective of how well or how badly you think you did at the interview, it is always a good idea to send a thank-you note to your interviewers after the interview. Before you leave the premises where the interview was held, get the names of everyone who was on the committee. You can then choose to write either one letter that addresses the entire committee or you can send individual letters to each of the interviewers. Sometimes, it could be this small little gesture that tilts the scales in your favor should the choice come down between you and another applicant who was just as qualified.