April 14, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
If the medical school you applied to has invited you for an interview, it means that your application has met the school’s high standards and the admissions office believes that you qualify to attend their school.
Still, an interview invitation is no guarantee of admission. Medical schools use the interview to handpick the ‘great’ from the sea of ‘good’. They’ve seen your transcripts and your grades and read your application and are impressed thus far. The last thing left to do before they grant you admission is to size you up in person. It can be a daunting thought but this is where you can bowl them over if you just knew what to expect.
Interview policies may differ from one school to another but in most schools, the interview committee will be made up of faculty members and representatives from admissions and human resources. Some progressive schools even get upper–level medical students to participate in the interview process.
Interview formats vary as well. Some medical schools interview by panel whereas others have separate, one–on–one interviews. Again some panels may interview you alone whereas others may interview a group of candidates.
Most medical schools use the interview to see how well you function under duress. They intentionally put you in a position that they know you will be uncomfortable in just to observe how you act under pressure. Those who support this approach argue that it gets candidates to drop their carefully studied “interview facade” and expose what they are really like.
Typical tactics will include quizzing you about controversial or sensitive topics, delving into extremely personal matters and rattling off a series of trivia questions without giving you much time to think.
If you find yourself in this position, it helps to remember that the interviewers are simply trying to test you. They are not trying to harass you. While your answers are important, what the interviewers are more interested in is how you reply and whether or not you can keep your composure under duress. Try and relax. Take a deep breath and take your time before you reply. If you can, steer the conversation towards a topic you are more comfortable with.
If your interviewer does succeed in tripping you up, don’t get disheartened. Interestingly, students who reported being flabbergasted by hard-line interviewers were often accepted at that school anyway. Interviewers expect you to be stressed and if you did well overall, it’s not likely that they will hold that against you.
Basically, what it comes down to is that interviewers want to get past your façade and get to know the real you, beyond your GPA scores and your transcripts. Authenticity is crucial. Be honest. Don’t try and second–guess yourself or your interviewers. Say what you really think and feel and you will do well.