How to Strengthen Your Med School Interview Skills
Know your interview types and what to prioritize
Applying to med school can be stressful, especially when it comes time to go through the interview process. But being prepared can put your mind at ease.
Let’s look at the types of med school interviews that might be on the table, and then we’ll review what skills you should hone in order to nail them.
1. One-on-One Interview
This is the standard interview, in which you’re paired with a professor, attending doctor, or medical student for 30 to 60 minutes. Depending on the school, you may have one to three of these interviews in a day.
2. Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
This type of interview process usually consists of six to 10 very short interviews revolving around a specific scenario, designed to assess verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
3. Panel Interview
In this type of interview, several interviewers, typically including a variety of faculty from different medical fields as well as a medical student, preside on a panel.
4. Blind or Partially Blind Interview
This type of interview means that your interviewer will be completely blind, with no previous exposure to your history, or partially blind, meaning they’ll have reviewed your essays, but not your stats (grades, MCAT scores, etc.).
5. Open Interview
In an open interview, the person interviewing you may choose to be blind to part or all of the application, as reviewing the material is at his or her discretion.
6. Stress Interview
This type of interview is designed to see how you function under pressure. You may be asked questions that make you uncomfortable in order to see how you behave and speak when stressed.
5 Med School Interview Skills You Should Hone
Now that you’re familiar with the multitude of interview types that you may experience, here are some skills that will help you knock it out of the park, no matter the format.
1. Be Professional
Your self-presentation and the overall manner in which you conduct yourself are of the utmost importance. Make sure you’re dressed for the part and have a calm, collected demeanor.
2. Be You
Being professional is important, but so is being you. Let your personality shine through so that interviewers can better assess if you’re a fit for the program.
Arianna Farah Yanes, a student at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, was one of five students asked to provide insights on the interview by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
For starters, Yanes urges applicants to enter the process with confidence: “If you have been invited to an interview, it’s because the admissions committee thinks you are academically qualified for their rigorous program,” she says. “While you will discuss your resume in the interview, don’t feel like you have to prove your qualifications for the program.”
Think of the interview as an opportunity to show your personality, discuss your unique interests, and talk about your passion for medicine.
3. Review Your Application
Review your application to the school in question in preparation for the interview so that your answers are fresh in your mind. This will also help you gauge follow up questions interviewers might have after reading it.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
Practice answering interview questions with a mentor or friend beforehand. Have a general idea of the answers you will give, but don’t memorize them; this will make them sound rehearsed and therefore not genuine.
5. Be Curious
The interview isn’t just to see if you’re a fit for the medical school, but if the medical school is a fit for you. Come up with a list of questions on topics of importance to you personally and ask them at each school. This will give you a baseline on which to compare all schools after the interview process is over.
As Ms. Yanes put it, “At the end of the interview, most interviewers will ask if you have any questions for them. Keep a couple interesting questions in your back pocket and take the opportunity to ask them,” she says. “Find something about the program that is important to you and that you genuinely want to learn more about. It’s a good chance to show interviewers what you care about and that you’ve thought specifically about their program.”
Yes, interviewing can be stressful, but it can be mastered. Be prepared and be yourself; you’ve made it so far and have accomplished so much already, now is your time to shine.