I’m going to preface this post by saying that I’ve never been interviewed by a medical school admissions committee, but I have had the pleasure or misfortune however you look at it, of participating in plenty of interviews for various other reasons. So not everything in this post may apply directly to medical school interviews, for that I apologize, but I strongly believe that most if not all of these tips will help you become a better interviewee and help you stand out as a strong candidate. Without any further delay let’s get straight into the post.
The medical school interview is one of the crucial elements of the application process, your grades have been vetted, your MCAT score has been checked, your extracurricular have been examined, personal statements and secondary applications have been read. The interview can make or break your application; a strong interview can raise your chances of getting accepted, while a week interview can really hurt you. So here are a few tips for you to improve your interviewing skills.
Pro-Tip #1: Prepare
You want to be ready for the interview, practice with friends, try the career services office at your university many of them offer mock interviews, you can also try email some of your professors and request if they would be willing to conduct a mock interview. Check sites like Student Doctor Network for previous interview questions and practice responses to the most common ones. You can never have enough practice.
Pro-Tip #2: Have a story
Everyone has a story; you’ve got to become a story teller. Tell your story with passion and emotion, try to draw your interviewer in to your story, and try to get them to tell you their story. From my perspective if you can go from a Q&A format to a conversation then you’ve done a pretty good job.
Pro-Tip #3: Know your application
You should know every bit of your application like the back of your hand, you wrote about research that you did on your application; well you better know enough about that research to hold a conversation. I’ve heard stories about people being asked questions about a very small thing on their application that they didn’t notice.
Pro-Tip #4: Be a story teller, leverage your stories
Everyone has those little stories of things that have happened to them over the course of their lives, if you find that you can apply one of those stories to a question, leverage it if appropriate, I tend to use the basic system of story, moral, and apply moral to story, being a good story teller can really influence people, and get them on your side pretty quickly.
Pro-Tip #5: You have two hands and one mouth
Keep your hands free, I’ve seen people holding papers, index cards, pens, etc. in their hands when they are either giving a presentation or in an interview. You have more hands than mouths use them. You can use hand gestures as an extremely powerful tool in your interviews, but you can’t use them if you have something in your hands. The one suggestion I would have for people who plan on using hand gestures, is be careful, it is very easy to overdo them.
Pro-Tip #6: The Opening!!!
How long does it take you to find anything these days, probably less than 30 seconds. We’re in an age of instant gratification. I’d say that you have about 30 seconds to a minute after the first question is asked to draw the interviewer in and grab their attention. Once you have their full attention, don’t let go.
Pro-Tip #7: Know thy interviewer
Again I’m not exactly sure if this is possible with medical school interviews, but try calling and asking who will be interviewing you, and searching them on google. If you know who will be interviewing you, you’ve already got an advantage over the schmucks who haven’t read this blog, and will be walking in blind.
Pro-Tip #8: Believe
There is a theory in psychology about something called cognitive dissonance, an uncomfortable feeling you have when you hold two contradictory ideas. Believe wholeheartedly in what you say, be passionate about it. If you’re saying things you truly don’t believe you will come off as insincere, but if you are truly passionate about what you’re saying you will be remembered.