Tips for Crushing Your Medical School Interview in 2021

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This blog post was written by Kayla.
Kayla is an MD/MBA student at Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and Chapman Graduate School of Business. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Florida and a Master’s degree in Clinical Embryology from the University of Oxford. Kayla is interested in pursuing pediatrics. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, painting, and spending time with friends and family! 

You’ve submitted your medical school or graduate school applications, what’s next? Interviews! The interview is a chance for the program to get to know you as a person. They want to see how you interact with others and whether you will be a good fit. Interviews are often very nerve-wracking, but just remember that you have gotten past the most competitive parts of the application process! Be yourself and practice, practice, practice! Here are a few tips for your upcoming interviews!

Review your application. 

Most of your interviewers will read your application prior to the interview. They may even have it printed right in front of them during the interview. Be prepared to talk about or explain any of your application answers. A good way to prepare is to print out your application and write notes next to each of your answers. 

Prepare your elevator pitch and your “why”. 

The majority of interviews start with “Tell me about yourself.” This is your chance to talk about your background, highlight your most important experiences, and share why you are pursuing this particular program. This is the interviewer’s first impression of you, so try to wow them and impress them with how you would be an asset to their program! 

The next question is usually “What led you to pursue this field?” or “Why us?”

Be prepared to explain why you are pursuing this field (medicine). Talk about how you first became interested and how your experiences have helped your passion to grow. 

Next, your interviewers want to see that you have familiarized yourself with their program and mission, and understand what makes their program so unique. When explaining why you want to attend a specific school, talk about specific aspects of the program that you will enjoy and can contribute to. Show how you can build on your current experience through a specific program. You should thoroughly research the school website for several of your favorite aspects of the school. This can include specific research faculty, labs, or labs, volunteering opportunities (name the clinic that you want to volunteer with), or curriculum tracks. 

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice your elevator pitch, your “why”, and talking about your application out loud. Research general interview questions online, including common situational questions. Practice answering these questions. It may help to jot down or outline your responses, so that your response is easy to follow. Try to use the STAR method to tell a story and further engage your interviewers. 

S (Situation)– Set the scene. Include where you were, who was involved, and when the situation occurred. 

T (Task)– Identify your task. What did you decide to do?

A (Action)– Describe your task. How did you complete your task? 

R (Result)– Reflect on your action. Was the situation resolved? Was the task successful? 

You can practice with anybody. Practice with friends or family so that they can give you feedback. You can also record yourself. Some areas to evaluate yourself include your talking speed, tone of voice, eye contact, body language (posture and fidgeting), and saying “um” or “like” frequently. Practice until you feel confident in your responses! 

Check out our mock interview packages!

Research your interviewers. 

If you know who your interviewers will be ahead of time, it is helpful to do a quick search on their background, such as specialty and research interests. Sometimes, interviewers are selected because they may be familiar with an area of your application. If you see that you have a common area of interest, you may want to prepare to talk specifically on that topic. 

Prepare follow-up questions. 

Almost every interview will end with the interviewer asking if you have any questions for them. Remember that the interview is also a chance for you to see if the program is a good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions that you may have! Your interviewers may also be your future faculty or peers. Ask them about their experiences. If they are involved in a certain program or teach a certain course, you can ask them questions about that. If you want to pursue a certain research topic, you could ask if there are any faculty in that area. 

Know the interview location and show up early. 

If your interview is in-person, familiarize yourself with the location a few days before. Figure out where you can park and how to get to the specific interview room. 

If your interview is virtual, learn how to navigate the interview platform. Download/update any software ahead of time. Check your microphone and volume. Choose an appropriate space with good lighting. 

Remember to silence electronic devices and remove any possible disruptions. On the day of the interview, have contact emails/ phone numbers handy in the event of an emergency. 

Send your follow-up emails. 

Send thank you emails to your interviewers if they are encouraged. Contact the Admissions Office for the appropriate protocol. Thank your interviewers for their time and briefly mention some of the highlights of your conversation. Your interviewers may be your future teachers, mentors, or colleagues, so it is good to start building that relationship now!

Congratulations on your interview! You got this!

Check out our mock interview packages!

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