Lessons Learned from Interviews
Now is around the time when medical school interviews are starting up again, and we’ve been seeing interviewees around campus quite frequently. Sometimes they join us in class, and sometimes we get to talk to them more casually at dinner events (free food always attracts a lot of med students!).
Meeting these interviewees, I was reminded of how even though it feels like it’s been a long time, just a year ago we were going through the same process. Interviewing at different places, sometimes traveling across the country many times in a week, was a long and difficult process. Looking back now, I learned some lessons that I would want to pass on to interviewees going through the process now.
1. Be prepared
This probably goes without saying, but it was really important for me to both be prepared and feel mentally prepared on the day of the interview. Pack carefully, set out everything you need the night before, and try to get enough rest. Make sure you have ample time to get breakfast in the morning and find the location, so you can arrive feeling collected and ready to go.
Before the interview, it might help to look through your application again and remind yourself of some key points you would want to talk more about. For each school, having a general understanding of the program can help you have a conversation with the interviewer and get some questions answered about the school.
2. Treat the day as a learning experience
While the experience may feel intimidating from the position of an interviewee, the interview day is not just for the school to learn more about you, but also for you to get a sense of whether you would be excited and happy to attend this school. Take advantage of the opportunities you get to talk to people, and explore the campus if you have a chance; try to see what your life might look like if you were here in a year.
3. Find out what makes each place different
After attending many interviews, I realized that a lot of interview days had blurred together in my head; I could hardly remember what I had done or what I had seen on the tours or what the anatomy labs looked like.
I found it helpful to try and write down what stood out to me at each place. At the end of the day, most schools will offer very similar educational opportunities—pretty much every med school will have classes, anatomy, clinical experiences, research, and so on. Learn what really differentiates certain schools from others, by asking questions such as: What does this school offer that other places may not? How do mentors and faculty guide and care for students? How do students engage with their communities outside of class, and how do they find projects and opportunities for exploration.
4. Take care of yourself
Lastly, there’s no denying that the interview process is stressful and can really take a toll on you. Remember to take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Be forgiving to yourself—what you’re doing is tough, and it’s okay to feel tired and to give yourself a break sometimes. At the end of the day, though, this is just one part of a long journey, and hopefully you’ll come out at the end of it with some time to rest and rejuvenate and get excited about what comes next.