The majority of medical schools send out their interview invitations during the months of October through January, but this is no cause to concern if you do not receive an invite within this timeframe. It is largely dependent on the timing of when you submit your secondary applications. Oftentimes, the earlier you submit your secondary, the sooner you hear back from the institution.
Most interview invites are sent between the months of October through January; however, it depends on when the applicant submitted their primary and secondary applications. Should one submit these documents earlier in the cycle, they should expect to receive an interview invite sooner than those who submit later on. Once the individual has received their invite and completed the interviewing process, medical schools usually send out admissions decisions 2-3 weeks after the interview date.
While it is most common to receive an invite by January, some schools’ interview cycle can extend into February or March. Do not be quick to assume that this means you were not as “good” of an applicant! Your application may have simply been reviewed by the admissions committee later on, and regardless, you should be sure to enter with a positive mindset and prepared with your best foot forward with the goal of becoming accepted into medical school.
Medical schools will often provide you with a variety of interview dates to select from that can be spread out over weeks to months. While it is recommended to select an earlier date, you should always consider when you will feel most prepared and what fits in with your work or school schedule. After all, performing poorly on an earlier interview is undoubtedly less desirable than presenting yourself as a stunning candidate in a later interview.
Upon receiving an interview, your chances of being accepted into medical school rise considerably. It is difficult to state an exact percentage of your individual chance of being accepted following the interview itself, as it all comes down to how well you perform and prove your candidacy to the members of the admissions committee.
Most medical schools tend to use a few tried-and-true questions. Preparing your responses to these beforehand will go a long way in helping you answer them effectively and eloquently. Here are a few to keep in mind:
Tell me about yourself: Make sure to keep your answer focused and relevant in the context of your candidacy as a medical student but be personal with your approach. Remember, this may be your opportunity to show a side of yourself which has not shown through your primary or secondary applications. Try to describe your background while tying in your inspiration to become a physician.
Why do you want to become a doctor?: It is advised to stay away from answers such as “to help people,” or “because I love science.” Instead, reflect upon the moment you wanted to become a physician, what did you feel? How did you view doctors at the time? Is there a particular health disparity or issue that you hope to make a difference towards? Keeping your answer unique and relevant to your individual situation will allow you to create a response that will stun your interviewer(s) and come off as authentic as well as genuine.
How do you handle stress?: Medical students and doctors are under a great deal of stress in their daily lives. It is in the admissions committee’s best interest to evaluate your ability to practice wellness in times of hardship in order to ensure that you truly will thrive at their institution. To answer this question, think back on a stressful time you went through, what did you do to stay healthy and calm? Do you have a support system you turn to? Briefly talk about these to demonstrate to your interviewer your potential to handle a difficult medical school curriculum. Do not be afraid to take it one step further and anticipate how having these coping mechanisms under times of stress have prepared you to be a medical student.
What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?: Pick a couple of strengths that will benefit you as a future medical student and physician. For your weaknesses, pick one or two and mention how you have not only acknowledged them, but also put in the work to improve yourself. Be honest and transparent with your weaknesses – reflection is a large part of a career in medicine.
Why would you like to attend our medical school?: This is where admissions committees will see how much research you have done on their institution prior to the interview or if this is another school of which you have only applied to in order to increase your likelihood of acceptance. Try to tie your own interests to specific programs or initiatives that the school has for their medical students to show them that you truly belong there. If you have been in contact with any former or current students about their experiences, that is also something that would be great to include! Is this school local to you currently and you have a support system nearby? Mention this as well! The goal is to show your interviewer that you are both passionate about their school and have a plan of what you wish to accomplish as a student there.
Your interview may not be limited to these questions, but this is a great place to begin your preparations!
There are a few questions that can potentially catch those who are unprepared off-guard. Knowing these ahead of time and composing your answer accordingly can help you to avoid any possible mishaps and allow you to sound more refined during your interview:
One-on-one interviews can range from 20 to 60 minutes. The length of the interview does not reflect your performance. Rather, the timing depends on various factors such as the number of questions the interviewer has prepared to ask and/or how many other students he or she has to speak with that day.
The medical student ambassadors/interviewers are just as important to interact with as the faculty. Oftentimes, they do have some say in whether or not a candidate will receive an acceptance letter to join their medical school family. Below are some examples of topics to ask about that will show the medical student your interest in their program, and excitement to join their ranks:
Caribbean medical schools will often ask the same common medical school interview questions as those in the United States. However, there are a couple that may stand out, which you should prepare for:
On the day of the interview, many people find their nerves getting the best of them, causing them to fall into the trap of a few typical interview mistakes. Proper practice prior to the interview can help avoid this, as well as make you aware of what these mishaps are:
The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format consists of various short assessments designed to test the applicant’s ability to handle various presented scenarios and questions. These require one to think quickly and decide on a plan of action with which to articulate clearly to the interviewer.
The most common issue that can be faced is often a result of nerves getting the best of the applicant. Oftentimes, the student may ramble in providing their response to the presented scenario and fail to make proper connections between it and their own experiences or opinions. The best way to tackle this would be to prepare prior to the interview by going through mock MMI scenarios. In these, you can practice such techniques as taking a deep breath to calm down before providing an answer, and drawing relevant parallels between your plan of action in the response and past experiences. Remember, like a traditional interview, if you fail to answer a question how you imaged, this is okay – do not let this weigh down your mind. Focus on the question at hand to knock that one out of the park!
While we may currently be in the era of COVID-19, it is still essential to develop a strong handshake for future medical school interviews and beyond. Starting off with a confident, firm handshake, eye contact, and a smile as you greet your interviewer when you first enter will go a long way in establishing a positive first impression. Regarding the handshake itself, try not to make it too limp or overly firm, this is not a competition, and you should try to be as natural as possible. It would also be in your best interest to shake hands with the interviewer at the conclusion of the interview, smile, and thank them for their time. This will again cement a positive impression of you as a potential MD/DO candidate at their school.
Should the interviewer for any reason decline to shake your hand, do not feel awkward or sheepish. Keep a focused mindset and sit down in preparation to ace your interview!
There is no need to carry an entire backpack to your interview, but there are a few essentials you should bring with you for a well-prepared, relaxed day!
As an aside, some medical school admissions departments arrange for a safe location for you to store personal items and luggage, should you be traveling for the interview.
The items needed for an MMI are exactly the same as those you should bring to any other interview. Please see our advice for “what you should bring to a medical school interview” for a more detailed outline!
On the day of the interview, you will be doing a lot of talking. By bringing a neutral bottle of water, you will be prepared in the event that your mouth dries up. While coughing during your interview is not a fast-track to an immediate rejection, it does not present well to the interviewer. Taking sips of water when appropriate will help you speak smoothly and clearly.
Another use of water in your interview can be in the event you need to take a little time to consider your response to a particularly thought-inducing question. Rather than staring into space, taking a drink of water as you internalize your answer can help you appear more composed in front of your interviewer.
Medical school interviews are nothing to sweat as long as you have prepared accordingly. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in getting ready for your big day!:
Group interviews are often structured to not only learn more about the applicants, but also observe their interactions with fellow candidates. Here are a few tips to help you stand out in the crowd:
Here are three simple “do’s” you should keep in mind as you conduct yourself on interview day:
Here are a few “don’ts” that you should try to avoid:
The night before your medical school interview should be spent mainly relaxing and getting into a state of mind ready to excel. Lay out all of the items you will take with you to the interview, as well as your dry cleaned/pressed attire to ensure that it is ready for you to put on in the morning. Eat a nutritious dinner, and make sure to verbally practice your prepared responses. Most importantly, plan to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Having the proper amount of rest is essential, as it will allow you to present to the school sharp and ready to speak in favor of your candidacy for medical school.
Medical school interviews are no cause for stress or concerns as long as you follow some basic guidelines to excel. Please refer to our outline of “Medical School Interview Tips” for more information on what exactly you can do to ace your interview!
In your portfolio, you should make sure to include a few copies of your resume. This will come in handy if you see an opportunity in which to make it available to your interviewers, or to refer to it as you respond to the committee’s inquiries.
Your resume should follow the basic outline of your education, relevant experiences, research, leadership and community service, and your awards, honors, and skills.
A portfolio is essentially a nice folder in which you will carry documents that may be needed on the day of your interview. This should be simple and in a neutral color, such as a black leather. Inside your portfolio, you should place at least two copies of your resume, personal statement, primary, and secondary applications. If you conducted previous research, copies of your abstract(s) should be brought, as well. Carrying a portfolio allows you to look more prepared, professional, and interested, which are important in establishing a strong first impression.
Your appearance on the day of the interview is just as important as the responses you give to various questions. Below is a brief overview of what you can wear to ensure that you are dressed as nicely as your application:
On the day of the interview, the admissions team will meet and interact with many hopeful premeds. To avoid being lost in the crowd, try to keep in mind these helpful tips to shine:
Your interviewer will interact with and meet plenty of hopeful pre-meds throughout the admissions cycle! By sending out a thank you note to each individual who interviews you, you ensure that he or she remembers you specifically, and more importantly, allows you to thank the interviewer for taking the time to get to know you as an applicant. Try to have this sent in no later than 3 days after your interview. Here is an example for you to emulate:
Dear Dr. Smith,
Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me on September 25th. I greatly enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about Motivate MD University’s dedication to serving the underserved, which perfectly aligns with my own interests and aspirations to resolve disparities in healthcare across various socioeconomic backgrounds. I especially appreciated the on-campus free clinic, where I could both practice skills learned in class and further the efforts to improve the health of the surrounding community.
It was an honor to be invited to Motivate MD University. If you have any questions, or would like additional information to support my candidacy, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org / (123) 456-7890.
2020 D.O. Graduate at NSU-COM
Background: Completed a 7-year accelerated B.S./D.O program
2020 MD/MBA Graduate at the University of Virginia School of Medicine
Background: Tutor for the past 6 years
MS2 at NYU School of Medicine
Background: 99th percentile score on the MCAT
MS3 at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine
Background: Published Writer
MS1 at Wake Forest School of Medicine
Background: Has a love for narrative medicine
MS2 at the University of Minnesota Medical School – Twin Cities
Background: Minored in Global Health
MS2 at the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine
Background: President of the Surgery Interest Group
MS3 at the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine
MS2 at Nova Southeastern University’s Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine
Background: A part of the Dual-Admissions program: B.S./D.O.
MS3 University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
MS4 at Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine
Background: Editor for 2 years
MS2 at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Background: Tutor for incoming med students