9 Tips to Prepare for
Medical School Interviews

Be Memorable. Get Accepted.

Preparing for medical school interviews is much more than simply Googling the most common interview questions and sample responses. You must make a solid first impression, have accurate knowledge on the program you’re interviewing at, and know how to best convey yourself. To help you prepare, our interview coaches compiled a list of high-yield interview prep tips.

Introduction 

The medical school interview is often the biggest part of the application process, as it is the first time admissions committees will get a chance to meet and speak with you in person! With that in mind, it is important to make sure that you put your best foot forward and show them exactly why you deserve a place in their class as a student physician. Many people can feel quite apprehensive in the days leading up to their interview, but with plenty of practice, these nerves can easily be calmed (for the most part). To help you get started in preparing for your medical school interview, we have created some helpful tips as a guide to make sure you hit all the essential points before your big day!

Interview Tip 1. Research the Medical School

Do your research on the program! You will best prepare yourself by looking up specific opportunities, features, and programs. Write this all down so that you can bring these notes with you on Interview Day. Note the features that you are interested in, details about each one, and even the reasons why you are excited about them. The more information that you have dug up about the med school, the more prepared and interested you appear. Here are some examples of what you might take note of: 

  • Curriculum: How does it align with your unique career interests? Most schools will have at least one curriculum feature that fits well with your interests in medicine, you just have to find it.
    • You can do this by Googling, “X Medical School Curriculum”.
    • For example, do you want to work in the field of health equity? Maybe they have an academic track focused on social determinants of health.
      • List these specific features by name
  • Research: If you are interested in research, find specific opportunities you would like to take advantage of.
    • Do they have a summer research program?
    • An academic track focused on research?
    • The option to do a research thesis?
    • Find at least one specific professor whose research you are interested in, and mention them and the topic of their research
  • Volunteering: Most schools have a student-run free clinic or association that provides healthcare and helps coordinate some social services to the nearby community. Does the school also have student organizations that involve volunteering, such as mentorship programs for college or high school students interested in medical school? 
    • Remember to note the names of these opportunities and details about them.
  • Clinical exposure
    • How is this school’s clinical exposure different from others, and how will it help you achieve your goals?
    • What is their patient population like, and what opportunities for learning does this present?
      • For example, is it rural, urban, underserved, wealthy, etc.?
  • Location
    • What about this school’s location appeals to you?
      • Is it in your hometown?
      • An area where you have always wanted to live?
      • A place where you could see yourself settling down in the future?
      • Or if none of these are true, what are some positive features of the location that you look forward to enjoying?

Do not forget to find out what format your interview will take! There are four possibilities for the types of interviews you could encounter:

  1. Traditional
  2. Group
  3. Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
  4. A mixture of the above

Most of your med school interview invites will include what format(s) their interviews take along with other important information. If your interview invite does not include which format, we suggest the following:

  • Searching the program’s website
  • Google: “X Medical School’s Interview Format”
  • Under the “Selection Factors” within Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR).

Interview Tip 2. Prepare Informed Questions

Based on your research about the school, prepare several informed questions to ask the medical school admissions committee and the interviewer.

  • These questions should be as specific as possible to convey that you have done extensive research on the school, which shows the strength of your interest.
  • Many times on Interview Day, admissions staff and interviewers will ask if you have any questions. You should never say no! This is a great time to ask any more specific questions that you’ve prepared, and you’ll probably get a detailed answer.
  • If you do not have an organic question at that moment, you can refer to your list of prepared questions…

Examples of questions to ask a medical school interviewer:

  • What type of clinical sites are available for clerkships?
  • Can students do rotations elsewhere?
  • What are the policies for taking time off for research opportunities?
  • I am extremely interested in ___ clinical volunteer opportunity; what kind of clinical role do students do at that organization?
  • What don’t people know about your medical school that you wish they knew more about?
  • How many hospitals do students rotate through?
  • How much clinical exposure do students get in the first two years?
  • Are students involved in (required or voluntary) community service?
  • Are there opportunities for students to design, conduct, and publish their own
    research?
  • What kind of financial guidance do you provide your students?
  • How are students evaluated for their coursework?
  • How does your medical school work to improve the community?

Interview Tip 3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Interviewing is a skill and like anything you want to improve upon, you must practice. You can run through with a friend, parent, or roommate your answers to these commonly asked medical school interview questions. A few important questions to practice are:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Discuss your decision to pursue medicine. When did you decide to become an MD (or DO), and why?
  • Why do you want to attend our medical school?
  • Why did you decide to choose medicine and not some other field where you can help others, such as nursing, physical therapy, pharmacology, psychology, education, or social work?
  • What special qualities do you feel you possess that set you apart from other medical school candidates? What makes you unique or different as a medical school candidate?
  • What do you consider an important/the most important social problem facing the United States today and why?

You can find strategies and sample responses to these questions here

All this said, make sure not to prepare so much that your answers sound rehearsed! You do not want to just read from a mental script on Interview Day. This memorization will come off as ingenuine. Your practice should simply help you to have a direction to go in for the questions.

Interview Tip 4. Mock Interviews

Conducting mock interviews is a powerful way to ensure you are ready for interview day. We highly suggest that you take these mock interviews seriously. The closer you embody the experience of your actual interview day, the better. Your interviewers will have no idea who you are so having a close friend or family member interview you may not be the best choice.   Here are a few options of people we suggest:

  • Your school’s premed committee or premed advisor
  • Affordable Medical School Interview Coaches
    • Yes, there are affordable options!
  • An acquaintance who has been accepted to medical school
    • We say acquaintance because you should not be extremely close with this person.

Access traditional and group interview practice questions here and MMI practice stations here.

Have your mock interviewer provide communication feedback for both non-verbal and verbal.

  • Non-Verbal Communication
    • How was your body language?
    • Did you listen carefully?
    • Did you convey enthusiasm and interest?
    • How often did you fidget?
      • Playing with your hair
      • Cracking your knuckles
      • Bouncing your leg or tapping your foot
    • Was your appearance professional?
  • Verbal Communication
    • Avoided the use of filler words (um, uh, er, ah, like, okay, right, and you know)?
    • Responses focused on your strengths
    • Knowledge of the program
    • Provided clear and concise responses
    • Proper grammar
    • Utilized the S.T.A.R method
    • Showcased AAMC core competencies
      • Social Skills
      • Cultural Competence
      • Teamwork
      • Reliability and Dependability
      • Resilience and Adaptability

PRO TIP: Get the most out of mock interviews by trying as close as possible to mimic what you will be like on the actual day.

  • Will you be nervous and/or anxious? Dumb question, I know.
    • Do something that will cause you to experience nervousness and/or anxiety. Due to how big of a deal a medical school interview is… simply psyching yourself up right beforehand could do the trick. Think of all the hard work you put in for this exact moment.
  • How about over caffeinated?
    • Drink a cup or two more than usual the day of
  • Sleep deprived?
    • Binge some Netflix the night before.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable during mock interviews will help you to better harness these feelings on your actual interview day.

Here is how our mock interview process works:

    1. You choose who you would like your interview coach to be. View our coaches here.
      1. Check to see if we have a coach who goes to the medical school you are preparing for.
    2. Conduct a full 60-minute mock interview (traditional or MMI style) based on the program you are preparing for.
    3. The coach will then go through each question and provide tips and advice on how you could improve your response.
    4. You will be given a form that scores your verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
    5. Answer any questions that you have about the process

The entire session is also recorded so you can go back and learn from your mistakes that you also pick up on. 

Interview Tip 5. Prepare a “Go Bag”

Prepare a small “go bag” for Interview Day of supplies you may need. This is helpful as unexpected issues may come up on the day of your interview, and you do not want anything to contribute to your already heightened anxiety!

  • Deodorant: You are most likely gonna get realllll sweaty.
  • Band-aids
  • Medications: Advil, Tums, etc.
  • Extra makeup if you use it.
  • Water: You will probably be dehydrated from talking so much, and you don’t want to have to spend time finding a water fountain.
  • Portable phone charging block and charging cord: The last thing you want is a dead phone when you’re on your way there!
  • Comfortable shoes: Interviews involve a lot of walking.
  • Umbrella: You don’t want any weather issues to get in the way. Purchase one that is small enough to fit in your bad. We suggest this one.
  • Notepad: It is a must to take notes during Interview Day. Even if you aren’t particularly interested in a certain topic being presented or discussed, you look more engaged if you’re taking notes. And some people say that the school is always watching you, so it only helps!
  • A folder or padfolio: Here you can keep your notes, take notes, and store the materials the school gives you (they will give you a folder with pamphlets, etc.)

Interview Tip 6. Print it Out (In-Person Interviews Only)

  • Print out the interview location address and your prepared notes and bring them with you.
    • It is a good idea to have a printed down address just in case you have a phone emergency.
  • Having printed out notes is a game-changer for interviews. There is a ton of school-specific information for any school, and there’s no way you can remember all of it! Being able to reference these notes while waiting before your interview will help you recall the specific features of the school you’re interested in.
    • For example, you can review them if you arrive early or when you’re waiting to be called for your individual interview or MMI.
  • You can also reference your printed out notes during your actual interview.
    • For example, if you can’t remember the name of a clinic you want to volunteer at, you can check in your notes. This doesn’t reflect badly on you at all; rather, it shows that you are very prepared and have read up on the school! The more specific you are, the more interest you will convey to the Admissions Committee.

Interview Tip 7. Lay it Out

Lay out the things you will need the night before.

  • Interview Day clothes
    • Men: select a well-fitting suit in a neutral color such as black, navy blue, or dark gray. It is a good idea to have it tailored to ensure that the shoulders and pants fit properly, so you are not tempted to fidget or adjust your clothing on the day of your interview. Your shirt should be a lighter color, such as white or light blue, with a tie that is of a contrasting color in either a solid or simple, undistracting pattern.
    • Women: you have the option to either select a well-fitting pantsuit following the same guidelines as the male suggestions above (neutral colored with a white or light blue shirt), apart from wearing a tie. You may also choose to wear a skirt with a neutral colored blouse; however, be sure that your skirt falls to knee length and your neckline is not too low. Dressing modestly helps exude an air of professionalism and will allow you to focus on the interview rather than adjusting to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions. Hair can be worn either down or tied back. If you have a habit of playing with it when nervous or in thought, it may be best to tie it up to avoid doing so. Jewelry should be kept to a minimum and simpler pieces should be favored. Nails should be short and kept either natural, or painted a neutral color.
  • Coffee
  • Backpack/briefcase
  • “Go Bag”
  • Printed notes and address
  • You can even prepare breakfast the night before to save time

Interview Tip 8. Sleep

Get good sleep.

This is so essential! Interview Day, especially your first one, is going to consist of many activities that you cannot anticipate. Being well-rested will help you focus, pay attention, and stay active through these many events.

I can’t overestimate how tiring Interview Day is. Having to be 100% “on” for four or more hours in a high-stakes situation is exhausting!

In your interview, you need to be extremely engaged, enthusiastic, attentive, and answer unexpected questions in the spur of the moment. Good sleep is an essential prerequisite for doing all these tasks.

Make sure you have a chill day prior to your interview if you know you won’t be able to sleep great.

Interview Tip 9. Confidence 

Don’t doubt yourself. You got this and you belong at that interview! You would not have gotten an interview invite if they were not interested in you!

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