Top 5 Medical School Interview Mistakes

Medical school interviews in any setting can be daunting, but virtual interviewing, in a setting where it can be difficult to really engage with your interviewer, can bring even more difficulties. As someone who interviewed for medical school remotely this past cycle and is starting M1 year, I have a few tips on medical school interview mistakes to avoid that can create a huge impact during interview day! In no particular order…

Mistake #1: Avoid Going Into the Interview Cold

To the best of your ability you should know what you’re getting into when you log onto that Zoom call! You should know whether it’s a traditional interview, an MMI, a combination of the two, or something totally different. You should have an idea of whether it’s open (they’ve read your secondary and have that information) or closed (they know next to nothing about you) application.

Additionally, it’s really important that you know why you’re interested in this specific school.

  • What programs do they have that you want to participate in?
  • What characteristics does their mission statement include?

These things are all incredibly important to help you prep and anticipate what the course of the interview will entail. By knowing this information you are able to practice working through questions and tailoring your answers to best represent yourself and your interest in the school!

We at Motivate MD also agree that it’s a good idea to look over this great PDF that the AAMC put together for virtual medical school interviews. Check it out here

Mistake #2: Avoid Speaking Quickly 

This medical school interview mistake can be a big challenge for anyone in stressful situations. However, if you slow down your speech, you’re generally able to convey more meaning in your words and your interviewer will be able to better grasp what you are saying.

I’m a big fan of “practice makes perfect” and would frequently practice basic interviewing questions with friends and family in order to understand how I could best deliver information (and not just scramble to get it all out on interview day!).

Additionally, I practiced my answers alone by saying them out loud while driving, making dinner, etc. This way I was able to actually hear what my answers sounded like. I would notice when I struggled to convey a specific idea, and I generally became more confident in my ability to deliver my thoughts in a way that made sense.

Lastly, feel free to take a breath during your answers! Although stopping for a few seconds may feel like a long pause for you, your interviewers probably won’t notice. A pause can allow you to collect your thoughts to better deliver your answer. 

Mistake #3: Avoid Dimly Lit Spaces 

Your interviewers want to be able to see you well if there is poor lighting and/or shadows! People are visual creatures and reading body language is incredibly important in communication. During an interview, the best way to show engagement in the topic, or your passion for a given activity, is to continue to use expressive body language. This includes:

  • Sitting up straight
  • Subtle describing with hand gestures
  • Appropriate facial expressions 

When you’re in a dimly lit space, these nuances of communication can already be lost and it may be more difficult for your interviewer to see the depth of what you’re trying to convey.

Mistake #4: Avoid Looking at the Screen

On a similar note, eye contact is so important! This is absolutely a challenge to maintain, as staring at a camera during remote interviews feels completely disengaging! However, making eye contact by looking at the camera instead of the screen can convey to your interviewers that you’re interested. It emulates what an interview would be like in person, where you’d be able to actually make eye contact with your interviewer.

If you find you’re struggling to maintain eye contact when practicing, you can try placing a sticky-note to the camera-level space on the back of your computer (sticking up from behind so that it is visible). You can then draw a small face or character to feel like you’re really talking to someone when you’re interviewing!

You can also change the video layout by moving your interviewer’s display as close as possible to your computer’s camera. Go here for instructions on how to do this. 

Mistake #5: Avoid Overworking Yourself 

As a pre-med, it’s a given that you’re busy! Between school, extracurriculars, socializing, etc., it can be tempting to simply try to squeeze an interview in somewhere! To the best of your ability, this is something that you should avoid.

It’s important to understand that all interviews are important, whether it’s with your top-choice school or not. You want to really be able to put your best foot forward during all interviews!

Take it seriously, fine-tune your interviewing skills, get dressed up, and most importantly, make sure you’re getting sleep leading up to it! You want to be fully prepared, be confident in your skills and your understanding of the program you’re applying to, as well as feel fresh and rested.

On a final note, congratulations on getting a medical school interview! Celebrate the fact that you’ve already taken your first step towards being admitted and reflect on what being a future physician means to you! You’ve put in a ton of hard work, so be proud of the impact you’ve already had and understand that you’re meant to be here.

As you prepare for your upcoming interviews, refer back to this post in order to avoid these common medical school interview mistakes. Good Luck! I’m excited to meet you all as future colleagues in the medical field!

 

Written By: Natalie Stratton

Medical College of Wisconsin, MD Candidate 2025