Traditional Medical School Interview Tips and Preparation

Traditional Medical School Interview Tips and Preparation

Hi my name is Dr. Jessica Freedman and I
am the president and founder of MedEdits Medical Admissions. MedEdits helps
applicants to medical school, residency and fellowship in all aspects of the
admissions process. We also advise pre-medical students and medical
students as they prepare for the next phases of their education. I am the
author of four best-selling books on Amazon. Most recently I published the
third edition of the MedEdits’ Guide to Medical School Admissions, which all
of you should read. You can find it on Amazon. Today we are going to be
talking about the traditional medical school interview, what to expect and how
to prepare. So what is the traditional medical school interview? It really is
the type of interview that most of us instinctively think of when you say the
word interview. The traditional interview is the standard one-on-one interview
where you as a medical school applicant will be interviewing with a member of
the medical school admissions committee. It is still the type of interview
that is used by the majority of medical schools in the United States, however
more and more medical schools are moving towards the MMI or the multiple mini
interview because it has been found that the MMI decreases interviewer bias and
provides a less subjective evaluation of the medical school applicant. You can
learn more about the MMI in another presentation that I did about that topic.
Who will be your interviewers when you go in for a traditional medical school
interview? Most commonly your interviewers will either be faculty at
the medical school or who will be physicians or PhDs as well as staff who
are on the admissions committee and work at the Medical School who may not
necessarily be MDS or PhDs but work and more of an advisory capacity at the
Medical School. You may also be interviewed by a medical
student. A current medical student and all of these people whether a physician
whether a PhD whether a non MD PhD type who works at the medical school or a
medical student they all have equal voting rights on the admissions
committee and no one’s vote counts more than anybody else’s so keep that in mind
the traditional medical school interview even though it’s thought to be sort of
the quote easier type of interview for many medical school applicants who have
experienced both types of interviews students find that the traditional
interview can actually be more difficult than the MMI and that may sound sort of
funny to someone who is new to this process but because a traditional
interview is about you talking one-on-one with somebody that you really
don’t know a lot of how you are going to be evaluated is going to be based on
their very subjective perceptions of who you are and there is no question that
there is bias that will go into this process of evaluating you as an
applicant and for this reason some students actually prefer the MMI which
involves you know eight to ten Raiders or interviewers which allows students to
kind of you know really jump from person to person so if they don’t necessarily
have rapport with one individual or they don’t feel like they’re doing well on a
specific MMI station again you should watch the other video about mm eyes to
understand this language it’s it’s not as if you can’t redeem yourself so for
some students when with one-on-one interviews if they just feel like they
didn’t have rapport with an interviewer they said something that the interviewer
seemed not to really appreciate and that kind of set the tone for the interview
students can leave traditional interview days you know feeling somewhat dismayed
and so for this reason as students start to experience you know both the
traditional interview and the MMI interview many are actually telling us
that they prefer the MMI and if you are applying to medical school you will and
you’re you know interviewing it more than one medical school if you’re lucky
enough to have several interviews you will
doubtedly be experiencing both our traditional and the MMI interview so
what are the main types of traditional interviews and they are open file closed
file and partial open file and these descriptions are really quite
explanatory self-explanatory but an open file is when your interviewer has access
to everything that means your transcripts your personal statement your
letters of reference anything that you submitted as part of your application
the interviewer has access to however keep in mind that your interviewer may
be really busy they may not have been they may not have reviewed anything
before you sat down in that chair this is why we encourage applicants to
approach every interview whether it’s open file or closed file closed file
meaning they have access to nothing about you they know nothing about you
we encourage applicants to approach every type of traditional interview the
same way and to give the broadest response as possible
a partial Open File interview is when your interviewer has access to only
certain pieces of your background and most typically they will have access to
your grades and your MCAT but that will vary from school to school so what is a
typical interview day a traditional interview day you will arrive you will
greet somebody in the admissions office you must be kind and respectful and make
eye contact and do all of those good things to anybody and everybody that you
meet on your interview day because everybody is evaluating you you make a
poor impression with a person who’s sitting at the desk that you know the
minute you arrive and that person may say something to the admissions
committee you know what this woman was really rude to me and treated me like
the help okay something like that doesn’t matter how your interviewer
perceives you sometimes so just keep in mind that everybody you meet on
interview day is influences this process you will always get some type of talk or
presentation from either somebody in the admissions office again a director of
admissions a Dean of Admissions somebody who’s involved and they will tell you
about the medical school and what to expect during the interview day you’ll
often have breakfast or you know muffins or something at this presentation
assuming that it’s happening in the morning
these days are fun you’re gonna meet a lot of different people you’re gonna
meet fellow applicants how you treat your fellow applicants is also important
you want to be respectful to them as well
right because as a medical student as a physician you need to be a team player
so keep that in mind and then for the remainder of the day you’re you you you
will have anywhere from you know one some medical schools only have one
interview believe it or not most medical schools who do their traditional
interview have two 30-minute interviews some will have more that are shorter but
we find that the majority of traditional medical traditional interview days
consist of two one-on-one interviews and then at some point during the day you’ll
also have lunch with students you will go on a tour with the with the students
where you learn more about the medical school and when you go on those tours
and when you have those lunches really try to get a sense of is this school the
right fit for you what will you be evaluated on when you are being
interviewed and really the list is exhaustive and I’ve listed here some of
the 15 core competencies on which you are evaluated that the American
Association of American Medical Colleges has published but really you’re being
evaluated on so many things everything from your compassion and your warmth to
your resilience and your dependability or communication skills your
interpersonal skills your also of course being evaluated on your accomplishments
and can you speak about your accomplishments in an intelligent way
and you know so so there’s so many things that you’re being evaluated on
and again to some degree even though interviewers have know what the Medical
School is looking for every interviewer has their own idea of what makes a great
medical student and again this is sort of where this subjectivity comes into
play so what are some of the questions the types of questions that you’ll be
asked on a traditional interview and inevitably you will be asked some type
of open-ended question the most common one is tell me about yourself and a
majority of interviewers will start off an interview would tell me
about yourself and in our experience working with medical school applicants
who are preparing for traditional interviews this question is so tough for
people because they don’t know how much to say how little to say what do they
talk about and really to some degree this depends on you and your comfort
level we see these types of open-ended questions as real opportunities to kind
of present to your interviewer what you would like to talk about most right so
use these types of open-ended questions as you know sort of your opportunity to
really bring up the things that you would like to discuss you know do you
have an interesting background and an interesting can you know can take many
many forms you know you didn’t you didn’t necessarily have to grow up in an
underserved area and work your way through you know college to be
interesting right so what about your background your upbringing your home
life your family life kind of defines you and makes you who you are that can
be interesting and certainly interviewers want to know about your
backgrounds right because they want to understand where you’ve come from yet
they also want to know about your achievements in terms of what’s most
important to you and that means you know from an academic standpoint a scholarly
standpoint an extracurricular standpoint right so when you’re offered an
open-ended question try to bring up the things that you’ve identified as being
the things that are number one most important to you and number two
distinguish you write a grade interview is one where the applicant is incredibly
honest and incredibly authentic okay so never try to tell an interviewer
what they want to hear be yourself other types of open-ended questions why
do you want to be a doctor where do you see yourself in the future you know
these are all kind of really tough questions but you you should sort of
think about these questions because you will be getting them during your
interview season you don’t ever want to memorize and you’ll hear when you say
that probably several times during this talk but you do kind of want to have a
general idea what you might say and how you might respond to these questions the
other type of question that you will inevitably
our experience based questions anything on your application is fair game for
discussion so one thing that you need to do to prepare is review everything that
you have submitted to that medical school right any volunteer experience
any research experience any clinical experience any scholarly experience
anything that you’ve written about you can be asked about and you know tell me
about and you know that can be anything and again a lot of this will depend on
the interviewer what is your what what are your what does your interviewer
interested in often the questions that he or she will ask you are gonna be
based on what he or she finds interesting in your application another
type of question that’s you know sort of makes everyone nervous our behavioral
quest behavioral questions and the reason that medical school interviewers
will ask behavioral questions is because past behavior is a really good predictor
of future behavior okay and you can’t really prepare for these questions
because there are hundreds of behavioral questions the vast majority of
traditional interviews are not scripted so your interviewer is not told what to
ask your interviewer is going to ask what they feel like asking they may ask
every applicant every interviewee the exact same questions they may vary those
questions based on the mood that you know they’re in that day okay but here
you know tell me about a time you failed tell me about a challenge you’ve faced
tell me about a conflict you had with somebody you know these are all common
types of behavioral questions and you know if if you are asked a behavioral
type of question and you don’t have response it’s okay to think about what
you might say right people don’t like silences during interviews but if you
need time to think it’s okay you know when it’s a door interview it
like let me can I just think about that for a minute and it doesn’t have to be
earth-shattering what you say to them right it doesn’t have to be something
that’s based on school or academics in fact often these types of questions they
want to know kind of more about who you are as a human being and as a person so
talking about something from your personal life
it can actually be a much more effective response than talking about something
you know that might have happened while you were in college or during a job or
something of that nature other types of common questions greatest strengths and
what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses it’s a question that I can
stand because I find every medical every medical school applicant has a prepared
response to this question and that’s why I sort of find it to be a silly question
you know why our school why you want to come here you know tell me about your
undergraduate college you know why would you want to move to this city when you
live across the country in that city do you have any questions for me you know
things of that nature these are all very common questions that you might be asked
so how do you prepare for the traditional interview practice okay
there is no question that practicing doesn’t it it basically gives you
greater comfort when you’re actually sitting down for your interview all
right be careful who you practice with okay we our friends our family they all
want the best for us they all want to see us succeed but they may not be the
best people to evaluate how we are doing when we are answering interview
questions okay unless you know you have someone in your family who served for a
long time on a medical school faculty but otherwise just sort of regular
people sometimes don’t necessarily even though they have the absolute best
intentions they don’t necessarily know what the best answers are so just be
careful who you practice with review your application I’ve mentioned this
before but knowing everything that’s in your application will prepare you for an
interview because all of that again is fair game for what you might be asked
about get used to making segues get used to making conversation okay
a lot of how your interview progresses can be up to you because you can bring
things up that you would like to talk about okay and this is something that we
help applicants with when we work with them in doing mock interviews but you
know kind of segwaying into topics that are interesting that maybe you know
again distinguish you that that’s sort of that is
skill and that’s something you kind of need to get accustomed to don’t memorize
responses you know you want to prepare but you don’t want to over prepare and
there’s a fine line and we will say to our applicants when we’re practicing
with them when we’re doing mock interviews we will say okay you’re done
like no more practicing you you you’re you know you’re good at talking about
yourself you’re you’re good at sort of answering these very common questions I
don’t want you memorizing anything and you’re ready you know so so even though
you want to practice practice practice you also want to know when you’re ready
for that interview because sometimes over practicing can make you seem
rehearsed again the key thing here is to be natural on interview day and to be
authentic on interview day so over practicing sometimes can undermine that
and so you really want to be careful it sounds kind of weird but talk to
strangers you know my students who have difficulty on interviews on one-on-one
interviews I tell them look when you’re in Starbucks just start straight back up
strike up a conversation with a person standing next to you right because
really even though it’s a formal setting when you know you’re sitting down you’re
talking to a stranger right so the more comfortable you are
sort of talking to people you don’t know if that’s something that makes you
inherently uncomfortable that can actually help you also pay attention to
other things like your your body language or demeanor your tone of voice
your your facial expression it’s okay because how you are perceived there is
no question that all of these things will influence how your interviewer
perceives you so you you want to start paying attention to those things as you
are getting ready for interview season work with us okay we have worked with
literally hundreds and hundreds of applicants as they prepared for medical
school interviews again our goal is not to get you to you know to memorize and
to perfect responses to those common questions but it’s more to kind of build
your confidence and to help you understand what it is about you that the
interviewer is likely to want to hear about so you know working with us you
know will really give you the confidence which will give you an advantage on
interview day there is no question so just a little bit more about med edits
who are we well I I founded med edits um a bit more than
ten years ago and initially it was I worked by myself
and as met at its grew I was very selective in terms of whom I brought on
to work with me all of our faculty have a minimum of five years of admissions
experience at the faculty level we do not hire students we do not hire
residents we do not hire the physician who has been practicing for 15 years who
sat on an admissions committee for one year and that was ten years ago
okay so all of our people are very very experienced you also stay very
up-to-date and what’s going on in medical education and medical school
admissions as well we do everything we will advise pre-medical students we will
do candidacy assessment we will make suggestions you know of what you maybe
need to do to be a better applicant or if you’re ready then what do you need to
do to put forth your best self by helping you with document preparation by
by helping you with your application write-ups you know we also have the the
moat the book I’ve most recently written is the third edition of the meta it’s
guide to medical school admissions I encourage all of you to purchase that
I’ve also published a book it was several years ago about traditional
medical school interview there is nothing in that book about the MMI
however I am working on a new edition of that book which will include information
about the MMI so it will be a comprehensive book med edits we are also
looking to increase our library resources for everybody not only our
clients but for everybody out there so visit our website frequently at wwm
edits comm to see what additional offerings we have because we do plan on
you know really you know broadening what we offer students and applicants and if
you are interested in calling us we’d love to hear from applicants from
students from parents our phone number is six four six two one seven four six
seven four thank you so much

1 Comment

  1. MedEdits says:

    So, how are you going to master the medical school interview? Click here: You will learn lots about the medical school interview and we also provide medical school interview tips.

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