In preparation for your medical school interview, you’ll need to do more than research the program and review talking points. Although your academics is important, making a good impression in your interview is a large factor as well. Admissions officers use the interview process to pinpoint candidates with maturity and interpersonal skills. Sure, a lot of these will seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how often they are overlooked. Here are some helpful medical school interview tips to help you ace your meeting:
Hygiene – It’s important
Seriously, are you going into any interview without showering or brushing your teeth beforehand? Of course not, but there are some other, not so obvious, things to keep in mind. Make sure your nails are clean and neatly trimmed or manicured. Guys, easy on the aftershave. Ladies, don’t go too heavy on your makeup or perfume.
Get a Haircut
A neat, professional hairstyle can really show that you’ve got it together. Having shaggy or otherwise unkempt hair could give your interviewer the impression that you’re not much on personal upkeep. If you’ve seen Hair, you’ll know that’s the whole point (or at least for this blurb). You’ll need to be disciplined as a physician and your interviewer may make that assumption based on this seemingly small detail.
Dress Like You’re Already a Professional
You know the saying – dress for success. Before you’re even a med student, you need to act like a professional. The first thing to do is the easiest: just wear something nice. A dark, tailored suit, long sleeved shirt, tie, and dark matching socks for the guys will do the trick. Ladies, keep your shoes conservative and if you’re wearing a suit skirt or dress, make sure it’s long enough to allow you to sit comfortably. It doesn’t have to be too fancy.
First Impressions Matter
Your hygiene, haircut and how you dress are all essentials for first impressions. The course of the interview can be set within the first couple of seconds of meeting your interviewer, so you want to look your absolute best. Don’t forget that the reason you’re being interviewed is because they believe in your qualifications. Make eye contact, use a firm handshake, smile and be positive. Stay engaged in the conversation and show interest.
Be prepared to do a whole lot of waiting before and after your interview. This might be tough for some people, which is understandable. Just don’t send 1,201 messages asking about the interview. If you need to confirm, just send the one email and, if you’re still waiting, send another a few days before the interview date. Afterwards, send one follow-up message thanking the interviewer for the opportunity.
Show Up on Time
90% of life is showing up – so why be late? Oh, and by “on time,” we mean early. Not an hour early, that’ll just make your interviewer think you can’t tell time. Arriving fifteen to twenty minutes early shows that the interview is a priority and gives you a buffer in case something unexpected delays you. You may think you have this interview all wrapped up but showing up late may result in instant rejection.
Be Prepared to Talk About Yourself
There’s no way to know what questions will arise during the interview. However, it’s very likely that you background and academic history will be a point of conversation. Be ready to talk about your:
- Academic background
- Relevant extracurriculars
- Research experience
- Views on relevant ethic or medical issues
- Why you want to be a physician
Stay Professional- Even with Student Interviewers
Many candidates relax when they find out they’re being interviewed by a medical student, and think they can act more casual. Although this may be the case, it’s still best to be on the safe side and maintain the same level of professionalism as you would for any other interview.
Show that You’ll “Go the Distance”
At the end of the day, Admissions officers are working to find candidates that will follow through and graduate. Student drop-outs can reflect poorly on the school as well as the officer who selected them, so it’s essential to provide a strong indication that you are a candidate that will “go the distance” and that medical school is the right fit for you. Demonstrate how serious you are in becoming a doctor and convey evidence of your commitment. Show compassion and the human side of your candidacy; outside of your GPA, scores, resume, and the main reason why you want to become a doctor.
Know What Questions to Ask
It’s best to approach the interview as a conversation and not a Q&A session. However, in the case that the dialogue comes to a halt, it’s best to have a few intriguing questions prepared. If asked upon and you have no questions ready, it may look bad to your interviewer. Mentally keep a quick list of questions beforehand related to the school by doing research before your interview. Refrain from asking questions that could easily be found in their school’s website or brochures, and take the time to ask about opportunities, their experiences, faculty members, etc.
Send a Thank You Note
A simple post-interview thank you note is vital. Besides showing you are still interested in that school, it’s proper post-interview etiquette. Interviewers will more likely remember a candidate who sent a note than didn’t. Like your questions, your note shouldn’t be completely generic. Mention things you discussed in the interview or didn’t get to. Ask any lingering questions you have. Just make sure not to go on too long. Keep it to two paragraphs max.
You don’t need to know everything before going into an interview. You need to believe you know enough to be able to handle whatever may come up during the interview. That’s part of confidence. Ever hear the phrase “fake it ‘til you make it?” No one’s a medical student until they begin medical school, so don’t worry if you feel underprepared. You’ve done your research, you’ve put together a professional outfit, you got this. Confidence fits everyone.