As an aspiring doctor, getting invited to one or more university interviews is a clear sign that a medical school views you as a great candidate. That said, preparation is essential to ensure you stand out among the competition. To better understand how to prepare for medical school interviews, St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine, Grenada, in the Caribbean shares 5 tips that will help you prepare for your interview.
But first let’s break down what medical schools looking for
Generally speaking, medical schools want to know a few key things about applicants:
- Their preparedness for an academically challenging curriculum
- How well they work with others
- Whether they would be a good physician
As the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) points out, medical schools are interested in admitting students who can handle a rigorous course load and work well with people. This means an interviewer’s ultimate goal is to determine whether or not you have what it takes to be a successful physician, prepared for an academically challenging curriculum and work well with others.
Preparing for medical school interviews
There is a lot that goes into navigating the medical school application process as a whole, but it’s important to allow time to focus fully on medical school interview preparation. Here are 5 tips that will equip you to maximize its impact.
1- Understand your audience and the dynamics of the interview process
The interviewers you meet will be different for every school. Some institutions conduct traditional one-on-one interviews with a single admissions committee member. Others hold Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs), which entail a series of around 10 short discussions focused on specific topics.
Do some research about what type of format you can expect to help you gain a sense of the individual(s) you may be meeting. It can help you better understand how to approach your interview.
2- Consider your strengths in key areas of assessment and practice articulating them
By the time you’ve entered the medical school interview process, the institution has already evaluated your academic abilities. What they still need to assess, however, are the attributes that can’t be captured on paper. It’s a good idea to become familiar with the AAMC’s 15 core competencies. You might also consider looking into whether the schools you’re applying to outline characteristics they value.
Think about how you might be able to address these attributes during interviews:
- Did you have a personal experience that spurred your interest in medicine?
- Have you been involved in organizations that reflect your commitment to continued learning?
- Have you been exposed to diverse groups of people who taught you valuable lessons?
3- Make a connection to your personal statement
Consider reviewing your personal statement and other application components before every interview. As the AAMC notes, interviewers will likely use your application materials as a springboard for discussions. You should be able to recall the details you shared in your application and be prepared to speak to them intelligently.
If your statement reflects your true passion for the work and your goals, let those talking points shine in the interview. If you have information about specific research or work you’ve done, make sure you brush up on those details beforehand. The better you understand your own work, the better you can showcase your strengths.
4- Practice your interview skills
Mock interviews are among the most effective methods for preparation, even in the event that interviews are held remotely. In fact, the AAMC created a practice tool that allows students to discuss six example questions in a virtual interview environment. If you’re still in high school, look into whether your school offers some sort of mock interview service. You can also practice with a trusted mentor. St. George’s University also hosts webinars and 1:1 sessions to help students prepare for their interviews.
As for the types of medical school interview questions you can expect, common ones include the following:
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
- What was your favorite class in school and why?
- Why are you interested in our medical school?
- Do you have any questions for us?
Keep in mind that questions may also cover ethical challenges or somewhat controversial topics, like your stance on stem-cell research, your views on euthanasia, or your feelings about the lack of diversity in health care. Be prepared to voice your opinion on hot-button issues in the field.
5- Be confident and committed
While you need to take interviews seriously, you already have a lot to be proud of. One of the most important facts to know about medical school interviews is they’re only offered to qualified candidates who are likely to succeed. The interview is also your chance to become more familiar with the schools you’ve applied to. Allow yourself to converse with interviewers. When you are engaged in the process, you’ll appear more confident and eager to tackle the challenges that come with being a physician.
The medical school interview is of significant importance to transition into the next level of your educational journey. So, before your interview, you should take some time to reflect on your abilities and be prepared to discuss them. You should practice articulating your thoughts about common interview topics and, more importantly, your reasons for wanting to become a doctor.
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