Because of the importance of the medical school interview, this is one area where I feel personally that you absolutely would benefit most from professional help.
The company I recommend for medical school interview preparation is MedSchoolCoach.
Why do I recommend this particular company? These are physicians who all have experience on medical school admissions committees. They understand exactly what it takes to stand out during you medical school interview. Again, if you're not going to spend money anywhere else on your application, this is where I would recommend making an investment. From a purely financial standpoint, for whatever you put into getting into medical school, you'll get 30+ years of $150,000 to $500,000+ as a doctor. Also, click here for current discounts from MedSchoolCoach. So, click here to check out their interview preparation products. You'll be glad you did.
Here are some of my tips to doing well on your interview. For more detailed information from behind the closed doors of the admissions committee, check out my eBook!
Have Your Own Agenda
Although there is some degree of unpredictability to medical school interviews, there are some things that are constant. There are certain medical school interview questions that will (almost) always be asked:
Tell me about yourself
What made you choose medicine for a career?
Why should the we choose you over our other applicants?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
What do you want to specialize in?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
These questions may seem annoying and like there is no real answer. That's how I saw them at first. But, you need to look at these as your opportunity to sell yourself. You can take control of your interview if you're thinking about these issues. If you can answer these medical school interview questions effectively to the interviewer, they will represent you much more favorably when they report back to the medical school admissions committee.
You should have certain qualities or experiences that you want to bring out in your interview. This may be your extensive research background or your commitment to serving other people. Have a list of experiences in mind that you want to bring up during your interviews that show these points. The idea of show don't tell applies in medical school interviews as well as in the medical school personal statement. No one wants to hear this from you during your medical school interview: I am a great applicant. I have compassion. I care about people. Everyone will say this! And there's no reason that the person asking the medical school interview questions will believe you unless you can back these statements up with real experiences.
Again, you should know exactly what you want your interviewer to know about you from your interview. If it's clear in your mind, it will be clear to the person asking the medical school interview questions. If it's not clear to you, it will probably not be clear to the interviewer either.
Check out this great video:
Study Up on Medical School Interview Questions
You will want to know and have answers for commonly asked questions during interviews. Some of those are listed above. You can also find these in several interview books, including the book by Jeremiah Fleenor listed on my book page.
Study specific questions asked by schools. The absolute best reference for this is on Student Doctor Network interview feedback. Here interviewees post the medical school interview questions they received from their interviewers. I got a heads up here about some very random questions and had something prepared for them thanks to his site. You can find this great reference here.
Some of the strange medical school interview questions I got asked:
If you were the President of the United States and had to choose advisors to make a decision on abortion, who would you choose?
Have an opinion. Part of the interview will include asking you about controversial topics like abortion, physician assisted suicide, and health care politics. Make sure you have an opinion on these topics. Then, make sure you express your opinion and explain why you have that opinion and why you can understand and respect the opinions of others on the subject. Interviewers are asking these questions in part to see what you think, but also to make sure that you can respect the opinions of others.Understand more about this in my eBook!
There are some common themes to medical school interview questions that you should be aware of. Some of these are listed below and more are available in my eBook.
Learning about you. These were partly addressed above, but include questions like "Tell me about yourself" and "Why did you choose medicine?" See above on having your own agenda for this type of question.
Do you know yourself? These questions are things like "what are your strengths and weaknesses."
Current events in medicine. Medical school interview questions in this category might include "what are the challenges that face medicine today?" Right now, you should definitely know about and have an opinion about Obama's health care plan.
Controversial Topics. These might include questions on euthanasia, abortion or other topics. Medical school interviews address this to find out what your opinion is and if you have respect for the opinions of others.
Questions to put you on the spot. Some schools will do this as part of the interview. Don't get upset if you get a question that makes you say "huh?" The interviewer is trying to see if you can think on your feet. Repeat the question if you need to to buy yourself some time. Then give the best answer that you can. The idea here is to remain cool under pressure. That's most likely what they are looking for.
Do you have any questions? You had better have some questions for your interviewer! This shows interest in the medical school, which is so important. If you don't have any questions, it can be seen as a lack of interest in that medical school, which is the exact opposite of what you want to convey. Study the school's website so that you can ask questions specific to that school's strengths and programs. Don't focus too much on the school's weaknesses at this point in the medical school interview. You can search those later or ask medical students who are not interviewing you.
Make them like you! The best way to do this is to develop skills that win friends. This is why I suggest reading and living the principles of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He focuses on principles such as smiling, showing sincere appreciation, and arousing in the other person an eager want. You can read more about this book and buy it on my book page. You want to make the interviewer want you at their school. You want them to advocate for you. Put on that first date charm and win them over!
Be excited. You are so close to your dream of being accepted to medical school! Let that excitement show. According to one interviewer, "an interviewee with a bubbly personality always stands out from an interviewee with a dry personality." Remember that first date! You are here to impress. Let your excitement shine through.
Dress to impress. Medical school interviews are auditions. You have a very short amount of time to make a very positive impression on the person giving you the medical school interview. Wear a business suit (men and women should wear one), probably in blue or gray. Wear a conservative tie (men) and nice, polished shoes. You want to look professional. You want to make yourself stand out, but wearing your "I'm with stupid" T-shirt is not the way you want to stand out.
Try to set up close interviews together. If you have interviews at two schools that are close together (Like UT Houston and Baylor), try to set them up within a day or two of each other. This will cut down on your travel costs.
Use budget travel companies. I like Payless Car Rental. They're professional and usually you, well, pay less! Check out their specials like Deal of the Hour, Last Minute Deals and Early Bird Specials for special discounts. You can also use CheapOStay to help you book your hotel, flight and rental car for guaranteed low rates. They often have coupon codes and discounts that help you get even better deals. If you're like me, you're trying to keep your costs down and these companies will help you do that.
Getting Professional Help
As I said above, this is the area that I most strongly recommend getting professional help. The medical school interview is the most important factor in deciding whether you will get into medical school. If you want to get into medical school, you have to excel during your medical school interviews.
There are a lot of companies out there, but the one that I recommend is MedSchoolCoach. MedSchoolCoach is run by doctors with experience on admissions committees. This makes a big difference as many companies are run by business people or others without this essential experience. They also have an excellent track record, placing 100% of students in an MD or DO program and 85% in an MD program for those who sign up for theirgold package. They also offer help with personal statements, interviews and help on choosing which schools to apply to. They are the company I recommend. Also, click here for current discounts from MedSchoolCoach.
Follow this advice and you're sure to impress on your interviews and make that great step from applicant to accepted!