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Med School Interviews (The Nightmare Interview)

October 25, 2013
Emily Hause

Halloween_Jack-o'-lanternHello my med school-hopefuls! I hope that you have gotten your secondary applications sent in and and receiving some invitations to interview. To those of you who are interviewing soon, good luck!

Today, I would like to share with you the story of one of my med school interviews that didn’t go as well as I had wanted it to. Hopefully you can take away some valuable lessons from my experience, and remember that no matter how dicey this interview was, my story has a happy ending. (For privacy’s sake, I’ve changed the name of the school to MedU)

My first interview at MedU started with the interviewer quoting something. I was at a loss for the reference and he got oddly mad. It turns out that the quote was from the movie Braveheart, but the way he reacted made me feel like the movie was required pre-interview viewing and that I had forgotten to complete the assignment. It was not an excellent first exchange

As the interview continued, it became apparent that his interview style was to pick a word from my application and ask me about it. He asked me about dancing, Cretin (part of the name of my high school), and Spanish. Then he began to conduct part of the interview in Spanish. That went fine for awhile until I began to describe my host family and used my hand to indicate the height of my younger host brother. My interviewer immediately chastised me for using a gesture that is apparently very insulting in Mexico. As I studied Spanish in Spain, I had no knowledge of said gesture and explained that fact.

I was getting increasingly frustrated. He wasn’t asking me questions about medicine or why I wanted to be a doctor and I was at a loss about how to work that information into his seemingly random line of questioning.

Then he asked me if I was Native. I sat and thought for a minute about what he was asking. He knew I wasn’t from the state, so that wasn’t what he was asking. Oh. He was asking if I was Native American. I’m not Native American in any measurable way, so I responded no. We wrapped up the rest of the interview in awkward fashion and I left feeling very disheartened.

So, what can you take away from my negative interview experience?

1. Keep your cool. I never got overly flustered even when I thought he was getting mad for no good reason.

2. Don’t worry about the content of your interview. Some of the best interviews I had involved talking about things that weren’t even remotely related to medicine. Yes, you want to be able to talk about why you want to be a doctor, but don’t stress if your interview veers off-topic.

3. Certain questions are illegal. Your interviewer can’t actually ask you your race/ethnicity/marital status/sexual orientation. If they do, you need to inform one of the people in charge.

After my interview, I approached the Dean of Admissions who was at one of the presentations. He apologized for my negative interview experience and assured me that my second interview would be weighted more heavily in my admissions consideration. So, even though during the interview I thought that there was no way I would be accepted to MedU, my solid performance during the second interview allowed me to get my acceptance letter approximately a month later.

I would love to hear about any of your med school interview experiences, positive or negative! Feel free to share them in the comments.

Happy studying and interviewing!


Emily Hause

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over six years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a second-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.


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