Med School Interviews (Part 2- The Dream Interview)
November 7, 2013
Hello my future interviewees! Two weeks ago I told you about an interview experience which was less than ideal. This week I want to tell you about the best interview experience that I had.
The day did not get off to an auspicious start. I actually almost missed my flight due to a malfunctioning security scanner at the airport. Once I arrived at the school, I had the undesirable position of having the last two interview slots of the day. What that means is that everyone else interviewed first and I got to hear about how their interviews went. If you’ve never had this experience, it can be really disconcerting regardless of whether the other interviewees think it went well or poorly.
In this case, several of my fellow interviewees commented on one interviewer who was giving them a hard time. It was an interviewer who, according to their experiences, was driving them to pick a certain answer for an ethical issue. They all expressed that they thought their interviews did not go well. I checked my schedule and of course he was my final interviewer of the day.
I tried to not let the negative reviews of my interviewer phase me. I went to my first interview and it went fine, so I mentally geared up for my second interview. Much as the previous interviewees described, he began by asking me question about medical ethics situations and challenging my reasons. I stuck with my original answer and justified my thoughts. My interviewer looked at me, put down his folder and began debating with me as if it were a conversation.
That’s when I knew that the interview was going really well. He was questioning my reasoning, but I was adequately defending my points. For some questions I answered that I wasn’t sure, since I hadn’t actually been in medical practice and hadn’t seen this issue firsthand. My interviewer seemed to appreciate that I acknowledged that I wasn’t an expert on every topic.
It was about forty-five minutes into the conversation when he asked me the single best question that I have ever gotten in an interview. He asked, “With your background in public health where you have the power to impact many people, why would you focus on clinical medicine where you have to power to impact decidedly fewer people?” I forget what I responded, but I knew in that moment, that he respected my as an applicant, had listened to the points I had been making, and really wanted to know what was driving my love of medicine.
I was the last person to leave that day. My interview went over twenty minutes longer than it should have, but I knew on the way out that those last twenty minutes had been worth it. I received an acceptance letter within two weeks.
What can you take away from my excellent interview experience?
1. Don’t worry about the other applicants. Their experiences will be different than yours and that’s fine. Feel free to ignore any of their comments, since their worst interviewer could end up being your best.
2. If possible, treat your medical school interview experience as if you already have been accepted. It allows you to relax and really let yourself shine. At the time of this interview, I already had an acceptance letter which helped me to feel more confident during my interview.
3. It is okay to say that you don’t know. It’s actually one of the things that pre-med students struggle with the most, and your interviewer will be impressed that you’re humble enough to admit that you are unsure. That said, don’t just stop after saying you don’t know. Explain what you do know and why you need more information.
4. Don’t be intimidated by your interviewer. They are just trying to get to know you and they all have slightly different ways of achieving that goal. If you’re going to a school for an interview, you are intelligent enough to get in. The interview is about making sure that you are a good fit for the school.
Good luck on your interviews and happy studying!
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.