January 7, 2014

Important Med School Interview Advice

Hello, my chilly readers! I hope you're in one of the warmer parts of the country today or at least indoors (shout-out to my ultra-freezing homeland the Twin Cities)! Today I want to give you some important med school interview advice that comes from two questions I always get asked about medical school interviews.
  Question 1: What is the best advice you would give someone before their interview?
Answer: By the time you've made it to the interview phase, you possess the credentials to attend medical school. You have a solid MCAT, decent GPA, good extracurriculars and the admissions committee wants to speak with you personally to get a better feel for who are you. That should be really encouraging! You're already a pre-med baller. To build on that already solid pre-med application, the advice that I give students about the interview is that you should be yourself. There's no point in lying about who you are, your passions or why you're hoping to attend medical school at this point in the application process. In theory, you've impressed the committee with your application and they are looking for personal and academic characteristics that would make you a good fit for their university. If you're honest about what makes you tick, your interviewer will pick up on that and ideally you'll be accepted to a medical school with which you're compatible. For example, I would not excel at a university where competition between students is the driving motivation for doing well. I prefer a collaborative environment where students work together so that everyone can achieve and I was honest about that in my interviews. Due to my honest assessment, I ended up in a university that values student cooperation. If you just own who you are and are honest, you'll end up in the right spot.
Question 2: When can I expect to hear about my acceptance status? What if I end up on the waitlist?
Answer: This question is a doozy. For some people, the wait is a few days or a week and for others it's a several months-long emotional roller-coaster. This is an important question to ask the admissions folks at your interview, as each school has a different procedure and policy for notifying interviewees. You'll kick yourself later if you don't find out what your expected wait time is. Most schools will give you a time-frame, but you should at least expect to hear by late April/early May. The advice that I want to give you about ending up on the waitlist is that you shouldn't give up hope. One of my class co-presidents found out that she was accepted to medical school only a few days before orientation. It happens to hundreds of students each year and it could happen for you!
What questions about interviews do you have? I would love to help! Happy studying,
Emily ...read more
November 7, 2013

Med School Interviews (Part 2- The Dream Interview)

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! [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
October 25, 2013

Med School Interviews (The Nightmare Interview)

Hello 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! ...read more

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