The clouds of the “dark period” (the time between turning in completed secondaries and hearing back from schools about interviews) are beginning to clear. Luckily, mine didn’t last very long, but it felt tortuous all the same. I have been invited to interview at five schools: 2 MD and 3 DO, of which I’ve attended all but 1 MD school so far.
After receiving an invite, I am able to log into my portal, which is a website the schools provide you with when you receive their secondary that is personal to you and the admissions committee, and schedule a date; however, some schools did not give an option and make it very difficult to re-schedule. All interviews are conducted during the school week, and I am responsible for paying for all travel expenses. Balancing school, work, and other commitments has been slightly challenging. Luckily, both my professors and boss from work have been supportive although their degree of support has varied.
Preparation for every interview has been identical:
1) Clean suit
2) Pack luggage: remember shoes
3) Re-Read personal statement, primary, and secondary essay responses
4) Research the school on SDN schools page for past interview questions and advice—this site contains feedback from interviewees for all MD and DO schools; it’s a great way to gain insight into the questions you might be asked or what the interview is like.
5) Make a reservation at a hotel and arrange all necessary transportation (to/from airport, hotel, the school, etc.)
The dress code in interviews is an unwritten, yet heavily important condition to follow. A well put-together outer appearance does not guarantee acceptance or improve your MCAT score, but it will start you off on the right foot for your interview. I wear a simple black suit and white shirt with little heels to remember I’m a scientista!
In regards to the actual interview, there are a few approaches schools can take. These include the one-on-one, two-on-one, three-on-one, and the multiple mini interview (MMI). A MMI requires interviewees to read a question or situation before entering a room with an interviewer, and then respond to the prompt in 6-8 minutes. Some interviews may be open where the interviewers know all the details of your application, closed where they don’t know any details, or semi when they know some things, such as your personal statement. By reviewing the SDN and the pre-interview emails from the institution, I know what kind of interview I am walking into for each school.
To prepare beforehand, I practice my responses by reading past interview questions. Questions you will want to have prepared answers for include why you want to be a doctor, why that particular school, how you feel about ethical issues (such as abortion), what is something you’ve struggled with or are bad at, what do other people say about you, how have doctors you shadowed struggled or succeeded in their work, what was your research about (if you did any), and why to you prefer osteopathic medicine (if you are applying to DO schools). These types of questions are often asked during a personal interview where you will be talking to a person or a panel.
For MMIs, things become more situational and ethical. After responding to the prompt, you rotate rooms about 5 times. At the end of the interview, the interviewers ask if you have any questions for them. Remember to ALWAYS ask a question. It shows interest in the school. Here is an example of a MMI to begin your research.
While the actual interviews vary in length, keep in mind that you are actually being evaluated the entire time you are on the campus. This is also a time to see if the school is somewhere you would like to call home. So smile, be professional, shake everyone’s hand, and be relaxed. This is the time to tell the committee why you want to do something you love and dream about. After all, it can’t be worse than the MCAT…
What to wear: http://studentdoctor.net/2010/09/interview-advice-what-to-wear-what-to-wear/
Advice from interviewers: https://www.aamc.org/students/aspiring/basics/280914/interview.html
A helpful presentation from Yale Prehealth services:
Primary care gap solutions? http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/11/solutions-save-primary-care.html
Stay up on some interesting medical research: http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/