Your AMCAS application is completed! A weight has been lifted off your shoulders… until the pile of bricks that are secondaries and interview season load it back on.
Today, we’re preparing for the latter. Your medical school interviews are extremely important. They’re where you show who you are as an individual, and where your fate at that school will be decided.
First thing’s first. Accept the interview as soon as you possibly can.
You want to confirm your interview date to find out how long you have to prepare.
If you have not gotten an interview offer yet, you will want to continue reading this article. You are in a good position! Like most things, the more time you have to prepare the better.
We wrote an article outlining 7 common questions that you will most likely be asked in your medical school interview.
These are not the 7 exact questions that you will be asked in your interview. They are more the 7 types of questions you will be asked in your interview. f
We did this because it is nearly impossible to memorize a response to every possible question admissions asks you.
However, if you follow the techniques laid out in that article, you will be able to tailor a response to any of those common types of questions they may ask you.
This is where you practice tailoring your answers to those 7 questions.
First, find a few lists of common medical school questions and copy it to a document (a quick google search will give you plenty of lists to choose from).
Next, google common questions asked at that medical school. Browse forums like Student Doctor Network and Reddit. Even the medical school’s website sometimes has questions they often ask.
Then, have a family member, colleague or professor mock interview you. Don’t look at your questions too long before your first mock interview. You want to prep yourself to tailor those questions and think on your feet.
Do this exercise with different people, and change up the script occasionally. If you have trouble with some questions, give them some extra thought after the mock interview. Then you will be prepared to answer it in the next one.
In the end, you will many of the questions they will ask you down, while also being prepared to think on your feet if you get a question you have not prepared for. Be sure you have answers to the common questions your particular medical school asks as well.
Of course, you could always sign up for one of our interview practice sessions. Here you can have a Harvard MD mock interview you, and give you specific and actionable tactics to ace that interview when the day comes.
Interviews are stressful. There is just no way around it. You do not need to add any more stress, so here a few things to do before your interview day (that don’t involve practicing for the interview).
Find out where and when you will meet and what the day is going to look like.
Knowing where and when will help you with travel plans (more on that a few paragraphs down) and having an idea of what your day looks like will help you mentally prepare.
Your day could have a group interview portion, followed by a campus tour, followed by one-on-one interviews.
You may also have a multiple mini-interview (MMI) format. MMI’s consist of multiple small timed interviews testing “non-cognitive qualities.” If your interview day consists of one of these, you will want to tailor your mock interviews to test you in a similar fashion.
Each interview day will look different, so find out that info.
Prepare what you are going to wear.
You will need to be dressed business professional. This means a suit for both guys and girls. Girls can also wear a skirt suit if they prefer (guys as well for that matter). Lastly, wear comfortable shoes, as you may be walking a lot on a campus tour.
Get your travel plans done well ahead of time.
Book your flights and arrange your accomodations. Then map out how you are getting to the meeting point. Plan on leaving to get there at least 30 minutes early. You could possibly run into traffic and learning how to get around a campus for the first time can get confusing. Giving yourself that added time will take away a lot of stress.
I know, for some, this is like telling a fish to breathe out of water. But unnecessary stress won’t do you any good. However, if you use these techniques, you can make that stress much more manageable.
First, reframe your thinking.
It helps to think about you interviewing the school. Be curious and come with questions to ask. Your questions will provide a back and forth dialogue and make it not feel like you are being tested.
Channel that stress into a workout. It can be a real mood booster! Exercise gets endorphins running, specifically serotonin (a “happy hormone”), that can boost your mood.
So while relaxation may be hard because your body thinks this interview is the modern-day equivalent of fighting a sabertooth tiger, you can fight those chemical reactions in your brain with exercise.
Meditation pulls your mind out of the future and the past and into the present. You see your emotions for what they really are. Just feelings. Not something that defines you. This, in turn, helps you relax.
There are a bunch of different resources online to teach you how to meditate. You can look up podcasts and youtube videos. Or you can download an app like “Headspace” or “Calm.”
Who knows? You may start a meditation habit that will help you with more than just your interview. It has been scientifically studied to reduce stress but has also been linked to a whole host of other benefits, from increased memory to improved focus.
A last reminder. As you participate in the interview throughout the day, remember to be kind and pleasant to everyone. You never know who will be involved in your interview decision, or who will be a future classmate.
Follow this guide and you should be well on your way to nailing that interview.