1. Research the ProgramThis is one piece of advice that cannot be overstated. Do some research. Learn about the program. Don’t ask easy questions whose answers can be gleaned by a quick search of the institution’s website. Be informed and inquisitive. Show that you are interested and care about the school by preparing a few questions. No one will expect you to know everything about the school but your questions should reflect at least a little homework and preparation.
2. Be Aware of Current IssuesThe most prepared candidates are aware of, and can speak to, current issues and events in medicine. Learn about topics such as health care reform, stem cells, and debates over controversial issues such as euthanasia and abortion. Consider your opinion about these topics and be prepared to relay them and support them in an informed way. How would you deal with ethical issues such as what to do it a patient refuses medical care for him or self – or for a child? Interviewers are interested in whether applicants are aware of these issues and can speak to them. They are less interested in your opinions. Instead they are concerned with your ability to articulate them and support them.
3. Know Your Selling PointsWhy should you be admitted to medical school? What are your strong points? What do you have to offer to the field? To patients? What strengths would you like to emphasize? Know yourself and list your selling points – what makes you a strong candidate. Selling points include your educational background, skills, work experience, volunteer experience, other activities, and skills. How do these strengths illustrate your competence and potential for success in medical school and beyond?
4. Speak to Weaknesses in Your ApplicationJust as you should be aware of your strengths, also be aware of your weaknesses. Identify parts of your application that can be improved. Consider your GPA, courses taken, MCAT scores, experience, and so on. The purpose of discussing your weaknesses is to explain why these are unimportant. Do not overemphasize your weakness. Instead, reassure the committee. Be aware of clear weaknesses and be prepared to answer direct questions about them.
5. Prepare a StoryYou will undoubtedly face some ambiguous open-ended questions. You can expect to answer the dreaded, “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to be a doctor?” Prepare by considering the essential things the admissions committee should know about you. Prepare a story does not mean that you should tell the story of your life. Rather you should integrate the tidbits that you want to convey into a coherent narrative. Prepare a 45 second version of your response a well as a 15 minute version. Consider what is most important and rank the information so that you can fill any time gap permitted.
6. Be Aware of How Your Answers are EvaluatedJust seconds after you begin speaking in reply to the first question impressions are formed. Interviewers look to two things when they evaluate your answers: your words and your manner. Your words, what you say, is obvious. Most applicants consider how to respond to various questions and are aware that their responses are closely monitored. Answers should be clear and concise. Prepare specific examples to illustrate your points. However, it is not just what you say that matters – it is your manner, how you say it. Consider what a monotone voice conveys as compared with an animated voice and face. Make eye contact, but don’t stare, to convey interest and sincerity. Looking away too often or shifting eyes may convey insecurity or insincerely.
Prepare as best you can and be assured that you are as ready for your medical school interview as possible.