I like to think of medical school interviews as akin to a first date. Interview day is where the school is going to be at their absolute best. You get all fancy in your suit hoping that they will like you and they give you a dazzling tour, free meals, and engaging conversations with medical students in hopes that you will like them. It’s a strange dynamic that may not always feel 100% comfortable, but I’m not one to pass up a free meal so I’m all for it! 😉
Interview day is the best time to gather all of your information about the school, the faculty, and the students. It’s also your opportunity to gauge how genuine a school is. Most of my interviewers told me that they weren’t going to ask any off the wall questions in the interview because they genuinely wanted to get to know me as a person. That spoke volumes to me. It was important to me to attend a school that cares about learning who their students are, rather than testing them with a stress interview.
That being said, there is so much more to be gained from interview day than just the interviews themselves. I would get to my interviews an hour early so that I had time to walk around campus and ask random med students about their experiences at the school. It was great to hear about the schools from students who weren’t selected to be a part of a committee because their responses felt a bit more candid. I would also use this hour before the whirlwind day to check in with myself and listen to what my gut was telling me. You rarely get time to yourself during interview day, so taking this time in the beginning to assess the school on my time and at my pace was crucial for me.
Tips for a Successful Interview Day
- Bring a small notepad and pen with you – write down notes throughout the day [how you feel about the school overall, positive things that students said, negative things that students said, names of important people, etc.]
- Dress your most professional. I saw so many women in 6 inch heels and harsh makeup, and I was shocked. This is not the time to look your most stylish! You want the interviewers focused on your answers, not your bronzer. For reference, I wore a black pantsuit with a mint green blouse and 1 inch heels. My hair was pulled back and my makeup was minimal.
- Read up on the school the night before. Know their mission statement and what makes that school special. I liked to come up with three solid reasons why I wanted to go to that school over any other.
- Ask questions that you can’t find the answer to on their website. I asked about research opportunities for first years, what the mentorship/faculty support was like, what drew my interviewer to that school, and my favorite question, “if you could change one thing about the program what would it be?”
- Write a thank you note. My pre-med advisor always taught me that you don’t change out of your suit until that thank you note is in the mail. WONDERFUL advice. I hand-wrote thank you notes to all of my interviewers and included a couple of personalized sentences that referenced what we had connected on in the interview. Sending thank you notes demonstrates to the admissions committee that you care and will go that extra step.
I wish you all success in your interviews! If you get nervous, take three deep breaths and remind yourself that they genuinely want to get to know you [and they won’t be able to get to know you if you’re a bundle of nerves!].