How to Act During a Virtual Interview

With restrictions on travel, the landscape is changing for students who’ve earned an interview to get admitted into med school. Students should now expect virtual interviews.

I’m Dr. Katzen and one of the advisors with MedSchoolCoach, and I wanted to speak with you a little bit about interviews during this time of the coronavirus when many of the interviews are now going to be done virtually.

  • What should you wear?
  • How should you introduce yourself?
  • How do you answer the questions “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to be a physician?”
  • How is a virtual interview different and similar to an in-person interview?


A couple of points that I wanted to make. First of all, the interview needs to be respected in the same manner as though you were in person. As always, when you go for an interview or in this case, if you’re doing a virtual interview, you should dress appropriately.

For men, I recommend a sport coat and tie. Or for women, dress conservatively. When you leave, we shouldn’t think about or remember what you’re wearing. In other words, dress conservatively. If you were in person in an interview, you should come in, shake hands and introduce yourself with your first and last name. I think it’s appropriate to make the gesture even in a video interview, just something even to say if I were here, I would be shaking your hand.

I think it’s very important to utilize both your first and last name, because if you only give your first name, you’re automatically putting yourself on a lower level. You have earned the opportunity to come for the interview. Treat it in a mature and professional fashion.

For more on how to dress appropriately for an interview, check out What to Wear to an Interview – For Both Men & Women. Recognize that what you wear in a virtual interview and a real interview won’t necessarily differ that much!

A couple of general pointers about the interview.

I would still be very forth with in terms of suggesting or rather responding to questions such as: Tell me about yourself, and: Why do you want to be a physician?

In terms of: Tell me about yourself, the first thing is I really didn’t ask why do you want to be a doctor? So answer that question. I’m giving you an opportunity to make yourself interesting. Let me know things about your family, your background, your education, any research, any volunteering, any fun things you do, hobbies, do you read, are you an athlete, or are you a musician?

Yet another point of the interview. You might be ask why do you want to be a physician?

I know all of you want to help people. Maybe you’re interested in science, solving difficult problems, puzzles, etc. But so are physicians assistance and nurse practitioners. I would not emphasize that you’re smarter than better than P.A.s or nurse practitioners because we’re not. We’re all members of the health care team. But maybe you would want to stress something to the effect that you want to lead the team of health care professionals. You want to be the one that can work or make decisions in an autonomous fashion.

A couple of other points that I would make are during the course of the interview, you want to have good eye contact, good body language. You don’t want to be slumped. You don’t want to be looking around as though you’re thinking of answers. You want to be prepared and continue to maintain as much as possible direct contact with the person who is conducting the video interview with you at the beginning. And at the end of the interview, you should thank the person who took the time to interview you.

All of us who do interviews do it voluntarily. Nobody gets paid. So I think it’s a common courtesy to thank people for taking the time to interview you. Again, the interview is a major step forward in your application process. You have been selected from a large group and you’re now in a final group of maybe a couple of hundred. But initially you were in a group of thousands. The interview is a major opportunity. You’ve earned the opportunity, respect the opportunity, treat it in a professional fashion and try to answer as maturely, as succinctly as possible.

if you are able to interact with the interviewer about something that they’re interested in, whether it be athletics, whether it be art, music, literature.

Send them a thank you note afterwards, and as a reminder of who you are, let them know: I enjoyed speaking with you about whatever it was you interacted about. Again, even in a video interview, dress appropriately, maintain eye contact as much as possible.

I hope these tips have helped you, and I wish you all the best of luck in your upcoming interviews.

Harvey Katzen MD

Dr. Katzen graduated from Georgetown University with a BS in Biology and earned his medical degree from The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He continued his medical training internship and residency in Internal Medicine at GW, as well as completed a fellowship in Hematology/Oncology. Dr. Katzen is an oncologist and has served as the Chief of Oncology at both Greater Southeast Community and Southern Maryland Hospital as well as the president of Oncology-Hematology Associates in Maryland. He currently serves as an associate clinical professor at George Washington Hospital. He was an active member of the George Washington University School of Medicine admissions committee prior to joining MedSchoolCoach. He has been recognized as a Top Doctor by US News and World Report and Washingtonian Magazine. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Hematology and the Southern Association of Oncology. He joins MedSchoolCoach enthusiastic to help premedical students follow their dreams of becoming physicians.

Related Articles

Back to top button