How do you present yourself during a medical school interview? Should you be yourself, or do you play the role of a perfect pre-med student? Why not do both!
Of course you should be honest, right? But does being honest actually help when it comes to interviewing for medical school? Many believe it’s more effective to present yourself as the perfect pre-med student – even if you have some flaws – born and raised to attend the medical school of your choice. When I was applying to medical school, I went to four interviews – two where I tried to be the person I thought they wanted, and two where I was more truthful about who I really was.
See which approach worked reaped rewards.
Playing the Role of the Perfect Pre-Med Student
Interview #1: I tried my best to be the ideal medical school candidate during my first interview – especially since this school was my top choice. I was polite, courteous, friendly, and respectful. I took all the standard advice that my dad had given me to heart: Keep good eye-contact, always smile, remember everyone’s names, always ask follow-up questions, etc. By the end of the process, I had befriended each person I met: every teacher, student, and even the other candidates. I made sure to answer every question I could, but not so much as to appear too talkative or narcissistic. When the interview process was over, I received an offer of admission. Nice!
Score: 1 to 0.
Interview #2: As soon as I walked onto campus, I knew that I didn’t want to attend this school. The students seemed stressed, the faculty seemed overworked, and the campus was in a bad part of the city. I felt as if there was a rain cloud permanently positioned above the school. On paper, however, the institution had a prestigious reputation. Though my morale was low, I tried my best to be friendly and conversational to the people I met with. During my one-on-one interview I tried to act more like I was speaking with a family friend, rather than a faculty member I’d never met. I was still put on the waitlist.
Score: 1 to 1.
Hey, It’s Just a Casual Medical School Interview, Man
Interview #3: Since I had already received an offer of admission from my top choice, I no longer felt a sense of urgency during this interview. As a result, I didn’t put a lot of effort into my next interview. When I was there, I didn’t try to make the students or other interviewees like me, nor did I ask many follow-up questions. When it came to the MMI’s, I remembered that I had yet to commit to the first school, so I got back into the groove and put my best foot forward. Just like before, I tried to be the perfect pre-med student during this part of the interview process. But it wasn’t enough. I was put on the waitlist.
Score: 1 to 2.
Interview #4: The only reason I took this interview was so I could get a day off from work. I was already 99% committed to the first school. During the MMI’s, I simply stated my actual opinions and spoke from the heart about what I would do or what I thought the answer was. I didn’t once put in the effort to embellish my performance. The final topic of the interview was about my greatest weakness. I told them the truth. I told her that I was an impulsive person who just got a tattoo of a dolphin surfing on a wave of lava coming out of an exploding volcano. I got an offer of admission.
So How Do You Really Act During a Med School Interview to Get Accepted?
The medical school interview is all about building relationships. By the time you are called in, your grades have already been reviewed. You’re MCAT scores have already been reviewed. The admissions committee has already reviewed your essays and extracurriculars. Now it is about making a positive impression with the interviewer.
Different personalities mesh well with different personalities. Always be yourself, but in a way that bonds well with your interviewed. In both of the interviews where I was accepted, it was due to a strong bond – but for different reasons each time. Always be honest, but also play the role. Act the part you envision yourself being as you become a physician, and that will boost your odds of becoming one.