By: Sue Jiang, CWRU School of Medicine, Class of 2018
You just submitted your AMCAS application, secondary applications, and are anxiously awaiting interview invitations. You survived the pre-med prerequisite classes, nailed the MCAT with flying colors, and highlighted all of your extracurricular activities. The only thing standing between you and the medical school of your dreams is the interview. You have worked so hard in medical school, and nailing your interviews is one of the last, and most important, steps to the next phase of your life and beginning of your career. With some thoughtful preparation and planning, the interview season will be a busy yet fun and exciting time for you to find the medical school of your dreams.
Know yourself and your priorities, and know what programs you are looking for. For some applicants, having research opportunities is high on their priorities list. For others, working with underserved populations and public health opportunities are most important. Regardless of what it is, know your personal goals and what will make you the happiest. At the same time, stay open-minded to different schools because they may surprise you. Go to every interview until you have an acceptance. After that, you can be pickier about which ones you attend.
It is okay to cancel interviews, but do so in a timely manner, preferably no less than 2 weeks to the interview date. If you find you are no longer interested in the program but have scheduled the interview already, it may be in your best interest to go ahead with the interview anyway.
Know your application and your personal story. Many interviews will start off with the open-ended question “Tell me about yourself.” Others will inevitably ask “Why do you want to go to medical school?” or “Why do you want to come to this program?” You should these practice common questions in order to provide genuine answers while highlighting your unique story. A little bit of preparation can go a long way in helping you feel more confident during the interview process.
Prepare a dark-colored, conservative suit that fits well and that you will be comfortable in. This is not the time to stand out with your outfit. For ladies, pants or skirts are fine, whichever you are more comfortable in. Keep skirts to approximately knee length and jewelry to a minimum. For men, wear a conservative tie. Have an extra shirt/blouse or two, just to be safe.
Arrive to the interview on time, preferably early. Be kind and courteous to everyone that day. Not only is this good professionalism in general, but it is also in your best interest because you never know who will have a say in your application. Do not check your phone during the interview day. It looks like you are not interested in the program. Stay present and engaged with the people around you. Even if there is downtime, there will usually be someone to chat with, such as a student, the interview coordinator, or other applicants. Get to know them in a professional yet friendly way because you may see them again at some later point in your career.
After the interview day is over, it is appropriate to send thank-you notes to your interviewers unless you are requested specifically not to. Do not over-communicate in the post-interview period if you have not heard back from a school regarding your application status. This can appear unprofessional and may even drop your chances of being accepted at a particular program.
After completing the interview and communicating appropriately afterwards, there is nothing to do but wait for acceptances to roll in. Enjoy the time with your friends and family, keep it low key, and stay centered as you wait. You are in the home stretch!