Virtual medical school interviews have become the new norm and they come with unique benefits and challenges. Getting an interview invitation is a big sign that a medical school has a genuine interest in you, even if it’s done virtually. Proceed with confidence and take note of these nine things you can do to prepare for a virtual interview.
Do Your Research on the School and Gather Questions As You Go
Research the schools that you’ll be interviewing with. It’s easiest to start with their website and gather any information that you can about their history, students, mission, campus life, patient population, curriculum, and more. In the process, if you notice yourself wondering more about a certain feature of the school, write that question down. This is a great time to start thinking about the questions you will ask at the end of your interview. Thinking about it while viewing the website is a good way to ensure you won’t ask a question that’s already been answered online.
Also, if you know who you’ll be interviewing with in advance, look them up on LinkedIn. This is a good opportunity to get to know your interviewer and may give you some small talk during introductions, or ideas on points to talk about that may be important to your interviewer.
Review Your Application & Supplemental Materials Before the Interview
Depending on the format of your interview, your interviewer can have partial or complete access to your application file. If this is the case, you need to know your application inside and out. They can ask you questions about anything on your application, from the place you volunteered to the methods of the research project you worked on three years ago. You need to be ready for it all. So, be sure to brush up on all the little details of your experiences and have at least two talking points on standby for each one. They will dig into your writing, so be sure you know the facts and figures off the top of your head.
Identify Your “Big 3” Key Talking Points
Your “Big 3” are the top takeaways you want your interviewer to know and remember about you by the end of your conversation. These can be qualities, experiences, or even goals.
For example, I am an underrepresented student with a strong academic background who has dreams of serving the Deaf community. In my interviews, no matter what question was asked, I made sure to weave in one of those three things into the answer. It’s a lot easier than it sounds once you write down your Big 3. Taking this approach will help your interviewer summarize you effectively to the rest of the admissions committee.
Practice With Multiple Virtual Mock Interviews
Do lots of mock interviews and record them if you can. Ask friends, co-workers, mentors, and professors to conduct these with you. If you want to take it a step further, you can get mock interview packages at MedSchoolCoach and receive quality feedback. They use actual physicians who’ve served on admissions committees! Be sure to incorporate the feedback that you get and try to critique yourself as you rewatch the interviews. Do you say a certain phrase too often? Do you talk with your hands a lot? Now is the time to find out and fix it.
Connect With Students From the Med Schools You’ll be Interviewing With
This is a great way to get the inside scoop on a school and ask all the questions you want. Try to email at least one student from each school that you are going to interview with. You can also try to reach out on LinkedIn for an even more professional approach. Current students can give you interview tips, tell you about your interviewer, and give you their honest opinions on their medical school, which are all great things to know before an interview.
Pick Your Perfect Interview Spot Ahead of Time
Some people may tell you to aim for a plain background with minimal decorations and to make sure you have good lighting. While that is great advice, I encourage you to do that while also being strategic. Try to incorporate some part of your application into your surroundings. It can be as simple as an award or photo framed on the wall behind you or even a simple poster. I know one medical student who has a guitar hanging on their wall behind them. That is a conversation starter! Whether your interviewer notices it or not, it may remind you to talk about it (since you’ll see it on your own screen) and serves as a great visual aid for the interviewer.
Assure you have good lighting. Make sure people and pets and cell phone ringers won’t interrupt your call. And test your internet connection ahead of time. Some rooms work better than others. If you cut in and out during your Zoom interview, it could reflect poorly on you, and will definitely impact your rhythm.
Be Strategic With Your Interview Outfit
The usual business professional attire is still required for virtual interviews. However, if the circumstances are right, you can stand out in a Zoom meeting full of black, white, and blue blazers by wearing something with a bit more color. Beware of complicated patterns or overly distracting stripes, focus on small pops of color instead. You can incorporate this into your jewelry as well, but be sure not to mess with your bracelets or watches too much during the interview. Let your clothing showcase your personality while still staying professional, and do your best to look into the camera. One trick is to put your interviewer’s face directly below the camera light. This will force you to look perfectly into the camera and have good eye contact. And make sure your face is properly framed into the video.
Don’t Swap Sleep for Practice Time, Especially the Night Before the Interview
Get a good night’s sleep and be sure to eat breakfast!
It seems simple, but it is often forgotten, especially when nerves get the best of you. Set an alarm for the day of your interview. Set multiple alarms for each activity if you have to. Virtual interview days are often packed with activities from start to finish, and your lunch break is rarely enough time to get in a good meal. So, eat a bigger breakfast and make sure to have your lunch planned out already. This will make the transition from interview mode to eating mode a lot smoother.
Send a Thank You Note to Your interviewers
After the interviews, be sure to email each of your interviewers separately and thank them for the experience. Incorporate something memorable about your background and something you discussed during your session into your note. This will help you be remembered, and also show that you understand the importance of gratitude and follow-up. And since many students actually forget this step, all things being equal, it will give you an edge.
One day soon, you may even be able to thank your interviewers in person for the great experience when you are attending medical school with them!
Take these nine steps and tailor them to each school and to your style and you’ll be much closer to acing your interview.
Have more questions about getting into med school or becoming a doctor? MedSchoolCoach has a team of admissions advisors who’ve all served on admissions committees. They are available to help coach you and to boost your chances of getting into medical school. Look them up!