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Why the Interview is Just as Important as the Application

How to Impress Any Admissions Committee Member during Medical School Application Season

By Samir Shah, M.D.

In medicine we have started to see a spike in the importance of building character. If you
haven’t noticed already, even your board exams weigh ethics and composure fairly high.
Regardless of where you are in your career, the aspect of carrying yourself and how you
interact with patients has become a pivotal part of the whole experience. This is why the
interview has become an extremely important portion of the whole application process.
You may be thinking that once you have applied, had great scores/grades to get in, and have a
pending interview, you are already a shoe in to the program. It’s great to have that confidence
and maybe THAT confidence is what has gotten you this far, but don’t lay off the accelerator
just yet. This is your time to shine and show these programs how talented you are beyond the
academic accolades. If by chance you do not fit in the category above, then it’s even more
important to take the interview seriously. Remember that you are in competition with
hundreds to even thousands of applicants who (more than likely) are in the same situation as
you.

Prepare yourself. Prior to the interview, you should always research the interview panel. Find
out as much information as you can on their interests, accolades, and random facts. Use their
personal interests to your advantage. If you find out that an interviewer has a hobby then at
the appropriate time spark up a small conversation about it. If the program invests heavily into
medical research, make sure to stress how important that is. This can not only help you but put
you above the competition.

You actually may be as charming as you think you are. Obviously, you have gotten this far and
it’s paying off, so take advantage of a great trait that is in your possession. By showing the
interviewer who you are and how much of an impact you can make in their program, that will
help your dream become a reality. Now I know that everyone says “to be yourself” but there is
a reason why it’s such a popular phrase.

Always ask questions. It doesn’t hurt to ask and will show the program that you are interested
and actually want to learn more. When you hear something great about the program, make
sure to follow up with a question. If by chance there were no questions you could come up with
during the interview, then of course you still have all of those that were prepared in advance in
your back pocket. Just remember the saying “you can never ask a dumb question”.

Always make sure to follow up. Once the interview is complete, there is that period afterwards
where the interviewers rank who they thought stood out of the competition. This is your time
to strike and leverage yourself. By being graceful, respectful, and showcasing who you are, it
will only help them remember you. This could not only be the icing on the cake but the reason
why you were accepted in the first place. Take advantage of this opportunity because it is your
last chance to interact with the program prior to the decision.

What to do after this? Relax and embrace what will happen. You can only control so many
aspects of the application process. Regardless on the outcome, you have done your due
diligence and put in the effort for success. Whether that happens now or sometime in the
future, the goal is to never give up on your dreams. The benefit is that this is guide is timeless
and will continue to provide value at every step of your career.

You are only as good as the effort you put in therefore make that interview count and come
away with the “W”.

Shree Nadkarni

Shree Nadkarni is a BS/MD student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School majoring in biology. He blogs about health policy, medical education, and the future of healthcare at his blog, https://www.commonsensemedic.com.

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