Sunday, September 23, 2007


The interview season has begun at my school. A dozen or so sharply dressed aspiring physicians (not so fast) medical students can be seen touring the school a couple times a week. And I know they probably don't like to hear this but: They look so young! Of course, part of that has to do with the fact that I'm about a decade older than they are. OK, maybe not quite a decade -- but it feels like it!

I remember my medical school interviews well. I'm not sure if I was lucky or what, but all of them went smoothly. No horror stories here. Most of the questions were along the lines of: Tell me about yourself?;Why do you want to pursue a career in medicine? Why this school? Tell me about your current work (non-trad here)? What are your weaknesses? Do you have any questions for me? I had prepared for all of these questions, as should you if you'll be interviewing this season.

Preparation is the name of the game. For all of you interviewing at medical schools this season, here are my top 5 tips for successful interviewing:
  1. Mock Interview. Mock interviews were available at my undergrad institution. You should ask your pre-med adviser or career services office if they offered mock interviews. If you've graduated and are working, ask a supervisor or co-worker to conduct one for you. Make it as realistic as possible. The point here is that you want to practice sitting in the hot seat. This is where you want to make mistakes and learn from them, not during the real thing.
  2. Travel. Try to get into town the day before your scheduled interview. Take the time to make sure you know how to get to the school. It may be worth it to stay at the recommended hotel, especially if there's shuttle service to the school. You can also spend the extra time exploring the social activities in the area.
  3. Be punctual. It's actually best to arrive about 10-15 minutes early. There's usually some form or forms you have to fill out. It'll also give you time to preview the packet of material that the admissions office gives you.
  4. Dress Conservatively. You want to look the part of a physician when you go in for your interviews. These aren't folks who appreciate the latest fashions. So, stick to navy, gray, or black solid or pinstripe suits with a white shirt/blouse. Simple ties, gents. You don't want anyone asking or thinking, "What are you wearing?" [Watch first 25 seconds] On one of my interview days, there was a guy in a black leather jacket just like the one worn by Joe Pesci's character in My Cousin Vinny. Being French was no excuse. The jacket made him stand out, and not in a good way. You don't want to be remembered for what you're wearing, but rather by who you are -- your talents and personality. Oh -- and make sure buttons are buttoned and/or zippers are zipped. (Yes, speaking from experience on that one.)
  5. Be nice to EVERYONE. From the secretaries in the admissions office, to the students leading the tour, to students that may come talk to you, to the person conducting the interview. You want to be professional and nice to everyone. Even if during the interview you're asked a question that seems too personal or is on a taboo subject. It's best to play it off with humor or maturity than getting angry or upset. Remember, many people vote on your admission. Students (those that lead the tour) and admissions office staff may eliminate you from the pool: "No, that guy was crazy! Did you see the leather jacket he was wearing?" Faculty (those that interview you) can get you in.

Good luck! And remember, luck is just "preparation meeting opportunity."


Rella said...

Good advice for any interview situation! I especially like the part about your personal experience in Point #4. I don't think I've heard this story. I'll have to remember to ask you about it next time we talk. =D

DC Med Student said...

Hey Rella! Yes, I'll tell you about it on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

aww good advice. I remember my interview was atrocious, fuck knows how i got in!

another tip - smile, the interviewers like it!