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The Journey to Medical School The MCAT Applying to Medical School The Interview Process
Medical School Curricula Paying for Medical School Residency and Beyond

4) The Interview Process

4.1) How can I prepare for my interview?
4.2) What should I wear to the interview?
4.3) Should I bring anything to the interview?
4.4) What will I be asked?
4.5) "Why do you want to be a doctor?"
4.6) What questions should I ask?
4.7) Should I do anything after the interview?
4.8) What does "waitlisted" mean? What does "hold" mean?
4.9) What if I don't get accepted?
4.10) How should I choose what school to go to?
4.11) What should I do during the summer before medical school?

4. The Interview Process

4.1)
How can I prepare for my interview?

You should do research on the school itself. Learn a little about
the city it is in, the programs offered, grading policies, and
instruction method (Problem Based Learning or traditional or mixed).
Look at the school's information packet and their web site. If
you're interested in doing research in a particular field during
medical school, find out which faculty at the school are doing
research in that area. The more you read about the school, the more
questions you will have to ask your interviewer.

In preparing for the questions you will be asked (cf 4.4),
definitely consult the Medical School Interview Feedback Page begun
by Graham Redgrave:  http://www.interviewfeedback.com http://www.interviewfeedback.com .

4.2) What should I wear to the interview?

Dress professionally in your style. This simply means to dress like
you would if you were a doctor, but do not lose all of your
personality (i.e. if you are a guy with long hair, don't cut it; if
you normally have a mustache, leave it...you are not trying to
produce a standard image, you want to be yourself).

4.3) Should I bring anything to the interview?

Bring a list of any questions you wish to ask (you will probably
forget most of them if you try to memorize them). Always have a pen
and paper on you. Find out what the weather will be like and bring
a coat if necessary. Bring your application to look over between
interviews.

4.4) What will I be asked?

This is largely dependent on the school and on the interviewer (in
other words, on chance). Be prepared to answer questions about
"defining" moments in your life--elaborating on what you do for fun,
what your favorite activity is, what sports you play, and just about
anything that interests you.

Some schools still drill you though, so beware (these interviews can
truly be draining). Stress interviews (empty rooms with phones
ringing, being asked to open windows that are nailed shut) are very
rare. If you've done research, and it's on your application, be
prepared to discuss it.

Many students have recorded their interview experiences at the
Medical School Interview Feedback Page:
 http://www.interviewfeedback.com .

Some commonly asked questions:

The favorite--Tell me about yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? (often asked)
What does your family think about this?
What is the biggest problem facing medicine today?
What are the disadvantages/downsides of a career in medicine, besides
no time?
What are you looking for in a medical school?
What do you think about "insert current hot topic here"?
(HMO, PPO, Doctor-assisted suicide, ethical/moral issues of cloning,
other financial issues in health care delivery)
What field of medicine are you interested in?
What do you like to do that isn't science related?
What will you do if you do not get accepted somewhere this year?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
And, perhaps the most popular...

4.5) "Why do you want to be a doctor?"

If you want to say "to help people," please just make that an
introduction to a much deeper soliloquy! You can tie this answer to
personal experiences (i.e. things you may have seen while
working/volunteering in the medical field, or possibly an illness
that you or a family member went through).

The key is to come across as someone who has genuinely thought
through the decision.

4.6) What questions should I ask?

Ask anything you want about the school. Many times faculty or
students may not know the answer, but will be willing to find out
and get back to you. A good source of questions to ask is the
Association of American Medical Colleges' pamphlet "31 Questions I
Wish I Had Asked," available at
 http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/about/31questions.htm http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/about/31questions.htm .

4.7) Should I do anything after the interview?

Sending a thank you note is purely optional, and some consider it an
outdated practice. Others feel that acknowledging time spent on
your behalf is just common courtesy. One suggestion is to follow up
with the admissions office, expressing your interest in the school.

4.8) What does "waitlisted" mean? What does "hold" mean?

The terms "wait list," "acceptance range," "hold," and any others
synonymous with these all mean that the class was full, but you have
been placed on a ranked list. If spots open up, people on the wait
list will be moved up and offered seats in the class. In general a
school will accept twice as many people as its class size when all
is said and done. Also, even though waitlists ARE ranked, they do
not have to pull from them in order, so if something about you
really stands out (such as a follow up letter stating how impressed
you were with the school and how much you would like to become part
of their institution), you can increase your chances of getting in
off the wait list.

4.9) What if I don't get accepted?

Try again. Trying 2 times seems to be the norm these days but after
3 times you might want to consider doing something else (there have
been some people who have finally been accepted after applying 4+
times, but they are the exception rather than the norm). The most
important thing to do is to consult each school as to why you were
rejected or not taken off of the waitlist and ask what you can do to
improve your chances. Follow their advice.

4.10) How should I choose what school to go to?

This depends on several factors. Important ones include location
and what the school "typically" produces. In other words, if you
want to specialize, it may not be in your best interest to go to a
state school where most of the class goes into family practice.
Financial issues are also a factor, as state-funded schools are
often much less expensive than private schools.

Going to a school with an established reputation may be of benefit,
especially when applying for residencies, fellowships, and positions
in academic medicine. If you feel that you may end up in an
academic position, or are considering a very competitive specialty,
you may consider going to a "name" school.

If you narrow it down to two schools which are virtually identical,
go to the one that feels right--that might be your best choice. How
do the students at the school feel? Are they treated well?

4.11) What should I do during the summer before medical school?

Nothing at all. Take a deep breath.





 


The Journey to Medical School The MCAT Applying to Medical School The Interview Process
Medical School Curricula Paying for Medical School Residency and Beyond

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