Some of these tips are obvious, some less so. All are important and will help you maintain a sense of professionalism, project confidence, reduce anxiety, and prove to the interviewer that you’re a top med school shoo-in.
- Make sure you smile. Chances are, your interviewer will smile back. This will help set the tone for a friendly conversation, ideally helping you eliminate nervousness and increase your ability to speak openly about your experiences.
- Maintain eye contact throughout the interview. This lets them know you’re focused and paying attention. (And this will help you actually remain focused and paying attention if drifting off into la-la-land is something that happens to you during conversations.)
- Relax as best as you can. A good interviewer will work to help you relax during those initial questions. Ideally you and your interviewer will have a conversation that flows rather than a disjointed and strained Q&A session.
- Definitely don’t bring a cup of coffee with you. (Or any other food or drink).
- Try not to fidget.
- Take notes if it seems relevant. This shows that you are truly interested.
- Be yourself. You can’t reinvent yourself, but rather try to shine during the interview with your best qualities. That means:
• If you are animated and outgoing, go right ahead and show it.
• If you are describing an experience that was particularly important to you, do show your passion.
• If you are shy that’s fine, but still try to find a connection with your interviewer.
- Present yourself honestly. More specifically:
• If you are discussing a weak part of your record, own up to your mistakes and then stress your improvements. Don’t minimize your past, but try to move on to future positives.
• Be sincere, especially when talking about strengths and weaknesses. Confidence is fine but make sure you include a touch of humility.
• When answering questions about yourself think about what you really want the interviewer to know about you. What defines you? Make sure you share those traits. Show some level of self-reflection demonstrating a clear understanding of how you’ve gotten to this point. It’s ok to pause to think before jumping into an answer.
• If you have had to come back from adversity, share the experience. If you are one of the lucky ones who has not had many struggles in your life, then still think how to answer an adversity question. Adversity comes in many shades – physical, financial, personal, and/or emotional. Each of us has had some degree of struggle.
Most importantly go into the interview with a clear vision of what you want the interviewer to know about you and do your very best to get those particular key points across.
“What to Do During Your Medical School Interview” is excerpted from the Accepted guide, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success.
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• The Ultimate Guide to Med School Interview Success, a free guide
• Do I Really Need a Mock Admissions Interview?, a short video
• What I Learned as a Student Member of a Medical School Admissions Committee