Once your application is complete, and you meet the basic needs of an applicant for a school, the next step is having them grant you an interview. This interview is an opportunity for the medical school to see you, speak to you, and get a feel for who you are as a person.
At the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, second-year medical students undergo interview training and then become a part of the medical school interview team. This means that, ideally, you would be interviewed by one clinician, one basic science professor, and a second-year medical student.
While I will not be discussing the specific questions used during interviews, and there is a fluidity to those questions anyways, I will discuss how to best perform during your interview at any medical school.
In my opinion, professionalism is the most vital part of the interview. You need to be professional “on and off” camera. How you interact with staff, students, the cafeteria lady, is all important. Assume that the whole experience is your interview. You never know who is standing behind you and watching you make a crude joke in the food line. This idea of needing to be professional at all times is something that you will also need to carry into your career. The interview is good practice for your life in medical school, rotations and being a physician in a community where you are looked up to. In karate, the respect you show to other students and your teacher does not end when you leave the dojo. This is because who you are as a martial artist is defined even more so by your day to day actions in life than when you are learning as a student. This is true of physicians as well. Studies also show that physicians who are disciplined for being unprofessional were likely to have been disciplined in medical school for unprofessionalism as well. (I’ll step off my soap box now.)
How to dress.
- MEN*: Wear professional business attire. Suits are the most common. You should have a tie. Wear a suit jacket.
- WOMEN*: Wear pants or a skirt with your suit. Wear comfortable shoes if possible. Every interview experience I have heard of offers a tour of their campus. You don’t want to have blisters in your new high heels while trying to negotiate a sidewalk across a large campus. I’m also old school- if your legs show they should be covered in nylons. It’s just professionalism at it’s best.
*Gender identity is important at UNE. Dress professionally how you best identify.
- EVERYONE: If money is a difficulty, start perusing the local goodwills and thrift stores early to try and find something that will be cost friendly.
- Do a Mock Interview. Do several if possible. While you don’t want canned answers, you do need some practice in being asked questions. Focus on:
- Who are you and what in life has brought you to applying for medical school? (Why do you want to be a doctor?)
- What are some things that make you a strong applicant that you hope to tell your interviewers about? You should have a few things you are really proud of that you can hopefully tie into an answer or try to discuss if permitted.
- How can you explain some of your weaknesses if you are asked about them? It’s okay to not have a perfect application, but consider why you are deficient in an area. The interview team may want to know why you had to withdraw from several classes during a semester and you should have an honest reason prepared.
- You should think of some questions to ask the school. This is an opportunity to interview them as well.
- Don’t lie. Seriously. Be honest in your answers. This is the beginning of a long career where honesty matters, and you should begin your future career as a physician the way you intend to see it through, with integrity. Also, if you are caught lying in part of your applications most schools will dismiss you and you will never get into another school again.
- I will talk about osteopathy in a future blog but prepare to talk about why you chose an osteopathic program if you are interviewing at and apply to one. You should understand what an osteopath does and how osteopathy differs from allopathy. Why do you want this philosophy? Have you ever been seen by an osteopath? What is manipulation?
Take down the names of the interviewers. Write a handwritten thank you card to those who took the time to interview you. Anyone can email a thank you, but a handwritten thank you card is more formal and appropriate.
Good luck, and be yourself. -Kelsi