Prepare for Your Med School Interview in 4 Steps

Succeed on your med school interview by preparing well
Tom Young / Getty

You applied to medical school and got the invitation.  Considering that most applicants are weeded out on the first round, congratulate yourself. Next, prepare well because an interview does not guarantee admission to medical school.  Depending on the program, only one-quarter to two-thirds of applicants interviewed are extended an offer of admission.  Here's how not to blow your med school interview.

1.  Prepare for easy tosses.  

That  is, there are some topics, issues, and situations that you can expect to encounter. If you don't prepare well for these, consider yourself out of contention.

  • Know about the   varieties of med school interviews and what to expect with each.
  • There are a set of common questions that you can expect to face. Know them and be prepared, but try not to memorize responses as reciting a well-rehearsed response might seem unnatural.
  • Be prepared to talk about your research experiences in college. Did you assist faculty? Did you have a research assistantship? Did you conduct independent research supervised by faculty? Be ready to talk about your research question, goals, and hypotheses. How you conducted your research and what you found. Why is it important? Did you present it at a conference? If you participated in faculty research be prepared to discuss your role and contribution to the research.

    2.  Show your interest. 

    Don’t be shy.  Admissions committees want incoming students to be excited about attended.  Essentially, they want to be wanted.

    • Be ready to explain why you applied to that specific program.  Know why you want to go there and be able to provide 4 or 5 reasons when you're asked. Don’t reveal that you applied because it’s a safety school (even if that’s true)
    • Always emphasize that you are seriously considering the program and even that it’s your top choice. Admissions committees want to know that you’ll attend if offered admission.   
    • Prepare questions of your own.  Ask about the curriculum, research opportunities, and practica and other applied opportunities.  Take care, though, because your questions must show that you are familiar with the school and program. Don’t ask questions that can be answered by a quick perusal of the program webpage.
    • Create good questions  by studying the website, course catalog, and faculty webpages. Insightful questions demonstrate your enthusiasm, interest in the program, and willingness to do your homework and go the extra mile.

    3.  Be prepared to talk about yourself.

    It sounds obvious, but a large part of your interview is about you. Not simply you, but you in relation to the program, your fit. Many applicants  feel uncomfortable talking about themselves and tooting their own horns. You’ll need to get over this – or at least fake it – to succeed on your interview.

    • Bring up your strong points, but don't be arrogant. Try to strike a balance between self-confidence and humility.
    • Be prepared for an interviewer to bring up your weak points or ask you for your input on your weak points.
    • It's ok not to know the answer to a question. Just say so. Try not to do it too often.

    4.  Emote appropriately. 

    Don’t be a robot, but don’t show negative emotions.

    • Be enthusiastic.
    • Smile.
    • Understand that some interviewers may not have read your application or may not recall it. Be prepared to fill them in on your qualifications and experience. Don’t be offended and never remind them that you already answered their question in your application.
    • Try to relax and enjoy yourself. This may seem impossible, but fake it.

    Your medical school interview is an opportunity to meet faculty and help them see that you’re the kind of student that they want in their program. It’s your chance to show that you’re knowledgeable, enthusiastic, easy to get along with, and have promise for a career in medicine.