Your professional school interviews are an opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you personally and to understand your academic and professional goals. Prior to your interview, review both your primary application and your secondary application for that school. Also, review materials the school has sent you, look closely at their website, and be prepared to discuss the specific reasons you are interested in their program.
Each professional school will approach the interview process differently, but they will all generally be seeking to understand your strengths and weaknesses in the following areas:
Throughout your interview, you will be asked questions that can help the committee understand the way you approach decision-making. Schools will be working to ensure you are careful in problem-solving, attentive to detail, flexible, and tolerant of cultural differences and differences in opinion. When asked any question, do not simply answer “yes” or “no” but rather give the interviewer insight into how you have arrived at that decision.
You must convince the interviewer that you have made a mature, well-informed decision to pursue your chosen career path (medicine, dentistry, etc.). You must demonstrate an understanding of the daily realities of that profession and of your emotional, intellectual and physical ability to meet these challenges.
Throughout the interview day you must display the interpersonal skills needed to be successful in your chosen profession. Strong communication skills, awareness of the needs of others, and the compassion to respond to those needs must be proven.
The admissions committee will need to be certain that you will succeed in the school’s curriculum. You may be asked questions about your academic record, so be prepared to answer them openly and honestly.
If you are offered an interview, accept the first available date and commit to keeping this appointment. Canceling an interview or not showing up is extremely unprofessional. It inconveniences the professional school, negatively impacts our future applicants to that school, and often results in your premed advisor receiving a phone call from that school’s admissions dean seeking assurance that other JHU applicants will show up for interviews. If an emergency arises, we urge you to contact a member of the Pre-Professional staff immediately to discuss the circumstances of the emergency and to formulate an appropriate response.
AAMC Interviewing Resources
The AAMC Medical School Interview page has comprehensive interview tips and guides to help you as you prepare for your interviews.
Interviews can be traditional one-on-one interviews, MMI, or group interviews. Interview formats can be found on MSAR or schools may inform you of the format once you get invited for an interview.
Interview questions can range from personal questions about experiences and character to ethical dilemmas to current health care issues. Here are some common interview questions that you should be prepared to answer:
Interviews are also a great way to express your interest in the school. Be prepared to build upon your application and experiences to show why you are a good fit for their medical school. Make sure to ask your interviewer questions to show your interest, and send thank you notes to your interviewer(s)/anyone else you personally interacted with during the interview day. Additionally, it is important to be prompt for all scheduled sessions and to be nice to everyone during the day. If you have a student interviewer, do not treat them casually and take them as seriously as you would a faculty/admissions interviewer.
The Multiple Mini-Interview
A great overview or the Multiple Mini-Interview is on the MD admissions website of New York University School of Medicine. The MMI is a series of interview stations consisting of timed interview scenarios. Applicants rotate through the stations, each with its own interviewer and scenario. The MMI allows the Admissions Committee to assess applicant characteristics and attributes they believe are important components in becoming a competent and caring physician.
Also check out the great video put together by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
And, if you want to investigate even more resources about the MMI, see:
- The Multiple Mini-Interview Preparation, Astroff Consultants Inc.
- The Multiple Mini-Interview for Medical School Admissions, Carleen Eaton, MD
- New for Aspiring Doctors, the People Skills Test, Gardner Harris, 2011, New York Times
Tips for MD-PhD Applicants
The MD-PhD interview process will differ from an interview for an MD program. Here are some tips and information to keep in mind if you are invited for an MD-PhD interview:
- Identify labs that interest you at the interview school. Email the PIs directly to tell them you are coming for an interview and that you would like to meet with them when you visit. We encourage you to establish dialogue with these faculty early on.
- Become informed about research projects in the labs you will visit during your interview (You can ask ahead of time which labs you will visit). The best way to find this information is to search the NIH RePORTER (report.nih.gov) database, which enables you to search grants by PI to see all of their funded projects, along with abstracts of the grants. PIs will be impressed if you are truly informed about their work!
- Practice presenting your research projects to your colleagues and classmates in precise but in-depth for 5 – 6-minutes. Practice answering questions from them as well. You should be able to explain your research with ease.
- Be sure to state the hypotheses and focus on ideas rather than details.
- You should be able to explain any underlying methods and how they work if asked.
- Know the details of the MD-PhD program and any PhD programs of interest by reviewing their website and other resources. You should be able to answer the question “Why did you apply to our school?” in a compelling way. Doing your due diligence ahead of time will demonstrate that you are truly interested in their program.
- Remember that the MD portion of the interview is important. You must have a convincing rationale for why you also want the MD component for your training and career.
- If you can, reach out to any JHU alumni who have matriculated to this program. Find out why they chose that school and use that information to inform your interview.
In addition, you’ll need to be prepared in the same manner as other MD applicants:
- Refer to the aamc.org for a complete list of interview suggestions. https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/applying-medical-school-process/medical-school-interviews/
- Know your entire AMCAS application very well, including the details of your essays and smaller research endeavors, in order to best be prepared for any potential questions.
- And finally, be nice and appreciative to everyone you meet during your interview.
CASPer (Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics), a 90-minute web-based test, is a component of the application process used by certain medical schools. CASPer is an online test used to help screen applicants as part of the medical school application process and is one of several criteria assessed in determining candidates’ invitations to interview.
Mock Interview Program
The Pre-Professional Advising Office offers a mock interview program to pre-medical and pre-dental applicants. Full information about the mock interview program is available on the Med School Entry Year Canvas site when applying.
Mock interviews are designed to be general practice interviews and are not targeted to a specific school or program. Applicants are allowed one mock interview during the application cycle, and only applicants who have received at least one interview invitation can request a mock interview.
We’re excited to offer this initiative for our applicants, and hope you are able to take advantage of the service when you apply.
Advice from a Medical School Dean
According to Quinn Capers IV, MD, “In my position as Associate Dean for Admissions in the College of Medicine at The Ohio State University, I have screened thousands of applications, presided over admissions committee meetings in which the disposition of, collectively, hundreds of student applicants have been decided, and personally interviewed many applicants to our College. One of the most frustrating experiences in this job is to watch a student with excellent credentials, who I strongly suspect will make an excellent physician, go down in flames in the interview. It is clear that some students have been coached on the interview process and others have not. It is definitely an advantage to put some serious thought and preparation into the interview, since medical schools generally only extend interviews to students who appear to have the right stuff to succeed. Translation: if you get offered an interview, there is a chair in that school’s first-year medical school class with your name on it. Based on your performance in the interview, you will either claim it or give it away. With that in mind, here are some tips that I think will be helpful to you on your upcoming medical school interview. To read his “tips” for a medical school interview, click here.