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Preparing for your medical school interview

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When you’re invited to an interview, you should feel confident — it means you’ve already impressed reviewers with your strong personal statement, letters of evaluation, and academic history. Now, you can begin preparing by visiting your prehealth advisor or career services office to inquire about mock interviews, reading up on the medical school, and talking to others who have gone through the process.

The interview is an opportunity for you to demonstrate qualities and characteristics such as empathy, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, communication ability, and interpersonal skills. It can also be a chance to tour the medical school’s facility and meet the students, faculty, and staff you may be interacting with for the next several years. Take this opportunity to assess the culture and learning environment and explore whether the school might be a good fit for you. 

Different interviewing styles

At some schools, interviews are held individually; at others, group interviews are the norm. While most interviews are held on the medical school campus, some schools have designated interviewers in different geographic regions to minimize time and expense for applicants. Some interviewers follow a structured design, asking questions from a predetermined list and assigning numeric scores to each answer. Others prefer a more free-flowing arrangement and provide the applicant with a greater degree of open input. 

It helps to be ready for different interview formats. Check the Medical School Admission Requirements™ website to find the type of interviews offered at each school, such as one-on-one, panel, multiple mini interview (MMI), and video interview.

Here are some of the more unusual interview types that you might encounter. 

1:1 Interview

Some schools conduct 1:1 interviews in which an interviewer, who may be a faculty member or local clinician, meets with you individually for 20 or 30 minutes to assess your oral communication skills and further explore the information presented in your application, such as your experiences and personal statement. This is an often an opportunity for you to gather personalized information from someone who is knowledgeable about the culture of the medical school and the medical profession.

Group interview

Many schools include small group learning and interprofessional health care team training in their curricula. In order to determine your fit for their learning environment, they may use group interviews to assess your teamwork competency. Your interview cohort may be presented with a task or problem to solve and given a predetermined amount of time to find a solution. This is also an opportunity to demonstrate your problem solving skills and to become acquainted with potential future classmates.

MMI

Increasingly, schools are using the multiple mini interview (MMI), which typically consists of 6 to 10 interview stations that focus on a different question or scenario, where interviewees are given five minutes to answer the question or solve the problem. The MMI assesses communication skills, specifically verbal and nonverbal skills that cannot be measured using standardized written exams or reviewing coursework transcripts. 

For more information, review the MMI fact sheet at students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/what-its-participate-multiple-mini-interviews-mmis.

Conclusion

Medical schools usually interview significantly more applicants than they will accept, so the interview is a major determining factor in the admission process. 

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