5 Mistakes You Should Avoid on Interview Day
So you’ve finished the paperwork required to apply to medical school – that enormous primary with multiple mini-essays and tedious data entry, and goodness-even- knows how many secondary application essays. You know that interview invites are around the corner, but you don’t know when you will hear from them.
When I was in that position, I was unsure of what to expect during interview days. Before I write about common interview questions and how to approach them, I think it’s important to discuss some critical factors surrounding the interview day, aside from the interview itself.
1. Every moment leading up to your interview can have an impact.
I’ve heard countless stories (and witnessed several instances) of students being impolite to the administrative members who help schedule interviews and run the interview days. I’ve heard one story about an applicant disappearing on their medical student host, and not reappearing until midnight the night before their interview, intoxicated.
While technically the meet-and- greet the night before, your night with your student host, the talks on the school mission and financial aid, and the lunch and tour are not a part of your interview day, the people involved in these activities all can potentially influence your admission. Most people will not take the time to go to the admissions office to talk about that one applicant that did or said a particularly unpleasant thing…but occasionally someone is friends with the student interviewer or works in the admissions office, and might mention it offhand.
Remember, an applicant is a potential future medical student/classmate. If you cannot be polite, friendly, and courteous in limited interactions with the administration and student body when you’re trying to impress them, why would they want you to be a part of their medical family?
2. Be aware and courteous of other interviewees during Interview Day.
Getting admitted, and that particular interview day, isn’t a competition. While going through the interview process, schools are looking for candidates who they believe will fit in well with the school, and be happy with their decision to attend.
There are two key points to take from this. The first is that every school culture includes friendly medical students. The second is that there are enough spots left to accept every single interviewee on that very last interview day (at least at non-rolling admissions schools).
With this in mind, be kind and friendly to the other interviewees. It will not only improve your chances for a successful interview day, but you’ll probably see several of them again on the interview trail again, and there’s a good chance that some of them will be your future classmates. If not your future classmates, perhaps your future co-residents, and for sure your future medical peers. On top of that, refer back to the end of point number one. Interviewers are going to notice if you aren’t being friendly and kind to other interviewees. If you cannot be polite, friendly, and courteous in limited interactions…etc.
3. Turn off your technology and stay focused.
I strongly recommend turning your phone off during the day. If there is some urgent reason you cannot do so, at least put it on silent and check it discreetly, during a restroom break. I have seen applicants take out their phones to respond to texts or browse Facebook, and I have heard of applicants taking out their laptops to work on final papers.
I understand that the interview day can be tedious and you might have important, time-sensitive things you need to do – especially when you’re in a room waiting to be interviewed. But this is an interview – treat it the same way you would treat a job interview. Taking out your phone or laptop demonstrates disinterest and disengagement. Rather than turning to the Internet or other work, take the time to get to know the medical students sitting in the room or the other interviewees. It shows you’re engaged and interested in both the school and the people around you.
4. Know your application.
I know that by the time November, let alone March, rolls around, it will have been months since you completed your primary and secondary applications. For you, some of the material will feel dated and forgettable. However, your interviewers will have just read those applications, and are probably going to use parts of it to springboard the conversation. Reread your primary and secondary application before each interview, think about what the interviewers might find interesting, and be prepared to talk about it.
5. Know the school you are applying to.
Each school has very different interview days. Some schools are MMI, some may have group interviews while others have individual interviews, and some include team-based learning sessions. Be aware of exactly what the interview format is. This information is usually available somewhere on the school website, and if not, it’s usually very easy to find with a quick Google search. While one-on- one interviews are traditional, the rest of the interviews may require a little more preparation and finesse.
Hopefully, this advice seems common sense to you – but I write about it because, well, we’ve all heard stories about (or worse, witnessed) that one interviewee who committed these faux pas. With that, look out for the second article in this series, which will focus on common interview questions and what I personally think is a good method to approach them.
If you have further questions, feel free to post your questions on the med school forum on Admit.me.
Do you have your own tips for interview day? Leave a comment below!
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