Interviewing Tips

1. All schools interview a little differently but, in general, you go there when they want you.

  • If you have trouble with the time they offer, be sure to discuss it with the scheduler, but you should be willing to make some concessions.

2. Before you go, be sure to re-read your application (both AMCAS and secondary). Don’t rehearse answers, but do think carefully about your decision to make this your career. Know your strengths, abilities and weaknesses. Be prepared to discuss any problems in your file –a poor grade, low scores, etc. If you have encountered some pitfall, can you talk about how you grew from the experience? What did you learn? If you wrote about research or special volunteer projects, reflect back on them and have a concise statement of a sentence or two ready. The worst example shared by a medical school was of a student who couldn’t explain a research project that was the focal point of the application!

3. Review any information you have about the school. Check out their web site; the MSAR site at the AAMC has links to all the medical schools.

4. At the beginning of the interview day, most schools have an orientation meeting during which they explain the school’s interview policies and procedures.

  • The number of interviews varies, as does the background of the interviewers. At many schools you can expect to have two interviews.
  • Medical school students are included in the interview process at many, but not all, schools. Admissions staff members are frequently involved, as are members of the medical school faculty. Some schools include a clinician and/or a researcher. "One-on-one" meetings are probably most typical, but panel interviews are used as well. In many instances the school will let you know what the format of the day will be when they extend the invitation.
  • You may have an "open file" interview, in which case the interviewer will have seen your application, or a "closed file" or "blind" interview, which means that the interviewer will not have seen your application. Some schools follow a hybrid format; for example, the interviewer may have read your essays and recs but not know your grades or scores. In other cases, the interviewer may know your numbers but may not have read anything else about you.

5. Use the trip to help gather information for yourself about the school, the location, students, faculty, etc. It is fine to ask questions—it shows your interest and your desire to make an informed decision.

6. Most schools will provide an information session and/or an opportunity to discuss financial aid. This is the right time to begin to evaluate the cost/aid/loan differences among schools.

7. Sometimes an applicant is asked a question that is either clearly inappropriate or perceived as inappropriate. Most schools will give you information about how to follow-up, but you can always contact Seth Ramus by email (sramus@bowdoin.edu) or phone (207-725-3624) for advice.

8. Remember to write thank-you notes to your interviewers. Keep in mind that these letters may end up in your admissions file, so it is important that you not send duplicate letters! Your notes do not need to be lengthy. You may choose to take advantage of the opportunity to reiterate your interest in the school, to make reference to some part of the interview, or perhaps to provide (briefly) some information you wish you had shared during your visit.