Interview Preparation?

Hi everyone! I am relatively new to this forum and to Dr. Gray’s podcasts, which are fantastic. I am a non-trad, re-applicant this year. Two years ago, I attempted to apply and did not get far, with a few secondary invitations and no interviews. I applied very late in the cycle and had a mediocre MCAT score, which I think were the two biggest hurdles. Since then, I’ve worked to improve several areas of my application and applied early in this year’s cycle. I chose to apply to 12 schools and just completed my last secondary app yesterday. To my pleasant surprise, I have received an invitation to interview at a school in August, but now I’m in unfamiliar territory. Any advice on how to prepare for interviews, particularly for non-traditional students? Thanks!

There are questions guides and stuff on the internet that can help guide your prep. Biggest thing I would say is to really understand yourself, what you’ve done to get yourself to this point, what you think you want in the future, etc. A lot of interviewers want to get to know the real you as much as possible in a finite amount of time, so be clear and concise. Think about what you want to say for major topics ahead of time, but DO NOT MEMORIZE ANSWERS. Think about main talking points and let yourself do the talking, not some preprogrammed script that you’ll be more nervous about saying verbatim than actually answering the question. Many interviewers will appreciate the fact that you have some life experience and will want to talk more about that than the “standard” fresh-out-of-college type questions.

Finally, brush up on some healthcare ethics and current events. I had a couple of interviewers throw some of those type questions at me (like "why are Americans so unhealthy compared to the rest of the world, and “tell me about an ethically tough situation you’ve been in/what would you do in this situation”). Google UW med ethics, they have a pretty good page to show you some situations and how a physician would be expected to approach them (granted, you aren’t a physician and may approach them differently).

In the end, it’s just a conversation (unless it’s a multiple mini interview type setup). Be professional and be human.

If you have a friend or family member willing to help, do some mock interviews to get into the swing of interviewing. Make sure you research the school, take a look at their mission statement that’s a great place to start. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE QUESTIONS FOR THEM. I cannot stress the aforementioned statement. if you have no questions it makes you seen passive and uninterested. These questions can be about anything: research opportunities with falculty, board prep schedule and support, specialty exposure while in the pre clinical years, whatever you’re interested in, but please have some questions. They’re looking for people that can be taught, aren’t jerks, and will take initiative. Good luck and keep us updated!

Besides the excellent advice above, I would also suggest printing out your application (primary and secondary) and looking it over the night before. Every part of that is fair game. Some interviews will ask you about details of your experiences. You want to remember what you actually wrote, especially because you’ve been doing so much writing lately just to apply.

I had a ton of questions about my previous experiences, so it made things really easy to talk about. You should verbally practice answering questions like “how will X help you in medical school?” and the inevitable “wow, going from X to medical school is a big change. Why did you make this decision?”

I used time in the car to practice answering common questions out loud. Especially very open-ended ones like “tell me about yourself” because you want an answer that flows well, includes some non-academic details and briefly tracks your path to med school. You don’t want to be too concise or too wordy. That’s true of all answers, which is why practicing out loud, especially with someone else, is so vital.

Thanks, everyone! Your advice is really helpful.

Thanks again to all of you and to Dr. Gray for offering his guidance in the podcast! As an exciting update, I’ve completed three interviews so far and have one coming up. Two were a more traditional format, and the third was a multi mini interview. And, I’ve been offered admission to my top DO school choice!

wow dude, super early in the cycle with so much success! Congrats!