Tour for Diversity in Medicine

Interviewing Skills

Preparation is key – Give yourself time to become “ready” for your interviews. It will make all the difference!

1.  Know yourself, gather your thoughts.

2.  Practice speaking.

3.  First Impressions: you can only make them once.

4.  Learn about the school you are visiting.

5.  Anticipate logistics.

6.  Consider your clothes.

7.  Be yourself—Be honest

When at the interview:

1.  Interviewers are often very experienced.  They genuinely want to get to know you better and want to have a conversation with you. The interview is not meant to be “scary” though you might feel nervous (which is natural). It is meant to engage you.

2.  If you need a moment to answer, take a moment. “Hmmm, good question..”

3.  If you stumble, it’s okay to laugh at yourself…recover, then move on.

4.  Talk  WITH the interviewer, not AT the interviewer.  If you don’t understand something, ask for clarity.  This is a conversation.

5.  Answer the question asked. If it’s repeated, they want you to give more of an answer.

6.  If you don’t know or have, the answer to something, let them know, don’t fake it. They can tell.

7.  Confidence is different than arrogance. Be sincere.

Remember:  Interviewers are excellent at discerning sincerity, honesty and a true desire to become a medical professional!

Some Interview questions to prepare an answer for:

  • Why do you want to become a doctor?
  • Why would you be a good doctor?
  • What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
  • What would you do if you don’t get in to medical school?
  • What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good doctor?
  • What do you do to alleviate stress? What are your hobbies?
  • Are you a leader or a follower? Give examples…
  • What exposure have you had to the medical profession? Healthcare experience? What did you do when you volunteered at?
  • What do you think you will like most about medicine/being a doctor? Least?
  • What are some of the most pressing healthcare issues we face today? 
  • What are the three most important advances in medicine?
  • How do you feel that research is relevant to the practice of medicine
  • What is the most difficult situation you have encountered in your clinical experience?
  • Why would our school be a good match for you?

Be familiar with today’s issues and events.  (Affirmative Action, Healthcare Reform, Gun Violence, Abortion rights…etc).  It’s not the issue; it’s the logic you choose to answer that they are looking for.   Also, remember, it’s not only important to prepare for the questions that they will ask you, but to also come prepared to ask questions of your interviewers.  Research the school(s) that you will be interviewing at (i.e. specific research/teaching/service focus, prominent faculty etc…) so that you can ask specific questions to your interviewers.

Some Questions to ask the interviewers:

  • What unique opportunities does the school have to offer students who attend?
  • What is one thing that you would change about your school?
  • What is a common mistake that students make?
  • What support structures do you have for minority students?
  • How involved are your alumni in supporting your school?

Interview Styles:

Panel:    This is where more than one interviewer interviews you at the same time.  Make eye contact with the person who has asked you the question, but also try to look and engage the other interviewers as you make your points. Usually panel interviews are made up of people from different disciplines such as basic science/ research, clinical medicine, or surgery. Be prepared for a real range of questions.

Blind:   This is an interview where the interviewer has not seen any part of your file. They do not know your grades or scores and have not read your essays. Be prepared to answer the question: “So, tell me about yourself.” Expect to regurgitate a lot of what you have already written in your various application essays.  Have a “sound bite” about yourself ready – to sell yourself in 1-2 minutes.

Partial Blind:  This is where an interviewer only sees part of your applications, such as your essays and secondary application, but not your grades or scores. This saves you from defending your C in second semester Organic Chemistry class, but requires that you look again at what you wrote.

Open:   In this type of interview it is up to the interviewer whether or not he or she will look at your file ahead of time. Be prepared for “blind” type questions as well as questions addressing what you wrote in your essays.

Things to Avoid during the Interview:

  • Chewing gum
  • Swearing
  • Racial Slurs
  • Slang
  • “Um,” “Like,” “Ya Know”  – These are verbal fillers and indicate that you are “thinking” an answer
  • Ticking anybody off
  • Be nice to everyone (i.e. the secretary/receptionist/security)

Website services & Tour Photos: Errol Dunlap