Always be nice! It is very important that you are courteous and respectful to everyone you meet,
including secretaries and current students. These people often have influence in admissions
decisions, so remember to treat everyone with the same respect you would give to the Dean of
Keep telephone calls to a minimum. The people in the admissions offices at medical schools are
very busy, and may be unable to devote a lot of time (if any) to talking to you on the telephone. If
you do call them, ask about their timeline, and do not call back until deadlines have passed.
Stick with your assigned interview date. If you are absolutely unable to attend an interview date
to which you have been assigned, call the medical school well in advance of the date and ask to have
your interview changed. Some schools will be able to accommodate this, others will not. If you can
make it, it is best to stick with the date you have been assigned. On the positive side, some schools
do allow you to choose your own interview date.
Things you should do to prepare for your interview:
Review your application materials. This includes your AMCAS or AACOMAS application and your
supplemental application. Because interviewers may have your file sitting in front of them during
your interview, it is likely that you will be asked about your volunteer work, your research
experience and your essays. Be prepared for this, and review these things ahead of time.
Research the medical school. Before you walk in the door, you should have a good idea about the
medical school: its programs, its curriculum, its faculty, its method of instruction and its grading
policies. You should also know something about the city in which the school is located. The school’s
website is an excellent source of information, so be sure to review it before you leave.
Review studentdoctor.net. Studentdoctor.net is a website specifically for pre-med and medical
students; one of the features of this website is that applicants can post information about their
medical school interviews, so that others may read their comments. You can search according to
school and read everything that has been posted. There’s a standard questionnaire, as well as space
for comments. It’s likely that you’ll find information here that you won’t find anywhere else, so it’s
worth the time on-line. Do other applicants a favor and post your own comments after you come
Read. Reading articles and journals about current events and issues in the field of medicine is very
important, as someone is probably going to ask you your opinion about some issue during one of your
interviews. JAMA, The New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet are good choices; you may
also want to pick up The New York Times, Time, Newsweek or U.S. News and World Report every
now and then to keep current with world events, as well. Also, the World Health News is a good site
to look at and you can register for weekly emails with the current events in the US and around the
world. www. worldhealthnews.harvard.edu.
Make travel plans well in advance. Try to make your travel plans as early as possible, to get the
best rates on airfare, hotels, etc. Again, when planning your visit, you may want to ask the medical
school if they have current students who are willing to host applicants overnight – many schools do
this, and it’s a great way to save some money and get the “inside scoop” on the school.
Keep these things in mind when getting dressed for your interview:
BE CONSERVATIVE!! This cannot be overemphasized! Medical schools are using the interview to
assess your judgment – do not use this opportunity to make a wild fashion statement (thereby
showing poor judgment). You should look polished, pressed and professional. A word about
piercings: if you are female, pierced ears are okay. Everything else is not. If you are male, even
ears are not okay. Doctors and medical professors are usually pretty conservative people, which
means they will not be impressed by the many holes in your head (or other parts), so take the rings
out or cover them up. The same goes for tattoos – be sure they don’t show.
Wear a suit. Both men and women should wear a suit (although women can also wear a nice dress
with a coordinating jacket). Suits should be dark and should be wool or a wool blend. Navy blue is
the classic choice, but charcoal or black are also acceptable. Be sure your suit fits you well and
does not have any holes, frayed cuffs or stains. Men should wear a white shirt and conservative tie.
Women should wear a coordinating blouse. Wear dark shoes (black or cordovan for men, black or
navy blue for women); make sure your shoes are comfortable, as you will probably do quite a bit of
walking. Men should wear dark socks, while women should wear neutral hose.
Keep accessories to a minimum. The only accessory a man should wear to an interview is a watch
(well, a wedding ring or class ring is also okay). Men should not wear anything that could be
construed as “feminine”. Women have a little more latitude in their choice of accessories, but
should still be conservative. A nice scarf is fine; tasteful jewelry is also okay. Don’t wear anything
that jingles together or could be considered flashy.
Things to do the day before the interview:
Arrive at your destination. It’s always a good idea to arrive in the city in which the medical school
is located a day before your interview. This allows you to find your way around and settle down
before you’re actually in the interview. Anything that you can do to keep yourself from feeling
stress will be helpful at this point.
Organize everything you need for the next day. Make sure you iron your clothes, put together
your briefcase or attaché and have your travel plans to the school worked out before you go to bed.
Again, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of stress if you don’t have to worry about these things the
morning of your interview.
Get a good night’s sleep. Although it may be tempting to stay up late (and may be hard to sleep, if
you’re nervous), try to get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before your interview. Double check
your alarm clock (this is not a good day to oversleep) or schedule a wake-up call if you’re at a hotel.
On the day of the interview:
Get there early. Arriving 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time is a good idea because it allows you to
find where you’re going and get settled before your interview actually begins. It also allows a little
time for you to get lost and still make it to the interview on time.
What to expect. Each school tends to structure their interviews a little differently, so there is
some variety as to what you may encounter. Some schools will feed you first; some schools may
start off with a group presentation about their school, their city or financial aid; some schools may
take you on a tour; some schools may have you jump right into an interview. Chances are, you’ll
experience all of the above before your day is over. As far as the actual interview goes, you will
probably sit down with more than one person during your time at the school – these people usually
include a faculty person (basic science or clinical) and may include an administrator, an affiliated
physician, an admissions staff person or a current medical student. These people may or may not
have access to your file (students usually do not) – it depends on the school. Remember that every
person you encounter is judging you; not to put on the pressure, but it is critical to treat every
person you encounter as though his/her opinion counts.
What you may be asked. Again, this depends on the individual school. Most schools do not believe
in doing stress interviews, but they will expect you to answer questions about yourself, your
experience and current issues in the medical field. This is where your preparation shows, so be
sure to do your homework. Typical questions include:
Tell me about yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
What is the biggest problem facing medicine today?
What do you think about stem cell research (or other hot topic)?
Why do you want to be a doctor?
Why did you choose to apply to this school?
What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?
What are your hobbies?/How do you spend your free time?
Are you thinking of specializing? In what field? Why?
What will you do if you are not accepted?
How do you plan to finance your medical education?
What you should ask. Yes, you should have some questions prepared. Questions about residencies
or special programs can be useful, as well as some of the following:
Are there opportunities for students to design, conduct and publish research?
Is there flexibility in the curriculum during the pre-clinical years?
How do your students perform on the national board examinations?
How are students evaluated during the clinical years?
What kind of supportive and counseling services do you have for students?
What types of clinical sites are available? Will I need a car to get to clinical rotations?
Are students involved in volunteer work or community service? It is required?
Remember that the interview is what really makes or breaks your acceptance to medical school – if
you’re there they know you can handle the academic coursework, now they want to discover what
kind of a person you are, and what kind of a doctor you’ll be. Preparing for the interview is just as
important as getting good grades and doing well on the MCAT, so be sure to spend some time
practicing your interviewing skills.