By Rocky Ferrandino
For the postbac applying to medical school, the interview is the last obstacle that stands between you and your dream school. Naturally, this can be a pretty nerve-racking affair. The NICHD recently held a panel discussion for current trainees interested in hearing tips and personal experiences from those who have already been through the interview process.
The panelists, Aivi Nguyen (Jefferson Medical College), Juan Carlos Vera (Medical College of Wisconsin), and Julia Tse (Georgetown University School of Medicine) advised those in attendance that the best way to impress a medical school admissions committee is through solid preparation and knowledge of oneself. Prior to interviewing, applicants should research the school and become familiar with the mission statement, curriculum style, and special programs that they find interesting. An applicant can use this information to describe why he or she is a good match for the program and to ask questions at the end of the interview.
Additionally, interviewees should be ready to talk at length about items mentioned in their applications, particularly research, community service, and clinical experiences. Interviewers may also ask about any weaknesses in an application. In these situations it is imperative that the interviewee discuss the issue without getting flustered or defensive. Maintaining composure through a stressful interview can demonstrate that you are well suited for the trials and tribulations of a career in medicine.
Our panelists recommended that the interview be treated as a conversation in which you answer honestly and avoid giving responses that you think the interviewer wants to hear. Applicants should realize that the admissions committee has invited you to interview because they already think you are qualified, so you just need to make a positive and memorable impression and accept that the rest is out of your hands.
Trainees looking for interview practice should visit http://www.interviewstream.com or schedule a mock interview through the OITE website, or with Brenda Hanning in the Office of Education, NICHD. For those with questions about the panel discussion, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.