So, I was cleaning out some old emails from one of my old email accounts (oh, Hotmail, remember when you were so cool?), and I came across a list of med school interview tips which I wrote over 10 years ago, for a buddy who was in charge of my alma mater’s Pre Med Club. Thought you guys might like to see what kind of advice Dr. Cranquis was giving to pre med students, back before he was DOCTOR Cranquis. Enjoy!
1. Dress professional and act professional, but don’t hide your personality. Medical schools don’t want to turn out robot doctors. They want people who will help keep their fellow classmates alive and unstressed. So smile, relax, be friendly!
2. This may sound risky, but don’t act as though this interview is the only thing on earth that matters to you. The interviewers know that you probably will apply to other schools. Emphasize how you plan to do a good job WHEREVER you get accepted. The key point to get across is that you know you WILL get accepted somewhere, and you hope that it will be THEIR school that accepts you.
3. Avoid phrases like “I’ve always dreamed of coming to this school” (unless you’re applying to Harvard, of course). Be realistic. A doctor will be honest about his expectations with his/her patients, so be honest about your expectations and goals. Flattery is very easy to see through for a practiced interviewer.
4. Ask yourself self-searching questions BEFORE you take an interview, such as:
—- “Why do I [not my parents, or my spouse, or my dog] want ME to be a doctor?”
—- “How do I handle stress: Positively, or negatively? Actively or passively?”
—- “What do I consider to be my personal BEST qualities? Why? How can I convey those to an interviewer without sounding stuck-up?”
5. Investing in a “Interviewing skills” book can be useful, especially if it has lists of most-asked questions. However, try not to make your answers sounds rehearsed. The interviewer will want to feel like you’re talking to HIM/HER, not reciting mental flashcards.
6. Don’t carry a lot of stuff with you to your interview. They’ll give you plenty of handouts and bulletins and folders and more crap than you know what to do with. The less you bring to the interview day, the less you’ll have to cart around, set down, pick up if you knock it over. This will also help you to not fidget with stuff as you speak. (see next note).
7. Have somebody watch you speak about yourself (or videotape yourself) to catch some of your annoying habits. Everybody has them! I tend to say “Uh” or “Um” a lot, to put my fingers by my face, and tap my feet. It’s really hard for you to notice them yourself, but it can really distract others. Learn to sit in a relaxed posture with your hands and feet just RESTING.
8. In the interview, TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t speak fast; you’ll get tongue-tied and sound like a moron. Compose your thoughts before you answer, so that you don’t wander off course and forget the question (I’ve done it… embarassing!).
9. Be nice to everyone you meet at the school. You never know who’s on the committee! Be genuine about it, of course.
10. Don’t let the other interviewees psych you out. You may be sitting in a waiting room with 50 other applicants: some will be acting nervous, some will be acting relaxed. The point is, they will all be acting. You should strive to be one of the ones acting relaxed. Don’t compare notes on interviewers; just because somebody had what they think is a “bad” interview with Dr. Stuffy doesn’t mean that you’ll have a bad interview… so why bother getting any misconceptions? Keep your thoughts to yourself, and just observe.
11. Think of some intelligent questions to ask ahead of time, such as:
— “What’s your policy for emergency leaves of absence?”
— “How close-knit are the different classes? For example, do older students help to mentor younger students?”
— “What are some of the service opportunities your school offers?”
12. (Just for fun). Here are some things NOT to say/ask in your interview:
— “You know, I’m really smart. People tell me that all the time.”
— “I guess my main reason for being a doctor is that I’ll get rich.”
— “[pulling out wallet] So, what’s it going to take for you to give me a good interview report?”
— “I think my best personal strength is my overwhelming charm with the ladies.”
— “What’s the lowest grade I can get and still pass?”
— “What’s the name of this school again?”
— “Is all this interviewing really necessary?”
— “You’d better accept me, because my dad’s a lawyer and I’ll sue!”
13. Pray before, during, and after the interview, and ask your friends to pray for you too.
*For more recent Cranquis advice on interviews, check out my interview tag.*