Ace your medical school interview by being yourself

Did you know that the majority of medical schools only interview about 15 to 20 percent of the applicants that submit an application to that school? Albert Einstein College of Medicine, for instance, had 8,138 people apply for entrance. 1,324 were interviewed. That’s only 16.27 percent of the applicants.

If you have an interview, that means that the medical school likes you well enough to give you one of their coveted interview spots. You got a golden ticket.

The school has vetted your application. They can see your mistakes. They have read your personal statement and secondary essays. They know you well enough to want to get to know you more.

You need to go into the interview with the assumption that an acceptance is yours to lose. You need to believe that down to your bones. While it may be stretching the truth a little, it’s not far from it. Every interview spot is a valuable asset to each medical school. They are not going to give it to a student who doesn’t belong.

They are not looking for the perfect applicant. They are not looking for perfect answers. They are looking for you to be you. The more you try to be someone who you are not, the more you try to be someone you think they want you to be, the less likely you’ll get an acceptance to that school.

During your interview day, your interviewers are going to ask you questions, or put you through scenarios that will help them understand who you are. The AAMC has a list of core competencies that help medical schools choose who will be the most successful students and future physicians. Each school uses this list, or a variation, as they look at your applications and interact with you on your interview day. Only by being you will each school be able to completely understand who you are and what you bring to the table.

Only when you are being yourself will you be the most comfortable and willing to ad lib answers and your conversations. The interview process should be less like an interview and more like a coffee shop conversation. That can only happen when you are relaxed and yourself.

The biggest reason to be yourself is because that is the whole point of the medical school interview. Medical schools want to see who you are. They’ve read your application, and now they want to see what you look like outside of that. They want to see how you communicate, how you carry yourself and how you handle the situation.

The medical school interview is stressful, and getting through it successfully can tell the admissions committee a lot about you. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed you’ll be on interview day. The more relaxed you are, the more you can be you.

One of the best ways to prepare for your medical school interview is to do a mock interview. Just like taking practice MCAT exams, doing a mock interview will give you some insight into how you will do during your real interview. With good feedback from your premed advisor, mentor or someone else who knows the process, you can and will improve with practice.

Be prepared with mock interviews. Be relaxed on interview day. Be yourself.

Ryan Gray is publisher, Medical School HQ.

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