After the invitation:
Respond quickly and politely to the invitation, even if you are choosing to decline it. Arrange a date that works well with your schedule that is within the confines of the available dates. Plan to spend as much time as possible at the school if you are not already completely familiar with the institution.
Plan to dress in an appropriately professional manner. Be conservative in choosing your attire.
Before the interview:
Review the questions that you have been asking yourself for years and prepare to answer queries about the following areas:
Be able to articulate your goals, approach to life, and motivation for medicine. Remember the various events and experiences that helped you learn about health care and to decide that it was a good fit for you. Think about other life experiences that have shaped who you are. Review how you have made significant choices. Make a honest self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
The medical profession:
The interviewer will attempt to measure your motivation for and knowledge about the field. You have been preparing for these questions as you have read, discussed, and experienced things within the profession and the wider field of health care. It is not so important what your stand on an issue is, as long as you can discuss it intelligently and articulately.
How much do you really know about the school's mission, curriculum, clinical teaching facilities, research agenda, or opportunities to spend elective time away. Review the school's website and any written material made available to applicants. Talk to current students and recent alumni. The questions you ask about the school during the interview should reveal that you have done your "homework."
A general knowledge about major happenings in the world is important. Be able to discuss -- at least superficially -- crises around the world, environmental topics, political issues, major cultural or sporting events, etc.
Obvious sorts of questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you plan to be doing in ten years?
- Why do you wish to go into ______ as a career?
- Why did you choose to major in _________ ?
- What has been the most rewarding experience of your life?
- What have you read recently for pleasure?
- Why do you want to do to this professional school?
- What could you contribute to this school?
- Why are you a good candidate at this school?
- Why will you make a good doctor/dentist/vet/optometrist?
- What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
- What is the greatest problem facing our health care system today?
- Tell me about your research.
- Tell me about your job/internship last summer.
- What was your most enjoyable course in college?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- How should the government handle __________ ?
- Describe the exposure that you have had to the field.
- How would you feel about treating a patient with AIDS?
- Should animals be used in scientific research?
- What extracurricular activity has been most rewarding for you?
- What field of specialization most appeals to you?
- What convinces you that you will enjoy being a doctor/dentist/vet/optometrist?
- What will you do if you are not accepted into professional school?
Be well-rested and well-nourished on the day of the interview. Tone down the makeup, cologne, and jewelry. Be aware of nervous habits that could leave a poor impression -- and avoid them. Make eye contact with and be courteous to everyone.
You should know something about the interview format in advance; however, every interview will be a unique exchange between individuals. Try to be genuine but also see if you can adjust to your interviewer's style. Listen closely not only to your interviewer's questions but also to the responses to your comments.
The interviewer will want to gain information about you that is not evident from your file. It is critical for you to be able to articulate thoughts and ideas and to be able to engage in an exchange with the interviewer. Not only your answers to questions but also the nature of the conversation will help the interviewer assess you. Your job is to help him/her do that in a positive manner.
The interviewer will look for ...
Interviewers will not expect you to be perfect. Interviewers will value your honest disclosures about yourself if you are able to explain what you have learned through difficulties and mistakes.
Talking about your experiences in health care, the breadth and depth of those experiences, what you learned from them, and what initially influenced you to pursue health care will explain motivation. There is nothing worse than an interviewee who is insincere or unbelievable. When you talk about your evidence of service toward others, will it be obvious that your heart was really engaged when these projects were carried out?
What sort of problem solver are you? How do you make critical judgments? Do you exhibit a clear, logical thought process? Do you understand that many problems are multidimensional? Can you master, evaluate, and integrate information and then use it to solve problems?
Are you fully engaged in the interview? How do you demonstrate compassion for others? Will you be able to inspire trust from your patients? Are you open-minded and accepting of persons who are different from you? Are you respectful of different traditions and cultures?
How have you taken initiative, motivated others, and made things happen? What creative ideas have you implemented? What hardships or challenges have you overcome to become a leader? How do you handle the responsibility of leadership? What have you learned from these experiences?
Be prepared to demonstrate that your life is on a PATHWAY that logically leads to professional school. You want to leave your interviewer with the feeling that "Of course, we should admit this person. It's clear that everything s/he has been doing is preparing him/her well for medical/dental/vet/optometry school."
Assume that the interviewer is on your side and is eager for you to make a good impression. However, don't try to be "chummy." Don't get defensive over difficult questions. Speak clearly, and take your time to provide thoughtful responses.
After the interview:
It is appropriate to write thank-you notes to your interviewers and to the director of the Admission Office. An occasional respectful inquiry about the status of your application can serve to demonstrate continued interest.
Take notes on your experiences so that you can learn from the process.
Excerpted largely from Interviewing for Health Professional Schools from the NAAHP.