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The 10 Medical School Interview Commandments

Discussion in 'Gold Standard PreMed Headquarters (Sponsored)' started by mcat prep, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. mcat prep

    mcat prep Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    May 16, 2007
    SDN Exhibitor
    1) Thou shalt not be late.

    Yes, every year several students arrive late for one of the most important appointments of their lives. Unquestionably, it is inexcusable. Some medical schools may decide to cancel the application.

    2) Thou shalt approach and shake the hand.

    A confident approach and then a firm, dry (!) handshake leaves a good impression. No Jello handshake nor Arnold Schwartzenegger handshake is of any value. Contact has been made.

    3) Thou shalt pause.

    There is no race to answer. Take a few seconds, whether or not you know what you would like to say. Collect your thoughts, gather your composure, then begin.

    4) Thou shalt maintain eye contact.

    Maintaining eye contact achieves two important goals: (1) it demonstrates the confidence you have in what you are speaking about, and (2) it implies sincerity.

    5) Thou shalt smile.

    A smile can allow the interviewer to witness your humanity and watch your ability to 'connect'. A smile may also suggest enthusiasm depending on the nature of the discussion.

    6) Thou shalt not cry.

    Yes, every year some students either begin to tell stories in an interview which they have never told anyone which, because of the elevated activation energy of the interview, occasionally leads to tears. Though it is conceivable that a psychiatrist is conducting the interview, do not misinterpret the reason that she is there!

    7) Thou shalt not brag.

    I do not believe that students purposefully brag. However, it is quite common for a student to be so uncomfortable about discussing their accomplishments that their manner of speech becomes so awkward that it is often interpreted as arrogance. Ironically, this is precisely what the student was trying to avoid. While it is critical that you describe your accomplishments, it must be done with 'quiet confidence' - without a hint of arrogance. Practice will help you learn to soften the edges. Always remember: what you learn from an accomplishment is as important as the accomplishment itself.

    8) Thou shalt not lie.

    In medicine, lives can depend on the truth. If you lie as an applicant, it is in everyone's best interest that you are caught. Here are some classics: (i) students claiming to be able to speak a language other than their mother tongue (i.e. French, Russian, or yes, Swahili) and one of the interviewers happens to speak that language and asks a question which receives no response; (ii) students have claimed to read specific books but when asked about the main characters only a deafening silence answered.

    9) Thou shalt not assume.

    Do not assume that the interviewer, who may be a lay person or a non-science professor, knows acronyms for the names of hospitals, university programs, etc. Also, even if you have submitted autobiographical material, do not assume that they know you. Rather, try to cover a lot of ground about yourself as long as you are concise. The interviewer might relate to something about your history which you did not consider as important. Punctuate your accomplishments with very brief stories which exemplify, without you saying so, traits which are consistent with being a good doctor.

    10) Thou shalt not be negative.

    Some students are consumed with diminishing their accomplishments, self-criticisms, or a string of depressing stories. Thou shalt be positive!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
    Chimichica likes this.
  2. Star2008

    Star2008 2+ Year Member

    Jul 10, 2007
    thanks for the helpful post!
  3. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy 2+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2007
    Talk about your accomplishments while not sounding arrogant, is a hard thing to do....any advice?
  4. bcat85

    bcat85 7+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2007

    "I've had the opportunity to..., and it has impacted me by..."

    was my favorite.
    miny1229 likes this.
  5. SarahMadison

    SarahMadison 2+ Year Member

    Aug 13, 2008
    I love it! very true
  6. Florida Cracker

    Florida Cracker 7+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    Mesa, AZ
    This was great advice for any interview.

    I was once told that you can think of an interview like a first date. It's your chance to tell as much about yourself as you can, trying to show the hiring board (or admissions board) why you should be chosen. This was coming from a firefighter, talking about public safety interviews, and he was saying that in interviews you aren't really asked questions about your character directly. You have to choose answers that really speak to who you are as a person.

    I haven't even started looking into med school interviews yet, I'm still a ways out from there. But I can't imagine it will be more nerve racking than my police department hiring process. They actually had one guy dressed like an undercover cop (think Ed Norton from Pride and Glory) who was staring me down and trying to annoy me by crunching on ice from his soda.
  7. mcat prep

    mcat prep Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    May 16, 2007
    SDN Exhibitor
    We are finally releasing a video reproducing a medical school interview in front of a group of students (most of whom received invitations for interviews). Here are some clips on YouTube: Medical School Interview Tips
  8. mcat prep

    mcat prep Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    May 16, 2007
    SDN Exhibitor
    Deciding what to wear to your medical school interview can be almost as stressful as deciding what to say during your interview.

    Check out our blog article, Upcoming Med School Interview? What You Should Wear..., relieve some pressure, and focus exclusively on your upcoming interview performance. Good luck!

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