How to Conquer Your Medical School Interviews

Hello, Premeds!

I remember what it was like when I opened up my first medical school interview email. I was overcome with emotions of joy and excitement, and I knew that, in that very moment, I needed to begin preparing. Most medical schools have similar interview formats. Whether it be panel style, MMI, or a combination of both, you can conquer your interview no matter what the format is.

Interview Styles

Panel Style

The panel style interview mirrors that of a typical job interview. This style is comprised of many questions that are used to get to know the candidate and see if they are a suitable match for a career in medicine.

Normally, the interviewee will be brought into a private room and seated with a panel of three to four interviewers. Most of the time the interviewers are either doctors, other healthcare professionals, community members, or members of the admission committee. Each member will ask the candidate questions and the candidate will then be given a chance to think and then answer the question. The interview is usually anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.

Throughout the interview, the interviewers will take notes about the candidate’s answers and, at the end of the process, the interviewers will discuss the candidate’s performance among themselves.

A lot of the time the panel style interview questions will focus on the following areas:

  • Getting to Know the Interviewee
  • Decision Making
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • How to Deal with Conflict
  • Ethical Scenarios

MMI

The MMI interview style stands for “Multiple Mini Interview.” This style is comprised of many stations that are used to test non-cognitive characteristics including cultural sensitivity, maturity, teamwork, empathy, reliability and communication skills.

At the beginning of each rotation, interviewees will be given a scenario or question that they will have to explain or answer. The interviewee will also have a brief period of time to think and prepare an answer.

The candidate will enter the room and have a short interaction with the interviewer. The candidate may discuss the scenario presented to them, answer the question addressed to them, or even interact with an actor in the interview room. In some cases, the interviewer may even observe a team building activity taking place between two candidates.

At the end of each rotation, the interviewer will score the candidate based on their performance.

A lot of the time the MMI scenarios will focus on the following areas:

  • Ethics and Issues in Society
  • Decision Making
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • Hot Topic in Healthcare

Other

Another interview style is the Modified Personal Interview (MPI). This is a format that was first used by the University of Toronto for medical school admissions. The goal of this interview style is to allow the individual interviewers to connect with the applicant and learn more about their character, personal background, and assess the skills necessary for admission into medical school.

The MPI style consists of a four interview stations that are followed by short three minute breaks. Each of the station is comprised of a 12-minute interview, with a single interviewer, and focuses on assessing specific traits of the applicant. The interviewer can be a physician, medical student, nurse, community member, or member of the admissions team.

Throughout the interview, the interviewer will take notes about the candidate’s answers and, at the end of the 12 minutes, the interviewer will note down any last-minute thoughts about the interviewee.

Most of the time, the MPI stations will focus on one of the following areas:

  • Ethics and Issues in Society
  • Getting to Know the Applicant
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication Skills
  • The Candidate’s Application

Interview Preparation

After learning about the styles of typical medical school interviews and what topics are focused on, it makes preparing a lot easier.

 Books to Read

One of the easiest ways to prepare for medical school interviews is to read many of books aimed to help premedical students with handling ethical scenarios and critical thinking.

Reading these books is great if you have a lot of time before your interview or if you are a speed reader. I was someone who really wanted to have the chance to see what help the books offered me, so I read them the summer before I wrote the MCAT. What does that mean? It means that it is never too early to begin learning about issues in healthcare and medical ethics in order to prepare for medical school interviews.

I have already listed some of my favourite reads in order to prepare for a medical school interview, and you can read that post here.

Learning About Current Healthcare Issues

Another simple way to prepare for medical school interviews is by learning about the current issues in healthcare. Obviously, you can simply use Google to find out about these issues, but there are also some helpful podcasts that you can listen to. Some of the podcasts I listened to were: White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio, TEDTalks Health, TEDTalks Science and Medicine, etc.

CanMEDS Framework

If you are a Canadian premedical student and are hoping to attend a Canadian medical school, the CanMEDS Framework is very important for you to read and memorize. These are the characteristics that Canadian medical schools look for in their candidates. You may find similarities between yourself and these roles, and that is when you take a mental note. All these moments will be great for you to bring up during the medical school interview in order to show the interviews that you meet the CanMEDS roles.

These roles include:

  • Medical Expert
  • Communicator
  • Collaborator
  • Leader
  • Health Advocate
  • Scholar
  • Professional

Mock Interviews

After you have learned about the issues in healthcare, read about the different ways to deal with ethical scenarios, and self-reflected in order to answer personal and experience-based questions, you are ready for the real deal – the interview.

However before going to your actual medical interview, it can be reassuring to practice your newly minted skills at a mock interview. Most of the time, your university will have a career center or student center where premedical students can access these services. Mock interviews are conducted by a career adviser who is well versed in the types of questions medical schools like to ask their interview candidates. At the end of the mock interview, your career adviser will go over your strengths and weaknesses in order to help improve your interview skills.

Sometimes, the medical schools that you have applied to also house mock interviews for their candidates to attend before their actual interview. There will be a seminar about what the interview consists of, the mock interview, and a debrief session in order to discuss how the mock interview went. This is a great service to take advantage of in order to improve your interview skills and also get feedback from medical students and the medical admissions team.

The Interview Day

There are also some tips that can help you on the day of the interview as well. One of the most important thing is to be yourself and to be genuine. Don’t try and be someone who you think the interviewers want you to be. There is no perfect candidate, and showing the interviewers who you are will allow them to set you apart from the other candidates. If there are interesting hobbies that you like to do or if you have a unique experience, share them with your interviewers. The medical school knows that you are smart and qualified, so the interview is the time to show the interviewers who you are as a person.

Here are some more quick tips for your interview day:

  • Arrive early – Get to know the building where you will be getting interviewed, as this will help you feel comfortable and calm your nerves.
  • Skip the coffee – You will probably already be nervous on interview day and you will not need caffeine to add to you jitters.
  • Talk with the other candidates – Don’t be overly competitive and ignore the others who are interviewing with you, that doesn’t help anyone! Chat with the others are get to know each other, it will help you all calm down before the interview.
  • Be yourself – This is so important. Don’t be something you’re not. Showcase who you are as a person, so that the interviewers fall in love with you.

So, there you have it – those are my tips for you to conquer your medical school interviews. It takes a lot of preparation, but with dedication and passion you can do it! If you have any questions connect with me via social media or email!

Also – check out the “Services” tab for one on one mentoring online. This is a great way to get personalized advice throughout your premedical journey!

XOXO,

The Girly MD (to be)

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2 Comments

  1. Alex
    July 10, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    I noticed the link to the podcasts blog post is broken! Have you taken this down?

    • thegirlymd
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 12:25 am

      Hi there, I have added the podcasts to the blog post now. I deleted that post when I revamped my site, but forgot to remove the link! Thanks for pointing it out! 🙂

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