As we approach AAMC interview season, things still look a little different from previous years. Due to the circumstances, medical school interviews will all be virtual again for the 2021-2022 cycle. Going into your interview prepared is always a top priority, so here are four things you should remember as you prepare to face this phase of your application process.
They Already Like You
When a medical school grants you an interview, there is a good chance – around 50%, depending on the school – that they will offer you admission. During the interview, they want to know that you like them too. To some extent, a virtual interview eliminates many obstacles to the interview process. In years past, interviewees would have to travel to the schools they were most interested in, shelling out large sums of money for plane tickets or hotel rooms. With a virtual interview, interview invitees are less likely to turn down an interview from a school they feel lukewarm about.
A higher number of willing interviewees means that interviewers especially need to know that you have the want/drive to go to their school. Do your homework – learn about their school and ask thoughtful questions! Lena Mehta, MD, Associate Dean for Admissions, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine urges, “remember, ask questions. Not only is a school interviewing you, but you are also assessing the school’s fit for you, so ask questions and soak in as much information as possible.”
They’re Looking For A Great First Impression
Medical schools are looking for a great first impression from interviewees virtually more than ever. The good news is that you can achieve that great first impression similarly to how you would have in person in the past. Proper professional dress (from the waist up, at least), punctuality, and good posture are all fixtures in the perfect first impression. Finally, smiling is still a great way to convey that you can relax under pressure and that you appreciate the opportunity to interview.
Ngozi Anachebe, MD, PharmD, Associate Dean, Medical Education, Admissions and Student Affairs, Morehouse School of Medicine advises potential interviewees to, “arrive early and turn off your cell phone. During the interview, sit up straight and smile when appropriate. Be sure to make eye contact, but don’t stare.”
They Want Your Full Attention
Dr. Ngozi continues his above advice with, “watch your language and avoid over-familiarity, addressing people you meet as Dr./Ms./Mr. unless invited to do otherwise. Avoid impolite mannerisms such as chewing gum. Don’t fidget and be careful not to repeatedly look at your watch, which can make you appear as if you are disinterested or preoccupied.”
One perk of a virtual interview is that the forum relieves any worry about awkwardly avoiding a handshake with your interviewer (COVID, after all). However, distractions abound in a remote interview! Be sure to lend your full attention to the proceedings and respond when appropriate. Your posture and eye contact show your composure and engagement level. Finally, remove anything from the room that threatens that engagement.
Poor engagement can convey disrespect and tell an interviewer that you’re not interested in their school.
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