Understanding the AAMC VITA Interview

Although everybody has been affected by COVID-19, the medical school application cycle has been particularly disrupted. As a result, students who are seeking admission to medical school for the 2021 school year are facing unexpected changes. Recently, the AAMC announced that it would be offering a video interview for medical schools, the AAMC VITA tool. Although video interviewing is great from an infection-control standpoint, it is much different from a traditional in-person interview. Your ability to understand and adapt to this new format will increase your chances of success.

What is the AAMC VITA?

The AAMC VITA is an online interview for medical school. You will complete the interview once and your responses will be transmitted to all participating schools that invite you for an interview. The interview is unidirectional, meaning you will not be speaking to another person. Instead, you will be provided with a written question to answer.

How is the Interview Structured?

You should expect to spend about 35-40 minutes on the AAMC VITA. When you first enter the program, you will be required to consent to an “interviewee agreement” and have the opportunity to view an introductory video, check your equipment, and practice using the program. The actual interview consists of six questions. You are allotted one minute to read the question, then three minutes to record your answer. You may take as much time as you would like between each question. Once you have completed all the required questions, you will have the opportunity to participate in an optional survey.

What Does the Interview Look For?

This interview is designed evaluate five specific core competencies. Although you should aim to present your skills in as many areas as possible, it is particularly important to prove your ability in these designated areas:

  • Social skills
  • Cultural competency
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Reliability and dependability

Tips For Success

Answer the question completely

You will have one minute to read the question. Take that time to understand what you are being asked and to formulate a game plan to give an effective answer. It is a good idea to keep a notepad with you and write down a quick outline of the things that you wish to discuss .

Choose the right location

You want the admissions committee to focus on you and not to be distracted by your surroundings. Therefore, choose a quiet location where you will not be disturbed. In addition, it is a good idea use a plain background. An unadorned, neutral colored wall works very well for this purpose. Lighting is also important. Your goal is for your face to be well lit. Generally, the best way to accomplish this is by positioning a light slightly  above your face and behind the camera. However, you will need to test many configurations to find the best setup for your room.

Give a professional appearance

Just because this is not an in-person interview does not mean that you do not need to look the part. Dress in professional attire, as if you were going to meet the dean of your top-choice medical school. Avoid loud patterns, bright colors, or large jewelry, which may be especially distracting on video. If you choose to record your answers over multiple sessions, wear the same outfit each time to preserve continuity in the completed video.

AAMC vita interview

How to Prepare for the AAMC VITA

Your success on your virtual interview will depend on how well you prepare beforehand. Interviewing is a skill and requires practice to perfect.

Familiarize yourself with interview questions

Although it is impossible to know exactly what you will be asked on the AAMC VITA, there are many popular medical school interview questions that you should be ready to answer. For example, these are just a few questions that medical schools love to ask.

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why do you want to be a physician?
  • Discuss a situation in which you witnessed someone behaving dishonestly. What did you do?
  • What are your plans if you do not get accepted to any schools this year?
  • What are your thoughts about universal health care?

Decide how you want to present yourself

Although unlike a traditional interview, the AAMC VITA has less leeway for an applicant to steer the conversation, there is still room to inject your ideas. Prior to beginning the interview, you should make a list of your characteristics and abilities that you would like to highlight. It is also a good idea to write down some experiences and activities that you can discuss that demonstrate your highlighted skill. Once you receive your AAMC VITA question, you will be able to mention some of your highlighted skills and experiences as they relate to the prompt.

Pre-write your answers

You will only have one chance to record your response to each question on the interview. Therefore, it is important that you are able to formulate a well-organized, complete, and logical answer to the prompt on the first try. If this sounds extremely difficult, you can make this task much easier, by writing out answers to some of the most common medical school interview questions. That way, you will only need to make minor adjustments to your response during the actual interview.

Practice!

There is no substitute for practice. You want to appear natural, relaxed, pleasant, and professional during your interview. The only way to successfully create this illusion is by practicing.  Our video interview platform is a great resource! Sign up for a free trial today!