For a lot of people, preparing for the interview is one of the most stressful parts of the application process. There are concerns about what to wear, what questions will be asked, suitable hotels, whether or not to fly or drive, how early to arrive and the list goes on. Below I will detail my interview experience, and try to give a little advice along the way.
Receiving an interview invite
I was so excited when I received my first interview invitation. I had just made it to work one morning and was getting out of my car when I heard the e-mail notification go off on my phone. I had a separate e-mail address and sound for med schools, so I figured it was another rejection e-mail and braced myself for the worse. I could have screamed when I saw that it was the exact opposite! This was in early October, but the invitation was for December. I wasn’t too concerned at first though because I figured it would give me enough time to prepare.
I logged onto the SDN forum to share the news with others in the school-specific section, and I noticed that many people were getting invites at the same school with much earlier dates. As the weeks went on this started to somewhat worry me, plus I had a final exam in my on-campus class the day after my original interview date, so I decided to call the school. I figured they had given me a late invitation since I was out of state, so when I called I told them that I had no problem making it to the school from out of state, and if an earlier interview slot opened I would be happy to take it. This was on a Friday afternoon, and to my surprise the person in admissions replied with “Can you be here Monday?” I was ecstatic and immediately said yes! And so my interview preparation began….
The first thing I needed to decide was what I would wear to the interview. Fortunately, I have attended quite a few conferences and have a closet full of professional attire. Many people said that a dress suit is best for females, but I just couldn’t bring myself to go out and buy one. I feel confident in a pant suit and I am always cold, so the more covered the better. I did go out and buy a blouse that completely covered my chest, and I wore this underneath my suit jacket. I also went and bought lower heels. I love my 4, 5, and 6 inch heels, but sadly they are not appropriate for interviews. Overall, I was very happy with my choice. The heels were very comfortable for walking during the tour, and I did not have to worry about being self-conscious over skirt length. It also seemed that everyone in the interview group wore dark colors, so it was a good way to fit in.
The school where I interviewed and will be attending is 8 hours away from where I currently live. I thought about flying, but I still would have had to get a rental car once in the area. Also, with the new interview date only two days away, plane prices were ridiculous. Driving is cheaper and it would give me some much needed time to myself, so this was a no-brainer for me.
The school’s website had mentioned that hotels in the area gave discounts to visiting people, so I called up one and was able to get a rate of $75/night. I was only staying one night, and they offered late check-out for free. Plus, it was only 1 mile away from the school which meant less stress for me in the morning.
The Day Before / Preparation
Most of the Sunday before my interview was spent driving. Once I made it to the hotel, I checked in and then decided to go find the school. I’m glad I did this. The GPS I was using had not been updated so it got me a little bit lost. I’m so thankful that my phone has navigation, and it literally only took 2 minutes to make it to the school and back. There was an Outback restaurant directly across the street from the hotel, so I took the time to order some take-out, and went back to my room to go over stuff for my interview.
For my interview, I utilized a ton of resources. I think the best one is the interview section on the SDN forums. It has all the questions that were asked to previous interviewees, along with their thoughts on each school and what to expect. I also found a list on the internet from a pre-med committee with at least 100 questions that could be asked. I went over each and every single question, and thought about what my responses would be. I even looked into recent health issues in the news and prepared myself with questions that could be asked from that. I even made out a list of about 20 questions to ask during my interview just in case I forgot later on. I did all this for about 2 hours while eating my take-out and watching the Black Girls Rock award show that night. I also made sure I went to sleep by midnight so that I could be well-rested.
The Big Day
The day of my interview I woke up around 6:45 for an 8am interview. I was showered, dressed, and out the door by 7:40. I made it to the school around 7:45, and we all signed in, got out name tags, and waited until around 8 or 8:15 (I can’t quite remember). We were then met by a person from admissions who spoke to us and gave us folders with financial aid and other school information. After this was done, we were taken into a computer room where we had 30 minutes to type out our responses to a few pre-interview questions. I really liked this because it gave me time to really think about what I wanted to say, and it further prepared me for my interview. From there, our group was given a complete tour of the school by one of the student ambassadors. Afterwards, we were taken into a room where there were current students and other people from admissions. This is where we found out who our interviewers were, and we waited while each student took their turn. There was food, and everyone in the room was more than happy to answer any and all of our questions about the school. The admissions team really did an excellent job making us feel more comfortable and easing our nerves that morning.
When it came my turn to interview, I was taken into a room and my interviewers were a faculty member and medical student. My interview was extremely laid-back and the questions were mostly designed to get to know me as a person. I was prepared to answer any questions about my shortcomings, but I was asked nothing about my grades or scores. Most of the questions were geared towards my study habits, why I chose that particular school, and what I liked to do in my spare time. This made me really happy. They also didn’t mind the million questions I had, and I appreciated that there was a student interviewing me as well because some of my questions were centered on student life.
After the interview, I was done for the day. I made it back to my hotel around 11:30 and I was back on the road to come home by 12. I had promised my daughter I would be home to tuck her in that night and I made it back with five minutes to spare.
The best thing I could say about the interview is to be yourself. I asked a lot of questions and even made sure that I spoke with current students. This is a place where you will be spending the majority of your time for the next four years, so make sure that you absolutely love it. I made note of how helpful the admissions team was, how happy the students were, and I asked the important questions about attendance, tests, and all that other good stuff. I left feeling really good about both the school and my interview, and this feeling was magnified when I received the acceptance e-mail four days later. It was definitely a wonderful experience, and I hope everyone that is currently on the interview trail has wonderful experiences as well.
Good luck to you all!