In an earlier article, about applying to the best medical schools, I covered the application process. I went over some key points about writing your letter of intent, which should serve as a basis for constructing your interview. This article will cover key points in preparing you to be accepted into the best med schools and is a critical step in the application process. Hopefully, an interview will be scheduled after your paperwork has cleared muster and the school is interested in getting to know you on a personal, yet professional level. Key point: never get the two confused! The number one question in an interview, whether it is for med school or a job, is the interviewing asking you to tell them about yourself. How you conduct yourself is critical. Most applicants dread that question, but it can work for you instead of against you. The suggestion is that you smile and speak confidently, while maintaining a certain amount of humility. After all, who wants to deal with an arrogant doctor. In the medical school situation, professors are likely not to enjoy dealing with an arrogant student. Some people might like the idea of talking about themselves, but if you come off with a big ego, it will be a big turn-off. Therefore, you must learn to temper this inclination.
An arrogant applicant or someone with an inflated ego will have a lot of difficulty answering the next most asked question, which is, what is your biggest weakness. Expressing that you do not have any weaknesses or being dishonest can disqualify you from being admitted to the best medical schools. Therefore, before you interview, be sure to take a personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. After listing your strengths and weakness, try constructing a script of how you would answer these questions. For instance, your greatest asset might be an experience that you had while doing volunteer work. You might want to outline the situation; first the problem and how you found a solution. You may have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a grandparent in a nursing home. Review the situation and how you addressed the difficulties and the pain. What did you like or didn’t like about how your grandparent or elderly patient was being treated in the nursing home. Perhaps come up with a practical way of how you would have handled it. However, be sure to be realistic and not too idealistic. Idealism is a wonderful trait, but it is not always helpful or practical when dealing in an institution such as a nursing home or hospital.
You may want to invent some practical, real life scenarios that you might have to face as a physician, such as how to tell a patient that you have just diagnosed them with cancer. You might want to consider several variations of this, such as a younger person, a middle age person, and an elderly patient. Additionally, throw into the mix possibilities of inoperable cancer, terminal cancer, or treatable cancer. If you patient is a young woman, telling her that she needs to have her breast or uterus removed can be more traumatizing to her than an older woman who has already had children. Further, you also have to be sensitive to your patient’s religious beliefs in your consultation. Some people may resign themselves not to fight for their lives through therapy or surgery, while others will be completely open. Answers to these questions are critical to your interview and ultimate success as a doctor and your acceptance into the best med schools.
Acceptance into the best medical schools will depend upon several factors in addition to grades and recommendations.
You want to come across as friendly and confident, but not arrogant or too informal. You will want to practice a firm handshake and looking your interviewer in the eyes. This is a good suggestion whether you feel you have mastered these skills or not. Practicing with a friend or family member may be good, just to get feedback on how you come across. Most of us are unable to judge ourselves fairly in interpersonal situations.