First off, a huge congrats if you have received an interview invite! This post is all about the tips and resources I used so other premed students can rock their virtual interview!
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What to Expect During your Virtual Interview
So far I have 7 medical school interviews and it is about a 50/50 mix between a full day of interviewing/listening to talks/learning more about the school and only a few hours of mainly interviews.
For the interview days that take up the whole day, you do things like listen to the dean, talk to current students, do your interviews, then listen to more faculty talk about the school and curriculum.
For the interviews I have that are much shorter (like 2 1/2 hours) there is a list of videos we are supposed to watch prior to our interview date which once again are just to learn more about the school, it’s mission, and unique aspects about the curriculum.
Go ahead and relieve yourself of the expectation that your virtual interview day for medical school will go smoothly. I don’t care how much time you have spent checking your Zoom settings and making sure your video and sound works perfectly. There are a lot of factors outside your control once you actually have your virtual interview.
For example, even if there are no issues on your end your interviewer may be having technological difficulties. My first interview had a handful of MMI sessions in addition to a traditional interview. One of my MMI stations I had an interviewer who didn’t have video until half way through and his audio was very glitchy. Just roll with it!
If they are having issues on your end, it is not a knock on you. Make the most of it and don’t let it trip you up. As long as you can hear each other that is all that really matters.
On the other hand, you can definitely still have issues on your end even if you thought you had it all set up perfectly. During my virtual interview we used Zoom through another platform and for each interview it automatically started with the default settings, no audio, and no video. I spent the first minute (of only seven) of each of my interviews turning on the camera, selecting the correct microphone, and then starting my interview.
*Have Your Phone Handy*
Handy like right next to you and not turned on silent? No. But keep it in arms reach because if Zoom fails, the interviewer may just call you and talk to you over the phone.
I considered putting my phone in the other room, but I’m glad I didn’t because I couldn’t get my sound to work for my first MMI station and they ended up calling me.
Taking Notes Throughout the Day
I’m actually not usually much of a note taker. I put some paper and a pen on my desk not expecting to use it, then ended up having a ton of stuff I wanted to write down.
Considering I have 6 more interviews to go, I realized I wanted to write down school specific details for the future when/if I have to decide between multiple schools.
I also wrote down the names and emails of those who I planned to send a thank you and/or ask questions afterwards.
How to Prepare for Your Virtual Interview
Buy Dr. Gray’s Interview Book
I will forever preach Dr. Gray’s amazing resources because he is basically my premed advisor. I am a non-traditional premed student and the advisor I had in undergrad is wonderful but not super informed about things related to applying to medical school. I read his book the weekend before my first interview and I am quite happy I did.
These are so helpful and a must! Paying for them is expensive, but you can still find various ways to do this for free.
The first thing I would suggest is to reach out to the Career Services office of the school you attend/attended for undergrad. This still applies even if you have been out of school for multiple years! I graduated over three years ago and contacted my school and they were happy to do a mock interview with me.
Second, I would ask friends and family. Send them a site that has a long list of common questions (Link HERE) and schedule a Zoom interview with them. Dress professionally even if your best friend is doing it. This isn’t the best option for great feedback related to what med schools are looking for and advice on how to answer questions, but you can at least get good practice saying your responses out loud. Additionally, maybe the feedback won’t be med school related but it would still be helpful to know if they noticed you used too many filler words or lacked professionalism in your answers.
Lastly, if you have the resources to pay for professional help that is obviously a great option. I did both options above in addition to paying for three 1 hour mock interviews and I am happy I did. Ask family if they could help you pay. My mom graciously agreed to pay half to make it more doable. Even if she didn’t though, getting an interview is the last step to getting an acceptance and I wanted to do everything in my power to increase my chances of getting in!
Dr. Gray offers mock interviews as well as many other companies. I personally used Passport Admissions and I am pretty happy with it (although paying that much $$ for three hours of time will always be hard to swallow regardless).
Questions I Spent the Most Time On
Regardless of whether it is a virtual interview or not, there are a handful of questions I spent a good amount of time practicing (but making sure it didn’t sound scripted) Why do you want to be a doctor?
Why do you want to go to this specific school?
– Talking about curriculum is good, but make sure you also mention something about their mission and something very unique to their school (not just something generic that would apply to multiple schools)
Tell me about yourself
Why should we accept you?
– Talk about what you can bring to your fellow classmates/unique experiences that give you a different perspective than most
What else do you want me to tell the admissions committee?
All of these questions with examples and advice on how to answer them are covered in Dr. Gray’s book. I highly highly suggest getting it!
Setting Up for Your Virtual Interview
Choosing a Camera
Below is the camera I got for my laptop and I am quite happy with it. I learned though that the key is to have good lighting otherwise your video will look like poo regardless of the quality. I positioned my desk right in front of a window and that made it look amazing! I got the lighting tip from (once again) Dr. Gray, you can listen to the podcast HERE.
Camera Positioning for your Virtual Interview
Make sure your camera is at a good height! Too low means the interviewer is getting a nice view up your nose and that’s definitely not what you want for your medical school interview.
I ended up using a box plus my thick planner under my laptop to get the perfect height. That made my external camera about eye level or slightly above and it looked great.
Pay Attention to Your Background
In the podcast I mentioned above, Dr. Gray comments on how he did a mock interview and the girl had a bra hanging in the background. LOL. Make sure there are no bras, it’s not messy, your dog can’t bust in at any moment, etc.
I hung a picture on the wall and propped some books on the dresser that showed in my background. I didn’t want it to be just a blank white wall so I made those minor additions and other than that kept it simple.
What to Wear During Your Virtual Interview
The short answer: the same thing you would wear for an in person medical school interview!
Women: Suit, plain color shirt, no flashy jewelry or wild makeup colors, etc.
Men: Suit, tie/bow tie, etc.
Basically, keep it formal and conservative! Sorry guys, I don’t have specific suggestions for you but for all the premed ladies reading this I included what I wear below! I found a super affordable suit (relatively speaking compared to how much suits can be) for my first medical school interview a few years ago that is Calvin Klein brand and I love it. It’s a somewhat stretchy material that makes it comfortable and fits me really well.
And for the record, for the premed students reading this that might get to do in person medical school interviews next cycle… get comfortable shoes! I was told this for my first interview and didn’t listen. I had a SMALL heel and my feet felt like death after two hours. All day when people were like “Wow, don’t those hurt your feet?”, I slapped on a fake smile and acted as if they were the comfiest shoes on the planet. LOL. Don’t make my mistake!
Best of Luck With Your Virtual Interview for Medical School!
I am sending you all the positive vibes that you crush your interview and get accepted! I would love to hear how they go in the comments or whether there is any other tips you would like in this post!
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