Med School Interview

I can’t believe the med school application cycle has started back up again.

This past week the first batch of interviewees arrived. It seemed just like yesterday when I was applying to med schools, interviewing, and then anxiously waiting to hear back. Going through this process last year has made me realize one thing – that none of this was really in my control. Having good GPA/MCAT scores, extracurriculars, essays and recommendation letters is important no doubt, but when there are 5000-6000 applicants each year, it becomes less about your individual amazingness (because everyone who applies is pretty amazing) but rather it’s about putting together a class that fits the school and is diverse, talented and passionate. This doesn’t mean you stop trying. It means that you should focus more on finding a school that fits you rather than worrying if you fit the school.

That being said, I want to list three things that I learned from the interview trail last year, aside from some of the more common advice like dress nicely, arrive on time, etc.

1. Tell a story: interviews can be a lot more interesting and fun for you and the interviewer if you incorporate stories into what you’re talking about. For instance instead of just saying “I learned a lot about empathy working with drug addicts,” tell a story of an interaction with a drug addict by including his/her name and some specific details about what you guys did. A story will be a lot more memorable to an interviewer than just regurgitating your resume.

2. Talk to 3rd and 4th years: most of your interactions on interview day will be with 1st and 2nd years, which is fine, but I think that getting additional insight about the school from 3rd and 4th years is important. The preclinical years at most schools will all be relatively similar because everyone is learning the same material for the Boards, but it’s really the 3rd and 4th years that will define your med school experience and decide your eventual specialty.

3. Be nice: my HMS interviewer told me that they were looking for “nice people.” During HMS orientation, Dean Jeffrey Flier said that we were a group of “nice individuals.” Get the connection? Be relaxed, have fun, and don’t be a douche.

One more thing. Don’t let interview day at HMS turn you away from the school. The interview day at HMS, to put it nicely, sucks, especially compared to a lot of the other schools. Other schools provide a full program of information sessions, hospital tours, outings and catered food, while HMS hands you a map of the campus, a granola bar, and tells you to take a self-guided tour. I was definitely turned off by the interview day at HMS and felt a sense that it was too cool for us so it didn’t need to try. Revisit weekend and the first month at HMS, however, are a different story. The sheer amount of effort, energy and care that the school has put into making us feel welcomed is incredible and for me unprecedented.

If you have any further questions or anything else to add feel free to let me know. Good luck to everyone who is applying! I’m sure you’ll all do great.

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