Anonymous said: Hi md-a! I've submitted my secondaries a while ago and am waiting for the possibility of getting invited for interviews, which both excites and terrifies me. I'll admit that I'm a relatively shy person and I get extremely nervous when I have to talk about myself, so I can only imagine what's going to go down during an interview. Could you please share any tips you have for preparing myself until then? And possibly what I can do to calm myself when it comes time to interview at a medical school?
Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you!!
When it comes to staying calm, remember that you have done EVERYTHING you can to present yourself in the best light possible. You have done your part. It’s time for the med schools to do theirs! So it’s time to enjoy yourself and do the things you love! :)
As for interview time, I find that preparation makes for a calm and confident interview day! SO:
- pick your outfit ahead of time. Strike a confident pose and feel like a badass once you wear it!
- Map out the route you’ll take to get to the interview place
- Give yourself EXTRA time to get to the interview. Being early is never wrong when applying for a job or med school
- Read up on the med school. Go to their website. Do your homework so you can ask great questions and satisfy your curiosty.
- Quickly look over your own resume the night before or in the morning over breakfast. The last thing you want to do is get asked about your research experience and say “uhhh what?”
- make friends with the other applicants. Yeah, some of them won’t want to even make eye contact. But who doesn’t like making new friends and feeling some solidarity? I still keep in touch with someone I met on the interview trail, and it’s been really fun comparing notes on our med school experiences!
- Keep this in mind: few get through to the interview phase. If they want to meet you, they already like you. You’re here to remind them why they should not only like you, but LOVE you.
- Have a good time. No, seriously! You’re getting free food, going to a cool new place, meeting new people. Make it fun for yourself, and everyone around you will see the best side of you. :)
Anonymous said: Hi, During medical school interviews, I wanted to know what are typical and expected questions about research (bench or clinical). I do not have a lot, but I do have some under my belt and I wanted to know how interviewers in depth would interviewers question me? Someone told me they would ask me to formulate my own null hypothesis? I am aware of the basic objectives of the research, but since I did not conduct the research for further time, and one of my PI does not disclose much information to
Don’t worry, friend. But whoever told you about the null hypothesis probably just encountered a rather capricious and cruel interviewer; I did a lot of research before med school and I was never asked to do that!
When asking about research, interviewers just want to know two things: did you know what you were doing and can you tell me what that was.
What that means is you should be able to confidently tell an interviewer, when or if asked:
- basic objectives
- what WAS it that you were researching?
- Why is this research important/meaningful to you
- What was your contribution to the project?
Yep, not too much. But brush up a little before your interview so you remember what it was you were researching to jog your memory. No one will ask super in-depth questions…unless they are doing research in that area too! But that’s pretty rare.
In such an event, if they begin asking questions that are a littttllleee too detailed for you to recall or are about things that were not disclosed to you, there are two strategies: ask the interviewer about their research (researchers love talking about their research, especially to a captive audience) and be honest with them. “You know, X escape me now! But what I do recall is Y.” or “I have to apologize because that was something my PI never discussed with me.” Courteous honesty is always the best policy.
Best of luck, thank you for the question!
Anon Question: Who deserves to be a doctor?
Of course I have met folks on the interview trail that just rubbed me the wrong way. It’s inevitable. :)
And yeah, I have definitely sat there while chatting to fellow interviewees and even classmates and wondered, “Are you for real?”
But I have never met anyone whom I think does not deserve to be here because in my mind, I’m not better than any of my classmates. I definitely rub some classmates the wrong way. I’m sure some people don’t think I deserve my place in my class. And that’s their opinion. But my opinion is that I don’t have a right to decide who does or doesn’t deserve to be in med school.
Because to me, one does not ‘deserve’ to go to med school. Your place is fought for, worked for, and earned. The true judges are time and their own decisions. If my peer makes poor decisions over time, then they will know their own worth. I don’t have to waste my time hang-wringing over their bad personalities and character development. Sooner or later, life, an attending, or their own mistakes will catch up to them. They will know their worth and what they deserve.
On a not-so-philosophical note, I would like to say that schools generally do a good job picking qualified, deserving people. And I have a theory!
Admissions offices and deans have seen thousands of students. They know when you’re lying. They know when you don’t care. They know when you’re being a pompous asshole or pretending that you’re not one. Don’t think you can trick them. They have seen every trick and they will see right through said tricks. So be yourself, be honest with yourself, and be honest with them. If you want to be there, they will know.
Hope that helps!
ryank164 said: Hey md-admissions! Love the blog! I have a question about applying. This past year I applied and got 5 interviews, but unfortunately have received 4 waitlists. My grades and MCAT are great, but I think I'm lacking in clinical experience. I have applied to tons of clinical jobs, but they are hard to come by because many have already been filled. After 5 interviews, I thought I would get into at least one school, but now I'm kinda freaking out! What do you think I should do going forward? Thanks!
Being on the waitlist is a frustrating limbo, and I empathize. You are in an especially tough spot because now it’s up to things outside of your control: time and luck. That being said, because time and luck are outside of your control, don’t worry. Let destiny take its course…under your watchful eye!
As it is May and most schools start in the beginning of August, you still have about 3 months within which med schools can contact you and change your waitlist status. One of my close family friends was taken off a waitlist on the day BEFORE the first day of medical school!
First and foremost, if things get added to your resume (paper published, won an award, etc.), you should notify those schools. It reminds them of who you are and keeps your file up-to-date. If you do this, simultaneously politely and sincerely emphasize your interest in the school. If you haven’t done so already, thank the schools who have wait-listed you with an appreciative email. Emphasize your sincere interest in not just medical school, but attending THAT medical school. Because you are interested!
There are many factors that will determine what you should do going forward, and because I don’t know your specific case, I can’t give specific pointers. However, I would say to be patient; take a break and enjoy yourself. It’s been a long process! The chance that a school makes a definite decision on you will probably occur within a 1.5 month timespan. If nothing has changed within the 1.5 months, call or email the schools and check in with them regarding your status. Based on the reception and answers you get from the schools, gauge the level of ‘hovering’ you should do, aka keeping tabs of your status at that school. Remember, always be courteous, polite, and sincere. Awkwardly demanding to know your waitlist status is a turn-off.
If nothing happens by the last month, you definitely want to ask again. Politely and sincerely, of course! Why do I keep saying that? Because they will remember you. Even if you don’t get in to these waitlisted schools, they’ll remember you as the nice, non-neurotic pre-med who genuinely wanted to go to their school. And when you apply again…they will remember!
Where does applying for a clinical job fit in? Depends on you, but I’d advocate looking for a job once all your waitlist schools have given you a final answer. This is only fair to the med schools, who may still be considering you, and to the jobs, who won’t hire someone who might be leaving in a few months or weeks. Once you are really sure that you’re out of the medical-school running this year, you can wholeheartedly look for a good clinical job that will teach you loads and give you that boost the next time you apply.
I hope that was helpful, please let me know how it goes! Best of luck, and may you get a big ol’ ACCEPTED from one of your schools!
delleyy-deactivated20130626 said: hi! I'm a junior in college and I'm applying to med schools this summer! What's your advice on the application process (personal statement, MCAT, recommendation letters, AMCAS, secondaries, resume) and the actual interviews? I'm pretty much a nervous wreck this semester =/
Hi there, delleyy! First of all, congrats on making this big decision. :)
Being nervous this semester is healthy; that means that med school and more importantly, your future, are significant to you! That being said, don’t let it paralyze your life because my advice regarding the app process boils down to one word: be SWIFT. Like a coursing river! ;)
Disney songs aside, let’s start with the things you should have ready BEFORE filling out your primary AMCAS application. When should you start? There’s no good answer. But the goal here is to click “SUBMIT APPLICATION” on the first day AMCAS is taking applications. SO…
- sign up for AMCAS. Fill in as much ‘easy’ info as you can (name, address, etc.). Because when you hit the resume and other thorny parts, you’ll want lots of time.
- resume: always in work in progress. But because your resume is 100% under your control, YOU can always have it ready and up-to-date. This is important for filling out AMCAS (makes the process more painless), finding ideas for your secondary essays when they arrive, and handing to interviewers when you go interview. Have friends who are working or mentors/adults in the field you trust assess your resume for organization, clarity, logic, and missing awards, things you’ve done, etc.
- Personal statement: If you’re not much of an essay writer, get started on this FIRST. Even if you are one, get started on this first, because many submit late or later than they could because they want their essays to be perfect. Not good. Your essay never needs to be ‘perfect’. It just needs to be you, your honesty, your strength and your passion, shining from the pages.
- Rec letters: give those who are writing your rec letters a minimum of a month to write your letter. They’re busy like you and me. I gave my recommenders a little ‘rec package’: A folder with a cover letter, thanking them for doing this, instructions for mailing or electronic submissions, and what was enclosed in my folder, my resume, and stamps, envelopes, and pre-printed labels with their address (if I knew it) and AMCAS rec letter submission address. You don’t have to do that, obviously, but give your recommenders as much info and courtesies as possible. After all, they are writing about how fabulous you are, so be fabulous to them!
- MCAT: I hesitate to say this, because everyone’s MCAT scores come in at different times. If you have them already, bravo! Plug them into AMCAS. If you don’t (I didn’t have them the first time I applied), fill everything else out on your AMCAS and wait for those numbers. When you get them, plug them in and hit ‘submit’!
Alright, so the goal is to hit ‘submit’ on the first day AMCAS takes applications. This is so schools will see your app first and remember you! And when you’re remembered, you hit…secondaries!
Do you remember applying to undergrad? Do you remember modifying through some pre-written essays? Same drill here. Also, submit those SWIFTLY! Don’t sit on any of them. The sooner you send them, the sooner you hit my favorite part…actual interviews! No sarcasm here, I really liked interviews.
For now, don’t worry about interviews. They are a long conversation that I am more than happy to talk to you about in the future! But because this is long, and I know I’ve been writing a tad too much now, I’ll leave it for later.
Best of luck this summer!! It’s going to be tough, but I’m cheering you on! Let me know how it goes, you can do it!