After reviewing your primary application (such as AMCAS), test scores, secondary application and committee letter, health professions schools that are interested in you will invite you for an interview. Interviews will generally be with members of the admissions committee, which is typically composed of faculty and administrators, and sometimes students. Your interview will usually include other activities such as a tour of the facilities, meals, and a chance to talk to current students.
Admissions committees meet regularly throughout the application cycle and offer interviews to students with completed applications. Completing your applications early will certainly increase your chances of being interviewed early in the cycle. However, even if your applications are finished early, invitations to interviews can come at any point in the cycle, which runs roughly from September through early April. Early decision candidates will be among the first to receive offers for interviews from medical schools, because their admissions decisions must be made by October 1.
Some students are put on hold and not offered interviews immediately. This status can persist for a long time and, understandably, can be difficult to cope with. Schools vary considerably in their practices regarding notification of applicants on hold. It is best not to call admissions offices numerous times or on a weekly basis about your status. Although waiting is challenging, you can jeopardize your candidacy by constantly calling about your position on a list. A legitimate reason to call is if an admission committee clearly indicated that there is a missing application element that requires action on your part.
Be sure to prepare for your interviews! CareerLAB offers practice interviews, including the newly-adopted Interview Stream program, which allows you to review your recorded interview. When you receive an invitation for an interview, be sure you know when, where, and at what time it will take place. If you are unfamiliar with the area, be sure to leave enough time to find the school, find the building where your interview will take place, and then find parking and walk back to the interview site. These little details can eat up much time quickly and cause you to arrive late for your interview.
Dress formally and conservatively for your interview. CareerLAB can help you identify appropriate attire; they can even vet a particular outfit for you! If you do not own an appropriate set of clothing, this might be a good time to update your wardrobe!
Note that professional behavior is expected from all interviewees. This means that you should be courteous and respectful toward everyone you encounter on your visit regardless of their position (i.e. faculty member, administrator, receptionist, medical student, custodian, etc.) Never assume that someone you encounter during your visit for an interview is more or less important than anyone else. Negative attitudes or interactions with anyone during your interview visit can hurt your chances of admission
Before going for an interview you should:
- Research the school you will be visiting for an interview. What special programs do they have? What is that school’s specific mission? Are there members of the faculty conducting research that is interesting to you?
- Be prepared to answer the question, “Why do you want to come to this medical school?”
- Don’t forget that you are aspiring to a career of service to patients. Whenever possible, keep your answers or the discussion focused on patient care.
- Have a good grasp of current issues in health and medicine. You may be asked what you consider to be some of the serious problems facing health care professionals today, and in the future, and why. You are not expected to be an expert on these issues. If you begin to discuss a topic, be careful not to overstate your knowledge of the area.
- Any information you have given to the schools in your application is fair game for an interview. The day before the interview, review your personal statement, activities list, and other application materials. Be prepared to talk about your reasons and motivations for aspiring to your chosen health profession as well as any special circumstances you might have discussed in your application materials.
- Prepare a list of your own questions. The interview provides you with an important opportunity to gather information that will assist you in choosing which medical school to attend. Asking questions specific to the institution also demonstrates that you do your homework and that you are in fact interested in matriculating to that school. Questions about residency, affiliated hospitals, financial aid, etc. are always appropriate and may be particularly important to you.
To research the schools at which you are interviewing, look at school websites and materials in the Health Careers Office (for those schools that still have paper versions of their information). Another great source of information is Brown alumni currently in medical school. The Health Careers Office is developing such a list and may have contacts at some of the schools you are interested in.
Remember that interviewers are trying to learn more about you. They are interested in why you aspire to a career in health care and the depth of your commitment to the profession. They also want to know about your interests beyond academics and the medical profession, how you communicate your enthusiasm, and how you express your ideas. Answer questions concisely, honestly and briefly. Be sure you are answering the question that is being asked, not what you expected was going to be asked. If you don't know an answer, say so, and then be inquisitive.
After Your Interviews
Following your interview(s), you should send your interviewer(s) a thank-you note. If you must miss or wish to cancel your interview, be sure to notify the Admissions Office early. If you plan to withdraw your application, please also cancel your interview as early as you can (not the day before!!). It will allow the school to offer your slot to another student (perhaps a classmate) who is waiting for an interview. No news from you means a delay in the application process and more anxious waiting for deserving applicants.
Note that traveling to multiple interviews is time-consuming and can affect your course work (if you are still at Brown) or job (if you are a graduate). For this reason, competitive candidates who have received multiple offers for interviews may want to begin making decisions about withdrawing their applications from less attractive schools. Once you have had a few interviews and received positive feedback from schools that are high on your list, you may want to consider limiting future interviews.