Interviews at medical and other health profession schools are granted very selectively and their numbers and formats vary greatly: single or multiple one-on-ones, group interviews, panels, and Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs).
In many cases, interviews are concentrated in the period between September and March and are usually conducted by clinical and basic science faculty, professional students, administrators, practitioners and more rarely by other members of the community, alumni/ae, liberal arts faculty, standardized patients, etc. Some interviewers will have access to your entire application file, some only to your personal statement and essays, others to everything but your academic credentials.
The main goal of health profession school interviews is to help assess candidates’ personal traits and characteristics beyond academic abilities. These traits include:
- Motivation for their chosen career
- Compassion and empathy
- Personal maturity
- Oral communication
- Service orientation
- Intellectual curiosity
- Cultural competence
- Reliability and dependability
- Critical thinking
- Verbal reasoning
- Work habits
- Logical reasoning
It is very important to prepare for your interviews. Minimally:
- Re-read everything you have submitted to the school/s already—most likely questions will stem from things you wrote about in your applications.
- Thoroughly research the school(s) online and develop a list of specific questions to ask.
- Take time to reflect on your experiences, accomplishments, interests, personal traits and characteristics and practice relating these stories and examples.
- Keep up with major issues affecting medical/dental/nursing/etc. education and practice and obtain at least a basic understanding of bioethics.
- Practice answering interview questions. Most likely at least some of the questions will revolve around:
- You and your family
- Your educational experience
- Your career choice and professional plans
- Your exposure to the health care environment (mostly clinical, but when applicable, also research)
- Your familiarity with and understanding of current issues in health profession education and practice
- Although questions asked in MMIs settings tend to be less predictable, in general you may expect a combination of role plays, ethical dilemmas, encounters with standardized patients, team projects, manual dexterity games, logic quizzes, and other practical tasks. For a short introduction on how one school (Virginia Tech Carilion) conducts MMIs, watch this video. Check also this video for a demo of a couple of MMI scenarios.
- Decide what you are going to wear (err on the conservative side).
Below are some resources to assist you with your interview preparation:
Take advantage of Big Interview, a tool brought to you by the UM University Career Center, for efficient, self-directed practice. Here is how: Go to Big Interview --> Log in with your umich credentials and create a basic profile as a "Student" --> Click on Practice --> Practice Interviews --> Admissions --> XXXXX School (Medical, Dental, Optometry, Veternary, etc.). For specific practice with behavioral type questions, see also the modules for Organizational Skills, Prioritization Skills, and Time Management.
- For detailed information on medical school interviews, their structure and format, typical questions asked, recommended reading list, etc., check the more extensive resources in the current Med App site.
- Look up the interview feedback on the studentdoctor.net website. As you peruse these reports, keep in mind that while helpful, these are still individual, somewhat anecdotal experiences and should be evaluated within the context of all the other information that you will gather about a given school.
Discuss your interview preparation with a University Career Center staff member and, if you wish, arrange for a behavioral practice interview as the final dress rehearsal in your preparation process. Schedule your appointment online or call 734/764-7460.
Finally, be prepared for the possibility that one or more of your interviews will be conducted virtually, through a variety of platforms. Many medical schools are turning to virtual interviews this year in response to the COVID pandemic. Many are doing live virtual interviews and some are incorporating an asynchronous/on-demand virtual interview into their process. Here are some resources for you:
- Access this AAMC video and the PowerPoint slides (PDF)
- See this AAMC Handout with more tips on how to best prepare.