Interviews are mandatory for the medical professions.
Interview season begins late summer or early fall for most professions, although veterinary schools generally do not begin interviewing applicants until December or January. Interviews typically take place at the school.
The structure of the interview varies from school to school. They can last from fifteen minutes to over an hour and can be conducted by one or more people. Some schools interview students in small groups of applicants. Many schools utilize student interviewers or guides and these students often have a vote in the admissions process. Even if they do not vote, they usually have input into the Admission Committee’s decision.
Interviewing styles vary from interviewer to interviewer. There is a wide variety of interviewing styles, so be prepared for anything. Some interviewers will be very familiar with a student's credentials while others prefer (or are required) to interview with no information about the applicant. Interviewers might ask standard questions about why a student wants to become a physician, or they can ask about an applicant’s personal background, activities, unusual achievements, apparent inconsistencies in the student's course records, or personal problems. They might ask about topics not directly related to your life, such as ethical issues in medicine or managed care. They might want to discuss a candidate’s research. Remember that everything in your application and essays is “fair game.” Be sure to review your application before you go to the school.
Interviews can be very relaxed and often provide you with the opportunity to give information that you feel is crucial to your application. They can also provide a chance to talk about your special interests. At interviews, don't hesitate to mention your strengths. Try to use personal experiences and examples as much as possible in your answers. Schools are trying to measure you in terms of motivation toward your chosen profession, communication skills, maturity, compassion, curiosity, integrity and judgment. Specific examples are better than broad generalizations. They also make you more memorable.
The interview is a time for you to ask questions also. If given the opportunity, ask the interviewer for details about both the curricular and non-curricular aspects of the school. Be sure you have studied everything you can about the school before you go. Prepare some questions in advance—particularly questions that show you are knowledgeable about that school. But avoid questions with answers you can easily find in the catalog or on the website.
After you have returned from an interview, write a thank-you letter to your interviewers, commenting on your continued interest in the school and any experience you found particularly interesting.
The Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI)
An increasing number of schools are using Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMI) instead of the traditional format. The applicant goes to a series of rooms or stations with each having a different question. The question is posted on the door and the applicant has approximately two minutes to think about the answer. Then for a designated amount of time, e.g., six, eight, or ten minutes, the applicant talks about the answer with the interviewer and then moves on to the next of perhaps eight or ten rooms.