Professional School Interview
The personal interview is an extremely important step in the process of being admitted to a health profession school. The granting of an interview means that you have passed through the initial screening process, and the results of your interview will play a large part in whether or not you will be accepted.
The purpose of the interview is to exchange information between the candidate and the school and it is routine for the applicant to respond to a variety of questions. The interview also provides an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions, the answers to which are not readily available on schools’ websites. It is wise to have done some research and to have formulated good questions ahead of time regarding a school’s curriculum, special programs, or particular areas of emphasis. This type of information can be obtained by visiting a school’s website and by speaking to alumni or currently enrolled students.
- Show an active interest in the school by asking pertinent questions of the interviewer. Substance as well as manner of presentation is important when speaking with the interviewer.
- Respond to questions in a sincere, articulate manner. Sincerity is a quality valued highly by admission committees.
- Be prepared to discuss why you have chosen a particular profession.
- You may be presented with questions regarding contemporary and/or controversial issues. You should be familiar with current social, legal, ethical, economic, and political aspects of your future profession and problems related to the delivery of health care. The point of view that you present, even if it differs from that of the interviewer, is generally less important than the manner in which you support your position.
- Be prepared to discuss any problems or inconsistencies in your application with your interviewer.
- Use logical thought, and if asked a question to which you do not have a good answer, stop and think a moment before answering.
- Never answer in a hostile, abrasive manner and do not hesitate to tell the interviewer that you do not have an answer to a particular question.
- Stress your positive qualities without being pretentious; discuss your achievements (for example, research, volunteer work, and leadership responsibilities) fully and accurately.
- Dress conservatively, be confident and calm, maintain poise, and answer questions to the best of your ability.
There are certain basic interviewing skills about which one should be aware before the interview.
- Be aware of speaking too rapidly or too slowly, harshly, loudly, or in a garbled, high-pitched, or very soft manner.
- Try to avoid nervous gestures and other distracting mannerisms.
- Eye contact is important – look at your interviewer.
- Above all, try to maintain a relaxed attitude. Do not attempt a slick or contrived demeanor, since it is artificial and easily discernible. It is natural to be nervous on such an occasion; interviewers are aware of this and usually try to put you at ease.
The interview should confirm the applicant’s credentials to the admissions committee and should reflect the applicant’s overall experience, maturity and motivation, interpersonal skills, communication abilities, common sense, adaptability, sincerity, and intelligence.
The Center for Career Development, at 100 Bay State Road, 6th Floor (617-353-3590), offers resources related to general interviewing skills. While the Preprofessional Advising Office does not provide mock interviews, the office sponsors a meeting entitled “The Interview” in the fall to help prepare you. It includes a panel composed of recent Boston University alumni who are enrolled in local medical/dental/veterinary schools. They discuss their experiences in interviews with time allotted for a question-and-answer period. Additionally, the AAMC has online resources pertaining to medical school interviews, and our office has books with chapters that discuss interviewing strategies.