Interviewing is a skill. Just like any skill, some people are lucky enough to be naturally gifted at it, and others need to put in effort to ensure success. The differentiating factor for many students is often confidence.
If you have received an interview invitation to a medical school or other professional program, I have no doubt that you possess numerous outstanding qualities. The the challenge now is how to portray yourself as suitable candidate for the school. Once the practice is behind you, and your skills are sharpened, here are 10 tips to help you shine on interview day:
1- Be comfortable with the logistics of the day.
Arrive early (the day before if possible if you are travelling from a longer distance) in order to sort out details like: parking, building entrance, room location. The interview will be a challenge on its own- ensure the lead up is not.
2- Have a plan.
It is important to go in with an idea of what skills you want to demonstrate. Rather than having rehearsed answers, consider what experiences, qualities and perspectives you want to share in order to allow the interviewer to see you as a physician. However, DO NOT provide stock/prepared answers.
3- Be yourself.
Evaluators are experts at spotting disingenuous statements. Instead focus on demonstrating your strengths.
4- Engage the interviewer.
Depending on the interview format (e.g. MMI/Traditional), try to engage the interviewer early on. This helps to transition the situation from a didactic lecture to a conversation. This can help you and the interviewer feel more comfortable. Note: be prepared for the fact that, depending on instructions the interviewer may have received, he/she may not engage with you.
5- Consider multiple perspectives.
If you are provided with the opportunity to demonstrate your decision-making abilities, to your best at integrating the views of many to come to the best decision. If you are interviewing for a healthcare program (e.g. medicine, nursing), consider how important this is in the interprofessional health care model.
6- Relate your own experience.
Adding an example takes your answer from a hypothetical situation to a tangible demonstration of the underlying skill/characteristic that you possess. This is highly recommended if you have a relatable experience.
7- Manage your time.
Answer questions completely, but do not feel the need to continue talking for the sake of talking. Often saving time at the end to summarize and ask for follow up questions, is an effective way to engage the interviewer.
8- Be adaptable.
Interviewers can often challenge your answers, which is an essential part of the scientific process. It is important to recognize new perspectives and information, and at least acknowledge how it could affect your decision-making process, regardless of whether it changes the overall outcome.
9- Impression is everything.
In a day where interviewers will be seeing numerous different candidates, the content of the interviews can blend together; the impression you leave will permeate.
10- The Interview isn’t over until you leave the room.
The final moments of the interview is your last exposure to your evaluator. Be warm, respectful and thankful or the opportunity as you leave the room.
Hopefully these tips will provide some guidance to you on how to differentiate yourself from other candidates. This will allow you to stand out and leave a lasting positive impression. Good luck!