Preparing for Interviews with Different Formats

Preparing for a single interview is a considerable amount of work. Preparing for multiple interviews or multiple formats can seem overwhelming. However, with effective time management and strategic preparation, you can take advantage of the core elements of interviewing and save time to tailor your preparations for each school. So, if you have more than one interview, or if you are invited to interview where a hybrid format (MMI and Panel) has been adopted, here are some tips on how to maximize your time and effort.

1. Familiarize yourself with the different interview formats.

Speaking broadly, the two categories of interview styles are MMI and Traditional Panel interview. However, each school has its own spin (e.g., length of each MMI station, number of questions, open vs. closed file). Do as much research as you can to determine the finer details.

Example of interview Formats for 2017/2018:
University of Ottawa: Traditional Panel interview
University of Toronto: Modified Personal Interview
McMaster University: Multiple Mini Interview
Queen's University: Part 1: Multiple Mini Interview, and Part 2: Traditional Panel interview

2. Start with the content that the formats share in common.

There are some things that will be addressed, no matter the interview format or school. It’s just like studying for a test - you want to make sure that you start with the high yield topics.
1. Self-reflection: Why you are choosing medicine and why medicine should choose you?
2. CanMEDS: What does a physician do? What skills and qualities should they have?
3. Medical ethics: What are the challenges physicians face and how do we work around them?
4. Behavioral examples: Tell me about a time when you demonstrated…. (leadership, advocacy etc)?
Although the medical schools may ask these questions in different formats, it is highly likely that they will probe at these core ideas.

3. Individualize your approach to each interview.

Here’s the hard part. After doing your research into what makes each school’s interview format, you need to practice in a situation that is as close to the format of the interview. This is beneficial in a number of ways, including preventing any panic due to surprises on the interview day, and helping you build your mental endurance. You will likely need to practice both interview formats in the same time period, and this type of cross-training is usually very beneficial. Be intentional about scheduling your practice such that you make sure you balance your training to cover both well.

4. Capitalize on your interview experience.

When attending multiple interviews, don’t let yourself make the same mistake twice. Make the most out of each interview by learning from it after - and try to do this debrief within 24-48 hours following the interview. While it’s tempting to move onto the next interview and forget any problematic moments, reflect on what was unsuccessful and successful at each interview. Find someone you trust like Astroff to debrief and analyze the interview. Exercises like brainstorming on how you could have improved on your answers and/or grading yourself will help you extract insight from your experience.

Be excited about your upcoming interview! It is a promising sign that you possess the traits that medical schools are looking for. Interview preparation is hard work, but you can do it!

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