I received my offer to interview at U of T med on quite short notice, just over two weeks before my interview date. It was the first year that U of T had begun using the Modified Personal Interview (MPI) format for medical school admissions. As applicants, we were told to expect a series of four brief one-on-one interviews rather than one traditional interview. I used two main approaches while preparing for interview day: I practiced answering interview questions (both with a group of colleagues and in a mock interview setting), and I considered carefully how my past experiences would help me become a good doctor.
In the weeks leading up to my interview, I spent considerable time reflecting on the items in my autobiographical sketch (ABS). To prepare for my interview, I printed out my sketch and alongside each item I wrote a few lines on what I learned in the experience, what attributes/qualities I developed (such as teamwork, leadership, or compassion), and how that experience would help me on my journey towards becoming a medical professional. Going over my sketch turned out to be a valuable exercise and really helped me provide thoughtful answers to personal questions on interview day. I found that my interview answers were invariably stronger when they were supported by specific examples from my extracurricular experiences.
In addition to reviewing my autobiographical sketch, I practiced interview questions with other med hopefuls. We would take turns individually answering an interview question and then received feedback from the group. I found this to be a good way to familiarize myself with common questions and to practice thinking on my feet to formulate coherent answers on the spot.
Among the more helpful things I did to prepare was to attend two one-on-one mock interviews: one with my university’s career services office and another with Astroff. These sessions were useful because they gave me feedback from someone who had experience interviewing other applicants (and could assess my strengths/weaknesses in relation to others). Mock interviews also provided a more formal setting in which to practice, which helped to recreate some of the necessary stress of a high-stakes interview (so I could develop strategies to manage it).
While preparing for my interview, I also looked for good lists of common interview questions. Anne Berndl’s “So, You Want to Be a Doctor, Eh?” (written from a Canadian perspective) has a good appendix of common questions. In the final days leading up to my interview, I read a couple of questions each night and mulled over potential answers to each. I found this, in addition to habitual reading of the Globe and Mail’s Health section, to help me prepare to answer more challenging ethical questions.
My experience on the interview day itself mostly confirmed what I knew about U of T med: though it is a large faculty and has a large med class, it offers an unmatched range of opportunities and experiences, from basic science research to public policy work to management. Toronto is among the largest cities in the developed world to have only one medical school, which means its reach and the opportunities for students are huge.
I wish current year candidates good luck!