Congratulations! You made it through your premed courses, took the MCAT, submitted your primary medical school application, and completed the multitude of secondary essays. Time to think about one of the last and important stages of the medical school application process: medical school interviews.
With the coronavirus pandemic this year, many medical schools have decided to hold virtual medical school interviews. While it may be a nerve-racking thought to have so much riding on a short conversation over Zoom, we’ll show you how to shine through the screen in your virtual medical school interview and ace the very last step in the admissions process.
#1.Set up your virtual medical school interview
- Set up your computer somewhere quiet, comfortable, and well-lit. Most importantly, you need a place with excellent WiFi.
- Let roommates or family members know well in advance that you cannot be disturbed during your interview day, and post a sign outside the room that you currently have an interview in progress.
- Have your laptop placed on a table or desk, not your lap. The video should be zoomed out enough so the interviewers can see at least to the level of your chest.
- Make sure you have a laptop charger with you and that it is plugged in. Charge your laptop the night before.
- Close all other windows on your computer and silence all notifications on your laptop and cell phone.
- Pay attention to your background – a neutral wall or bookshelf behind you is ideal. You don’t want anything distracting or messy behind you to distract the interviewer – no chaotic kitchen or unmade bed in the background. And absolutely no Zoom backgrounds!
Test all appearance and interview logistics prior to the interview.
#2. Appearance, body language, and behavior
- Dress professionally, head to toe, as if it were an in-person interview. Dressing the part can go a long way to getting you in the right mindset to succeed. Also, in the case you have to stand up, you don’t want to show that you are wearing pajama bottoms!
- Sit up straight, and don’t hunch over your computer.
- Your camera should be at your eye-level so interviewers feels like you’re making eye contact with them. You may have to either lower your computer camera or add textbooks underneath your laptop to make sure the camera is at eye level as much as possible.
- It may be a natural temptation, but don’t look at yourself in the video chat window! Move the part showing your face off to the side of the screen if you can – it will make you less nervous.
#3. Make a small cheat sheet or post-it
- On a small sticky note, jot down a couple of things you can bring up if you’re totally stuck. For example, you can write a few questions you have for your interviewers. The sticky note is not something you should rely on.
- You can also make a stick note reminder about topics and experiences you want to talk about.
- Write inspirational quotes on your sticky notes too!
- If you find yourself looking at your post-it throughout the virtual medical school interview day, throw it away. It’s better if you look natural and your gaze is not going off screen through the virtual med school interview.
#4. Practice, practice practice!
- This is always true for all interviews, including virtual medical school interviews – practice, practice, practice.
- Practice virtual / Zoom interviewing until it is natural for you. The most common issues interviewers have is whether to look at the screen or the camera.
- Practice in the environment you’ll actually be doing your interview in – same room, same time of day, same suit.
- Get your responses to common medical school questions down cold. Read our popular blog post 4 common medical school essay questions and how to answer them
#5. Relax, smile, and be yourself
- Slow down and always take a breath before answering a question
- It may feel weird because you’re staring into a webcam, but remember to smile!
- You’ve done the work already – let your passion for medicine and the experiences you’ve had shine.
This is how the interview guide will help you:
- Common traditional medical school questions
- Practice Multiple Mini Interview Scenarios
- Tips about how to dress for your interview