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Preparing for College

The Interview

An interview is an absolute requirement to get into medical school or obtain a residency appointment; however, most colleges that you may apply to will not require you to have an on-campus interview. Many may not even offer one, but if they do, it will likely be optional. This indicates that an interview is of secondary importance. Moreover, only a small part of the applicant pool will be interviewed. While an interview does provide an opportunity to establish your identity as an individual, it should not be construed as a way to get the committee to overlook significant defects in your record. Nevertheless, if you (1) are very anxious to gain admission to a specific school; (2) can afford the expense; and (3) are a presentable and articulate individual, you should try to set up an appointment. You can then take this opportunity to do your very best to personally ‘sell’ yourself. Obviously, you need to have good reason to believe that you have a realistic chance of getting in to the college before asking for an interview.

Plan to set up appointments for interviews early (as in the first part of the summer). Determine the best time for you to interrupt your routine schedule to attend an interview. When scheduling, arrange that you can arrive at your interview in a good physical state and not be suffering from travel fatigue. When you arrive for your interview, be dressed in a presentable manner, so that the initial impression you give is a favorable one.

It is essential that you adequately prepare for any interview you decide to schedule. Your initial source of information should be the college's catalog. Therefore, issues that are of special interest to you but are not discussed in the catalog, such as choice of major or class size, can be raised at the interview.

You will probably be allotted only about a half-hour for the interview so it is important to prepare your personal message that presents your personality and potential, and fit it in somewhere in the course of the interview. You might use a well-placed question to move the interview in a direction that is in your favor and allows you to come across most effectively.

Remember that the basic goal of the interview is for the admissions personnel to get to know you better and exchange thoughts about getting an education at their college. Your responses should be in this context. If you can establish a favorable rapport with your interviewer right away, things will most likely move along more smoothly. Two elements to attain this goal are to be as relaxed as possible and respond to questions in a thoughtful and accurate manner — if a question is asked that you don't know the answer to, you should say so rather than try and obfuscate when responding.

To help your interview skills, you should

  • • maintain eye contact throughout the session.
  • • avoid brisk, one-word, or one-sentence, answers.
  • • get involved and demonstrate interest, thereby generating a dialogue.
  • • ask about school strengths, but don't ask for comparisons.
  • • don't try to explain deficiencies in your record (unless specifically asked).
  • • have a transcript and test score reports with you, but do not present them unless requested to do so.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesGuide to Medical & Dental SchoolsPreparing for College - High School: An Overview, Program Of High School Studies, Evaluating A College, Selecting A College