Today's episode is dedicated to the topic of the medical school interview for two reasons. First, as of recording, we're in the middle of application season where students are starting to get interview invites to medical schools.
Second, Ryan’s new book is coming out very soon. It's called The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. The Premed Playbook is a series of books and the first one of them is the Medical School Interview Book. The second one will probably be on writing your personal statement and there will be more plans moving forward. The Premed Playbook is coming out on Kindle. Just go to www.medschoolinterviewbook.com to know more about it.
In this episode, Ryan answers some of the questions pulled out over at the Medical School HQ Facebook hangout group.
Q: How do you bring up the need for disability accommodations?
A: The ADA says that you can't be discriminated against any disability. However, Ryan thinks that in cases wherein you have dyslexia for example or some learning disabilities where you need extra time on tests, don't bring those up before you get your acceptance. Let them accept you for your prior records, your GPA, MCAT score, extracurriculars, and the rest of your application go in and shine on your interview. Let them offer you an acceptance and then talk about disability accommodations. Once you're accepted, they have to meet those accommodations whenever reasonable.
Obviously, you can't hide your physical disability so that's going to show up when you go for an interview and that might make for interesting discussion.
Q: How do you make sure in MMI that everything you need to say is in the time limit?
A: Practice. Practice through some MMI scenarios and see what 5 or 6 minutes feels like as you're sitting there talking. Have a timer and time yourself.
Q: How does one approach the interview if you have trouble with strong eye contact, issues with stuttering, energy in your voice when delivering answers, etc.?
A: Practice. All of those things mentioned are key things that an interviewer would look for. Do some mock interviews. Record yourself with video using your phone and see what your verbal ticks and nuances are and how you answer questions. Know what your key points are and then fill in the rest of it as you go.
Q: How does one avoid sounding too rehearsed?
A: Practice. Know those key points so you know you're hitting all the highlights you wan to hit on. But don't memorize every single word. Let your brain fill in the rest of those words as you go.
Q: What are some thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer that cannot be answered by doing research on your own?
A: Ask opinion-based questions that open some dialogue between you and the interviewer. Avoid program-specific or curriculum-specific questions. Understand that many medical schools use volunteer interviewers from the community so they may not have in-depth information about the program that you're asking about.
Here's a sample question:
What do you think this school should be known for that doesn't get a lot of attention for?
Q: How do I approach my desire to help the LGBT community through medicine without causing biases with the interviewer?
A: Leave the checkbox asking if you're a part of the LGBT community because it doesn't do anybody the proper justice. But for questions about diversity and how it can add to the diversity to the medical school class, talk about in your secondary essays since you can expand on it and not just label yourself from a checkbox. Play it very safe on your interview day as far as how you dress.
Q: What is the best way to follow up after interview? Is it appropriate to ask a review or evaluation in addition to a personal thank you?
A: If you've been rejected, you can ask for an evaluation. Do not ask for it before the rejection. The best way to follow up is through an email or regular letter. Ask the school if they accept regular letters. Add key information in your email to spark the memory of the interviewers about who you are to help them remember you.
Q: If you took a leave of absence due to health issues or family crisis, how do you address this in your interview without making yourself weak?
A: Own up to it. Talk about course correcting and that you're in a path for not doing well because your mind was distracted for particular reasons and so you need to take the time off to put you back on track.
Q: What is the best way to discuss being a single parent?
A: Do not discuss this unless they specifically bring it up. Talk about your successes and how you were able to navigate the premed world and the application process being a single parent. Don't talk about the challenges but talk about your successes of doing that.
Q: How far in-depth do you have to talk about your mental illness?
A: Do not allow mental illness to be a factor in the admissions process. Avoid bringing it up during the discussion. There is no reason that the medical school needs to know about your mental illness. Inquire all you want about resources and support they have for students and leave it at that.
Q: What is the best way to approach a weaker transcript during the interview when brought up?
A: Since you already have the interview, understand that they've already looked at your transcript and are okay with it. They accept your transcript and feel you're strong a student even when you think it's weak. You can talk about poor grades, why it happened, what you learned, and how you moved forward. But don't go into the interview thinking that your transcript is weaker.
Q: Closed file vs. open file: How do you know?
A: Typically, schools will tell you what kind of interview it is. If not, ask them.
Q: What is the best way to answer regarding your top school choice?
A: Don't lie telling them they're your top school choice even when not. Instead, try to deflect and talk about all the great things about the school and how you love to be a student at that school. Talk about how ready and excited you are to be a student at that school without using the words “top choice” or “number one” school.
Q: What are cliche things to say and do they impact what interviewers think of you?
A: Examples of cliche answers are being a perfectionist, weaknesses, or challenges. Dig deeper into those answers to figure out exactly. Give concrete examples to come up with better answers. Think thought the answer and really come up with something original to you.
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