There are many ways to prepare for the medical school interview. Unfortunately, many students don't do any of these. Take a listen and go in ahead of the game!
Full show notes coming soon!
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This is The Premed Years, session number 231.
Hello and welcome to the two-time Academy Award nominated podcast, The Premed Years, where we believe that collaboration, not competition, is key to your success. I am your host Dr. Ryan Gray, and in this podcast we share with you stories, encouragement, and information that you need to know to help guide you on your path to becoming a physician.
Welcome to The Premed Years, I am glad you are here with me today. If this is your first time here, thank you for taking some time. Today I want to cover five ways to prepare for your medical school interview. As I'm recording this, this is April 2017, the applications are opening soon which means interviews are right around the corner. And so there's no better time than right now to listen to this to help you prepare for your interview. Now if you're listening to this in the future preparing for your interview next year, or the year after, or whenever you may be listening, there's no better time than right now to start preparing for your interviewing. There's one specific point that I'll cover which will help you realize what I mean by that there's no better time than right now. No matter where you are in your premed world, there's no better time than right now. So before we get into the five ways to prepare for your medical school interview, I want to talk about some basics about the medical school interview, about just preparing for it in general.
I've done a lot of medical school interview podcast episodes. One of my favorites is an old one but a great one, episode 19, where I interviewed and talked with Dr. Wagner who is at the University of Colorado here, she's an instructor here where I'm an instructor as well at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. And she was the former Dean of Admissions at three different medical schools. And so if you go back and listen to that, you're getting a ton of knowledge from her, and so that's a great one, episode 19, I highly recommend you go listen to that one, www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/19.
But let's go ahead and dive right into this stuff today. So one of the things, some basics here about the medical school interviews, you need to start early. Now I kind of harped on it already, there's no better time than right now to start preparing for the medical school interview. But specifically here, when I say start early, I mean- let's talk about the application timeline kind of generically here, is you submit your primary applications in June, the AACOMAS one you can submit in May, the Texas one you can as well, but most of the schools are getting stuff in June so let's just say June. You fill out secondary applications for the schools that send you secondary applications which is going to be most schools, so that pushes you back out typically around the first couple weeks of July, assuming you are- which you should be trying to do, applying early. And when you look at July, you are now in a spot to start preparing your medical school interviews. When you look at it, it's still when you go on that timeline, it's still a little bit late. I would start working on your interview prep in June and early July, because once July rolls around, medical schools are going to start looking at applications, they're going to start reviewing, and start inviting people for interviews. And the last thing that you want to happen is you push off your preparing for the interview by doing mock interviews, which we'll talk about, but you push it back saying, ‘Oh I have time, I have time, I have time. I haven't received an interview yet.' The last thing you want to happen is the school invites you for an interview next week, and now all of a sudden you're scrambling at the last minute to find somebody to do a mock interview with you, and we'll talk about where you can do that, but you're also scrambling because even if you do find somebody to do a mock interview with you, how much time are you going to have to receive that feedback and then put that feedback into use, and actually use it on another practice interview. So that's when I say start early. Start doing mock interviews as soon as you can, and again we'll talk about how to do those in a little bit.
The one thing- again basics here, the one thing you have to know about interviewing is that it's a skill. Now I started interviewing people when I was a manager at a gym. I was a Fitness Program Manager, there was the General Manager who ran the gym and then I was right underneath her running everything. I was like an Assistant Manager of the gym but my specific title was around Fitness Programming. I was in charge of all the personal trainers, all of the group classes that were going on, so I was hiring people and firing them, and interviewing is a skill that can be learned. I learned how to become a better interviewer, and people were learning how to be better interviewees if that's a word. Yeah, interviewees. And so when I work with students now doing mock interviews, I've seen students start at the very beginning nervous, and frustrated, and poorly articulate, and by the time I'm done with them they're able to calm down, and relax, and discuss what they want to discuss without freezing and getting nervous. So it's a skill that you need to learn, and you can learn. So even if you are not good at it, don't tell yourself you're not good at it, you're just not good at it yet. You need to practice to get there. So it's a skill, remember that.
Know Your Application
You need to know your application. Now this is just kind of Medical School 101, Applications 101, you have to know what's in your application inside and out. Everything that you wrote about, be prepared to talk about it in an interview. If you're writing about something that's going to make you start crying in an interview, don't write about it. I don't want to see, you don't want to have your emotions explode on interview day. You need to control your emotions, and speak well, and all of these other things. Crying is not typically something that you want to do on your interview day. So think about that as you are working on your applications, don't put in specific triggers for you that are going to make you lose it.
You have to know the school. What schools you are applying to, and more specifically why you are applying to them. There are 160 plus, 170 plus, I don't know the number off the top of my head medical schools out there in the country. Why are you interviewing specifically at the school you are at today? So you need to know that, and be able to articulate that above and beyond, ‘Oh the students seem to enjoy it. Oh I have a friend here who loves it.' If I have a friend at ten different medical schools, most of the time they're going to say they love it, because you know what? They're in medical school, they finally made it. Now yes, they're probably not super happy and excited because they're studying all the time, but they're in medical school so they're going to say they like it and they don't really know anything different because they're at that one medical school. So who's to say that they wouldn't be even happier at another medical school? So going off of those subjective things is hard, so you need to really understand why you are applying to the schools you are applying to.
Use Undergrad Resources
Alright so let's get down into- so that's just some basics that I wanted to cover. Let's get down to some nuts and bolts about how to prepare. So there are many ways to prepare for your medical school interview. The first one, and I highly recommend it, is if you are at an undergraduate institution, or a graduate school institution, or you have access to your prior undergraduate institutions, if you have access to their premed advisors still, or any of the resources that they have available, then go there. So if you're at a school, or if you have access to these things, use those services.
So there are a couple issues with these services though, and just something to keep in mind. I was talking to a premed advisor recently and she mentioned that students at their school, they only get one mock interview with somebody to prepare for their medical school interview. Now one interview is better than none, but one interview is not enough to practice and prepare for your medical school interview. So you give the person interviewing you, you talk about all the reasons you want to be a doctor, and why you choose this school, and they give you feedback, and then that's it. You don't have any time to practice or implement that and try it again. It's amazing how words come out of our mouth differently than we think about them. And so when you internalize that feedback, and you're like, ‘Oh yeah I can say those things, and I can spit that back out and talk about that,' without actually doing it in a mock interview, when it comes to your real interview day, what you have been thinking in your head and what comes out of your mouth could be two completely different things. So you need to have more than one interview to practice these things. So make sure that your advisors at school can give you access to more than one. If they can't, use that but then try to find another way to practice as well. So go to your school is step number one on how to prepare for your medical school interview.
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Research on How to Prepare for Interviews
Step number two I guess could have been number one, is start to do some research on ways to prepare for your medical school interview, and the best way to do that typically free is going to be just Googling around and seeing what's available. Obviously these podcasts are a great way to prepare for your interview. The interviews that I've done with admissions committee members, former Deans of Admissions, whoever talking about the interview process, that's a great way to start. Another way to start which costs a couple dollars, but a book. Obviously I have a book, shocker, ‘The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview.' It was an Amazon bestseller when I originally launched it last year, it's being republished, it's now available everywhere again in eBook format. And paperback as I'm recording this, again late April of 2017. The paperback version isn't coming out until June of 2017, and I'll have a special promotion for you if you pre-order the paperback book, I'll give you some cool little perks, and I'll talk about that a little bit later. So a book. It's a small investment, or you can go to a library, I'm going to go to a premed advisor conference next month in Portland, Oregon which should be fun. If any of you are in Portland, Oregon, shoot me an email, I'll think about or try to put together a meet-up which would be fun.
As I mention this, I will be in southern California as well at a premed conference, the Mt. SAC Premed Conference, you should go check that out. That is May 5th on a Friday if you can make that, that would be awesome. I will do a meet-up that night, so Friday night we'll get dinner for anybody that can make it. So kind of on a tangent there, I'm sorry.
Utilizing Books & Courses as Resources
Alright so the book, small investment- oh so library I was going to mention, and your premed advisor. So the premed advisor conference that I'm going to, I'm going to bring about 200 books and give each of the advisors a book. And so they'll have- usually advisors have a library of information to be able to give out to students. So be prepared to go to your advisor and say, “Hey do you have any books available on the MCAT?” Or in this specific situation, on the medical school interview, and hopefully they'll have a copy of my book they can lend you. So books are awesome.
The next thing to think about- one other thing I wanted to mention about my book is the feedback that I've received from my book versus other books, and one of the reasons I put this in there, I was talking to this premed advisor last week and she has recommended the book to her students, and her students have come back to give her feedback that what they really love about the book is the last section, which includes real mock interview answers from students and my feedback to them based on those answers. And it covers ten or eleven different questions, and there's about fifty total answers and feedback in there to get a good feel of what people are saying, and then feedback based on that. It was something that I intentionally put in there because it was one of the things that's missing from all of the medical school interview books out there, and I knew that it would be useful. I hoped that it would, and it is becoming helpful. So think about that as you look at the books that are available, that's one thing that ‘The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview' has that others don't.
So there are courses out there that you can buy. I have a video course, there are other courses through other companies, so that's something just depending on the type of learner that you are; if you want to sit through a video course, or read a book, or whatever it may be. My video course you can find, just go to my website, you can find the video course if you're interested in it. I'm in the process of redoing it as well, so it's a little bit older but the information is still great in there. So courses are another way to prepare.
Importance of Mock Interview Prep
So we've talked about utilizing your premed advisor, we've talked about books, we talked about courses. The next thing that you need to do is interview prep. Interview, interview, interview prep. Mock interview prep. Mock interviews. You have to do them. Can I say that again? You have to do mock interviews. So we already talked about the schools doing them, but you need to do a mock interview. Now why is this so important? We've all heard the saying, ‘Practice makes perfect,' or ‘Perfect practice makes perfect.' But you need to practice. And again, I talked about interviewing is a skill, you need to practice it to get better so that when it comes to your medical school interview, you are ready. Now one thing that students think about, and they've heard this tactic before, is go to a school- go to an interview that isn't your top choice and use that as practice. There are lots of reasons why that's bad advice, some of them being that you don't get any feedback from your interview, how are you supposed to get better if you don't get feedback? Number two, you don't know if the school that you're going to that isn't your top choice, you don't know if that's going to become your top choice after visiting the school and seeing the community of students there, and the facilities, and everything else, and just getting a real understanding of the culture that's there once you interview. So don't assume that just because the school isn't your top choice right now, don't assume that it won't be after the interview. So you don't want to go in unprepared assuming that it's not your top choice, and then leaving going, ‘Oh man I would die to go to this school, it's now my top choice,' but you didn't practice because you were planning on using that as practice. So a couple reasons why it's a bad idea just to use initial interviews as practice. Oh I'll throw the third one in just because, you don't know if you're going to get any more interviews. Just because you have great stats doesn't mean you're going to get interviews. You might have written a terrible personal statement and nobody's going to want to interview you. So you don't know. You don't know. Don't use that tactic.
Mock interviews give you the ability to allow your body to feel the stress of being in an interview. So going through that process is vitally important, and that's one of the most important things to learn, is how to respond to that stimulus when you start to sweat, and your heart starts racing, and your stomach starts churning. You need to understand how you're going to respond to that, and how you get over that, and what you need to do to calm yourself down. So it's very, very, very important.
The problem with mock interviews is as we talked about, your advisor may give them to you, but maybe only one, maybe two. There are plenty of companies out there that sell mock interview services, and I'm one of them, and I do a lot of mock interviews with students, but those are expensive, and I completely understand that not everybody can afford that. And my goal here when starting the Medical School Headquarters was to bring this information to everybody because everybody needs it, and not just save it for people that can afford it, which is why we have the podcast, and now YouTube videos, and other things out there to help in a free way- the freeway, if you're in California the freeway is a different thing. Help for a low cost a way to help you on your journey to medical school. So a mock interview, a paid mock interview with an ‘expert' is a lot of money. There's no doubt about it, but it's amazingly useful, I can't argue that. I don't know about other companies, but I know the ones that I do are useful for students, but not everybody can afford that. And so what do we do for everybody else that can't afford that?
New Mock Interview Platform
That's why I'm excited to finally announce a new platform that I have that I'm calling the Anytime Mock Interview Platform. Anytime Mock Interviews Platform. I don't know if I should pluralize that or not. Not ready yet for the big time here, naming things. But this is a platform- one of the things when you are practicing your interviews is you have your cell phone, we all have cell phones in our pocket, usually they're smartphones and they have cameras on them, and I always recommend if you're going to practice interview questions by yourself, and you're going to read my book and go through the questions, and try to answer them, record yourself. If it's just audio, fine. If it's video, even better. But beyond that, record yourself and then share it with somebody. The problem is that most people don't record themselves, first of all, and then to share a video or audio is kind of complicated and not everybody has that ability. And so when I found that I could use a platform out there in a way that I wanted to use it for mock interviews, and let students sign up at a much, much, much, much, much more affordable price than a one-on-one interview, and allow them access to 600 questions, and the platform records the student, and uploads the interview to their database, and you can go back and watch it, and not only that but share it with mentors, and advisors, and friends, and family to get feedback on it and they put the feedback directly into this software, and they can assess you based on this assessment form that I created that includes the most common pieces of feedback that I give to students during mock interviews, you have that ability to assess yourself, and the people that you're sharing this to have that same ability to assess you and leave comments on your video at specific points on the video. So the video is playing, and you say something a little funny, and so your mom starts typing, ‘Honey, you said this a little bit weird, I'm not sure if this is what you meant,' and it's beautiful and lets you know, ‘Hey you have a new comment on your video.' This is a way- this is the perfect way to prepare for your mock interviews if your school doesn't have access to a lot of interviews, your advisors and career counselor offices or whatever, if they don't have the resources to give you as many interviews as you need to be ready, this is the perfect platform. If you don't have the financial resources to work one-on-one with somebody, this is the perfect ability to use a platform practice and still elicit feedback from somebody instead of just sitting in your car in traffic rehearsing answers off the top of your head. This is the perfect platform.
The platform is available now. It will be $47 a month to launch, and this is unlimited interviews. There are sixteen premade interviews in it, and there are 600 questions that you can create custom interviews, and the questions will grow, and the premade interviews will grow as I get feedback from this. And I mentioned earlier about pre-ordering the paperback book, and how there's a special promo. Pre-order the paperback book on Barnes and Noble- again this is the end of April, this podcast episode is going out April 25, 2017. The book launches June 6th so if you pre-order before June 6th and send the receipt, I'll give you a form in the show notes which you can get at www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/231. In the show notes we'll have a link to a form where you can upload your receipt and we'll get that and you tell us when you want to start to have access to this platform for one month. So even if you're not applying until next year and you want access for a month to this platform, pre-order the book. It's $14 right now last time I checked on Barnes and Noble. Pre-order the paperback book, upload your receipt, we'll give you access to this. If you say you don't want access until 2018, great we'll give you access in 2018. If you want access in two months, great we'll give you access in two months. Unlimited use once you're in it for a month. If you want it more than that, great you can pay for an extra month, but you get one month free by pre-ordering the book.
So I'm excited to announce that new Anytime Mock Interview platform for you to prepare for your interviews. This I think is going to be a huge game changer for everyone as they prepare for their interviews. I've never seen a system like this out there before, and I know based on feedback and everything else, and working with students, that something like this is very, very, very needed.
So I think that is all that I wanted to talk about today on ways to prepare for your interview. Five ways to prepare for your interview. Let me give you one more here, and that fifth one is just to relax, and calm down, and know yourself, and breathe. It really is that important. One of the best things- we talked about some basics earlier about knowing your application. One of the best things that you can start doing right now is start crafting stories around your experiences. So if you've had an experience in a nursing home, don't just talk generically about being in a nursing home. Craft a story about around one of your experiences working with one of the residents at the nursing home. Craft a story around one of the patients in the emergency room when you were an emergency room technician. Craft a story around being a leader in a sorority or a fraternity. Craft those stories and tell those stories, paint the picture of me being there, and the interviewer being there, and it'll be much more memorable, much more impactful.
So with that said, I would love for you to go pre-order the paperback book on Barnes and Noble- Barnes and Noble specifically the paperback book. The book will be available everywhere, but I want to push www.BarnesAndNoble.com. So go to Barnes and Noble, get the book there, paperback book, go to our show notes page, get the link. If you have any questions, shoot me an email, Ryan@medicalschoolhq.net. I would love to answer any questions for you.
I hope this was useful. I'll be doing more and more of these kind of one off shows instead of interviews as we continue down this path. I know the interviews are very valuable as well, but I love doing these too.
So I hope this was helpful for you, and I hope to catch you next week here at The Premed Years Podcast.
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