Premed Hangout Q&A: Interviews, Mistakes, and Much More!

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Session 294

For today’s episode, we took a handful of questions that students asked in our Facebook group, the Premed Hangout. We cover a variety of topics. Join now!

If you’re listening to this before August 21, 2018, the release date of my next book The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement. Preorder it on Barnes and Noble and submit the receipt at

Then you will get access to over $150 worth of stuff including a 5-day Personal Statement course I did with students where we broke down their personal statements and they asked a lot of questions. You will also get access to a private Facebook group where we do Facebook Live sessions every other week.

Get access to the Personal Statement Starter Package calls where a student comes on the phone with me as they try to figure out what they should be writing about. You get five of those recordings as well as the PDF version of the book so you can take it with you.

Back to today’s episode, we’re answering questions from the Premed Hangout group. It’s a free group you can join. Facebook is actually doing a trial right now in charging for group access. But for now, we’re not charging anything. The group has over 5500 students. Also follow me on Instagram @medicalschoolhq.

[04:05] Interview Prep

Q: Can you discuss the most common mistakes students make preparing for interviews and during the actual interviews? How can we avoid these mistakes?

A: Check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. Go to your library and to your premed advisor. Ask and see if they have the book since I gave out 180 of each of book series (the personal statement book, the interview book, and the MCAT book).

Second, go and listen to previous podcast episodes I’ve done, starting back in Episode 19, where I interviewed Dr. Wagoner, the former Dean of Admissions at three different medical schools.

The most common mistake is not preparing for the interview. You need to prepare for the interview. You can learn skills preparing for the interview. Those skills are going to help you whether you prepare one month, six months, one year before your interview.

[Tweet “”The most common mistake is not preparing for the interview.””]

You have to learn how to talk about yourself and how to handle the stress of the situation. You’re going to learn how you respond to that situation. Do you sweat a lot? Do you have nervous tics? You have to figure out how you’re going to respond.

And the solution is easy. Go and do mock interviews. Find your advisor and a career counselor. Whoever you have access to, use them. If you don’t have access to somebody, try to find somebody. If you still can’t find anybody, go to go to the medical school interview question generator. Choose a topic, and click, Ask Me!

It just throws up a random question that you can use to practice. You don’t know what questions are coming so it keeps you on your toes.

If you like that and you decide to keep it up a notch where you can record yourself and email it to somebody for feedback, use our Mock Interview Platform at $47. It’s very similar but you will find videos of me asking you questions. Then your webcam will record you. Then you an use it to review your answer.

[Tweet “”The best way to prepare is recording yourself so that you can give yourself feedback or somebody else can give you feedback.””]

[07:35] Talking About Mistakes

Q: What is the best way to address essay and interview questions, asking you to explain a weaker portion of your application? More specifically, how do you recommend an applicant can reassure admissions committees that the “mistake” won’t be repeated and doesn’t define the applicant without sounding unprofessional or losing confidence, for example, in the case of a poor grade or weaker GPA?

A: When you have the ability to talk about mistakes in your application, whether it’s an essay, your personal statement, or during interview, always, always, always offer up either what you’ve learned from it and/or what you’ve done to fix it so that’s not a problem in the future.

A very common thing that students have a problem with they’re in undergrad is that they take on too much – too many credits, too many clubs and organizations. And they fail to realize early enough that they are over extended and they have time management issues. They have organization issues. As you’re talking about this stuff, then say that “from this experience, I learned that xyz, so that in the future, it won’t happen again.” This said, you need to throw that solution in there. Whenever you’re talking about personality flaws or your greatest weaknesses, whatever it is, always offer up what you have done, what you’re doing to correct the issue so that it’s not a problem in the future. Now, if you only talk about why it’s a problem and what happened, then the question is going to come up whether you’re doing anything to fix it. Are you bound to commit the same mistakes over and over again? Is this going to be a recurring theme? So always provide that extra step.

[Tweet “”Always offer up what you have done, what you’re doing to correct the issue so that it’s not a problem in the future.””]

[09:46] Fee Assistance Programs

Q: As a financially independent student, how do you balance working full time and going to school full time? How do you manage to pay for all the fees associated with applying to medical school? Are there any programs to assist premed students with the medical school application process?

A: The AMCAS and AACOMAS both have fee assistance programs. They have a limited number of funds every year and so it’s on a first-come-first-serve basis. So apply earlier. With this program, you get reduced MCAT pricing and reduced application prices, etc. Check out the Fee Assistance Programs if you’re struggling financially. But there’s a caveat with those programs is they’d ask for your parents’ income.

[Tweet “”This is medical school applications 101. Whether you’re looking for the fee assistance program or you’re just looking to get into medical school, the earlier you apply for it, the better.””]

There is a process to appeal and to try to get your parents’ income to not be a factor in the FAP determination. This may be a long process, but this might be worth checking out.

[11:15] Balancing Working Full Time and Going to School Full Time

As to how to balance working full time and going to school at the same time, it’s chaotic. You don’t balance it. It’s crazy. You do what you need to do. The issues that come up with that is there is probably no time to do everything else you need to do such as shadowing and clinical experience, and volunteering, maintaining relationships, and being a good son and daughter, etc.

[Tweet “”A lot of things get pushed because you’re working full time and going to school full time.””]

The question is, do you need to work full time? Or do you need to go to school full time? And you stretch out the process a little bit by going to school half time to save your sanity for a little while. Or you can go to school 3/4-time and use the extra hours for studying or for volunteering or clinical experience, etc. Then you can slow down in that way.

[12:15] Managing the Cost of Applying to Medical School

Soon we will have a tool on the website where we will have a slider as to how many schools you’re planning to apply to and what the cost looks like. Applying to medical school is expensive. If you apply to 20-25 schools, you’re looking at $3,000 to $4,000. So you need to budget. If you’re two years from applying, divide that by how many dollars per month to start saving.

Other students will get a 0% interest credit card for 18 months and use it to pay for everything upfront with the hope of paying it off in the future.

[Tweet “”Credit cards are dangerous for a lot of people… be careful with that if that’s something you have an issue with.””]

[13:30] Attrition Rates

Q: Something I see little data or statistics on is about medical students, intern residents who don’t graduate, match, complete their program. I’m assuming some sort of exit interview is conducted. What are the primary reasons? Is it academic? How can we better prepare ourselves as premeds so we don’t end up in that situation? If it’s family issues, is there a common theme. I know depression and burnout are frequently mentioned but are they possibly correlated with those students who fail to thrive, match, or graduate?

A: The attrition rate once the student is accepted to medical school is less than 2% for the majority of schools out there in the US. If you’re looking at Caribbean schools, the attrition rate is much higher because they’re accepting a lot of students who probably shouldn’t be accepted to medical school in the first place.

[Tweet “”In the U.S., attrition is very, very, very low which is why applying to medical school is so hard.””]

In the U.S., the attrition rate is very low that’s why applying to medical school is so hard. Schools are trying their best to figure out which students are going to be the most successful. To do that, they need to find students who are going to complete their coursework, their boards, etc.

Once you’re a resident, you’re not dealing with academic issues anymore, but now you’re dealing with the burnout, the stress, and the second thoughts whether this is something you really want to do. The attrition rate is not very high still. It may be in the single digit percentage. There are programs out there that are always looking for PGY2 spots because students drop out or they change residencies or specialties.

[15:37] Talking to Your Premed Advisors About The Premed Years

Q: How do you politely tell your premed advisor at your university to pull their head out of the sand and listen to The Premed Years?

A: When I was in Washington, D.C for the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions National Conference 2018, my goal was to get in front of premed advisors and talk about collaboration, not competition. I’m not here to steal their students but I’m here to educate them so they’re better informed when they come and talk to them.

There are going to be advisors out there who still won’t like that because they may not agree with my message. So they will just shut it down completely. There are a lot of advisors, on the other hand, who love what I’m doing. I explain this to advisors that I started this 6 years ago to be the anti-Student Doctor Network. I wanted to put some positivity into the premed process and show to them that you don’t have to compete with your classmates. I wanted to show them that if you do work together and you are good enough students, you can both get into medical school.

Use this sort of language to your premed advisors and let me know. If they want to reach out to me, I can send them books and whatever they need. I’m here to help them.

[Tweet “”I started this 6 years ago to be the anti-Student Doctor Network.””]

[18:07] Secondary Application Questions

Q: How do we know what the applications ask before applying? Can we see them somewhere?

A: I assume this is talking about secondary applications since the primary application is the same through and through every year for the most part. For the secondary applications, there are databases online that are available.

I am creating my own database of posts and resources for secondary applications. I created a form that as you are applying, go to, choose the school and submit the secondary for that school. This will help us keep our secondary database up to date so we can provide the most valuable resources to the students.

If you’re applying to Texas schools, the secondary applications are through the actual medical schools websites. Whereas for AMCAS and AACOMAS, they email you their secondaries.

[20:05] When to Reach Out to Schools

Q: Is it a good idea to reach out to schools after you submit your secondary and before interview to show your interest? What’s the best way to go about that?

A: As you’re going through this process, once you submit an application, you’re kind of off-limits for the most part for advice. So there’s no point in reaching out post-secondary pre-interview. There are times where it takes too long before they contact you. Some schools don’t want any contact. So follow the rules for each school. If you’re clicking submit on your secondary and you’re sending an email right after submission, don’t do that. But if it’s been a while and maybe you have an update and if they allow updates, then add that and say you’re still interested.

The best is to reach out to the school before submitting your applications. They have different rules of engagement because you’re a pre-applicant and not an applicant. So go with solid questions as you reach out to them.

[Tweet “”The best is to reach out to the school before submitting your applications.””]


Premed Hangout

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview


Session 19: Interview with Medical School Interview and Admissions Expert

AAMC Fee Assistance Program

AACOMAS Fee Assistance Program

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