The Different Types of Med School Interviews and What to Expect

The Different Types of Med School Interviews and What to Expect

What are the different types of medical school interviews? What can you expect on your interview day?

This whole process of applying to medical school and everything you need to do to get into medical school varies from school to school.

[00:56] Types of Medical School Interviews

The Traditional Interview

When a student hears or when anyone says medical school interview, the thing that typically pops into most people’s minds is you sitting in a chair at a table across from someone else. That is a very traditional interview style.

Then you get the traditional questions like:

– Tell me about yourself

– Why do you want to be a doctor?

– Why should we accept you?

And maybe you get some questions you’re not expecting, too.

Types of Traditional Interview

Now, the traditional med school interview can be closed (blind) or open.

Closed Interview

A closed interview (blind interview) is when the interviewer doesn’t have access to your file to get context on you before the interview. That means they haven’t read anything about your file so they’re going in blind.

Therefore, the interviewer doesn’t come in with any preconceived notion about who you are as a person or as a student. They are there to learn and have a conversation about you.

Open Interview

In an open interview, the interviewer CAN look through your application before the interview. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. Even if they do look through your application, they may be doing it quickly and only notice certain parts.

So you have to be careful with how you’re answering those questions they ask. You don’t want to assume and tell them they’ve read your file when they actually haven’t.

Partially Open/Closed Interview

The interviewer will typically have access to your essays, your personal statement, and your secondary essays, and typically, sometimes your extracurriculars. What most schools will remove from any sort of partially blind interview is your stats, your MCAT score, your GPA.

This avoids bias based on your statistics while still allowing the interviewer to get some context with the rest of your application.

Again, whether the interview is open or closed, you want to treat the interviewer basically the same. Because even in the open interviews, you don’t know if they’ve actually looked through your application or not.

[03:31] The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

The MMI (Multiple Mini Interview) was created by McMaster University up in Canada to help remove bias in the medical school interview process.

“In the MMI, you do a series of mini-interviews that are mostly situational judgment tests.”Click To Tweet

In an MMI, you are put into stations and each of the stations usually has some sort of scenario built around it. They are situational judgment tests.  If you’re familiar with CASPer from applying to med school, CASPer is also a situational judgment test.

For example, they’re asking you questions and putting you in these moral-ethical situations, and they want to see what your response to these situations is.

The MMI at every medical school is going to be a little bit different. Some medical schools will do exclusively MMI stations. Others may do traditional interviews and a couple of MMI stations.

[04:39] Types of MMI Stations

Classic Moral/Ethical Scenario

You talk to an interviewer about how you would handle a difficult situation or dilemma in medicine.

Actor-Based Scenario

You come in and actually interact with an actor who is playing a patient. You have to calm her down or give her a cancer diagnosis—something difficult or sensitive like that.

Teamwork Stations

You have to work together with another applicant on a task. For example, you have to explain how to recreate, with Legos, a structure that you can see and your partner can’t.

Traditional Interview Questions

Sometimes you’ll still have an MMI station where you just go into the room and answer a traditional medical school interview question like “Why us? Why this school?”

Essay Writing Station

This seems to be a more rare MMI station, but some med schools actually have a station where you walk in and write down a short essay response to a question or prompt.

[05:49] MMI is Fun!

The MMI, if done appropriately, should be fun.

It’s a fun exercise to go through these scenarios, to think about problems that you likely will never face, and hopefully will never face in real life. 

So try to picture yourself in these scenarios in real life and give your thoughts about them.

“The MMI makes a lot of students nervous, but it should actually be fun. You should enjoy your MMI at the end of the day.”Click To Tweet

[06:18] Group Interview Tips

What about group interviews at med schools? Currently (in 2019), LECOM in Erie, PA, uses a group interview as part of their interview process, too. You’re being interviewed together in the same room with the other applicants.

A lot of times, the schools will let you pick where you want to go and how you want the order in which you want to answer the question.

My advice for group interviews:

Don’t be the alpha.

Don’t always be the first to answer everything. Don’t speak over others or be arrogant. Be a team player.

Don’t be the sheep.

Don’t be so passive and quiet that you don’t contribute anything. Be able to interact and contribute to the group.

Build on the other interviewees’ answers.

Even if you disagree, don’t be rude or dismissive about it. Give credit and interact well with others.

'Remember, medicine and being a physician in a hospital is a team sport. So your ability to interact with the other students there is key.'Click To Tweet

[07:54] Panel Interviews

Another kind of interview you’ll occasionally see is a panel interview, but I consider this a form of a traditional interview. The only difference here is the dynamic of you could be a good cop, bad cop where the interviewers are potentially sending you different signals and seeing how you react.

[08:12] Other Interview Quick Tips

Two more quick tips for your interview day:

  1. The interviewers may try to upset you or get you worked up or angry. You don’t want to take that bait.

Demonstrate that you can remain calm working with others, having disagreements, receiving criticism, and so forth. Don’t get angry.

'The last thing you want to do in any of your interviews is to get mad, get upset, and get feisty with the interviewer. You will always lose in that situation.'Click To Tweet
  1. Remember to be nice to everyone you interact with during your medical school interview day. 

This means even the janitors and other hospital staff—and obviously all the interviewers, faculty, and med students. Ultimately, remember the interview day is your day to learn about the school. It’s your day to have the school understand who you are.

Lastly, check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview for more information, tricks, and tips to crush your medical school interview.


MedEd Media

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The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview