What To Do The Day Of Your Interview

Key Tips

The WHOLE DAY is the interview

Treat everyone you meet with respect and thoughtfulness, from the administrative assistant who checks you in, to the student who gives you a tour, to your fellow interviewees, to the person who interviews you, to the student whose apartment you might be staying with, etc. Medical schools are not just looking for people who can "handle" medical school, they are creating a class, a cohort of people whom they will be spending a lot of time with, and who will be spending a lot of time together. And of course, training future physicians.

Dressing for an interview

Look professional. 

For men, a nice button down shirt and a tie. Some color is alright in the shirt and tie. If you have a suit, or can afford one, wonderful. If you do not, here's an easy answer: look for a nice pair of (affordable) slacks and a jacket that would go well with each other.

For women, also, color is very acceptable. For women, a nice button down shirt or a nice top under your blazer (Look at a Banana Republic or Ann Taylor type websites for ideas). You can use your shirt/blouse/top for a color accent that helps you feel a bit more snazzley or matches your eyes, etc. Pants, skirts or dresses can all be fine but be mindful about conveying professionalism.

That is the most simple, straightforward way to go if figuring out your interview clothes feels daunting. Whatever you wear make sure you are comfortable enough in it to not have to spend energy and attention on being uncomfortable. And, if you are flying to the interview, put these clothes in your carry-on, so you don't risk them getting lost!

Arrive on time

Aim to arrive early on interview day so you have time to make sure to know where to go, have had your breakfast or tea or coffee etc. Have a moment to breathe and collect yourself. If you get there the day before, take some time the day before to get acquainted with where you will need to get to.

*Do you need to save on costs? You can call ahead to a medical school and ask if there are current med students you can stay with either a Dartmouth alum or otherwise. Not only can it save you $, but gives you a chance to hear a student's perspective.

An interview is a mini-connection with another person

Be present and mindful speaking with them and to them, but not at them in a scripted, press a button and go, kind of way. Yes, be "professional," but not stiff. You want to be genuine and yourself. Interviewers want to get a sense of you and how you respond to them. They are not necessarily looking for "right" or perfect answers. They are using this interview to help them identify if you have some of the qualities they are seeking in future medical professionals.The interviewers are also people who want to make a connection and get to know more about you. Nerves are normal...they know that too. If you are prepared you will feel more relaxed, and might even...have fun!

If you get a question that stumps you...

It's OK to say..."ah, that's a really good question, let me think on that for a moment..." and just take a pause. It you stumble-- it's okay to laugh at yourself in the moment, or say "whoops." What you say is part of what's interesting to them but so is your ability to be flexible and resilient in an inherently stressful situation.

Don't try to talk about something you don't know about; stick with what's true. Don't overreach. No hyperbole.

Be mindful of your body language

Keep returning to eye contact; body language is important too. Don't slouch, and, be "spatially" engaged with your interviewer.

Ask questions!

This is your chance to evaluate each school critically and learn more about its strengths and weaknesses. You can ask your interviewers thoughtful and tactful questions like:

"What do you think are the strengths of your programs?"
"If you were the Dean, what changes would your institute at this school?"

DON'T ask questions about things you can easily learn from their website (ie: don't ask, "can you tell me what your curriculum is?" But you could ask: "How is the curriculum re-design going? What do students think? What do faculty observe?)

Speak with students of the school you are visiting

If you are either interviewed by students or have an opportunity to talk to them, a very good question to ask is "Are you happy at this school and why"? Also "What would you like to see changed?" Interviewees often learn more from current students than from interviewers. That said, remember students you meet on Interview day are part of the interview. Be yourself, but be professional!