There are several good web sites that describe the purpose of the interview (both for the school and for you) and give advice on preparing answers to likely questions. If you search in any browser under 'medical school interview' you will find several. GO THERE and read the questions. Think about the answers. Practice saying answers out loud to test whether or not you have a well-formulated answer in your mind or still need to think through a topic. Look through the school's catalog and write down questions you would like to have answered. Make certain you have questions. It is fine to have some generic questions that you would ask any school, but also tailor some questions to find out about programs at a school that make it distinctive. A school wants you only if you want to attend their school, not just get in to any medical school that will accept you.
Take a minute to scan the interview databases on the web sites. These databases include actual interview experiences for your institution, so you will know what to expect both in terms of questions and the school's locations/facilities. Make your travel arrangements and verify them before the interview. If you can, scout out the interview location in advance to reduce the chance of travel delays or getting lost.
Most interviewees are aware that they need to dress conservatively, but I feel this advice is insufficient. I had one student who insisted on wearing (good) blue jeans to his interviews. He had excellent grades and MCAT scores and was articulate and personable. He did not get accepted into any of the schools to which he applied!
Let's further define the dress code. You don't want to stand out in a crowd based on your appearance. The goal is convey professionalism. If you don't own a navy, black, or gray suit (men or women) then buy one! Medical school costs thousands of dollars. You have already invested some expense in applications. Consider your interview clothes to be one more expense. Ignore the advice that neat and clean is sufficient. It isn't. If you are still hesitating, then it may help to know that once you are accepted professional clothes will be required for clinical and hospital settings.
Okay, now we have the dark suit of conservative cut. Let's looks at accessories.
- Smile! Radiate confidence. Fear is fine, but keep it in your heart and not on your face or in your handshake.
- A good handshake. Practice and ask for opinions if you are unsure what this means.
- A watch. Check the time zone!!!
- A comb/brush and toothbrush for last minute touch-ups.
- Minimal jewelry, conservative style. Prepare answers to likely questions associated with an engagement ring or wedding band.
- Minimal make-up. Look polished and professional.
- Neat, non-fussy hair, kept out of your face.
- You may want a nice folder or portfolio to keep papers and pen organized.
- NO white or ivory hosiery! Go for skin tone or off-black. Sheer navy is about as wild as you could go here.
- NO white or ivory shoes! Given that your suit is probably blue, gray, or black, match your shoes to your suit.
- NO perfume!
- Neat nails, preferably short, with no polish or clear/neutral color only.
- Extra hosiery. Snags and runs do happen.
- Consider pants as opposed to a skirt. This is a comfort issue as opposed to a fashion issue. You may be getting in/out of several vehicles if you are given a tour.
- Comfortable shoes. Walk, walk, walk!
- If you carry a purse, keep it small/simple and coordinated with your outfit.
- NO cologne!
- A good tie (silk, non-novelty, appropriate length for build)
- Comfortable shoes, probably black given the preferred suit colors.
- Socks that match the shoes.
Be aware that while some selection committees want you to be at ease and have fun during an interview, there are others who are intentionally hostile in order to gauge your reaction. Make sure that you talk to actual students while you are on campus, since they will be your best source of information about the school. Before you leave, make sure you understand when/how you can expect to be notified of selection or non-selection. You may be placed on the school's wait list. Does the school have rolling admissions so you could attend the following year if wait-listed this year or would you need to re-apply? It is polite and considerate to mail thank-you notes after the interview. Even if you are rejected, these may find their way into your file and work to your advantage the following year.
The harsh fact is that most interviewees are rejected. Do NOT let this stop you! Make plans for both acceptance and rejection. If you are rejected, then retake the MCAT (even if your scores are good, this shows a willingness for improvement), get additional practical experience in a clinic or hospital (volunteer is fine), and apply as soon as possible for the following year. The most important action to take is to telephone the school that rejected you and ask the admissions advisor if s/he has any recommendations of ways to improve your future application. Schools like perseverance - it is an indicator of success in medical school and beyond.