The interview factors greatly in the decision making process of an admissions committee. It is important, though, to remember that it is not the only factor. Prior to an interview, the admissions committee only has statistics on a piece of paper to try to deduce what type of person is behind the facts. They use the interview to see if you possess the qualities necessary to become a successful physician.
In most cases, the interview is not meant to be a pressure cooker of facts and figures. You, the interviewee, are not on trial (although you may feel like it). The committee is trying to find out what kind of person you are, what your interests are, and what your motivations are. There are a few interviewers who will want to see how you react in stressful situations. When this happens, take a deep breath and think before you speak.
Some interviewers have a standard set of questions, but many questions will come from essays submitted with your application. Be honest in your essay, because the interviewer may ask you to expand on parts of it. If you exaggerate, it may become apparent to the interviewer. Your answers may then become the basis for further questions.
Political and health-related issues may come up, so it would be a good idea to be familiar with the news. (For links to potential issues in the news, be sure to check Today's Health and Medical News published on the AMSA website daily.) Make sure you are able to back up every answer, especially if you are taking a stand on a particular issue. If you do not know what the interviewer is talking about, it is better to be honest and say "I don't know," instead of dancing your way around an answer. Interviewers like to see that you are not too proud to admit that you do not know everything. Remember that the interviewer is usually more knowledgeable than you, and can tell if you are insincere or if you really know what you are talking about.
The interview does not have to be one-sided either. If you have questions in mind about relevant topics, especially about the school, ask them. This shows that you have really taken an interest in the school and also gives you time to relax. The interview also gives you an opportunity to discuss certain aspects of your application.
Remember, the interviewer must be able to present and defend your case to the rest of the admissions committee (either in person or in writing), so they must be able to learn much about you in a short amount of time.
What do interviewers look at?
• Nonverbal & verbal communication skills.
• Appearance & behavior.
• Use of vocabulary.
• Confidence level & honesty.
What should you do?
• Ask questions of the interviewer.
• Inquire about the school.
• Ask schools in the same area to coincide interview dates.
• Relax, be yourself.