15 Common Interview Mistakes All Pre-med Students Make
Interviews can be the trickiest part of your whole medical school application process. They are every admission committee’s favorite part of the application as they get to meet the applicant face-to-face and evaluate his/her personality. Medical School Interviews are also the culmination of your arduous journey as a pre-med. Make sure you prepare well in advance and practice some of the commonly asked questions. Having aced through the primary and secondary application you are almost done, prepare well this last step and you will be successful!
Here are some common interview mistakes pre-med students make:
- Reaching the Interview venue at the last minute: This is a common interview mistake. Planning to reach your interview location by catching a same-day flight is a bad idea. Interview committees especially dislike students who make excuses about being late. Therefore, no matter where your interview is, reach the city or town at-least 12 hours ahead of your interview. Make sure that you check the weather conditions of the location before going there and pack accordingly.
- Guard your luggage: As unnecessary as it may sound, it has to be said. People losing luggage or the airlines losing your luggage is more common than you would imagine. Our advice is to pack a carry-on bag that you can bring with you on the plane without the need for check-in.
- Not preparing for the interview: Another common interview mistake is for students to take the interview lightly without proper preparation. Rehearsing your answers to commonly asked questions, and playing out different scenarios in your head will help you be ready to answer all sorts of questions. Conducting mock-interviews with your Pre-med student guide will also help you immensely.
- Not reading your application thoroughly: Admission committees usually read your application thoroughly and can ask detailed questions about some of the information you submitted. Make sure you know and remember everything you wrote about and be ready to answer follow-up questions about your personal statement, clinical experiences, volunteering work, and research experience.
- Not preparing to answer personal questions: Pre-med students often underestimate the importance of preparing to answer personal questions. It is very important that you demonstrate intra-personal skills, and talking about your hobbies and interests in a compelling and natural way is incredibly important. A good doctor knows himself/herself well and Admission committees appreciate such qualities. Think about what you like to do in your free time, and practice talking about it by using concrete examples that make it sound exciting.
- Not practicing your communication skills: You must remember that the interview is your one and only chance to meet face-to-face with the Medical School admissions committee and faculty. This can prove to be a golden opportunity if you prepare well and use it to communicate your qualities and strengths. Good communication skills are highly valued because a doctor or a medical practitioner must demonstrate good inter-personal skills. Thus, working on your communication skills is a good idea. You can start by keeping a pre-med journal or taking oral communication classes at your university.
- Being over-confident and exaggerating: We all know that nobody likes a know-it-all! Humility and a passion for learning are important traits to become a good doctor. If you sound over-confident, or if you exaggerate on the outcome of your pre-med experiences, the admissions committee will not like it. Be humble and polite at all times.
- Not researching the medical school you are interviewing at: Just reading your own application and rehearsing common questions is not enough. The interview is meant to determine whether you are suitable for that particular medical school. You must fit in with their student body and mission. You can only convince them about your suitability if you have read thoroughly about the school, its history and values, and the unique opportunities they offer. Once you know this information you can practice answers which reflect how your personality and story will fit in and contribute to the mission of their program.
- Not explaining your application deficiencies well: As we said before, interviews are a chance to communicate your strengths to the admission committee. It is also a chance to explain your deficiencies. Talk with your mentor and discuss the various shortcomings of your application and how to best address them. Remember that you have to honest, but not brutally honest.
- Sounding too rehearsed and mechanical: We recommend that you go to your interviews well-prepared. However, you must remember that interviews are a test of your personality and not your ability to answers like a parrot. It is extremely important that you are ‘yourself’ during the interview. Be friendly and comfortable. After all, you want to be a doctor and doctors are always affable and accessible individuals.
- Fearing spontaneity: Just like sounding rehearsed is bad, not being spontaneous is also a problem. Medical professionals are quick thinkers. If you demonstrate spontaneity during your interaction with the admission board, it will certainly earn you some brownie points.
- Not listening and answering too quickly: A major part of good communication skills entail being able to listen with patience and awareness. If you cultivate the habit of listening carefully, being spontaneous also becomes easy. As a medical practitioner listening constitutes a core inter-personal skill. The interview committee is naturally observing your listening and communication skills. When you are talking with your interviewers make sure that you don’t answer their questions before properly listening and understanding what you have been asked.
- Not engaging with the interviewer: Don’t be a robot during the interview. Your interviewers are people, and they are not there to make you uncomfortable. The moment you sit down, take some deep and slow breaths and engage with your interviewer. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your interviewer will be. Try to personally connect with them. Maintain eye contact and if the opportunity presents itself don’t hesitate to make a light joke. Interviewers love seeing your light and fun side.
- Being all technical: Interviewers absolutely dislike anyone trying to demonstrate his ‘apparent’ wealth of knowledge. If you are not asked, then don’t answer using big technical medical terms. Instead, use simple language or terms you are familiar with.
There is only one way to avoid these interview mistakes and that is by preparing well beforehand. If you practice for the interviews, you will be more self-aware and confident. Find a mentor on Paived to help you prepare for the interview!
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