The Premed Prescription

Take this advice PRN, apply liberally.


Hopefully around the end of August and the beginning of September, you will start to get interview invitations!  Getting an interview is the entire point of filling out an application.  If you have been invited for an interview, it means that you are academically qualified to go to that school–they just want to see who you are first-hand.  Thus, many schools place acceptance almost wholly on the interview!  To help you get the most out of your interviewing experience, I have divided my tips below into two sections: practical tips and tips for the interview itself.

Practical (Cost-cutting) Tips

1. Interviewing is expensive.  I know of some students that took out loans to pay for plane tickets.  To cut down on cost, try your best to group interviews together!  In one week, I had three interviews back to back.  By the end of it, I was pretty tired, but I saved about $500 in the process.

2. Use BYU’s alumni records to find someone to host you.  This is the secret to interviewing success!  Some schools that you interview at also have a host program so that you can stay with medical students during your interview.  This greatly reduces the cost and allows you to glean information from your hosts.  The information and tips that you get from your hosts is extremely valuable, so make sure to ask them a lot of questions–they’re almost always friendly and willing to help.

BYU’s alumni records are in the Premed office; however, you can’t take them with you.  What I did was I took photos of all the alumni records at the schools I applied to so that I wouldn’t have to keep coming back to get phone numbers and email addresses.  Make sure to contact your potential hosts well in advance so that they can check their schedules to make sure they can host you.

3. Get a lot of sleep the night before.  You don’t look very attractive if your eyes are red and you’re tired.  Also, you don’t want to be late!

4. Don’t rent a car unless absolutely necessary. Most hosts are willing to pick you up at the airport.  If not, they will tell you how to get to their house using public transportation.  Having a car can actually be a burden–they are expensive (under 25 year-olds are charged extra), and sometimes you have the hassle of trying to find parking which could make you late for your interview. (this happened to me once…so embarrassing)

10 Tips for the Med School Interview

1. Research the school beforehand.  You don’t have to spend a week researching the school, but at least know a little about it.  By my last interview, I actually got really lazy with this because I figured that everything I needed to know about the school would be told to me anyway during their tours and presentations.  The best way to research a school is by talking to your host or friends that go there.  Some important information useful in interviews is knowing about the curriculum, any outstanding residency programs that the school is known for, and any interesting research done at the university.

2. Dress well.  Be conservative.  Most of the guy applicants will be wearing black, navy, or dark grey suits with colored shirts, and most of the female applicants will be wearing black or grey suits with colored shirts.  If you don’t have a suit, I recommend buying one.  You will need one when you interview for residency anyway.

3. Review your application.  Know exactly what you wrote on your application.  It might have been a few months since you filled it out, and so you might not remember what you wrote in your personal statement or the activities you listed.

4. Know how to explain your research in layman’s terms.  You will most likely be asked about your research (if you did any) so make it sound exciting and understandable.

5. Know why you applied to the school.  This might seem obvious, but it is not.  Find a good reason, like “I heard that this school had a great cardiology program, and I’m interested in becoming a cardiologist.”

6. Decide what specialty you want to go into.  You most likely don’t even know yet, but just pick one that you are kind of interested in now.  During the interview, it sounds a lot better to say, “Right now I’m interested in urology, but I hear that most people’s interests change in medical school, so I’m open to different specialties as well,” than to say, “I have no idea.” I think the reason why interviewers ask this question is just to see if you have given serious thought to your career in medicine.

7. Know why you want to be a doctor rather than a social worker, engineer, or any other profession that allows you to help people and make a difference in the world.  It’s ok to draw on your experience from your personal statement, but come prepared for your interviewer to ask you this.  I was asked this question in most, if not all, of my interviews.

8. Come prepared to ask questions.  Ask something, like “what advice would you give me to help me to succeed if I were to become a medical student here?” Asking nothing can be a big turnoff to interviewers, especially if they give you the opportunity.

9. Be honest.  There is a difference between presenting your best self and dishonesty.  Never under any circumstances lie about or even exaggerate experiences or achievements.  On the flipside, be humble and don’t brag about anything.

10. Don’t worry about googling your interviewer.  You might see some students do this during your interview.  While it doesn’t hurt, I think it’s a waste of time and your interviewer might think it’s creepy that you’re stalking them on the internet.  You’ll have the chance to ask them about their lives during your interview.

Those are some of my tips that seemed especially relevant to my experience.  However, the BEST interview tips that I have found on the web are given by Dr. Capers at OSU:


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