Many thanks to Lisa Famularo, Assistant Director at the UConn Center for Career Development, for her expertise on interviews. We encourage you to view the most recent “Navigating the Healthcare Admissions Interview” workshop held on July 13, 2022 (three parts: presentation, MMI interview workshop, and alumni panel) here.
Health professions schools offer interviews to applicants they believe might be a good fit for their program after reviewing their primary application and personal statement, secondary application, letters of recommendation, and test scores. These interviews typically begin in the fall of the application year, extend through the winter and spring, and can even last into the summer months, depending on whether a school’s incoming class has been filled. Interviews will vary in nature from school to school and may continue to change moving forward as decisions whether to hold in-person or virtual interviews evolve. We strongly encourage you to review the AAMC’s MSAR Report for 2023 on Interview Procedures for centralized information about school-specific procedures.
Regardless of the format of one’s interview, the purpose of the interviewing process is to assess a candidate’s level of interest in the school and their program; their fit with the current faculty, staff, and student population; and the potential a candidate presents for success in the medical field. Additionally, think of the interview as a way to demonstrate proficiency in the core competencies; not only is it a way to exhibit strength in terms of communication, it is also a way to draw out and play up the strengths you’ve highlighted throughout your application with added examples and rich detail.
Interview Pairing Program
The Pre-Medical & Pre-Dental Advising Office is excited to partner with our recent alumni to support you in your interview preparations! This program strives to pair you with UConn graduates who are current or recent medical/dental students. You can be matched with students from up to three schools, based on availability, that have invited you to interview.
This form will remain open throughout the 2023 application cycle; current applicants are welcome to request an alumni connection at any time. Note that you can submit the request form multiple times if needed. You can also email Chrissy Gray to request additional matches if you have already submitted the form. All applicants are still limited to three pairings; this is simply for people who receive interview requests at varying times during the cycle.
Please remember that these alumni are volunteering their time and, while this is not a formal interview, you should still practice professional etiquette as they may become your future colleagues.
How to Prepare
There are two types of interview formats you’ll need to be ready for once the season begins:
Traditional interviews are one-on-one or group conversations between you and program representatives. Topics covered during the interview typically include: your background, motivation, depth and breadth of interests, hot topics in healthcare, ethics, empathy, teamwork, and relevant experience.
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) are a series of short, structured interview “stations” involving live and/or prepared scenarios to which you must respond within a specified, limited time frame. Topics covered typically include: ethical decision making, critical thinking skills, communication skills, and current healthcare and societal issues.
Once you know what the format of your interview will be, our office suggests that applicants perform a self-assessment. This is a critical thinking and reflection exercise that allows applicants to identify the key aspects of their candidacy they want to make sure to discuss. Keep in mind that admissions committees/interviewers are likely to remember only three to four key takeaways from each interview, so it is important to identify what you’d like those to be ahead of time and come prepared to communicate them effectively and concisely.
To perform your own self-assessment, develop answers to the following questions:
- What are the main pieces of information I want to make sure I cover during my interview?
- What core competencies and other skills do I want to demonstrate that I have during my interview? Do I have stories/examples to back them up?
- What makes me unique in comparison to other candidates?
- Have I reviewed my application materials ahead of time to refresh myself on what committees could ask me about? Am I able to elaborate on everything included in my application materials without being repetitive?
- How do my values, interests, and skills align with this particular program?
- Can I explain my research in a way that is accessible to others?
In addition to performing a self-assessment, you also want to ensure that you have thoroughly researched the school and program you are interviewing for.
You should know the school’s:
- Missions and values
- Program curriculum and experiential learning opportunities
- Student organizations, service opportunities, etc.
- Key faculty and staff; associated faculty research topics
- Any recent recognition or news
To find this information, review:
- The program’s website
- National and regional associations
- News outlets
- Social media
- Husky Mentor Network
- Student Doctor Network
Before beginning your interview, you want to ensure that you have a few things in place. Some preparations will depend on whether you are in-person or virtual, but all applicants should ensure that they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep and are prepared to make a positive first impression.
Make sure to dress like a professional and be “on” from the moment you step on campus or enter your virtual interview, remaining consistently professional regardless of whom you are interviewing and/or interacting with. Consider that both your verbal and nonverbal communication are on display.
The Interview Itself
There are three types of interview questions to be prepared for:
Traditional questions, which usually relate to your personality, background, and values. These questions are a way for interviewers to get to know you better as a person and as a candidate.
Behavioral questions, which are used to find out what type of behavior you have used to handle specific situations in your past experiences. These allow the interviewer to predict how you may react to similar situations in the future. Behavioral questions usually start with “tell me about a time when…,” “give me an example when…,” or “describe a moment when….”
Case questions, which put your critical thinking and problem solving skills to the test on the spot. These create scenarios for interviewers to see how you might interact in a collaborative setting. They are not intended to test specific field knowledge; they are meant to evaluate your thought process and ability to think on your feet.
All interview questions have a purpose behind them. Part of your job during the interview is translating the questions and figuring out what the interviewer is really asking. To do this, consider
- Keywords: Are they signaling at a core competency? If so, which one?
- Put yourself in their shoes: Why might they be asking this question? What does it allow them to learn about you and how might they use this in their evaluation?
- Focus on transferable skills and content: Regardless of the question, think about how you can showcase your capabilities and aptitudes across a variety of settings. Even if you haven’t encountered a specific scenario, what can you bring up instead that is similar?
- Avoid cliché responses: Remember that committee members/interviewers have likely talked to hundreds, if not thousands of applicants. You want to make sure you stand out and are unique. How can you characterize your motivations, experiences, and preparedness in the way that best reflects who you are?
- Why do you want to become a _______?
- Why do you want to attend our school/program?
- What will you do if you don’t get into medical school?
- What are the biggest problems with today’s healthcare system?
- What are the most important characteristics of being a _______?
- How do you see this profession being fulfilling to you in ten years?
- Is there anything else I should know about you? (typically asked at the end; always have an answer prepared!)
- Give me a specific example when you overcame a challenge related to your academics.
- Tell me about a time you demonstrated your ability to work under pressure.
- Describe a situation where you had to communicate a difficult message to someone. How did it go?
- Give me an example of when you successfully solved a problem with a team.
- You see your friend cheating on an exam. What do you do?
- A close friend in your first-year medical school class tells you that their mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and they are considering dropping out to spend more time with her. What would you say to them?
- You are working with a patient who is adamantly requesting a certain type of treatment that you don’t believe will help. What do you do?
- Why are manholes round?
After the portion of the interview where you are asked questions is over, you want to make sure to ask your interviewer three to five questions. These questions can be based on the following kinds of topics:
- Alumni paths after graduation
- Specific aspects of program curriculum
- The program’s plan for future growth
- Next steps in the selection process
After the interview is completely over, you should send a brief follow-up thank you email within the next twenty-four hours. If you meet with multiple people, consider sending specific notes to each person.
Once you’ve sent out your thank you notes and found some time to relax, make sure to debrief and reflect on your interview. Consider what you did well, what specific answers you liked, and why you thought they were effective. Think about what you could have done better, what particular areas you’d like to improve, and how you could practice to achieve those goals. Consider not just how you did in the interview, but also whether the school feels like a good fit for you and if you have any further questions that you’d like to follow up on. Some things to review are: Did you like the interviewers? Were their answers to your questions suitable? Could you envision yourself there, and if not, what do you want to see out of schools in the future?
Remember that this process is just as much about you choosing the school as the school choosing you. Take as many notes as you can so you can remember your impressions and organize your thoughts as part of the selection process.
Alumni Panels--there are two recordings of our recent alumni panels on our website and they are invaluable resources for those looking for advice from people who have successfully been through the interview process!
Other UConn Resources
Center for Career Development (CCD)
AAMC Medical School Interviews (links to multiple resources)