Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Interview Prep

I was thinking maybe I should talk about how I am preparing for interviews 'cuz like, maybe someone wants to know. Or something.

I was also thinking about how I probably have bills due soon, but haven't even glanced at them. Sad face.

It helps to have an idea of what I need to prep for (besides knowing your own app from front to back), so I started with University of Colorado's 100 Medical School Interview Practice Questions. I don't know how frequently these questions come up, but when I first started practicing interviews, I didn't have any scheduled, so this was the only thing I had to work on. I mean, there are obvious ones like "why doctor" that everyone should probably know the answer to, just in case. Once I knew where I would be interviewing, I started looking at SDN's Interview Feedback page to figure out what questions other people received.

I collaborated with a friend who had also been through the interview process, and it helped me a lot to have his input in framing and presenting my responses. His interviews were going on in October/November, so that's kind of when I started doing my interview prep, although I admit I was kind of half-assing it at that point in time. It was good to have someone help me brainstorm, though. I know my app well, and all the things I've done in my prior experiences, but it was good to have someone remind me to tie certain examples back to medicine, so I'm not just rambling about random stories.

I'm currently meeting my friend for about 2-2.5 hours in the days preceding each interview.

I think working in non-profit really helped me in the long run. Not so much for public speaking per se, but in being comfortable talking to strangers about important things without rambling. I mingled with a lot of local legislators, business leaders and hospital-admin types. I hated mingling, but it taught me how to be a proactive listener and pretend to be enthusiastic about being at this event, even if I didn't want to.

I've also elected to write down all my responses for standard questions like "why medicine, tell me about your experiences in x,y,z, why this school, and etc." It works for me because how I write, how I speak and how I think are pretty similar, so I don't think my responses sound too canned. My problem is that I tend to ramble, and present too many details in anecdotes that are not necessary for my key points, so writing things down reminds me to keep moving things along when I talk.

I have one multiple, mini-interview style interview. Kinda nervous about it. My only hope is that, if I get a situation where I have to role-play a scenario with an actor, I don't get fed up and yell "JUST SUCK IT UP!" as I do with my students. To be fair, my students complain about really petty things like "waaaah so-and-so is breathing on me!" (to a kid 2 feet away).

Since I'm talking about interviews, I'll say that I don't claim to be an expert on the process. These steps just help me tackle the process in a way that keeps me sane and reduces the likelihood of me devolving into a panicking mess in an actual interview.


  1. As someone who has been on both sides of the interviews (and will be on the interview side again in the next few weeks), my two biggest pieces of advice are to relax (yeah, right) and to be genuine. Remember that the interviewers have to sit through hours to days of interviews, and hearing the same rehearsed answers over and over again gets really tedious. Interviewers like to know that the interviewee is a real person with real thoughts that they are willing to share, even if those thoughts don't always fall along the "official party line" of medicine.

    1. yeah. I definitely was concerned that my answers sound too "canned." Especially after spending time writing grants, I'm extra sensitive to buzz words. For me, it's definitely a fine line between knowing what I want to say and memorizing how to say it.