Their may be variations depending on the country; however, in Canada, most med schools currently use MMI interviews, with a few having a traditional interview component or essay. I was fortunate enough to interview at 5 Canadian medical schools (each one in a different province). Although I will not go into details about the specific interview questions I recieved (all students interviewed sign confidentiality forms), I can make general comments about the process.
1) Try to avoid looking at the statistics of receiving a medical school interview. To be honest, they are pretty low and pretty scary, so just don’t look. Some people in undergrad apply at schools based on their probability of getting an interview. Yes, sometimes their is merit to doing this (application cost, self-esteem, etc.), but remember, their is a 0% chance of getting an interview if you don’t apply. You never know unless you try!
2) The interview is very important!!! I heard mix opinions about this while going through the process; however, I no longer have any doubts, MED INTERVIEWS ARE IMPORTANT. Although it may depend on the med school, I think interviews are what make (or break) final acceptance. This point isn’t meant to make you stress, just to ensure you that you need to take interviews seriously! If you want to start preparing (or need more preparation) please refer to my posts titled “Med Interview Tips & Thoughts”.
3) Prepare ahead (including for CASPer)! Most medical schools don’t give a lot of notice of whether you received an interview (for example, you may only find out 3-4 weeks prior); therefore, it is important that you start preparing before you get your first offer. ASSUME THE BEST CASE SCENARIO (i.e. that you will be interviewed at all the places you applied). In reality interviews are not something you can cram for, they are a state of mind, a way of thinking, it is the years of personal experiences and education that will be your most valuable assets in the interview! Regardless, I would 100% recommend preparing for interviews. For those applying at Canadian medical schools requiring the CASPer exam, I would also recommend preparing in advance for it as well. As I mentioned in point (2) please refer to “Med Interview Tips & Thoughts” for interview prep!
4) Interviews are unpredictable. I don’t think I walked out of a single interview thinking “I expected those questions”. I found all medical schools to have different and diverse questions, so you have to be prepared to answer (or do) anything. Personal questions, english questions (interpretations of photos, quotes, poems, etc.), health field related questions, ethical questions, current event questions, creative questions, drawing, acting, constructing, etc. etc. ANYTHING GOES. Do not expect that your interview will be similar to the practice questions posted on the internet or prep-books. If anything, I don’t think a single practice question I did came up during my real interviews. Therefore, try not to think of practice as trying to go through as many questions as possible in hopes that you will get a similar one for the real interview. Try to think of interview-prep as BUILDING THE SKILLS that will be necessary for you to succeed on the real interview (confidence, speaking skills, creativity, etc.).
5) BE CALM. For me, I view medical school interviews as a way for schools to learn more about you and see if you are a ‘good fit’ for their medical program. Since most schools have different interview questions and different acceptance processes, it is likely that they are looking for different traits and experiences in their students. If an interview doesn’t go well, don’t fret! You may have just had an ‘off’ day or perhaps that school may not be the best ‘fit’ for you. Med school interviews are unpredictable, being calm is (in my opinion) the biggest factor that determines your success. Try to remember, everyone is in the same boat as you and med schools are trying to learn about YOU. My single biggest piece of advice is to be calm, be yourself, and enjoy the process!!! 🙂