The Altus Suite Snapshot section was a new addition to the 2022 application cycle. Snapshot is the interview portion that consists of three short interview-style questions designed to let schools see who you are, how you carry yourself, and how you perform under pressure.
This guide will cover how Snapshot fits within Altus Suite, how to prepare for Snapshot, best practices, and important Snapshot FAQs.
NOTE: Altus Assessments is changing to Acuity Insights. Expect changes at some point during the beginning of 2023, when the new cycle begins.
How Snapshot Fits Within Altus Suite
Altus Suite is a multi-part assessment that evaluates a medical school applicant’s bedside manner and general people skills. It provides prospective medical students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their personal and professional skills through both verbal and written content.
Altus Suite is made up of three parts: Casper, Snapshot, and Duet.
Casper is a 100-120 minute situational judgment test. It is designed to assess applicants based on 10 non-academic attributes, including professionalism, ethical decision making, and empathy.
Learn more in our Casper Guide.
Snapshot is a short, one-way video interview comprising three questions that further assess an applicant’s people skills. The questions deal with why the applicant wants to pursue medicine and become a doctor.
Duet is a value-alignment assessment. Applicants are asked what they value most in a program, and those values are then compared to what medical programs have to offer. Duet only applies to applicants to US medical schools and graduate medical programs.
Learn more in our Duet Guide.
How Snapshot Works
Snapshot is the only verbal component of Altus Suite, and it doesn’t take long to complete. There are only three questions, and you have a maximum of two minutes to respond to each, so the entire process takes about ten minutes.
Think of it like a pre-interview, or an audition for an interview. It’s a way to bring your personal statement to life and give admissions committees extra insight into who you are, how you communicate, and how you perform under pressure.
How to Prepare for Snapshot
1 | Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions
While you can’t predict exactly which questions you’ll be asked to answer, expect the questions to be similar to those asked during other professional and medical school interviews. These interviews generally circle the same kinds of questions, such as “tell me about yourself,” “why do you want to become a doctor,” “what are your greatest weaknesses,” who inspired you to become a doctor, and so on.
You won’t know your questions until the moment you receive them, but a few examples are provided on the Altus Suite website.
- Tell us about someone you admire and why.
- What is your favorite book?
- What is an obstacle you have faced, and how did you get through it?
- What aspect of your future profession are you most excited about?
We cover how to answer these questions and more in our guide: Snapshot Interview Sample Questions and How to Answer.
Since you know the sort of questions you’ll be asked, it’s vital to your success that you prepare some answers to these common interview questions. Don’t go into Snapshot blind believing you’ll come up with the perfect answer on the spot. Prepare your answers and practice delivering them confidently and clearly in front of a mirror, on video, and in front of trusted friends and family members.
Practice answering these questions within the specific Snapshot format. While you don’t know the specific questions you’ll be asked, you do know the exact format you’ll have to answer them in. Your answers will be filmed and submitted virtually, and you only have two minutes to record an answer. Practice responding to each common question within two minutes in front of your recording device and analyze your performance.
2 | Don’t Memorize Your Answers Word for Word
Preparation and practice are essential but don’t memorize your answers. Not only will this make you sound like a robot, but if the wording of the question is slightly different than the one you have already written a script for and memorized, it will trip you up.
Instead of responding to the question authentically, you’ll be stuck trying to remember your place. You’ll look more like a deer in the headlights than a confident future doctor.
Practice—don’t memorize. Know the key points you want to hit and the message you want to get across so that you can adapt your answers to the specific questions being asked.
3 | Test Your Tech in Advance
The Snapshot interview is virtual, so it’s imperative that your technology is up-to-date and you have a reliable internet connection. Altus Suite strongly encourages applicants to use an updated version of Chrome or Firefox.
Don’t take these things for granted. For Snapshot, you’ll need a microphone and a webcam. Altus Suite recommends wearing headphones with a microphone. Test your tech beforehand to ensure everything is in working order.
Have a backup Wi-Fi option in place just in case the worst should happen and your internet drops. Don’t let yourself be taken down by faulty tech; give yourself every advantage and test your tech before the interview.
4 | Manage Distractions and Prevent Interruptions
Don’t get thrown off by a random notification or needy roommate (parents, siblings, significant others, and pets included!)
Turn off your phone or leave it in another room entirely. You won’t need it for Snapshot, and if it’s nearby, it’s a distraction bomb that could go off at any second. Even if it’s on silent and you’ve flipped it over so you can’t see the screen, we’re so used to picking up our phones at any given moment that the mere sight of it is still a distraction. How many times have you impulsively reached for your phone without thinking?
Consider your surroundings as well. You need a quiet space where you know for certain that you won’t be interrupted. If you live with other people, let them know what Snapshot is and why it’s so important. Put a sign on your door as a reminder they can’t come in, and if possible, ask them to leave the house or apartment entirely for a half hour while you warm up and complete the Snapshot interview.
Mistakes happen. If someone decides that the ten minutes in which you’re participating in the virtual interview is the perfect time to make lunch, they could shatter a dish, set off the smoke alarm, or just annoy you with the sound of clattering pots and pans.
Do whatever you need to do in order to maximize and maintain your focus.
5 | Ensure You Have a Professional Backdrop
What does it look like behind you? What will the raters watching and evaluating your Snapshot interview be able to see? Clean your space to ensure there’s nothing unprofessional or distracting behind you, such as laundry, dishes, tacky posters, or empty bottles.
It’s important that your background looks professional and showcases you clearly. Don’t place yourself in front of a bookshelf full of every book you think your rater wants to see; they’ll spend the interview glancing at the names of the books instead of focusing on the substance of your answers.
Keep your backdrop professional and uncluttered. You want the rater’s focus to remain exclusively on you.
6 | Dress the Part
While Snapshot raters are advised not to consider your clothing, even Snapshot says that clothing choices like pajamas are distracting. And really, this should go without saying. You’re interviewing to become a doctor, not the next Billie Eilish.
It’s a good idea to wear what you would wear to a medical school interview since that is essentially what Snapshot is. It’s important to dress to impress without wearing anything too flashy. Dress sharp, but conservative.
Here are a few general tips on how to prepare and what you should wear:
- Wash your face and hair
- Invest in a nice outfit
- Keep it simple and professional
- Test your outfit to ensure you can sit, breathe, and speak comfortably
- Don’t wear anything too tight
- Don’t wear anything too flashy
- Keep accessories modest and minimal
Learn more about The Ideal Attire for Medical School Interviews.
7 | Warm Up Your Face and Vocals
Just like it’s important to warm up before you exercise, it’s important to warm up before an interview. Only instead of warming up your muscles, you’ll be warming up your face and vocal cords.
Tripping over your words and speaking too quickly will make you appear nervous. Warm up your mouth by quickly repeating phrases like “the tip of the tongue, the teeth, and the lips,” “the lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue,” and “red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather.”
Focus on enunciating each and every syllable. Chew the words up like a firm piece of beef and exaggerate the movements of your mouth. Performing these vocal warmups will loosen up your mouth and help you speak clearly and confidently during your Snapshot interview.
Face yoga will loosen up your face as well and make you appear more engaging. Before Snapshot, open up your mouth and eyes as wide as you can and wrinkle your forehead as if you’re about to scream. Imagine you’ve just seen a ghost or failed the MCAT. Next, pinch your face into a raisin. Repeat these movements several times to liven up and relax the muscles in your face.
Altus Suite Snapshot FAQs
What is the Snapshot Format?
There are not many steps to Snapshot, so the format is straightforward.
- Log into your Altus Suite account to take Snapshot.
- Perform the systems requirement check.
- Complete the mandatory practice session, which will ask you two interview-style questions. You can repeat this practice session as many times as you wish until you feel confident enough to take the real Snapshot interview.
- Snapshot is made up of three interview-style questions. Once you begin the Snapshot interview, you will receive the first question and have 30 seconds to reflect on your response. After the 30 seconds are up, you will have two minutes to record your response. If you finish your response before the two minutes are up, you can move on to the next question. (You can also pause between the questions to take a break and collect yourself before the next question.)
- Your answers are automatically recorded. After you answer the three questions and submit your responses, Snapshot is complete.
Where Does the Snapshot Interview Occur?
Just like the Casper test, the Snapshot interview occurs virtually, so it’s up to you to decide the space where you feel most comfortable and confident.
Choose a quiet space with a reliable internet connection where you can be alone, free from distractions and potential interruptions.
When Are Snapshot Interviews Due?
Altus Suite requirements are determined by individual programs for their admissions process. To ensure that all of your Altus Suite components can be viewed together by the programs you’re applying to, complete Snapshot within two weeks (14 days) of taking your Casper test.
If individual program requirements change, you will still be able to complete Snapshot anytime before your earliest program distribution deadline.
How Many Snapshot Interviews Do I Need to Record?
Applicants only need to record one Snapshot interview, and this interview will be sent to each of the programs on your distribution list.
The exception to this rule is if you are applying to both English and French programs, then you will need to record a Snapshot in English and an additional one in French.
How Long is the Snapshot Interview?
Depending on how many times you repeat the practice section, Snapshot takes about ten minutes to complete. It’s made up of three interview-style questions, and you’re given only two minutes to respond to each.
The mandatory practice session is designed to help you prepare for the real thing. You can practice as many times as you like or only once. Once you’ve practiced, you can begin your Snapshot interview.
Before the recording for the real interview begins, you’ll be able to read the first question and have 30 seconds to reflect on your response. You have two minutes to record your response, but you can stop the recorder if you don’t need the full two minutes. You cannot re-record your responses; they are saved automatically.
How Much Does Snapshot Cost?
The fee to take Altus Suite is $85 USD, which includes distribution of results to 8 programs. An additional $15 USD is charged for each additional program you need to send your scores to. The fees you pay when you reserve your Casper test covers all applicable parts, including Snapshot.
What Interview Questions Are Asked?
Snapshot interview questions vary from one interview to the next. Expect to be asked similar questions to the ones you will be asked during your medical school in-person interviews.
Before completing Snapshot, prepare two minute answers for a variety of interview-style questions, including “what’s you favorite book,” “why do you want to become a doctor,” “what’s an obstacle that you faced, and how did you overcome it,” etc.
How Long Do I Have In Between Each Interview Question?
You can choose to move directly from one question to the next, or you have the option to pause between each question. Note that you cannot pause Snapshot while reading and responding to a question; you can only pause after answering a question and before moving on to the next one.
Can I Re-Record Snapshot Answers?
No, you cannot re-record the Snapshot answers once you submit them. You cannot retake Snapshot unless you experienced technical issues while recording Snapshot and your answers were not saved correctly.
This is why it’s so important to prepare and practice in advance. Just like a regular in-person interview, what you say in the moment is what will be heard by your assessors. There are no do-overs.
Prepare for Snapshot with Med School Insiders
Although you can’t study for Altus Suite, it’s vital that you prepare for it. Med School Insiders offers Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will help you with every aspect of the medical school application process—including Altus Suite. Success on Snapshot will heavily depend on your interview skills, and the only way to hone those skills is through plenty of practice, preparation, and mock interviews.