If you made it to the interview phase of your medical school application, congratulations! You’re in the final stretch. Hopefully, you will soon begin to receive interview invitations from your top choice schools. The medical school interview is an opportunity for schools to get to know you in person, but it’s also a chance for you to get to know them, which will help you decide which medical school you want to go to.
As you learn more about each school, you’ll likely get a gut feeling about which schools you want to attend and which ones just don’t feel right. The interview process will help you in your own assessments. Watch how you feel around the people you meet on your interview day, including current medical students and staff.
To get the most out of the experience and for your best chance of success, you must be strategic about how you schedule your interviews. In this post, we’ll explain how to schedule medical school interviews to enhance your interview experience and optimize your chances of acceptance.
When you’re done here, we suggest reading our medical school interview guide, which covers common interview questions, preparation advice, and mistakes to avoid.
When Do Medical School Interviews Take Place?
Med school interviews are the final step before acceptance, following taking the MCAT and submitting both your primary and secondary applications.
It’s important to note that the final deadline for applications and secondary materials does not represent the timeline you should follow. Applying early is one of the most important medical school admission strategies, which means it’s important that you apply as soon as applications open.
Prepare for the process well in advance and give yourself as much time as possible to take the MCAT, write an excellent personal statement, request letters of recommendation, and complete your many secondary applications.
The AMCAS application typically opens during the first week of May for the following year’s medical school class. AMCAS submissions don’t open until the end of May or early June, so you have about a month to prepare the application. For example, if you want to begin medical school in the fall of 2025, you’ll need to start the application process in the spring of 2024.
Within about two to four weeks of submitting the primary application, you’ll start to receive secondary applications. Plan to complete these straight away, within 7-14 days. It’s a very short window, which means you must prepare well in advance to ensure you submit a quality response.
Read our Medical School Secondary Application Guide to learn how to craft stand out secondaries.
Interview invites arrive between August and September and continue into the spring of the following year. Your personal timeline for preparing for interviews should begin months before receiving an invitation. Ensure you have a flexible schedule during this time, practice answering questions, and participate in mock interviews to prepare yourself.
For more information about ideal scheduling, read our Medical School Application Timeline Guide.
How to Schedule Medical School Interviews
1 | Don’t Delay Scheduling Your Interviews
First and foremost, don’t delay scheduling your interviews. The later you schedule them, the worse your chances of acceptance due to rolling admissions.
Rolling admissions means medical schools review applications on a continuous basis. Admissions committees do not wait until they have received all of their applications to begin making decisions. They review applications as they are submitted, so students who are ahead of the game are at an advantage.
Applying as soon as applications open in the spring is one of the most essential strategies for gaining an edge over other applicants, and this strategy applies to the entire application process.
Offers are only made while there are spots available. The longer you delay, the fewer spots there are.
Schedule your interviews as soon as possible for your best chance of acceptance. That said, if you receive multiple interview invites, it’s critical to be strategic with how you schedule them.
2 | Don’t Schedule Your First Interview at Your Top School
Practice is vital when it comes to med school interviews. You don’t want your first interview to be at your top school because this is when you’ll have the least experience. Don’t dive straight into your most important interviews without first familiarizing yourself with the process.
Schedule lower tier options first to get a feel for how interviews are conducted and how you perform under pressure.
Understanding how the interview process works and what to expect will boost your confidence and help you relax. You can then enter the interviews you’re most excited about with all of the lessons you’ve learned so far. Continue to assess your performance and tweak your approach as you get to more important interviews.
3 | Don’t Schedule Your Top School Interviews Last
While you don’t want to schedule your top interviews first, don’t schedule them last either. Placing competitive programs later in the interview season gives other applicants a leg up.
Scheduling these interviews late in the game could also cause you to run out of steam. Feeling drained and apathetic is a terrible way to enter an interview at your top choice med school.
Take a Goldilocks approach of not too early and not too late when scheduling your most important interviews. Place them strategically toward the middle of your interview schedule—but don’t keep your top choice schools waiting.
4 | Keep an Open Schedule During Interview Season
You know when interview season occurs. While it’s a long process, it’s careless to be surprised by interview requests. Prepare for your interviews well in advance, and keep your schedule flexible to ensure you are able to schedule interviews as requests arrive.
Don’t plan any trips or make commitments that can’t be rescheduled. For example, don’t splurge on expensive, non-refundable concert tickets in September since interview invites could arrive during this time.
Make sure your spouse, family, friends, and employers understand you need to be flexible with your commitments during interview season. Be sure to actively monitor your email throughout the entirety of this process.
5 | Plan Ahead and Practice
Don’t wait until you receive interview invitations to begin practicing. Your personal timeline for preparing for interviews should begin months before receiving an invitation. Include interview prep in your medical school application schedule so you feel confident and prepared when your interview invitations come through.
Practice in front of a mirror and watch for any timid or distracting body language.
Record yourself answering questions and play them back. This may be a painful process, but it will help you analyze your body language, tone of voice, confidence, and overall effectiveness.
Ask friends and family to interview you, and surprise yourself with unfamiliar interview questions by shuffling through various questions at random.
Preparation doesn’t mean perfectly memorizing exact responses. You need to be adaptable and able to evolve your answers depending on how a question is asked, how the conversation is going, and what you’ve learned about the interviewer. Perfectly memorized answers will trip you up, as you could lose your spot or be thrown off by a differently worded question.
Mock interviews simulate the experience of a real interview, which can help you pinpoint weak areas early on. Participating in mock interviews is especially beneficial for students who are concerned about their interview skills, struggle with confidence, or are nervous about how they will perform under pressure.
Med School Insiders offers mock interviews with doctors who have been on both sides of the interview process. They will provide insightful and objective feedback on your performance and how you can improve.
6 | Don’t Give Up
Lastly, no matter how drained by the process you may feel, don’t give up or lose focus come interview season.
The medical school application process is long, tedious, and demanding. Getting to your interviews is a big step, but as premeds get further into the interview process, they can begin to lose steam. You’ve come a long way, so don’t give up now. Ensure you maintain your dedication all the way to the finish line.
Pay attention to your energy, enthusiasm, and state of mind during interview season. Each admissions committee expects you to show genuine interest in attending their school, no matter how drained you feel.
You may have nailed a handful of interviews already, or you may have even received a few acceptance letters. Continue pushing on even if you think you know what school you want to attend. Once you get accepted, you can still consider other schools to increase your scholarship opportunities.
You can say, “Hey, I got this scholarship—what can you, the school I want to attend more, do about it?” This can maximize your scholarship potential and is a strategy I used to leverage a full tuition scholarship from my preferred school.
At the same time, you don’t need to go to every interview you receive if you already have a number of offers you’re more interested in. Don’t go to interviews at schools you know you won’t choose, as this wastes both your time and the program’s.
It’s also bad etiquette. If you’re already confident in the school you’ll attend and have a few backup options to leverage scholarships, be courteous to students who are eagerly awaiting an interview lifeline. The other students applying to medical school are not your competition but rather your future colleagues. Your only true competition is yourself.
Ace Your Medical School Interviews
Med School Interview Practice Tips:
- Practice common interview questions in front of a mirror and watch for any timid or distracting body language.
- Record yourself on video answering questions and play it back. This may be a painful process, but it will help you analyze your body language, tone of voice, etc.
- Choose professional attire and practice wearing your interview clothing well before interview day. Learn more in our guide: The Ideal Attire for Medical School Interviews.
- Prepare thoughtful questions to ask medical school interviewers.
- Ask friends and family to interview you to get practice answering people’s questions on the spot. Keep in mind, however, that friends and family will likely be biased about your performance.
- Purchase mock interviews to simulate the experience of a real interview to receive objective advice and tried and true interview tips.
Looking for more strategies? Read our 13 Medical School Interview Mistakes You Must Avoid.
While you might look great on paper, the interview is just as much art as it is science. We’ve seen applicants who are impressive on paper get rejected from medical school due to poor interview skills.
How you schedule your interviews can affect your performance, and if you’re not careful, you may fumble at your top-choice school. Take care in planning your interview schedule to ensure your top schools are ideally placed.
Take time honing your skills in advance with mock interviews, and build your experience and confidence at lower choice schools before jumping into your most important interviews. Don’t schedule your top choice schools too late in the process to ensure you maintain energy and enthusiasm.
Med School Insiders offers a course on How to Ace the Medical School Interview that provides thorough and thoughtful training to prepare you for the entire interview process.
We have a large selection of free resources on the Med School Insiders blog, including advice for acing your interview and strategies that will help you succeed in every aspect of the medical school application process. These guides are a good place to start: