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 a range of topics, including 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 2023, you’ll need to start the application process in the spring of 2022.
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 create 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 Schedule Your First Interview at Your Top School
Practice makes perfect, so you don’t want your first interview to be at your top school. Gather some experience with the interview process before diving straight into your most important interview.
Schedule lower tier options first to get a feel for the process. Understanding how the interview process works and what to expect will boost your confidence and help you relax. You can then enter your most important interviews with all of the lessons learned so far. Continue to assess your performance and tweak your approach as you get to more important interviews.
2 | Don’t Schedule Your Top School Interviews Last
While you certainly don’t want to schedule your top school interviews first, you don’t want to schedule them last either. Scheduling your top school interviews last could cause you to run out of steam and burn out on the interview process. Feeling drained and apathetic is a pretty terrible way to enter an interview at your top choice med school.
Take a Goldilocks approach, not too early and not too late, when scheduling your top school interviews. Place them strategically toward the middle of your interview schedule—in the middle is just right.
3 | Don’t Delay Scheduling Your Interviews
You also don’t want your top school interview to be scheduled too late in the interview process due to rolling admissions. The later you schedule your interviews, the worse your chances of acceptance.
Rolling admissions mean medical schools review applications on a rolling (i.e., 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 will usually know within four to eight weeks whether or not they have been accepted or rejected.
The reason you don’t want to wait too long to schedule your interview is that offers are only made while there are spots available. If you wait too long, there will be fewer spots available for matriculants.
Schedule your interviews as soon as possible for your best chance of acceptance, but ensure you have a few lower tier schools scheduled first so that you can gain confidence and familiarize yourself with the process.
4 | Keep an Open Schedule During Interview Season
You’ve seen the application schedule, which means you have a pretty good idea when you’ll begin receiving interview invitations. It’s careless to be surprised by these requests. Prepare for your interviews well in advance, and make sure your schedule is relatively flexible to ensure you are able to schedule interviews soon after the 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 when you may have interviews come up during that time. Make sure friends, family, and employers understand that you need to be flexible with your commitments during interview season.
5 | Plan Ahead and Practice
Don’t wait until you receive interviews to begin practicing and preparing. Include interview prep in your medical school application schedule so that you feel confident and prepared when your interview invitations come through.
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.
6 | Don’t Give Up
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 on the process 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 help maximize your scholarship potential.
Ace Your Medical School Interviews
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 end up with a poor performance at your top choice school. Take careful 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. Take care not to 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: