After the tediously challenging process of preparing your primary application materials and submitting up to 20 or more secondary applications, you’ve made it to the medical school interview—the final step. Interviews can begin as early as the summer, but they will continue through to the spring of the following year. Depending on when you submitted your application materials, you could have interviews scheduled throughout this time.
We have a comprehensive medical school interview guide that covers how to schedule interviews, how to prepare, what to wear, and mistakes to avoid.
In this post, we’re going to zero in on the day of your interview. What should you be doing the night before, the morning before, and the moments before your interview? Here’s what you can expect on the big day and how to make the most of your interview.
MMI vs. Regular Interview
On interview day, you will either face a regular interview, which is just you and one or more interviewers, multiple mini interviews, or some combination of both. Multiple mini interviews are exactly what they sound like: several small interviews conducted by a range of different interviewers.
When it comes to the regular interview, you can expect to sit down for, in most cases, a one-on-one interview with a faculty member of the school. They will ask you a range of common medical school interview questions (that you will have prepared answers to beforehand), you will ask the interviewer a few questions, and you will part ways.
For the multiple mini interview, you will rotate through six to ten stations and encounter new scenarios at each station. While this interview format may sound intimidating, it also gives you many opportunities to make a good first impression on several different faculty members. If you flub one mini interview, you can dust yourself off and make a fresh start on the next one.
While the structure of the multiple mini interviews will vary from one school to the next, you can expect a combination of the following:
- You will circulate between 6 to 10 stations. At each station, you will engage in a one-on-one interview that may or may not include a patient actor.
- Each station will take approximately eight minutes to complete.
- Before you enter the station, you will receive a new prompt to read.
- Interviewers will likely not give you any feedback, as many institutions tell their interviewers not to react to your answers. They will simply ask questions.
Nearly one third of all US MD programs have adopted this method of interviewing, including some top-tier schools, so it’s likely at least one of the programs you’ve applied to will utilize the multiple mini interview. That said, traditional interviews with just you and the interviewer are still the most common.
If any of the schools you applied to use the multiple mini interview or a hybrid of this format, ensure you take time to prepare for it specifically. Practice answering questions in this format or participate in MMI mock interviews for extra practice.
The Night Before Your Interview
1 | Avoid Late Social Gatherings
This may go without saying, but don’t stay out late and avoid drinking alcohol the night before your interview. Many programs have a social networking event the night before interview day. It’s important to be on your best behavior at this gathering, as you are certainly being watched and evaluated by the faculty and students in attendance. The way you treat every single person you interact with matters. Be polite to everyone, from fellow applicants to the wait staff to current students to tenured professors.
You may want to attend other events on campus or explore the city, but wait until your interview is over before you hit up the sights or go to a bar. Meeting potential schoolmates and future colleagues is important, but not at the expense of your sleep. You need to be on your A game in the morning.
Your top priority is your interview. Don’t stay out late, and do not consume alcohol. One drink is okay if you’ve drank before, but don’t treat this as an opportunity to party. You are there as a professional. Getting drunk is the absolute last thing you want to do. Not only will this make a bad impression at the social gathering, but entering your interview hungover could torpedo your chances of acceptance.
2 | Pack and Prep What You Need
Prepare as much as possible the night before to ensure your morning goes smoothly. Lay out the clothes you’re going to wear. Have your breakfast prepared. Have your bag or folder packed with everything you will bring. Create a list of what you need on interview day and double-check you have everything. Preparing everything beforehand will ensure you don’t forget anything on the day of, even if your nerves get the best of you in the morning.
Take some time to review your answers to common interview questions. Practice in front of the mirror and your camera. Practice mindfulness exercises and do what you can to relax.
3 | Prioritize a Good Night’s Sleep
Give yourself plenty of extra time to fall asleep, as the stress of your impending interview will certainly make falling asleep challenging. Follow your regular habits and nighttime routine.
Ideally, you already have a bedtime routine that you’ve designed and used over the past several weeks and months. Designing a routine around your habits that you can follow easily is an absolute must while studying for the MCAT and during medical school.
If you don’t have a nighttime routine, design one as soon as possible. That said, the night before your interview is not the time to implement a bunch of habits you haven’t gotten used to yet. Follow your usual routine to ensure you get the best sleep possible.
The Morning of Your Interview
1 | Get an Early Start With Multiple Alarms
Leave yourself plenty of time in the morning by getting up early. You never know what could come up, so it’s better to have extra time than not enough. This all goes back to preparing in advance and getting to bed early the night before
No matter how sure you are that your alarm will wake you up, be extra cautious. Make absolutely sure your phone isn’t on silent mode or running low on battery if that’s what you’re using for an alarm. Anything can happen. Set multiple alarms for yourself, and if you’re staying in a hotel, schedule a wake-up call.
Want to avoid looking at your phone first thing or getting text interruptions at night? Invest in a real alarm clock. Just be sure that whatever device you use, you’ve used before. If you haven’t caught on yet, don’t try anything new is a common theme you’ll see throughout our interview day tips.
You may want to consider having an accountability buddy for important interviews, especially if you’re someone who struggles to wake up in the morning. Have someone check in on you by text or ask them to call you 10-20 minutes after your last scheduled alarm to make absolutely sure you wake up on time.
2 | Wash Yourself and Double-Check You Have Everything
Cleanliness is next to godliness, so ensure you wash up before your interview. It’s also important to shave your face if you grow facial hair. You want to look clean-cut, fresh, and professional.
After testing your outfit out several times previously, you should now be well accustomed to your interview clothing. Ensure everything looks neat and tidy.
Double-check your list. Do you have everything you need?
While it’s important to smell nice, you don’t want to use any overpowering perfumes or colognes. You never know who could have a scent allergy on campus, and watch out for coffee breath!
3 | Eat a Light, Healthy Breakfast
It’s a good idea to have something to eat the morning of your interview. It will be a long, stressful day, and you may not have the opportunity to eat when you normally would.
Keep it light and healthy, but don’t eat anything you haven’t eaten before. The day of your interview is not the time to start a new health kick. Stick with what you usually eat for breakfast to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible.
Ideally, you will already be familiar with healthy breakfast foods, such as eggs, oatmeal, whole wheat toast, nuts, granola bars, bananas, and berries.
The morning of interview day isn’t the time to ingest a greasy pile of bacon, hash browns, and pancakes, but again, if that’s what you normally eat every morning, stick with it. This isn’t the time to throw your stomach any curveballs.
Getting to Your Interview
1 | Plan Your Route and Transportation Ahead of Time
How will you get to campus? What route will you take? Can you walk there? Will you sweat too much if you walk there? Do you need to take public transit? Can you take a cab or Uber? Can you carpool with anyone? Are they reliable? How long will each of these methods take, and what delays are possible?
Do all of this planning in advance. If you can, use the day before your interview to scope out the location so that you know exactly where to go and how long it will take. If you plan on taking a cab, schedule it the night before.
You’ve got enough on your mind. Plan as much as you can in advance, so you can keep your focus on nailing your interview.
2 | Give Yourself More Time Than You Think You Need
It goes without saying, but don’t be late. Give yourself plenty of time to account for any twists and turns fate sends your way on the big day.
You never know what could happen on the way. Count on traffic delays, spilled coffee, a road closure, or just getting lost on campus. Anything could happen, so prepare for all of it by starting early and giving yourself as much time as possible.
3 | Reset Yourself Once You Arrive
Once you arrive, check in with yourself and find a mirror. Do you still look sharp? Is your shirt tucked in? Is your hair in the right place? Are there any creases in your pants, skirt, or suit jacket? Did you collect any dust, stains, or stray toilet paper on the way? How is your breath?
Leave nothing to chance. All of that advanced preparation will mean nothing if you don’t reset and refresh when you arrive.
Moments Before Your Interview
1 | Don’t Get Distracted by Your Phone
Now is not the time to distract yourself with apps, photos, or texts from parents. Keep all your focus on the here and now. It’s interview day! You’ve worked very, very hard to get here. Enjoy this moment. What sights, sounds, and smells are around you? How are you feeling? Reflect on your answers to common interview questions and focus on your breathing.
2 | Do Face Yoga and Vocal Exercises
You need to stretch and warm up before hitting the gym, and speaking articulately is no different. Tripping over your own words and becoming tongue-tied will make you appear nervous, which will torpedo your confidence and make it difficult to recover on the fly.
Before your interview, practice a little face yoga to loosen up your face and get it animated. Open up your mouth and eyes wide like you’re extremely surprised by something, then squish up your face in your best impression of a raisin. Repeating these actions several times will relax the muscles in your face, so you don’t come off stiff or forced. Getting your face moving will help you look confident, relaxed, and animated.
You want to enunciate all of your answers clearly and confidently, so repeat some tongue twisters before your interview. Quickly repeat phrases like “red leather, yellow leather,” “unique New York, unique New York, unique New York,” or “she sells seashells by the sea shore,” as clearly and articulately as possible. Chew the words like they’re a giant wad of gum and exaggerate the movements of your mouth. Focus on enunciating every vowel and consonant.
When you enter your interview, your voice, face, and mouth will be warmed up and ready to go. Not only will you look and feel engaged, but you’ll be able to speak articulately and confidently.
3 | Set Your Posture to Build Confidence
You do not want to hunch your shoulders during your interview. Not only will this make you appear meek and disengaged, but it will also affect your diaphragm and ability to breathe and speak easily.
Before the interview, set your posture by putting your arms to either side of you and then slowly lifting them toward the ceiling. Roll your shoulders back and allow your arms to gracefully descend to either side of you. Your chest should feel a bit puffed, out and your shoulders should feel pushed back, which is actually proper posture.
Not only will this make you look confident, but it will make you feel confident as well. Plus, your diaphragm won’t be blocked, so you’ll be able to breathe and speak easily.
After Your Interview
1 | Take a Deep Breath
You did it.
Take a moment to yourself to breathe and reflect. No matter how the interview went, you made it through. If you didn’t absolutely nail it, you certainly learned an important lesson that you can apply to your next interviews.
Be proud of your success, and don’t be too hard on yourself if an aspect of your interview didn’t go as perfectly as you hoped. Dwelling on the negatives will only bring you down. Instead, focus on constructive feedback for yourself. How can you improve for next time?
2 | Reflect and Take Notes
As soon as you can after your interview, take a short amount of time to reflect. Is there anything you wanted to discuss that you weren’t able to get to? Are there any notes you have for yourself that you want to remember for next time?
The further you get from your interview, the less you will remember about it. Record any important notes, thoughts, or feelings you have right away.
You can—and should—review these notes later as you send thank you letters and prepare for future interviews.
3 | Enjoy the Rest of Your Time (But Not Too Much)
Take the rest of your time there to explore the campus, socialize, and learn all that you can about the school that you might end up attending. Ask questions if you can and get to know the real student body. Can you see yourself going to this school? How does the campus make you feel? How do you feel around the students and professors?
Just remember not to let loose too much. Even after your interview, you never know who could be watching, so keep any socializing professional, and be kind and polite to everyone you meet.
Prepare for Interview Day With Mock Interviews
Med School Insiders offers a course on How to Ace the Medical School Interview, which provides thoughtful and thorough training that covers the entire interview process. We offer mock interviews with former interviewers who will provide you with key insight and direct feedback on how effectively you answer and ask questions. Mock interviews provide an opportunity to put your interview skills to the test, so you know exactly what to expect come interview day.