Are you prepared for your Snapshot interview? The Altus Suite Snapshot section is a new addition to the 2022 medical school application cycle, and while you can’t study for it, you can certainly prepare for it. Snapshot is a video interview designed to help admissions committees see your people skills, how you carry yourself, and how you perform under pressure. You will be asked three questions, but those questions will vary. These Snapshot interview sample questions will help you prepare for the big day.
This guide will share the Snapshot questions you are likely to be asked during the interview, how to craft ideal answers, and how to best prepare for the interview.
What is Snapshot?
Snapshot is a short, one-way video interview consisting of three questions designed to further assess a medical school applicant’s people skills. The questions generally deal with why you want to become a doctor, but they’re also designed so that admissions committees can get to know you on a personal level.
Think of Snapshot as a pre-interview or an audition for an interview. It gives admissions committees extra insight into how you communicate, how you perform under pressure, and who you are in general. It’s a way to bring your personal statement to life.
Snapshot is part of Altus Suite, a multi-part assessment that evaluates your general people skills and bedside manner. Altus Suite provides you with several opportunities to demonstrate your personal and professional skills through both verbal and written content.
Learn more in our guide to Understanding Altus Suite: Casper, Snapshot, and Duet.
Not all schools require a Snapshot interview, and it can be a little difficult to determine whether you need one or not, as every school’s requirements vary. You may need to complete some components of the Altus Suite, but not all of them.
Check which aspects of Altus Suite are required by each of the schools you’re applying to on the Dates and Fees page on the Altus Suite website, and be sure to also check each program’s individual website.
The Snapshot Interview Process: What to Expect
Snapshot is the only verbal component of Altus Suite, and, depending on how many times you repeat the practice section, it only takes about ten minutes to complete. Snapshot asks three questions, and you only have a maximum of two minutes to respond to each one.
Snapshot is different from other interviews as you won’t be speaking to anyone directly. That said, as this is a test of your people skills, it’s important not to approach the interview in this way. You are not speaking to a computer screen; a real person will be watching your recording and evaluating your answers. Answer the questions as if you are speaking to someone right in front of you.
Once you log into Altus Suite and perform a systems requirement check, there is a mandatory practice session before the real interview begins. This is designed to help you prepare for the real thing. You can choose to practice just once or as many times as you like. Once you’ve practiced, you can start your Snapshot interview.
Before the recording for the real interview begins, you will be able to read the first question and take 30 seconds to consider and prepare your response. You will have two minutes to record your response, but if you don’t need the full two minutes, you can stop the recorder to submit your answer. You cannot re-record your responses; they are saved automatically.
Just to repeat: once you answer a question, it is locked in. You won’t get a second chance to re-record your answer. That’s why it’s so important to prepare in advance. Set up a camera and practice answering common interview questions within the Snapshot format, then watch yourself back. Seek out feedback from trusted friends, family members, and mentors. Do you seem natural, personable, and confident? What can you improve?
So, what questions will you be asked? 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’ll cover those questions and how you should answer them, as well as some other questions you may encounter.
Snapshot Interview Sample Questions and How to Answer
Tell Us About Someone You Admire and Why
This question is less about the person you pick and more about the values you personally admire and aspire to. Yes, you could pick a successful celebrity doctor, but it’s better to keep it personal and close to home, as this will reveal more about you, which is what Snapshot is trying to accomplish. What are your principles? What do you value in a human being? Who in your life has always guided you morally and ethically? What have you learned from them?
We don’t have to tell you how important ethics are to a doctor. Choose someone who is ethical, kind, generous, and unafraid to stand up for what is right.
Always keep in mind the length of time you have to answer. How can you convey your admiration for someone, why you admire them, and tie in your own values in only two minutes?
What is Your Favorite Book?
This is not an academic question, nor is it a trick question. It’s being asked to learn more about your personality and interests outside of medicine. Do not try to impress with an overly academic or medical book.
Be honest. What’s your favorite book? Why is it your favorite book? Did reading Harry Potter, for example, inspire a lifelong love of reading and learning? Did your favorite book teach you something about yourself or the world? Did it show you that your destiny in life was to help and heal people? Did it let you know you weren’t alone?
The key is showing passion and enthusiasm. Doctors are lifelong learners, which means they’re lifelong readers. Demonstrate that you take the time to read to expand your mind.
Now, what if it’s been years since you read anything for pleasure? Don’t worry; the question is not asking you what’s the last book you read. It’s asking you to elaborate on your favorite book.
The key is being prepared for this question and not being caught off guard. You don’t want to stumble through the question and make it seem like you haven’t read a book for years. PREPARE. Pick a book, and reflect on why it’s your favorite and how it helped you grow and develop as a person.
It’s a conversational interview. They want to see that you won’t be tripped up by a non-academic question or by a question that doesn’t directly relate to medicine.
What is an Obstacle You Have Faced, and How Did You Get Through It?
Chances are you’ve answered a question like this before during interviews or interview prep. You can use the same answer here, but make sure it is adapted to the Snapshot format. You must convey the story of your obstacle, how you made it through, and what you learned in only two minutes.
The Snapshot interview is set up to simulate a conversation. Practice your storytelling abilities while also being succinct and clear. When you describe the obstacle and its circumstances, will the graders have a clear image of what you’re describing?
Demonstrate how you have grown and matured because of the obstacle. Maturity is the name of the game when it comes to applying to medical school. Admissions committees want to accept mature, dedicated students who persevere through challenges, work well with others, and learn from their mistakes. What is a moment in your life where you demonstrated these qualities?
What Aspect of Your Future Profession Are You Most Excited About?
Be honest, but don’t say the paycheck. Odds are, you’ve thought and dreamed about being a doctor for a long time. What aspect of the job are you most excited about?
It is vital that you show your genuine enthusiasm when answering this question. Sleepily saying, “saving a life seems cool,” will do you absolutely no favors.
If you need to, think back to your personal statement. Why do you want to become a doctor? What about the prospect of being a doctor intrigues you most? Get specific here. Are you excited to learn about a specific specialty? Are you looking forward to being able to work directly with patients? Are you dreaming about being able to run your own medical practice? Are you eager to work with like-minded professionals who share your values and determination?
There’s a reason you want to dedicate eight or more years of your life (medical school plus residency) to learning how to become a doctor. What aspect of the job is driving you to cross that finish line?
Other Questions to Prepare For
There is no guarantee that you will be asked any of the sample questions Altus Suite provides. While it’s possible, Snapshot questions vary from one interview to the next. Expect to be asked similar questions to the ones you will be asked during your in-person medical school interviews.
This is why it’s critical to prepare for a number of different options. Reviewing common medical school interview questions is a good place to start. Before beginning your Snapshot interview, prepare two-minute answers to a variety of interview-style questions. And keep in mind that while the questions may be worded differently, they may be asking the same thing. A question that asks you about a time you failed or made a mistake will have a similar answer to a question that asks you to describe an obstacle you faced and overcame.
Other types of questions you may encounter, in some form or another, include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to become a doctor?
- What are you looking for in a medical school?
- Which area of medicine interests you most?
- What interest do you have in research?
- How will your experiences contribute to the diversity of our school?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What makes you stand out?
- What do you like to do for fun outside of academia?
- What do you think about (insert current event here)?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Learn how to answer these common questions: 21 Medical School Interview Questions and How to Answer Them.
How to Prepare for Snapshot
What’s most important when preparing for your Snapshot interview is practicing within the Snapshot format. You may have amazing interview skills, but the Snapshot interview is unique, and one stumble could derail your whole interview.
Take time answering questions within the two-minute time frame. Record yourself answering sample questions and watch it back. What do you notice? What can you improve upon?
Do you look comfortable and confident? Are you able to provide a fulsome answer within the allotted time? Are you able to maintain composure as you answer? Are you able to answer while maintaining a reasonable speaking speed?
With a limited amount of time and the stress of a one-chance interview, it’s natural for interviewees to speed up in order to get their point across. Doing so will make it more difficult for graders to understand you, and you will appear uneasy and nervous. Watch out for both your speed and tone as you practice at home.
In addition to practicing within the two-minute interview limit, practice formulating an answer using a 30 second timer to prepare. For your real Snapshot interview, you will only have 30 seconds between receiving the question and the start of the recording. Surprise yourself with various questions to see how well you adapt and formulate your response within 30 seconds.
We cover Snapshot interview strategies more extensively in our comprehensive Altus Suite Snapshot Guide, which includes how to prepare for Snapshot, best practices, and important Snapshot FAQs.
The Snapshot interview is a short one that doesn’t require studying, but, unfortunately, that often leads to students under preparing. Practice as much as you need to at home until you become comfortable with the format, your tone of voice, your body language, and the content of your answers.
Here are some basic strategies to follow as you prepare for your interview:
- Practice answering common interview questions within the two-minute Snapshot format.
- Practice adapting to new questions within a 30 second preparation time limit.
- Dress professionally. You don’t need to dress as you would for medical school interviews, but ensure you look professional.
- Avoid any uncomfortable or distracting clothing. Watch out for anything that could make distracting noises, such as dangling jewelry.
- Choose a simple backdrop that won’t distract from your interview.
- Test all of your technology in advance.
- Have a backup internet option available, if possible.
- Warm up your vocal cords and perform face yoga before starting the interview.
- Stretch before your interview begins and adjust your posture so that you are sitting comfortably across from your camera.
- Ensure you will not be interrupted by letting people you live or work with know about your important interview.
- Manage distractions on your phone or other devices that could break your attention.
- Watch out for poor body language, such as fidgeting, slouching, or looking at a watch during your interview.
Preparing for Snapshot and More
Although you can’t study for the components of Altus Suite, it’s vital that you prepare. Med School Insiders offers Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages that will help you with every aspect of the medical school application process—including Casper, Snapshot, and Duet. 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 professional mock interviews.
View our wide range of resources and guides on the Med School Insiders blog, which covers the entire application process, from choosing schools to submitting your application to transitioning into your first year of medical school. We send out a newsletter of our most recent content, new videos, industry trends, and lifestyle advice every week. Sign up or unsubscribe at any time.
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