Medical school interviews start as early as August of your application year. But when you receive interview invites varies and is largely dependent on your submission timeline.
In this post, we’ll cover when to expect interview invites and how to stay on top of rolling admissions to ensure you receive the earliest interview spots.
When Do Medical School Interviews Start?
Depending on when you submit your application, you could receive an interview invitation as early as August. This is because some medical schools will automatically offer you an interview without looking at the rest of your application if you meet their GPA and MCAT cutoffs.
However, the majority of schools won’t start sending invitations until September, and they can continue to send invitations until April or May of the following year.
Your invitation will likely come by email, and typically, programs will give you a list of dates to choose from. It is imperative that you respond as soon as possible, as your preferred interview date could be snatched up by another applicant if you don’t act quickly.
When to Expect Interview Invites
While interviews may start as early as August, when to expect interview invites greatly depends on when you submit your application, the strength of your application, and whether or not you delay scheduling your interview.
Applying in June is far different than applying in August, September, or even later (and we do not recommend applying later than the fall). Schools only have so many spots available. The later you submit your application, the fewer spots there are, and that directly impacts your chance of acceptance.
This is because of rolling admissions. Medical schools review applications as they receive them on a ‘rolling’ basis. The more you procrastinate on submitting your application or scheduling your interview, the more applicants will take your place, leaving fewer spots available. The longer you delay, the worse your chances of acceptance.
That’s why applying early is so important. The earlier you submit, the more likely you are to secure an interview invitation. If you have a strong application and submit early, you can expect interview invitations to begin in August or September.
If you don’t receive an interview right away, it could be because you didn’t submit your application early enough. Did you submit your primary soon after applications opened in June, and did you have everything you needed for your application prepared with accurate information, including your transcripts?
But it’s not only about when you submitted your primary application. Did you submit secondaries in a timely manner, one to two weeks after receiving them? Even if you submitted your primary quickly, delaying your secondaries could hinder your interview opportunities.
It’s also important to keep in mind that schools send invitations to their top choices first. If those students decline an interview, don’t do well, or decline an acceptance, more spots open up.
If you followed an ideal timeline and still aren’t receiving interview invites in September and October, it could be due to the strength of your application. The schools you applied to may be looking at other candidates first. Although not ideal, do not be discouraged, as you are far from out of the race. Medical school interviews continue into the spring of the following year, and schools can give out acceptances as late as August before the school year begins.
Additionally, you may be waitlisted, which, again, is not ideal, but this can still lead to an acceptance. You can receive acceptances from waitlists mere weeks before the school year begins in September.
If you’ve been waitlisted, read our Medical School Waitlist FAQ and 7 Strategies for How to Get Off Medical School Waitlists.
Ideal Application Timeline: The Complete Application Process
Interviews are the last step in the medical school application process. Before you reach the interview phase, you have to take the MCAT, draft a compelling personal statement, forge deep connections with professors, supervisors, and mentors to secure four to five strong letters of recommendation, list and effectively describe your extracurriculars, choose your most meaningful experiences, and submit secondary applications.
To put it another way, interviews come after a staggering amount of hard work.
Med school applications open in May each year, and students have a month to complete each component and submit their primary application by the end of May or early June. The first application data is verified and sent to schools by AMCAS at the end of June. The first secondary applications are sent out in July.
Secondary applications will come hard and fast. Expect to receive them two to four weeks after you submit your primary application.
While receiving a secondary used to indicate a program was interested in you, this is not always actually the case. Secondary applications come with a fee that goes directly to the medical school. Not only is the medical school able to financially benefit from as many students submitting secondaries as possible, but it also gives admissions committees crucial information about who is most interested in attending their school. If a student doesn’t send their secondary in a timely fashion (7-14 days), it demonstrates a lack of sincere interest.
Interviews will begin in mid-August, though when you receive an invitation will, at least in part, depend on when you submit your primary and secondary applications.
Utilize our comprehensive Medical School Application Timeline and Monthly Schedule, which provides detailed information on exactly what you should be working on when.
When to Start Preparing for Interviews
Despite interviews being the final leg of the race, you need to prepare for them well in advance. You may be busy with secondary applications throughout the summer, but interviews are right on your heels. Do not neglect this critical aspect of your application.
How soon you begin preparing and how much time you dedicate to interview prep depends on your comfort level and current interview skills. But be warned: Just because you believe you’re good at interviews or have had a couple of good ones in the past doesn’t mean you’ll ace the ones for medical school.
The quality of your answers, how you portray yourself, whether or not you can illustrate school fit, and the confidence you communicate will all play essential roles in your interview success. But confidence is about a lot more than feelings. It’s true that some people naturally feel more confident than others, but this does not automatically translate to an effective interview. The most confident person in the world could float into their interview and crumble on the first question if they don’t have a cohesive answer prepared.
Craft answers to common questions early on and test yourself in a mirror or by filming yourself and reviewing it back. This will give you a better sense of how much preparation you need leading up to interview season.
If you struggle with interviews, begin preparing many months in advance to build your skills. It’s not like studying for an exam—skills build over time with steady and consistent effort, and interview skills are something you’ll need throughout your medical career, from scholarship or grant interviews to job interviews to residency interviews.
While you’ll already have a lot on your plate, slowly building your skills over time is better than last minute cramming. Practice answering common questions—but don’t memorize your answers. Yes, it’s possible that you could memorize several scripted answers in one or two nights, but the reason you need to dedicate time to preparing is that the most successful students are able to adapt their answers, and this is a skill that comes with practice.
Building your adaptability skills will help you tailor your answers to the interviewer and how the interview is going. It will also help you tackle questions you don’t expect and craft answers for differently worded questions without sounding like you’re simply reciting a rehearsed answer.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Applying to medical school is a long, tedious process, and by this point, it’s easy for many applicants to feel drained and burnt out. While interviews are the last piece of the puzzle, think of them as the most challenging piece. It doesn’t matter if you scored a perfect 528 or who wrote your letters of recommendation. If you give a bad interview, you can kiss your acceptance goodbye.
Mock interviews provide an opportunity to put your interview skills to the test so that you know exactly what to expect come interview day. We offer mock interviews with former med school interviewers who will provide direct feedback on your interview strengths and weaknesses.
If you want the extra edge that will help you stand out in all the right ways, Med School Insiders offers a course on How to Ace the Medical School Interview that provides thorough and thoughtful training, covering the entire interview process.
And finally, follow the Med School Insiders blog and YouTube channel for the latest student resources, including our Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) Guide, The Ideal Attire for Medical School Interviews, and How to Improve Your Interview Confidence.