The application process for the BS/MD candidate is a long one. Essays, essays, and more essays to write. But, if you have made it this far and received the coveted request for an interview, then you are on the short-list. Competitive programs like the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program or the Baylor2 Medical Track Program only accept six students a year to their program, and the interview is a key factor in deciding who gets those spots.
It’s important to remember that once you have made it to the interview stage you are on an even playing field with the rest of the candidates. Your application was strong enough to make it this far and now you will be judged by your interview, so your selection into the program is dependent on how well you do. The interview is a key factor in the decision process. Don’t be intimidated by other candidates and how long their resumes are; how well you prepare for the interview and how you present yourself to the interviewer is a critical component.
Where Does The Interview Take Place?
The interview process varies from program to program. Sometimes, you will interview at the undergraduate institution. Other times you will interview at the medical school. You might even interview at the teaching hospital associated with the program. Many times they will do an initial phone or Skype interview, especially if you are located across the country.
Who Will Interview You?
Students are typically told in advance who will be conducting the interview. Once you receive their name, a simple Google or LinkedIn search can help you gather more information about them. This will help when they ask, “So, do you have any questions for me?”. The answer is always yes, and the questions asked should be targeted. It is advisable to have four to six questions prepared in advance. Avoid questions whose answers can be easily found on the website. The interviewer is often a doctor, professor, or admissions staff member.
Sometimes, you might have just one interviewer, or you might have to do several interviews in a row. By anticipating several situations, you can be fully prepared for whatever happens during the interview process.
What Is The Purpose Of A BS/MD Interview?
The BS/MD interview helps to bring you alive outside of your application. The interview serves to give the school a better insight into you as a person, beyond just your test scores and transcript. You won’t be quizzed on your current medical knowledge; instead, they want to learn about your opinions. Since you have impressed them with your application, the interview is the time to show them that you are who you say you are.
Tips For The Interview
Be Specific. When the interviewer is asking you questions about your experiences or your interest in medicine, make sure to respond with examples, and not vague statements. This meeting is your one opportunity to convince them that you deserve that spot, and the best way to do that is to make yourself stand out with memorable anecdotes that illustrate your desire to join medicine and the program. If the interviewer asks you what your strengths are, don’t respond simply with “hard-working.” Tell them a story that describes when you were hard-working and how it ties into your desire to study medicine.
Do Your Research. Don’t go into the interview thinking that it is enough to know your own resume backward and forward. Do your research about the particular undergraduate institution and medical school that the program is affiliated with. Most likely, you will be asked about why you want to join that specific program, so you want to make sure you have an answer ready.
Remember Medicine. Don’t forget you are applying for a medical program interview. Therefore, the most important thing to focus on is your readiness and commitment to pursue medicine. Because the programs are so competitive, they will not consider students who are not fully committed to a career in medicine. Always answer with certainty regarding your decision to study medicine.
Maturity is Key. Not only is your desire to study medicine important, your maturity – or lack of – is something the interviewers will be reviewing. Because you are just a high school senior, you want to convey a sense of maturity that shows you are ready and prepared to take on such a rigorous program. Simple things like being punctual, good posture, a firm handshake, and well-thought-out answers go a long way to show your confidence and maturity.
Prepare. Go over sample BS/MD interview questions with your parents or college counselor. Practice your responses to make sure you are hitting all the highlights of your experiences. A good idea is to write out your answers in bullet -point format to get comfortable talking about yourself.
Nonverbal Communication. You are being evaluated on more than what you say. Be mindful of your gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact.
Do not play with your pen or your fingernails while talking.
No gum chewing.
Look at interviewer’s face; not at the floor, table or ceiling.
Sample Interview Questions
Typically, the questions asked will be a mix of standard interview questions plus BS/MD specific interview questions.
Tell me about yourself.
This is a favorite one to open with. Since it is so vague, don’t let it throw you off. Think of this as your one-minute elevator pitch. One minute, not ten minutes.
What are your top three strengths?
When mentioning your strengths, give examples that highlight each strength. Different variations of this question might be “What are three adjectives that describe you?” or “How would your friends describe you?”
What is your greatest weakness?
Mention the weakness briefly, then flip the story to show how it is also used as a strength in many circumstances. Close with the steps you are taking to address the weakness. Show you are aware of it and working on it.
What is your favorite class in high school? Why?
There is no wrong answer here. They are just trying to get to know you better. You are allowed to have interests outside of science. Not every BS/MD student needs to answer with Biology, Chemistry, or Physics.
Why do you want to be a doctor?
Your passion for the field must be portrayed.
Why our BS/MD program?
Be specific. No vague answers that can apply to other programs as well.
As a high school student, a combined medical program is a long-term commitment. How do you know BS/MD is the right path for you to take for medicine?
Must show your commitment to the medical field. This is the only occupation for you.
On your application and essays, you mentioned numerous experiences in medicine. What was the most memorable experience?
Tell a story.
What have you learned from your research experiences?
Once again, story time.
Tell us more about your shadowing experiences. How did you get the position? What did you learn?
Highlight some of the leadership qualities you want to come across to the interviewer.
Explain more about your community service experiences.
Discuss a volunteer initiative you are passionate about.
What do you feel is a significant challenge that physicians face? As a future doctor, how would you respond to this challenge?
Have 1 – 2 challenges thought out and prepared.
What do you see as a significant issue in the medical field? What steps should medical leaders take to solve this problem?
Have 1 – 2 issues thought out and prepared.
In your opinion, what are the social responsibilities of a physician?
Put yourself in the physician role. Answer the question as if you were talking about your own patients.
Why should we accept you into the program?
Discuss how you will add value.
After The Interview
Once the interview is complete, your first response might be to feel relieved. Your second response should be to send a thank you note.
Send a thank you email within 24 hours of your interview. Do not delay and wait a week to send it.
The email should not be generic. Thank the interviewer for their time and mention specific items you discussed, during the interview, that you found enlightening. Make it personal.
Always check for spelling and grammar before sending the email.
The BS/MD interview is one of the final steps in the process, but it might be the most important. It is your last chance to showcase your talents, experiences, and qualities that make you the best candidate for a BS/MD program. Keep these tips and interview questions in mind when you are preparing for the interview, and good luck!
Research for this article was contributed by Moon Prep college counselor, Lindsey Conger.