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The University of Michigan Medical School’s first 24 Hours in Blue Interview Day is just around the corner on September 10th. For those of you with medical school interviews scheduled — and those who hope to have interviews scheduled soon — members of our M1 class are here to give you their tips and tricks for making this day a success for you, too.

Topics range from how to set yourself apart and deciding where to interview to the do’s and don’ts of virtual interviews, getting the inside scoop from current students, and even some bonus tips. Take it from them – they were in your shoes one year ago. You’ve got this!

 

On how best to convey what sets you apart on the spot (or on camera):

  • “Oftentimes the things that set you apart don’t have to do with your academic qualifications, but rather your real life and work experiences, and even your hobbies!” -Matthew
  • “Have a list of anecdotal examples that highlight who you are and incorporate them into the conversation because they will only learn what you tell them about yourself, so share a lot!” -Gabriela
  • “Be yourself, be humble, and be confident. Those three things will give the admissions committee good insight on what makes you unique.” -Miles
  • “Just tell your story and be honest. When I messed up on interviews, it was usually because I was trying too hard to tell the interviewer what I thought they wanted to hear.” -Matt
  • “Know your story inside out, knowing your unique journey and being able to explain why that story has led you to medicine will automatically set you apart because no one else has your story!” -Navjit
  • “Be yourself, stay calm, and don’t worry or feel intimidated by the virtual nature of the interview. The committee is interviewing you not to grill you, but rather because they are super excited to learn more about you!” -Husain
  • “You are much more interesting and unique than you may think you are, and if you speak about your true passions, it will come across as genuine.” -Chloe
  • “Remember you’re talking to a PERSON not a screen. It can be easy to get stiff on camera but it’s important to relax and be organic.” -Lindsey
  • “Invest your time to really understand why you chose medicine and what makes you want to pursue it so much, where your passion for medicine came from and what maintained that interest all this time to continue pursuing it. This will also help you keep your perseverance through medical school.” -Aasma
  • “It is hard to convey emotion over a camera but I tried to keep eye contact and just convey that I was truly happy to be part of the interview process. Try your best to just have a normal conversation! You are already halfway there by making it to the interview.” -Hiba
  • “Leaning into your passions in an interview and throughout your written application ought to be enough to showcase your awesome-ness to the school that is right for you.” -Lindsay

The Incoming Class of 2021 at their recent White Coat Ceremony

On deciding where to interview, especially when travel costs aren’t a consideration:

  • “Don’t undersell yourself when applying, if you think you have a chance, take it!” -Niki
  • “Interview everywhere possible when travel costs aren’t a consideration. You don’t know how much you may like a school if you don’t choose to even interview and take the chance to explore its culture and environment.” -Aasma
  • “I really enjoyed the interview process. It was the first time I felt like people were seeing Sarah the person versus Sarah the numbers on a page. I got to be myself and that is even more available when there are remote interviews.” -Sarah
  • “Make sure the school you are interviewing at has resources in what you want to do (very important).” -Bruce
  • “Talk to other students or other applicants, if available. Culture is #1. The people who the school recruits say the most about their culture.” -Matt
  • “Do your research! You owe it to yourself and the schools interviewing you to make sure that you have spoken with students and faculty about the institution and the experience at their medical school.” -Ashwin
  • “Make sure you’re interviewing at schools that FIT you.” -Patrick
    “Interview at schools with significant financial aid and/or scholarships. Cost of attendance will be an important consideration when you decide which school to attend.” -Tosin
  • “You want to attend an institution that will nurture your passion and develop it into a craft.” -Hebah
  • “Notify a school early on if you aren’t considering their school anymore to save interviewers, schools, and other applicants time. Be sure to take advantage of your opportunities while still respecting others in the process.” -Sydney
  • “When researching for the interview, I always asked myself if I was excited to learn more about the school or if there was something in particular I was excited about. If not, then I would decide not to interview at the school.” -Hiab
  • “You should see every offer as if it is your potential home for the next four years.” -Mohammed
  • “If you truly cannot see yourself thriving in the city or your goals for medical school do not align with the mission of the school, do not interview!” -Emily
  • “Interview at the places you feel excited about attending! It makes preparing for the interviews enjoyable and your excitement day-of will be genuine.” -Cara
  • “Go into the interview open-minded. You never know how much you could see yourself at a specific program if you do not give yourself the opportunity to immerse yourself within the school’s culture.” -Amy

Do’s and don’ts for preparing for and thriving during virtual interviews:

DO’S

Find a Great Place to Set Up
  • “Preparing my background and the space where I did virtual interviews really helped me feel prepared.” -Rachel
  • “Stay in the same environment for each medical school interview if possible, which will help you remember your anecdotes and release nerves.” -Ashwin
  • “Choose a comfortable spot. For me, interviewing from a familiar desk at home improved my performance rather than interviewing from a new location.” -Navjit
  • “Investing in a mini ring light if you can afford it can be helpful if you are in a setting with bad or variable lighting, it just looks professional.” -Juliana
  • “Use a study/conference room somewhere if you can (work, school, etc.). This helped me move from my home to a more professional setting and got my nerves up a little so I could have an edge while interviewing.” -Sarah
  • “Set up your camera to be in good front lighting and put it on a RAISED platform! Having a camera angle pointed straight at your face or even pointed down toward your face makes you look more engaged and is a better angle for aesthetics as well.” -Jayna
  • “Give your living-mates ample notice and reminders about your interview days so they can plan ahead about supporting you by keeping the home relatively quiet.” -Lindsay
Dress the Part
  • “Wear both a dressy top and bottoms to avoid awkwardness if you need to stand up.” -Josh
  • “Wear cozy socks/slippers! A silly tip, but a perk of virtual interviewing that helped me feel much more comfortable during an otherwise stressful situation.” -Anjali
Make Eye Contact
  • “Put a picture you like to look at right next to your camera. It made it really easy to look directly at it, even when I was nervous.” -Sarah
  • “Looking at the camera isn’t needed if the camera is right above your screen – instead just sit a bit farther away.” -Pratik
  • “Virtual eye contact is achieved much more effectively if you look into the computer camera rather than the eyes of the person on screen. It is a little weird to get used to, but you do get used to it!” -Olivia
  • “You have to really engage with your interviewer. They don’t have any physical cues and body language is harder to read, so acting interested and really being an active listener is important.” -Mary
Prepare for Potential Tech Issues
  • “Prepare for the worst with respect to technology, and be adaptable if something goes wrong.” -Bruce
  • “Establish a stable internet connection beforehand and make sure it is steady.” -Sagar
  • “Have an ethernet cable nearby in case you need it, and a phone that can be a mobile hotspot if the wifi is bad that day. I ended up using both at some point.” -Lindsey
Practice, Practice, Practice
  • “The flow of conversation is simply different. Due to the lag, you may cut someone off or vice versa, this takes some practice and compassion.” -Jasdeep
  • “Thoroughly read your application beforehand and learn the format of the interview (1:1 with faculty, MMI, group activity, etc).” -Tosin
  • “Google potential questions and do mock interviews with them over and over.” -Noah
  • “Use your computer to record yourself answering interview questions and use that to gauge your eye contact, facial expressions, and fluidity of speech (speed, use of “um,” etc.).” -Chloe
  • “Always pause and take a breath before answering the question, you don’t want to start talking as soon as the interviewer finishes asking the question.” -Mohammed
  • “Take a video of yourself in the setting and outfit you plan to wear for the interview, ask a friend or family member to conduct a practice Zoom with you! This will help you ensure internet connection and Zoom background are updated.” -Emily
Take Breaks
  • “Try to take advantage of all breaks possible, Zoom fatigue is very real.” -Hiab
  • “HAVE A DANCE PARTY BETWEEN INTERVIEWS! During my interview day I turned on music and my group danced! It was fun and shocked the nerves right out.” -Sarah
  • “I would walk around whenever there were breaks because sitting down for that long can be very difficult.” -Hiba
Bring Refreshments
  • “Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day to help you reset between interviews.” -Jasdeep
  • “I kept small snacks, water, and tea handy, so that I would be able to sneak in a few bites here and there during long Zoom interviews.” -Erin

DON’TS

Don’t Sweat the Tech Issues
  • “Don’t panic. The issue will be resolved, and you don’t want to be flustered in your interview.” -Matthew
  • “Don’t worry if a technical issue occurs that causes a lag or signs you out of the call. The admissions team are incredibly helpful and they’ll make sure your interview process is as smooth as possible (one of the defining features of my UMMS interview, an incredibly smooth and enjoyable process)!” -Hebah
  • “Most importantly: relax and be you. Even if you feel like one part didn’t go well or you are having tech issues, take a deep breath and start fresh. Contact the person you are told to contact when you are having issues and know everything will work out just fine.” -Aasma
  • “If you experience a connectivity problem, treat it as a chance to show your interviewer that you can competently handle a difficult or awkward situation.” -Ahab
More Don’ts
  • “Don’t hesitate to ask your interviewer to restate a question.” -Jorge
  • “Don’t be the person who’s grossly underdressed on interview day or constantly interrupting others (leave room for others to speak).” -Mikaelah
  • “Don’t swivel in a spinning office chair. To remove the temptation, I replaced my desk chair with a chair from my kitchen table.” -Jess
  • “Don’t spend too much time looking at your own video – it’s distracting! Focus on the videos of the people interviewing you – this simulates a more normal conversation :)” -Cara
  • “Don’t forget to smile and breathe! (it is virtual, but I know I still felt very anxious and had to keep reminding myself)
  • “Don’t forget to pause at times! With potential delays in the feed, it may take a few moments for one person to stop talking and another to start speaking. This is especially true in group interviews as gaps are needed as a queue for another to start speaking.” -Tyler
  • “Don’t look down at notes or at another screen during the interview. While it may be helpful to have notes on hand to remember things you want to mention during the interview, make sure to put them out of sight prior to the interview. The conversation should be natural.” -Amy

On getting the inside scoop from current students at the schools you’re interested in before/during/after you interview:

  • “In the virtual format, every perspective matters. Pay special attention to what and how current students talk about their school. If the same complaint keeps showing up, that is probably a red flag.” -Matt
  • “I can’t stress enough the importance of sending a few emails ahead of sending your secondaries and during the interview process.” -Ashwin
  • “Follow schools’ Twitter and Facebook pages to find opportunities to talk to current students!” -Navjit
  • “Almost everyone is very willing to offer advice, they were in the same situation a few short years earlier.” -Mary
  • “Seeing whether the students seem relaxed and enthusiastic in answering our questions or hosting the info sessions can also show what type of learning environment and culture the school has. Med school is tough anywhere, but if the students seem happy and relaxed despite the pressure, that’s fantastic.” -Aasma
  • “Don’t be afraid to be candid with the students, such as making them know what you are specifically looking for in a school.” -Josh
  • “Always ask questions. If in a student-led pre-interview session, have the courage to unmute your microphone and talk to them; that’s what they’re taking time out of their busy schedules to help you with!!” -Mohammed
  • “If the school offers an opportunity for you to talk to current students anytime in the interview season, tune in! You don’t have to participate at every one or any, but I found listening in at the very least to be helpful. Seeing how current students interact (their fondness for each other / inside jokes) with each other was reassuring.” -Lindsay
  • “Go in with a list of questions around topics/aspects you care deeply about and ask at every school to multiple people if possible. This will give you good points of consensus (or not) within a school and comparison between them.” -Andrea

Bonus tips on the overall application process:

  • “It can be very easy to be self-deprecating and compare yourself to others during this process, but surrounding yourself with your supporters can truly make the stress of the application process bearable.” -Amy
  • “Enjoy the process, it’s a big step but it’s full of learning experiences and great memories!” -Niki
  • “Remember, you are interviewing schools just as much as they are interviewing you!” -Tyler
  • “The interview process is the only time an applicant can come alive from a statistic or a piece of paper. Don’t be afraid to vocalize your passion, value, and drive that will distinguish you as a unique asset to the specific medical school and, largely, the field of medicine.” -Erin
  • “If you know your interviewer’s name ahead of time, do a bit of research. It was helpful to me to look at a picture of the individual beforehand, so their face was more familiar to me when we were introduced on zoom. It eased my nerves to see a familiar face!” -Cara
  • “Be patient!” -Emily
  • “When completing an application, answering an essay, or getting interviewed, always be honest and be yourself, that is the one way to get yourself accepted to medical school.” -Mohammed
  • “Always stay true to who you are. Trust the process. Remember that everything isn’t always in your control and make the most of the opportunities that present themselves to you.” -Sydney
  • “Don’t compromise your happiness. Make sure where you attend you can see yourself being happy, and your interests being valued.” -Aasma
  • “See each application and interview as a learning process through which you grow and become even more confident in your capabilities. By the end of it, you’re one step closer to becoming the physician of your dreams. Simply enjoy it.” -Hebah
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice! Your support system of advisors, family, and/or friends can relieve some of the worries associated with applying to medical school and provide useful feedback.” -Chloe
  • “The application process can be daunting, but I think it is really important that you take a step back and look at all that you have done to get to this point. It is truly amazing! No matter how the cycle goes, you can be proud of yourself.” -Olivia
  • “Overall, be patient and kind to yourself during the application process. It will feel overwhelming at times, but know that there are people you will encounter along the way who can help you.” -Tosin
  • “Don’t ever give up throughout this process. It can be difficult and grueling. I ended up reapplying to medical school after not being accepted my first cycle. I used this additional year to grow, better reflect on my application and have conversations with medical schools across the country. Believe in yourself and keep pushing!” -Ashwin
  • “Be genuine! The best thing you can do is present your authentic self. If you’re accepted, you’ll know that the school wanted the authentic you. If you don’t, you shouldn’t have regrets.” -Jasdeep

Good Luck and Go Blue!