How to Prepare for the Virtual Medical School Interview

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical school admissions have had to make tons of unprecedented changes, including the shortened MCAT, a delayed cycle, and of course, the virtual interview.

    If you haven’t received any interviews by this point in the cycle, don’t worry. In a regular cycle, applicants normally don’t receive interviews until around late August at the earliest.

    In general, this cycle has been delayed by roughly two weeks, so the earliest interviews should come around early September. Medical schools usually give out interview invitations all the way through March, so don’t be concerned if you haven’t received one yet!

    If you have received an interview, then you may be wondering: how do you prepare for a virtual med school interview? The answer is simpler than you may expect.

    How to Prepare for a Virtual Med School Interview

    While the virtual interview will resemble a standard medical school interview in many ways, there are some things you can do to make sure you’re prepared. Here’s a quick list:

    1. Buy a decent webcam.

    While no admissions committee member will mark you down a point for having a poor quality webcam, there will always be an implicit difference in how you’re viewed between a good and bad webcam.

    For example, on my laptop, my webcam is located on the bottom left corner of the monitor, which gives an extremely unflattering view of my neck. For classes and meetings this year, I bought a $40 Logitech webcam that makes all the difference.

    2. Have a professional background.

    You don’t need to go crazy with your background—the best background is a plain, white wall without anything distracting. If you’re interviewing somewhere where this isn’t doable, try to clear your surroundings of anything that might make somebody question your professionalism, such as a poster.

    3. Speak while looking at the camera.

    You should get used to speaking while looking at the camera, which will give the impression of making eye contact in a virtual interview. This will feel unnatural at first, but it will make you appear better on the other end.

    4. Wear pants.

    You might laugh at first, but many people inadvertently stand up for one reason or another—the last thing you want is for people to see you in your pajamas.

    5. Record yourself speaking through a webcam.

    Before your actual interview, try to see what you look and sound like on video. This should be your final check to make sure you have a good view of your head and shoulders, there’s nothing in your background, and that your microphone doesn’t have any issues.

    What to Expect During Your Virtual Med School Interview: 

    The good news is the actual interview should be more or less similar to an in-person interview. Make sure you’re able to answer these standard questions:

    • Tell me about yourself.
    • Why medicine?
    • Why our medical school?
    • What do you like to do in your spare time?
    • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    If you have great answers to these questions, then you likely have at least half of the interview down!

    Some questions that will be unique to COVID-19 might include:

    • How has the pandemic affected how you view medicine?
    • Have you done anything during the pandemic?

    When preparing your answers to the questions, the most important thing to remember is to stay on topic. Make sure everything you say directly links to the question.

    So, if you’re answering the question of why you want to be a physician and you start talking about a ski trip you took last year, it might be time to get more in focus.

    Your answers should take a couple minutes at most, but don’t worry if your answer is shorter or longer; as long as you stay focused and fully answer the question, then you have a great answer. If your school has a premed committee, try to see if you can schedule a mock interview or two. While you may have your answer perfected, it’s always worthwhile to get another person’s input and see how your answers flow in a conversation with another person.

    Finally, make sure you really read up on the medical school, their mission, and a few key talking points. Read your secondary and personal statement to make sure you don’t have any inconsistencies. Most importantly, remember that most medical schools have post-interview acceptance rates around 50%, so you’ve already got a great shot!