Medical School Interview

Getting Ready for Your Medical School Interview

If you've received an invitation for a medical school interview, you are one step closer to realizing your dream of becoming a doctor.

It has been verified that you meet the academic requirements, and now the school wants to know more about you.

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"This is not a test of your medical knowledge or accomplishments," says Dr. Theodore R. Hall, professor of clinical radiology and Associate Dean for Admissions in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Instead, we want to see how you respond to people and situations and how well you line up with the [DGSOM] mission statement—which is to prepare our graduates for distinguished careers in clinical practice, teaching, research and public service."

Dr. Hall explains that the use of the multiple mini-interview (MMI) is a flexible way of assessing an applicant's personal qualities to see how he or she might contribute value as a DGSOM medical student and future physician.

"At the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, we are looking for about 33 different attributes," explains Dr. Hall. "These include enthusiasm for learning, humanism, compassion, curiosity, respect, ethical and moral judgment, leadership, openness to teamwork and collaboration and the ability to relate and communicate with different types of people in different settings and circumstances."

What to Expect at the MMI

At the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, you're assigned either a morning or afternoon session that consists of eight applicants including yourself. The MMI takes place on campus, where Dr. Hall will give a 15-minute orientation on the logistics of your session and how the interview process works. Each mini-interview consists of two minutes for evaluating a prompt, and then eight minutes responding to the prompt with the interviewer. There are a total of eight interview stations and a timer to let you know when to move in and out of the rooms.

How You Can Prepare for Your MMI

"These interviews are not a 'test' of knowledge or facts, but rather an observation of how you react to the common circumstances of a future UCLA medical student and future physician—so it's difficult to study and rehearse answers," Dr. Hall adds. "In fact, when interviewers receive canned responses, they are instructed to go off-script and the interview gets decidedly more intense."

Nonetheless, you can prepare for the time constraints and your anxieties over speaking in front of multiple people. Dr. Hall suggests practicing the two-minute prompt review along with the eight-minute timed response using online MMI scenarios to adjust to thinking on your feet. Of course, be sure to learn more about DGSOM's mission statement to see where your experiences, beliefs and personal attributes lie.

"During the responses, we are also noting whether applicants have the ability to monitor their own and others' emotions to guide their thinking and action. So, we are looking for those students with high emotional intelligence, too," explains Dr. Hall.

Before attending a medical school interview, according to Dr. Hall, "You're going to be nervous. But just remember: The interviewer is trying to engage you in a discussion about the scenario, and the best thing to do is be yourself."