In previous blog posts, we’ve highlighted different aspects of the allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) med school application processes, including taking the MCAT, writing your personal statement and submitting your primary application on the AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS platforms, and preparing and submitting your secondary applications. It’s a lot—and yet, there’s more! In this series of five posts, we’ll walk you through the various kinds of interviews you may be asked to complete as you proceed through the application process.
Types of Interviews
There is a variety of interview formats that medical schools may employ in their admissions process. The various interviews are also to be completed at different times. Some—like the Altus Suite and AAMC PREview™ assessments—are asynchronous, and are conducted and submitted along with your primary application. Others—like traditional and MMI interviews—are conducted after your secondary application has been reviewed and you have been selected to progress to the next phase. These are invite-only and usually conducted synchronously, either in person (on campus) or virtually.
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While the Altus Suite and AAMC PREview assessments are pre-programmed to give all test-takers the same virtual testing experience, the traditional and MMI interviews provide interaction between the applicant and interviewer.
Each medical school decides which type(s) of interview they will require or recommend. In a typical medical school list of at least 25 schools, you will likely encounter all of the available interviews, so it is wise to prepare for all!
Purpose of Interviews
The goal of these interviews is to give medical schools a holistic sense of who you are: to round out the stats and facts of your application—including your scores, your coursework, your experience, and your history—with a more personal sense of your potential to succeed in medical school and as a physician.
As the AAMC puts it:
Holistic Review refers to mission-aligned admissions or selection processes that take into consideration applicants’ experiences, attributes, and academic metrics as well as the value an applicant would contribute to learning, practice, and teaching. Holistic Review allows admissions committees to consider the “whole” applicant, rather than disproportionately focusing on any one factor.
(See here for a comprehensive list of the AAMC’s 15 Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students, which comprise interpersonal, intrapersonal, thinking and reasoning, and science-specific skills.)
We advise that you take the Altus Suite (all three components of Casper, Snapshot and Duet) in the spring, before you submit your primary application, since many medical schools factor in your scores on these assessments in their evaluation of whether to invite you for an interview. The AAMC PREview is offered from June to September and we suggest you take it as early in the summer as is convenient.
The traditional and MMI interviews are by invitation only and you will increase your chances of being invited for these interviews by submitting your primary application as soon as possible after submission opens!
A major goal of the med school interviews is to identify your “fit” with the mission, values, and culture of the particular school. For each med school at which you will interview, research the school thoroughly. Excellent sources of information are the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) as well as the school’s own website. See our blog post on “What Mission Statements Reveal about Medical Schools.”
If you’re nervous about interviewing (a totally reasonable feeling), think of it as a chance to show off qualities that don’t come through as well on paper, such as your social skills, judgment, and empathy. Interviews aren’t meant to reiterate the information in your application materials, but to augment what you’ve prepared with a deeper sense of who you are as a person. It’s extremely beneficial to conduct mock interviews with an experienced advisor and receive constructive feedback.
In Part 1 of this series, we’ll walk you through the Altus Suite, which comprises three assessments: Casper, Snapshot, and Duet.
In Part 2, we’ll review the AAMC PREview assessment, which has some key similarities to the Casper component of the Altus Suite.
In Part 3, we’ll discuss traditional interviews, which are invite-only and occur at a later stage of the application process, after you’ve submitted your secondary essays.
In Part 4, we’ll explain multiple mini interviews (MMI), also invite-only, but designed to ameliorate some of the bias inherent in traditional interviews.
In Part 5, we’ll walk through the interview requirements of a handful of medical schools to give you examples of what you can expect—and how varied the interview experience can be.
Stay tuned as we publish these five posts over the next week, from Wednesday August 17 through Wednesday August 24! Follow us on social media!
Applying to medical school is a complicated process, and interviews are no exception. We encourage you to read our 5-part blog series on med school interviews. Feel free to contact Collegiate Gateway if you would like to receive mock interviews with feedback, or guidance on any aspect of the med school application and admissions process. As always, we’re happy to help!