The interview is essentially a two-way conversation between you and a school representative. It allows the school to find out if you are the best candidate for their program and it gives you the chance to determine if the school and program are right for you.
An interview is an opportunity to bring a voice to your application and to your story. The most important thing is to represent who you are in a genuine manner, to be yourself. Many applicants find themselves battling with nervousness. The best way to deal with anxious or nervous feelings is to practice. Practice with friends, practice in front of the mirror, and utilize the opportunity to mock interview through the Career Development Office. If you go through the Pomona Process you will also receive an interview and evaluation with the Health Sciences Committee.
The Interview Process
Notification of an interview indicates that you have passed a major screening. Some applicants begin hearing about interviews within a month of completing their application, but the interviewing season stretches over months, from September until March or April of the following year. Many schools send rejection notices to students whose qualifications are judged to be below the minimum for admission as soon as possible, in order to be considerate of the applicant's search process.
When you receive an interview request from one school, it is useful to call other schools in that geographical area to see if they are willing to set up interviews at the same time so you can combine your visits in one trip. Consider the cost and time commitment of interviews (you'll likely be away from campus during class days) and make the most of your interview days to learn about the schools and communities you visit.
You can expect questions regarding:
- Your qualifications and motivation for attending the program
- Undergraduate curriculum, courses, academic problem areas
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Extracurricular activities and volunteer work in healthcare settings
- Your commitment to a health career
- Knowledge of current political, social, and controversial healthcare issues (ex: MedlinePlus)
- Be prepared for different styles of questions: some may be couched in somewhat adversarial terms, and others may be in the format of a scenario: "A patient asks you ____. What would you do?"
- Interviews may also involve interactions such as the multiple mini interview:
- There are no "right" or "expected" answers, rather, interviewers are looking for evidence that you have given serious thought to healthcare issues and your own goals and motivations
- Make sure you have a list of questions for the interviewer – you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you
It's possible you will be asked "off the wall" questions you may deem improper or inappropriate, and which may even be illegal. For example, Pomona applicants have been asked about their marital status, sexual behavior, precautions used to guard against pregnancy, religious views, etc. You cannot predict such questions, but do contemplate how you would respond in a way that will not offend the interviewer and thus jeopardize your chances of being accepted. Try to rephrase the question into something that is acceptable. In other cases, you may wish to decline to answer. Don't become antagonistic or angry.
If you believe that you have had a poor interview or if you regard the behavior of the interviewer as less than professional, contact the school's admissions office immediately. They may be able to arrange a new interview before you leave. We would also very much appreciate hearing about your experience.
If you decline an invitation for an interview, be sure to contact the school immediately. Not showing up without any contact gives a mark against you and Pomona College.
Many Pomona alumni would be happy to share information and opinions about their experience as a current student and applicant. Alumni may also be able to host you during an interview dependent on their availability. To request alumni contact information for schools where you have an interview scheduled, contact Pre-Health Advising: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another resource contributed to by fellow applicants is The Student Doctor Network where applicants post information about their interview experiences.
- Sample Questions for Health Profession School Interviews [doc]
- AAMC Guide to Preparing for Medical School Interviews
- Ask the Experts: Preparing for Medical School Interviews
- Acing Your Medical School Interview
- What It's Like to Participate in Multiple Mini Interviews
- UBC Multiple Mini Interview Sample Questions
- Columbia University Bioethics MMI Preparation Resources
- Interview Resources for Pre-Vet Applicants
- American Student Dental Association: Interview Tips
- Advice from Admissions Officers: The Dental School Interview
- Career Development Office: How to Interview
- Interviewing for Health Professions Schools – NAAHP, Revised 2014
- The Medical School Interview: Secrets and a System for Success – Fleenor, 2011