Not all interviews are cookie-cutter, and while you can count on some general similarities, the best thing you can do for yourself is prepare for any and all possibilities. Each interviewer will have a different style of questioning. Being ready for any sort of question–even ones that seem nonsensical or unrelated to the position–will undoubtedly help you stand out from other candidates.
While rehearsing your answers is a recommended strategy, you don’t want to sound robotic; therefore it’s recommended you’re answering each question as they come rather than regurgitating a heavily practiced general response. You will want to make sure you are properly prepared, especially if you are looking into a clinical clerkship for IMG.
Common Interview Questions
Most interviews will rely on hitting a variation of similar questions, focusing mainly on your specific concentrations or preferred practices, trying to figure out more about you on an individual level, and what you could potentially bring to their program. They will ask you to describe different aspects of your educational history, including extra curricular activities, research programs, as well as experiences that may be relevant to their program.
They will also ask you to examine your own strengths and weaknesses. This gives the interviewer more insight as to what helps you excel, as well as what type of situations you may need help in. Most interviewers are also highly curious about your long-term goals; a common question being Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years? This is one of the most important questions to have an answer locked down for. Your long-term goals say a lot about the kind of person you are, what you value, and the trajectory you hope to find yourself on. This type of question ultimately lets them know whether or not you are looking to grow within their program.
Preparing for clinical clerkship interviews is essential for IMGs, as it is a very competitive field that you’re entering into and the more experience you have speaking comfortably about yourself, the greater likelihood of success. It is recommended to hold mock interviews with loved one, a trusted advisor or mentor, or even fellow medical student in your spare time. If English is your second language, make sure to practice articulation, enunciation, and the speed in which you talk. You want to make sure the person who is interviewing you will understand your answers.
By holding mock interviews, and practicing often, it will help you think on your feet and to come across articulate and composed, even in the event that the interviewer might purposefully be attempting to throw you off your guard. For example, some interviewers have a tendency to focus on negative experiences and weaknesses in your resume, asking you about things that might rattle you in order to push you out of your shell and force you to really consider your answers.
What they’re looking for is a genuinely good fit, and that doesn’t necessarily always equate to someone that comes across so polished they’re impenetrable. To err is human, and being able to own up to weaknesses and mistakes, reflect upon them, and come up with a better solution for the future is sometimes the best show of character to an interviewer.
Other times, they might be more interested in getting to know you as a person, asking you nonsensical things such as for a joke, a one-minute story about yourself, or even asking you about personal heroes; all of these are meant to throw you off from your formal interview persona. Be prepared for any and all possibilities and do your best to remain composed and personable while doing so.
Scheduling Your Interviews
It might seem like a small thing, but the way you schedule your interviews is a strategic move meant to put you in a position for the upper hand. Scheduling interviews for your least desirable choices first is suggested, as this will allow you to enter your high-pressure interviews for programs you’re most interested in with more experience under your belt. By scheduling your first interviews with heavily coveted programs, the pressure is undoubtedly turned up as you’re walking into those interviews without fresh, practical preparation. You are more likely to make a mistake if you are feeling anxious are under extreme pressure.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
One of the most common mistakes, aside from dressing appropriately or presenting yourself unprofessionally, is being underprepared for the interview and stumbling over answers or showing up without questions for the interviewer. This shows a lack of interest and gives off a generally scattered perception of your abilities and personality.
On the flip side, when you appear too rehearsed, there can be issues with coming across as callous or non-compassionate. Allowing attention to drift from the interview is also something that usually suggests to the interviewer that you are wasting their time, and therefore not a good fit for their program. A seemingly small thing, but one that has far-reaching implications is describing yourself in lackluster, general terms, as it’s important to make yourself exceptional. Illustrate why you are the perfect candidate for their program.
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