How to behave on an interview

April 17, 2007 at 11:15 pm (Applying to med school)

If you’re lucky enough to be invited for an interview for medical school, take a moment to breath a sigh of victory.  Smile at your hard work.  Feel free to slip in passive-aggressive comments to other pre-meds such as, “What’s new with you?  By the way, did you hear that I got an interview for med school?”

There are tons of guides out there about how to properly answer questions that might be posed.  While those books and websites are fine for the 30 minutes that you’re in front of a member of the admissions committee, my goal is to tell you that you need to act properly during the rest of the interview day.  In other words, don’t be a jackass on the school’s tour.

I’ve been a tour guide for the past year for my university.  While most students are so nervous about their interviews that they’re quiet for the bulk of the day, I’ve met some real a-holes who make me want to run straight to the admissions committee and scream, “You can’t let this person in here!”  While most student guides will preface the tours by saying, “I don’t report to the admissions committee; you can ask me anything,” if you are unbearable during a 30-minute journey through the school and hospital, you won’t be matriculating there during the fall.  I can think of one instance off the top of my head where an applicant was outright insulting toward other students and even a physician.  He didn’t get in here.

Although I meet several quirky applicants each week, there have been a few occasions where I’ve wanted to personally sign rejection letters for the outright losers who make the tour difficult for me.  Therefore, I offer these tips to avoid pissing off the medical student volunteers:

1. Don’t interrupt.  There is no question so important that it can’t wait until the end.  I once began a tour by saying, “Here is the student lounge where we…” when some girl jumped in with, “What’s you student-to-body ratio in anatomy?!?”  For whatever reason, this question gets asked every week.  I don’t know why the student-to-body ratio is so important to pre-meds.  I’ve never met a person who made his decision on where to go to medical school based upon the student-to-body ratio.  Yet every week, I know it’s coming.  That being said, don’t interrupt your tour guide.

2. Don’t lead the tour.  No matter what you’re read online about the school you’re interviewing at, you don’t know anything about the university.  I had one interviewee who started telling other appicants that first-year students perform surgeries without assistance.  She even tried to show off the computer lab and the microscope lab.  Aside from getting several critical pieces of information incorrect, she undermined my tour and spread false rumors.  To make things worse, she had never visited the campus before.  I don’t know where she got her information.

3. Don’t ask stupid questions.  I know you’re dying inside to find out the school’s student-to-body ratio.  Hold off for a few minutes; I’m sure that the tour guide will tell you.  Some other things you shouldn’t ask (yet I’ve heard from applicants) are:

– Do you have a gym?  Seriously, I get asked every week if we have a gym.  I don’t know of a university in the entire country that doesn’t have a gym.  But somehow every week some woman asks.  It’s always a woman.

– Do you have a library?  I never saw that one coming.

– (In our Windows-only computer lab): Can I request a Macintosh instead?  No, you can’t have a different computer simply because you’re on a self-righteous trip to rid the world of Microsoft.

– What are the names of the dermatology professors here?  One guy pulled out a sheet of paper and was ready to start taking names.  There’s a faculty roster near the building’s entrance.  You’re welcome to spend some time there.

– What’s your student-to-body ratio?  Never ask this question.  I wish a had a trap door in the anatomy lab so I could send applicants away who feel the need the ask.  “You want to know our ratio, eh?  Just take two steps to the right and one more step forward.”

I hope this list helps.  Please do your tour guides a favor by quietly listening to the monologue, laughing at the jokes, and nodding your heads in firm agreement to whatever opinions he/she may offer.



  1. halfmd said,

    I should also tell the story of the guy who brought his girlfriend to the interview with him. She was with us the entire day: breakfast, tour, and lunch. We paid for her lunch! He didn’t get in here.

  2. student said,

    I go to a really good med school that does not have a gym. It’s a legitimite question.

  3. gdi said,

    Sounds like your tenure is about over as a tour guide. Seriously, why continue with an activity with which you’ve become entirely jaded? Are your views truly representative of all med school tours? I know there is a certain amount of tour decorum expected of applicants, but the tour is an interactive service provided as a courtesy, or ought to be. Why bother hosting a tour at all, if people are expected to read wall plaques on their own time to answer their questions? Sounds like you offer little more than an animated brochure in 3D to prospective matriculants. You’re wasting your time and theirs.

  4. gdi said,

    please forgive me for I am a dumbass.

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