Five Secrets to an Authentic Interview

You put together a fantastic application packet. You spent countless hours studying for the MCAT and achieved a superb score. Your work and experiences demonstrate your dedication to community service, volunteerism, and compassion for caring for others. You toiled months on the personal statement, with multiple revisions, until it was perfect. Finally, the packet was submitted, the secondaries were completed with the same attention to detail, and you waited patiently for the interview requests.

Finally, the hard work paid off. The first interview requests came in, quickly followed by many more. Then, nothing. You don’t hear back from any of the schools. But then, you’re waitlisted. Or worse, denied admission.

What went wrong?

This is common. What happened was not necessarily being overprepared or underprepared for the interview but forgetting to show the interviewer your “authentic self” and helping them see “you” at their school during the interview. Many applicants focus so much on memorizing or rehearsing their answers to interview questions that they forget to show their personality and enthusiasm and to help connect with their interviewers as to “why” they are a good fit for the program where they are interviewing.

How can you be authentic at the interview?

  1. Clearly highlight the aspects of the program that excite you. Make the connection of how your previous experiences make you a good fit for the program.
  2. Focus on “why” this program genuinely excites you. Know the specifics about the program, the curriculum, research, student groups, and other opportunities.
  3. Review your application and be prepared to discuss anything!
  4. It is virtually impossible to memorize an answer to every potential interview question. Instead, prepare concrete examples from your life that can be applied to a variety of questions, such as adversities you have faced, times of personal growth, when you made a difficult decision, challenges in school or the workplace, or how you handle conflict, and your preferred leadership style.
  5. Finally, be yourself and have fun! Make eye contact. Speak with confidence. Let your personality shine; the interview will feel more like a conversation.

Practicing mock interviews are essential. However, whom you practice your mock interviews with is even more critical. Work with an advisor or mentor who can help you formulate your stories and help you connect with your interviewer. In addition, you will find that practicing your ability to communicate and connect effectively will lead to success on interview day!

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