The medical school interview day is stressful. The first thing you’ll likely feel like doing is call your parents and/or significant other and let them know how it went. You’ll want to get into the car and take a deep breath and try to go over every question that was asked and your responses. You’ll second guess what you said, wonder if you answered the ethical question “right” and kick yourself for not saying hello to the medical students making themselves available to talk.
While it’s okay to have your doubts about your interview, there is nothing that you can do about it now. The only thing that you can do is prepare for your next interview, assuming you have another one.
The first thing that you should do is prepare some thank you notes for your interviewers. Check with the school to see if it’s okay to send paper thank you notes. Some would prefer email. I personally prefer email because it’s immediate.
A good thank you note should be professional and articulate. This isn’t a tweet or Facebook post. This is a professional correspondence that may end up in your admissions folder.
If you remember anything significant from your interview, try to use that in your note. Make them think about that same moment. The more you can be top of mind, the better.
The other thing you should do is a debrief. The definition of debrief is simple: “a series of questions about a completed mission.” Your mission was your interview day. If you were like me and started analyzing everything even before the door to the office was closed as you left, then you have already started the debrief process. I’m just telling you to make it a little more formal.
Get out some pen and paper or a computer and start going through the questions and the answers you gave. Try to analyze what you said, the interviewer’s response and the follow-up questions that came after. Use this information to help shape your next interview. Were there any questions that stumped you? Did you feel like you answered a question improperly? Did you come up blank when asked about questions you had? How did you feel emotionally? What made you stress out the most? What did you do to counter that?
Show your questions and answers, assuming you didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, to your advisors or mentors and ask for feedback. This isn’t to change what happened, it’s to prepare you as you move forward.
It is only through this feedback that you can gain valuable insight into what just happened and how you may be able to improve on it moving forward.
Don’t plan on flying out too early. The last thing you want is to be at your interview day and be stressed about leaving to catch your plane. If you can swing it, take a flight after 7 or 8pm. This will give you time to get to the airport after traffic has hopefully died down. The best case scenario is to fly out the next day.
After the dust has settled and your nerves have calmed down, do you feel like you blew the interview? Going through this debrief process should help you pinpoint some points to improve upon in the future.
The goal here is to gather data to get better so you are more prepared for your next interview. Each small improvement will get you that much closer to an acceptance. Interested in learning more about how to get through med school interviews with success? Check out my new book The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview: Be Prepared, Perform Well, Get Accepted.