MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How are interviewees selected?

Understanding the process

The first step in navigating the medical admissions interview is to develop a clear understanding of the interview process. Knowing why you were selected for an interview and what will go on during your interview day minimizes surprises and leads to a calm state of mind and optimum performance.

How are interviewees selected?

For medical school admissions, application screenings are done by a wide range of people; medical students, attending physicians and basic scientists. For residency, one to three people, typically physicians on the residency staff, are responsible for screening all applications and deciding who should be invited for an interview. Some schools and programs have minimum cutoffs for grades and standardized test scores, and if you do not reach these levels your application does not even make it to the screening process. Some schools and programs assign “points” for everything: extracurricular activities, board scores, and letters of recommendation; you are invited for an interview only when your score meets a minimum number. More often, however, a great deal of subjectivity goes into the decision to invite an applicant for an interview. Even though bias does not exist in the ideal world, the screener’s personal interests and outlook often play a part in the review of your application--especially if you are a “borderline” applicant. For example, if reviewer A always had to struggle with board scores yet managed to succeed while reviewer B always had board scores in the top 5th percentile, reviewer A is much more likely than reviewer B to screen in an application with lower-than-average board scores.

The person reading your application might have years of admissions experience or he or she could be a novice, such as a medical student or current resident. Both the level of experience of the screener and their own biases and preferences often determine whether or not you are granted an interview. Also, although the person reading your application might have hours to peruse through all of your materials, it is more likely that she is tired and rushed and has a large pile of applications to review. If your application follows one that is more stellar, yours may pale in comparison. On the other hand, if the pile contains mostly mediocre-to-poor applications, yours may stand out.

For all of these reasons, making your application as distinctive as possible increases the likelihood you will be invited for an interview. If the application bores the person reading it, you will likely end up in the rejection pile. But you must also understand that there are many qualified applicants to both medical school and residency and that many steps in the selection process are out of your control. This is a difficult concept, especially for students who tend to be “type A” and relish control of their fate.

MedEdits can help your written materials stand out from the pile. Visit us: