Interviewing

If a health professions school requests an interview with you, consider it a great accomplishment. Interviews are requested from only a fraction of the applicant pool. An interview request indicates that the school’s admission committee has carefully scrutinized your application and is favorably considering you as a candidate for their program.

When You Receive a Request for an Interview

You must attend the interview to be considered for admission.  Read the instructions that come with the invitation very carefully, and respond promptly.  Delaying your response or unnecessarily putting off the interview may imply lack of interest in the school. 

You may be given a choice of an on-site interview or a regional interview closer to your home or school.  Regional interviews are usually conducted by alumni, often in their office.  An advantage of the regional interview is that it does not require you to spend as much time and money as it would to drive or fly a long distance to the actual school.  However, an on-site interview is also beneficial because it gives you an opportunity to inspect the facilities and the area around the school and to interact with students. 

The school will inform you in advance where you are to report for the first interview, general information session, or tour.  Often you will be told the names and positions or titles of the interviewer(s).  The interview can be “open- or closed-file.”  For an open-file interview, the interviewer has not been given your letters of evaluation or information about your academic background.  They may still have access to personal statement, however.

What to Expect 

Most schools will conduct one-on-one interviews, sometimes several in succession with different interviewers.  A few schools use a committee interview with a three or four-person panel.  Interviewers are typically clinical faculty, basic science faculty, and students.  The interview is usually unstructured and lasts from thirty minutes to an hour.

Interviewers will evaluate you with regard to several qualities, including:

Understanding of the career 

Do you know what it is really like and what patients need from you as a professional?

Motivation

How strong is your desire for your chosen career?  The interview might want to further test your motivation by posing questions regarding your experiences in the field you have chosen.

Level of maturity and judgment

How well and logically do you think on your feet?  Are you emotionally stable and mature?

Intellectual curiosity

What evidence is there that you recognize the importance of life-long learning?  How well do you learn from experience?

Interpersonal skills

Do you communicate with the interviewer easily and clearly?  How well do you relate to the interviewer?  What is the evidence that you can work well with others?  The interviewer will be interested in assessing your ability to relate to, communicate with, and empathize with people with both physical and psychological problems and who are from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

How to Prepare

Important preparation for your interview is to think about your goals, strengths, weaknesses, and the information you most wish to communicate to the admissions committee.  This preparation will be extremely helpful if your interviewer begins to the session by saying, “Tell me about yourself.”  Think about the current state of the profession and how you stand on various issues related to the profession.  There are no “correct” answers for these questions; the interviewer wants to determine whether you have thought seriously about the profession and can defend your positions in an articulate manner.

In advance, learn about the school by looking at their website, reading their publications, and by talking to students on that campus before your interview session.  A common interview question is “Why are you interested in attending our school?”  Also, schedule a mock interview with Dean Almeida.

Stonehill’s Office of Career Services has good tips online to begin preparing you for interviewing.
http://www.stonehill.edu/offices-services/career-services/resume-interviewing-and-networ/interviewing/

* The Office of Career Services offers interviewing workshops regularly throughout the year.  You might also consider booking a mock interview (before and in addition to your committee mock interview) with a career counselor.  Simply call the office at 508-565-1325 to book one.

Make a Good First Impression

Use your best “professional manner.”  Refrain from anything which might be viewed as objectionable by the interviewer, such as gum-chewing and nervous mannerisms.  Maintain good eye contact.  Dress professionally, but comfortably, and remember that this is not the time to make a statement with your clothes or hairstyle.  While it is impossible to eliminate all the stress inherent in the interview process, the most important thing to remember is to conduct yourself naturally and calmly.

When responding to the interviewer’s questions, avoid becoming defensive.  If you make an error in one of your statements and realize it, admit it.  Never try to bluff a response.  Try to be open-minded and willing to learn.  Understand the difference between questions requiring factual responses and those asking for opinions.  Do not be reluctant to take the time to think before responding; a complex question requires some thought.

Do not be reluctant to express your feelings during the interview.  Be open about your concerns.  Many interviewers ask that you continue if you are too brief; be prepared to give more detailed explanations.  The open-ended format gives you an opportunity to describe accomplishments while giving background information.  Do not sound boastful, yet take the opportunity to make the committee aware of positive factors about you that would be difficult to present in any other way.

If you feel that the interview went badly, many admissions officers will respond favorably to a request for a second interview with a different interviewer.  Many applicants write a thank you note to their interviewer after the interview.