5 Key Differences Between Online And In-Person Medical School Interviews

Advice & Insight From Interview Specialists


The most obvious change – your interview will now take place from the comfort of your own home or school. This means that you can take the time to prepare a space that feels comfortable, and in which you feel confident.
You will no longer have the chance to meet other prospective students beforehand as part of the assessment day, nor will you get a chance to look around the medical school or tour the university. Look at the positives in this situation, and consider these as potential distractions which are removed, leaving you free to focus only on the interview. 

How You Should Prepare

Your preparation should be much the same overall. You should cover the same topics and common questions. Where your preparation should change dramatically is when focusing on interview technique and the process of the interview itself.
You should take time to familiarise yourself with the software being used. It is likely to be either Zoom or Microsoft Teams – check with each university individually. Download any software or app well in advance, and practice joining meetings. To do this, simply have a friend or family member create a mock interview meeting room, and invite you to it. Then, join the room and familiarise yourself with the process. When practising interviewing, try not to do it in-person, and instead do all your practising this way, using the software that you will be using on the day.
Make sure that you have a laptop with a good webcam and microphone, and good high-speed internet. Try to borrow a laptop with a good webcam and mic if you do not have one. Likewise, if your home internet isn’t fast, try to take the call from school.
You will need to prepare the area in which you call from – check that the lighting works well (i.e. that you can be seen clearly) and that there isn’t any background sound. You should also double check your webcam and sound before the interview.

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How to Speak

You should alter your manner of speaking for a virtual interview. Remember that the audio may lag or lose quality when you are speaking. Therefore, ensure that you moderate the speed at which you speak – be even clearer and more articulate than you might in person. Leave pauses between phrases, and leave pauses before you speak (i.e. ensure that there isn’t any more audio to follow). This may feel unnatural at first compared to an in-person interview, so ensure that you practice to get a feel for it. 

Body Language

You should adjust your body language to suit a video call. Just like speaking, this will require practice to feel natural. The most important adjustments to make are as follows. Firstly, you should sit so that you are well framed in the webcam. That involves leaning in to the webcam to an extent, to appear engaged. Secondly, you should bear in mind that you will need to gaze directly into the webcam in order to look your interviewers in the eyes. Try to avoid looking at the screen when speaking, and instead look at the webcam; look at the screen when others are speaking. Next, consider the extent to which you use gestures. Gestures are likely to be missed, or be harder to notice, via webcam. Understand if the gestures you use fall into this bracket and alter or reduce them as necessary. As you would in a real interview, make sure to smile and nod to show that you are following. In a video interview you may find yourself waiting for audio to come through, making this even more essential. 

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The last difference between a traditional in-person MMI and an online interview is that the complexity of online interviews will likely be reduced, compared to in-person. Some universities have indicated that they will shift from MMI toward a semi-structured format, whilst others have indicated that they will ‘continue with’ or ‘adapt’ their MMI structure to be online. Nonetheless, from a purely logistical point of view it is far harder to organise 10 virtual meeting rooms in close succession than it is to organise 10 stations next to each other. You therefore will be wise to assume fewer stations, with a renewed focus on the most important topics – each university will provide more detail for their interviewees.   

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5 Key Differences Between Online And In-Person Medical School Interviews

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