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Conviction, not Convincing: The Importance of Reflection Ahead of Interview Season

A little bit about my experience:

Medical school interviews were some of the most nerve-wracking experiences I have ever endured. I was convinced that this is where I had to PROVE that I was the best applicant for their program. I tried some questionable tactics (read: embarrassing. One interviewer told me to stop, slow down, and start over…), and really wish I had talked with someone who had gone through interviews before me.

Prior to the start of interviews, I met with my school’s pre-medical advisor. We talked through my personal statement, resume, and we went through a mock interview. However, I still felt woefully underprepared, especially when I flew across the country to interview at one of my “reach” schools.

The best advice I received:

              While my pre-med advisor’s guidance was hit or miss at times, but she did leave me with one piece of advice that I have taken with me throughout my application and medical school journeys. It was along the lines of:

Quality of experiences are better than quantity. If you bring up something that you did, make sure you can REALLY talk about it.

We all like to have a padded resume, but quality over quantity will take you a LONG way.

OK so now what?:

When you are invited to an interview, the program already knows that you are a good, quality applicant. They have read through the personal statement and have seen your extracurriculars. There is no more “convincing” required; your foot is already in the door. What you need to do now is show that you can learn and adapt, which is really what medical school is all about.

 When I say “conviction, not convincing,” it means that you should speak from the heart. With earnestness. Do not be afraid to let your passions shine, share your triumphs, and reveal what you have learned from your experiences (good or bad).

Have you ever noticed when a friend talks about something they really love, their entire face lights up? This is the kind of passion from students that programs are looking for. The programs have seen your resume. What they want to know now is what made those experiences special for you? What makes you proud to talk about that one club or travel experience or work position? Reflection is KEY here.

So my biggest piece of advice for you going forward…  When you are ready to sit down and write out your personal statement or prepare for a mock interview, pick a couple of your favorite experiences from your resume and write down what you truly enjoyed about the experience. It does not matter if it was the work itself, the community surrounding the organization, or the way it made you feel.

Write it all down. Without structure. Just get the words on the page.

And then read – and I mean REALLY read – through those words, and understand why you wrote them.

              You are resilient, and have gone through a lot to even get to this point. If you can show programs that you have adapted to new situations, and have grown and taken away lessons from your experiences, then you will be successful in this process.

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