Canadian Medical School Interviews:
Last edited October 10, 2001

Summary Facts:

I have serious doubts about the wisdom of making this section available. While it's one level of advice to provide tips on study techniques, it's entirely another to give advice that "falsifies" your personal characteristics in an attempt to portray someone you're not at the interview table. Hence, I'm going to keep this section very short, and confined to what I feel comfortable telling my classmates about the interview process. For anything else, look at web-pages authored by other individuals.

The most important rule I have, which applies very strongly to the above paragraph, is:


The medical school admissions committees are all concerned with answering a single question: "What kind of a doctor will you be, and is there a niche available for you here?" To lie, and pretend to be someone you are not in an attempt to win favour from the committee is to possibly take away a spot from another more-deserving individual. Lying is a trait that is absolutely out of line with medicine.

This means that if you are interested in research, you should say so, and not state that you like primary care simply because you heard that "This school is really big on primary care." If you really like classical music, then answer truthfully if you are asked. However, if your CD rack is filled with R&B music, then pretending that Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor is the greatest thing going is not a good strategy. If you don't speak Swahili, then you don't speak it.

On the other hand, in order for the admissions commitee to make an informed decision, they need to know your strengths. Be prepared to explain what personal characteristics you exhibit that would make you a good and effective doctor. Do not be afraid of "selling yourself" just because you feel you should be humble about your achievements. In the short period of time (usually an hour or less) for an interview, if you constantly downplay your qualities and accomplishments, the interviewer is unlikely to determine whether you are acting humble, or whether your curriculum vitae is simply deficient in content!

As a result, if you are naturally a quiet person, you may need to be more extroverted for your interviews. At this point, the admissions committee and the interviewer are trying to see if you have both the background experiences and the personality to be a good fit in the medical school class. Therefore, don't be afraid to tell them what you've accomplished, and why you feel you are qualified to be accepted to their school. That's why you wrote the MCAT, scribbled out autobiographies, chased down reference letters, and are at the interview right? On the other hand, there's a fine line between selling yourself, and coming off as an arrogant and over-confident individual. Step wisely.

If you enjoyed your interview and want to be courteous, you might want to send a thank you card. If you didn't care for the interviewer, then don't send one. I don't think your chances of being accepted hinge on something as minor as a thank you card, so if you send one, make it genuine.

Clothing and Interview Attire:

One possible exception to the "Be yourself" rule is in the clothing. Here, I really think you need to dress professionally. While you may feel perfectly comfortable in jeans and T-shirt for everything from attending classes, hitting the bar, or going shopping, my opinion is that you should dress well. Medicine is still considered a profession, and professional people dress professionally. The interviewer should be able to visualise you as a colleague.

For men, this means wearing a suit. I'm not a fashion guy, so I can't give any advice to the women. Most likely, look for something that you would wear to a job interview, or to work in a high-end office job. Anyway, back to the men. You definitely want to wear a suit. Jacket, tie, shirt, pants, dress shoes, the whole deal. Depending on your comfort level, and how much you value your individuality, as a guy, I'd go for the clean-shaven and short hair look.

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