Taking competencies into account when preparing for medical or dental school interviews

The 2021 application cycle for health professional schools has been marked by certain challenges due to testing disruptions and more in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many schools have voiced that they will be placing even more of an emphasis on holistic review of candidates (taking academic metrics, experiential components, and competencies into account) this cycle. Since we are now in the early stages of interview season, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the new changes and recommendations for the interviewing process this application cycle.

First, a number of MD programs are utilizing the new AAMC Video Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA) as a complement to their own virtual or in-person interviews in order to better assess a candidate’s pre-professional competencies. In addition, two MD programs are piloting the AAMC Situational Judgement Test (SJT) this cycle which also focuses on specific competencies.

Second, take a moment to reflect on your particular areas of strength in terms of the 15 core competencies for entering medical students (while this list was devised by the AAMC, the competencies can be applied to all types of pre-health professional tracks). In a recent webinar, Demonstrating Competence in an Unconventional Application Year webinar, the AAMC stated that this cycle in particular is an excellent time to draw explicit connections between your own meaningful background experiences and the competencies during interviews. See these Real Stories Demonstrating Core Competencies and Anatomy of an Applicant: Self-Assessment Guide as resources to help guide your self-reflection.

These are just a few of the major takeaways so far. Please see the recording of the Center for Career Development and the Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Advising Office’s joint Navigating the Healthcare Admissions Interview Webinar for in-depth information about the types of interviews utilized by health professional schools, strategies for tackling common kinds of questions, and links to interviewing resources for various kinds of health professional schools. The recording of the webinar as well as the Center for Career Development’s guide to using the Big Interview practice tool can be found here.

By Krista Rogers
Krista Rogers