The Interview: What to Expect

The Interview Experience in 2021-22; What to Expect

This year’s interview season will launch in late September 2021; Washington University School of Medicine expects to conduct admissions interviews through late February 2022. The goal of the interview process is for invited applicants and members of the Washington University School of Medicine community to get to know each other. The process is designed to bring interviewees into contact with as many current students and faculty as feasible. Before interviewing, think about what you want to know about WUSM so that your questions are answered.

In 2021-22, Washington University School of Medicine will continue a “Virtual Interview Experience” (VIE) format.  Those invited will have three (3) interviews in total. These include two live Zoom interviews, each with a faculty member from our Committee on Admissions (COA), scheduled for the same day. There will also be a standardized video interview (SVI) that you will complete in advance of the scheduled virtual interview day.  The interview day also includes (i) a small group discussion with faculty admissions leadership, (ii) a financial planning presentation and (iii) a live, interactive virtual tour of the medical campus provided by a senior medical student.  

Interview Invitations

Interview invitations are delivered individually by email upon the recommendation of the Washington University School of Medicine Committee on Admissions (COA). An applicant is expected to schedule an interview soon after the invitation is issued. As part of the invitation, invitees will be provided videos featuring (i) an overview of the Virtual Interview Experience from Valerie Ratts, MD, Professor and Associate Dean for Admissions (ii) our Gateway Curriculum and (iii) an enthusiastic student welcome to WashU.

Live Virtual Interviews

Each interviewee will have two live virtual (Zoom) interviews, both scheduled on the same day. One is a 30-45 minute standard interview, where the COA member has reviewed the full application.  The other is 20-30 minute closed file interview, where the COA member has only reviewed your name. In each case, the interviewer will inform you which type of interview is being conducted, so you have context on how much information the interviewer has on hand and how much background information you may need to provide in the conversation.  If you encounter technology issues on your interview day, please contact the Office of Admissions to reschedule. AAMC provides Virtual Interviews: Tips for Medical School Applicants to assist in preparation.

Asynchronous Virtual Interviews (Standardized Video Interviews)

Before your live interview day, we will ask you to complete a WashU Med-designed asynchronous, or one-way virtual interview. This is also referred to as the Standard Video Interview, or SVI (note that this is different from the AAMC’s Video Information Tool for Admissions [VITA], which is not part of the WashU Med admissions process). Here, you will be recording responses via your computer’s webcam and audio, and using your keyboard for written responses. You can expect both situational and behavioral interview questions to be presented in the SVI.

Note that articulating the thinking behind your answer is particularly important to us in the SVI:  strive to describe as comprehensively as possible, in the short time format, the steps in your thinking that would lead you to a particular course of action. Our preference is for interviewees to complete the SVI prior to one’s live interviews. We do not recommend interviewees doing both live and asynchronous interviews on the same day.

Once started, the one-way virtual interview should take 30 minutes or less. SVI scoring may influence final admissions decisions, but will not impact who is invited to participate in interviews with faculty.

AAMC provides Virtual Interviews: Tips for Medical School Applicants for interviewee preparation.

“Why WashU” Wednesdays and “Meet our Students” sessions

Beginning in October, we expect to offer “Why WashU Wednesdays” virtually at 5pm CT. These will be optional opportunities for those who have interviewed or are scheduled to interview to learn in greater detail what distinguishes WashU’s School of Medicine. We anticipate meetings featuring current medical student panels, research, our newly launched Gateway Curriculum, diversity themes and initiatives, coaching within the medical education experience, the School’s relationship to the city of Saint Louis, and other topics. Why WashU Wednesdays will enable the prospective student to continue to make connections with and gain more information about WashU. We will provide additional details as they become available.

Beginning in late September, “Meet our Students” sessions are expected to be offered virtually Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm CT for those scheduled to interview or who have recently interviewed.  Again, we will provide additional details as they become available.

In-Person Visits

Due to ongoing public health safety concerns, we regret that no in-person interviews or visits are being scheduled. All MD interviews will be conducted virtually.  The Office of Admissions may be organizing optional visit days for applicants who are offered admission; those details will depend upon the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Expectations

Interviews are critical interactions and opportunities for applicant evaluation for the COA. We hope you can relax and utilize the virtual interview experience to learn more about WashU and whether it is the right fit for your education. We would stress that your professional appearance and timeliness should be a high priority as you prepare for interviews with faculty; the virtual context will not change the typical expectations of a medical school interview.  On the other hand, please note that there are no specific attire expectations for our other virtual programming.

Factors Considered in the Interview and Admissions Evaluation

• Accomplishments: work, research, volunteerism, leadership
• Avocations and interests
• Capacity for improvement
• Communication skills (oral and written)
• Cultural competence/humility
• Empathy
• Ethical responsibility to self and others
• Initiative and productivity
• Insight into the practice of medicine
• Maturity
• Motivation for the study of medicine
• Professional bearing and communication
• Resilience and adaptability
• Social skills