The Interview: What to Expect

The Interview Experience in 2020-21; What to Expect

This year’s interview season will launch in late September 2020; Washington University School of Medicine expects to conduct admissions interviews through early March 2021. 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 communication with as many current students and faculty as feasible. Before interviewing, think about what you want to know about the WUSM so that your questions are answered.

In 2020-21, Washington University School of Medicine has created a “Virtual Interview Experience” (VIE) due to ongoing public health concerns with COVID-19. Top-rated applicants will be invited to participate. Those invited will experience three (3) interviews in total. These will include two live virtual interviews, each with a faculty member from our Committee on Admissions (COA), scheduled for the same day. A newly added part of the admissions process is the standardized video interview (SVI), where invited applicants will complete video and written responses to several questions in advance of the scheduled virtual interview day with faculty.

Beyond the interviews, other complementary components of one’s VIE are designed to take place over a week, as best fits an interviewee’s schedule. These components include a live interactive virtual tour of the medical campus provided by a senior medical student, a discussion with faculty admissions leadership, and a financial planning presentation. Each will be offered virtually several times in a given week span, days on, before, and after the live virtual interview, providing scheduling flexibility. You will be provided a structured way to choose among these various options.

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 newly launched Gateway Curriculum and (iii) an enthusiastic student welcome to WashU.

Live Virtual Interviews

Two live virtual interviews will be held per interviewee, both scheduled on the same day. One is a standard interview, where the COA member has reviewed the full application, and one is a 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. In each case, WashU will use Zoom video technology, connecting you directly with the faculty member assigned for a particular interview. Expect standard interviews to take 30-45 minutes to complete in this format; virtual closed file interviews will likely take 20-30 minutes. Both interviews need to occur with webcam/video. If there are technology issues on the day of the scheduled interviews with faculty, they should not be held by phone and will need to be rescheduled by contacting the Office of Admissions. AAMC provides Virtual Interviews: Tips for Medical School Applicants to assist in preparation.

Asynchronous Virtual Interviews (Standardized Video Interviews)

You will also be asked to complete a WashU Med-designed asynchronous, or one-way virtual interview, as you respond to questions presented via prerecorded video or via text. 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, asking you to describe how you would respond to hypothetical situations (situational) or how you have responded in the past to particular situations (behavioral), and why. The question prompts have been recorded by WashU faculty and students, and we hope they provide a sense of the culture here.

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.

You will have the opportunity to practice your responses prior to beginning; once started, the one-way virtual interview should take 30 minutes or less. Both a COA faculty member and a trained 4th year (senior) medical student will review your asynchronous responses, using rubrics established by COA leadership. 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

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.

In-Person Visits

Due to current public health safety concerns, we regret that no in-person visits are scheduled. All MD interviews will be scheduled to be conducted virtually.

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 educational needs. We would stress that your professional appearance and timeliness should be a high priority as you prepare; the virtual context will not change the typical expectations of a medical school interview.

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 — ability to handle responsibilities
• Motivation for the study of medicine
• Professional bearing and communication
• Resilience and adaptability
• Social skills