The Purpose of the Interview
Admissions committees extend interviews to applicants who qualify based on GPA, entrance exam scores, and other parts of the written application. Not all applicants are invited for an interview. The interview is designed to give the admissions committee a chance to observe the applicant's interpersonal communication skills and learn more about the character of the applicant. The interview is also a place where the admissions committee determines if the applicant is the right "fit" for their school. For you, it is a chance to "interview" the school and to determine if it is the right "fit" for you. It is also a chance for you to make a professional impression.
Types of Interviews
Each school follows its own format for interviewing, but typically chooses one of two interview types. Applicants should prepare to be interviewed in either of the following formats:
- Closed File Interview - Interviewers have not seen the applicant's academic scores or letters of evaluation. They have seen your personal statement and secondary applications. The interviewer will ask more open ended questions requiring you to expand on experiences you previously wrote about.
- Open File Interview - Interviewers have access to the entire application including academic scores and letters of evaluation.
It is appropriate to contact the school in advance and ask them whether they use an open or closed file interview.
Preparing for the Interview
While it is important to prepare for the interview, be sure to act naturally and not provide memorized statements when answering interview questions. Preparing for the interview consists of three parts. The first requires a firm grasp of what you said in your application. The second requires an understanding of the health profession you are considering. The third involves diligent planning so that you are not rushed during your interview.
Knowing Your Application
Admission committees say the most common mistake interviewees make is not knowing their own application. Applicants are often asked questions which require them to expound on a particular item in the application. For example, interviewers have asked applicants to describe their research experience. Applicants frequently restate what they put on their application, something about mixing chemical A and B all summer. When the interviewer asks how the applicant's research contributed to the overall project they cannot elaborate. Interviewers then ask what happened with the research, what was the final result? When applicants cannot answer this question either, the interviewer assumes the applicant was simply checking off a box and the applicant looks like a "minimum doer." Another example illustrates this principle. There was an instance in which an applicant indicated in the application that they played the French horn. The interviewer brought in a French horn and asked the individual to play.
Understanding Your Profession
It is important to have a solid understanding of your chosen health profession. Be prepared to talk about specific shadowing experiences. Also, most interviewers ask questions to gauge your understanding of current events surrounding the profession. Information about current issues can be found by talking to professionals you shadow. The websites of major organizations representing your profession are also great places to read about current issues.
Students should also understand that, in a sense, they are being interviewed every moment they are at the school. These moments include breaks and tours, interactions with school secretaries, and during question and answer sessions. Students should make a conscious effort to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times.
Diligent planning is another key part of a successful interview. Travel arrangements should be made as far in advance as possible. Do not wait until the last minute to find a place to stay. Professional schools will often provide a list of items they want you to bring or do in preparation for the interview. Be prepared with these items when you arrive. Be prepared to answer questions about why you want to attend their particular school.
Interview day etiquette includes items such as:
- Arrive early to the interview.
- Act professional at all times.
- Wear appropriate interview attire. For men this means wearing a suit. For women, a nice pant suit or professional skirt and top is appropriate.
- Be honest in every answer you give during the interview.
- Be as confident and natural as possible.
- Shake hands and look the interviewers in the eye.
- Thank them for their time when the interview is completed.
- Follow up with a thank you note.
Travel and Costs
Students often overlook the high costs of traveling for interviews. If you are granted interviews at multiple schools, it might be wise to only go to those schools you are most interested. Plane tickets and hotel accommodations are expensive. Check school websites for information about local hotels and travel options. Find out if there are LDS students or other students at the school who would be willing to give you information.
BYU-Idaho Mock Interviews
BYU-Idaho offers mock interviews for health professions students through Internships and Career Services. They will use questions from the "Fifteen Common Interview Questions" document. Click here to schedule a mock interview.