Snapshot is a short, one-way video response tool, meant to provide an additional opportunity for medical schools and other professional programs to get to know you. Along with the CASPer test and the Duet, Snapshot is a part of the Altus Suite, a multi-level assessment tool used by professional graduate and undergraduate programs. In this blog, you will learn what the Snapshot is, what the interview process is like, and how to prepare for it. Finally, I'll go over some sample Snapshot questions and expert answers to help you get ready!
Disclaimer: BeMo does not recommend, endorse nor affiliate with Altus Suite or McMaster and vice versa. The following provides our opinion about Altus Suite and its components. To take the Altus Suite assessment, provided by Acuity Insights, contact the organization directly.
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What is Snapshot by Altus?
Snapshot is a virtual interview assessment tool used by many undergraduate and graduate programs to evaluate applicants. Some medical schools in Canada and medical schools in the US use Snapshot as an additional screening tool in their admissions processes. Your Snapshot responses may be used in deciding who to extend interview invitations to or to rank candidates for orders of acceptance. Not unlike the AAMC VITA, the Snapshot by Altus is a short video response tool claimed to be designed to give you an additional opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the profession. The Snapshot is claimed to help you demonstrate your personal attributes and communication skills but the jury is out for its real effectiveness.
Below is a list of the medical schools which require Snapshot or recommend it for admission to their programs.
- University of Illinois College of Medicine – Snapshot is required
- East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine – Snapshot is required
- American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine -- Snapshot is required
- San Juan Bautista School of Medicine -- Snapshot is required
- University of Colorado, Denver, School of Medicine -- Snapshot is required
- University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine -- Snapshot is required
- Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University – Snapshot and Duet are optional
Note that not all medical schools list whether Snapshot and the rest of Altus Suite is required or recommended for admission to their programs. Other programs that may use Snapshot include physician assistant programs in the US, nursing schools, vet schools and other professional programs.
Your Snapshot responses will be available to all programs that you add to your CASPer test distribution list. Each program will make its own decision on whether to use it and how to use your recorded interview in its admissions process. The best way to learn whether your chosen programs require Snapshot is to check with them directly or visit the official website of the administrator to learn which schools require Snapshot. We strongly advise you to do this ahead of your application submission whether you are applying in the US or Canada.
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How Do I Complete the Snapshot?
Your Snapshot interview is completed online using your own computer, similar to the CASPer test. Once you sign into your Altus Suite account, you will see a prompt to complete the Snapshot interview. Before you start recording your real answers, you must complete the practice session. The session includes two practice questions that mimic the Snapshot questions. This will help familiarize yourself with the Snapshot format. You can practice as much as you want and playback your responses to ensure that your audio and video are clear before completing the official interview.
You are required to complete the Snapshot interview no later than 14 days after completing the Casper test, if you are required to complete the test.
Although it is not announced how schools use the interview in the admissions process, you must complete the Snapshot if it required by your program of choice. How the program chooses to use it is at their discretion, but if you do not complete the interview, you will fail to complete an important requirement and the schools of your choice may reject your application all together. Remember that it will take 2-3 weeks for your Snapshot responses to be sent to the schools you indicate, and you won’t be able to review your responses once they are submitted.
When choosing a location to record your Snapshot interview responses, choose a location and computer that meets these requirements:
- A reliable internet connection
- A working webcam and microphone
- Good lighting, so your face is visible and centered in the middle of the screen
- Quiet and distraction-free
Although this is not an in-person interview, you should treat the Snapshot as a professional interview. Make sure you dress professionally, as you would for a face-to-face meeting. Wear neutral colors, minimal make-up, and jewelry, don't fidget or touch your face and hair, and keep your tone professional and welcoming. Schedule to record your responses at a time when you’re rested and focused. As with any professional interview, you want to be able to understand the prompt, compose coherent answers, and present your best self.
The Snapshot Interview Format
The official interview consists of three questions with two minutes allotted to respond to each question. Once you are ready to record your responses, you can begin your Snapshot interview and the first question will appear on the screen. You will have 30 seconds to reflect on the question and brainstorm your answer before the recording begins. Snapshot gives you 30 seconds to reflect on each of the questions without being recorded. The entire interview should not take you more than 10 minutes.
Once you complete recording a question, even if the timer has not run out, hit Submit and move on to the next prompt, which will appear on the screen automatically. Be aware that you cannot re-record your response. Once you complete recording a response for a question, it is automatically saved, and you must move on to the next prompt. You cannot view your recording, as responses are only accessible to programs for review during the admissions process. So, make sure to use the Snapshot practice questions to get comfortable with the format -- take as many practices as necessary.
As I already mentioned, the entire official interview should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. I am not counting your practice runs in this calculation, as you will be the judge of how many times you should run through the two practice questions before you begin. Since the interview is quite short, it is unlikely that you will need a break in-between your answers, but you are allowed to pause between questions for a break if needed. The Altus does not specify how long the break can last, but you should aim to complete the interview in one sitting and avoid stretching the recording over a prolonged period of time. Once you are presented with a question, you will not be able to pause for a break.
The questions you are asked in the official interview will typically look like many common professional program interview questions, such as the "tell me about yourself" nursing school interview question, so it can be helpful to practice with these types of questions as part of your Snapshot prep.
Check out how to answer some of the most common interview questions:
How to Prepare for Your Snapshot Interview
Although the Snapshot may seem like another unnecessary hurdle in your long application journey, try to think of it as an additional opportunity to bolster your application. While test scores, grades, and essays give the admissions committees some glimpse into your life, the recorded responses will allow you to demonstrate your communication and interpersonal skills. Crafting responses for AMCAS Work and Activities or writing your medical school personal statement takes weeks of careful planning, but Snapshot will demonstrate your ability to articulate your thoughts and respond to questions on the spot. In this interview, you can expect questions that you may be asked in any standard admissions interview.
There are three types of questions you can expect to be asked during your Snapshot:
- Questions about your reason for pursuing future career goals
Typically, medical school interview questions or any professional interview questions try to reveal your character, values, and dedication to the future profession. For example, you may be asked the following:
- Tell us about someone you admire and why.
- What is your favorite book?
- What is an obstacle you have faced, and how did you get through it?
- What aspect of your future profession are you most excited about?
Snapshot was developed to help medical schools learn more about you, so the questions are designed based on what med programs typically want to know about their applicants. The questions you will face will not be much different than the questions you typically prepare for during your regular interview prep.
Although Snapshot is not an in-person interview, you can still use traditional techniques and practices to get ready. Just like anything else, you have to practice using realistic simulations and expert feedback. Firstly, you will need to know how to prepare for your med school interview. Many students experience anxiety before an interview, especially if it’s a new and unknown format. Not knowing how you come across on a computer screen may also be a concern, since you want to make a great first impression with your recorded interview. Only mock interviews with expert feedback can reduce or eliminate these anxieties. Realistic mock interviews with expert, personalized feedback from a medical school admissions consultant will help you work on how you come across and give you insight into the strength and quality of your responses. This feedback can help identify weaknesses, help you structure your answers, and most importantly, allow you to adopt a strategy to answer any type of question you may encounter.
Remember, it's not about memorizing your answers or trying to guess what questions you will be asked. It's about mastering a technique to identify and answer any type of question that's thrown at you and to do it calmly and confidently. Confidence can't be taught, but it can be developed, and it can grow with medical school interview preparation.
In addition to practicing the most common medical school interview questions, you should also practice with panel interview questions and MMI questions. Remember, the right practice makes perfect. The more questions you run through, the more comfortable you will become with answering questions about your character, hobbies, personal experiences, and activities. Practicing with these interview questions will also allow you to time yourself and work towards composing concise and clear answers. Remember, you will have only two minutes to read, reflect on, and answer the prompt, so timing yourself during practice is key.
Preparing for CASPer too? Here's what you need to know:
Snapshot Sample Questions and Answers
The majority of the Snapshot questions will be divided into three categories: quirky, personal or experience-based, and “why this profession?”. For instance, you can expect to be asked "why do you want to be a nurse?" in a nursing school Snapshot interview. Remember, it is essential to use examples when you answer the prompts. Rather than simply talking about yourself in relation to the prompt, you need to reference solid examples that demonstrate your qualities and experiences and bring your story to life. Let’s go over an example of each question and how you can tackle each question type. Additionally, I will provide you with a sample answer.
How does BeMo help with Altus Suite prep? Here’s what our students have to say:
Although new and intimidating at first glance, Snapshot by Altus is not much different from your typical in-person interview formats. To become confident, I strongly advise you to get expert feedback as you practice answering mock Snapshot questions. You will not see much improvement without personalized feedback. Remember, quality always trumps quantity – practicing with many questions will not help if the content of your answers does not improve. A medical school advisor can help you identify your strengths, as well as areas of your interview strategy that need improvement.
1. What is the Snapshot?
This recorded video interview tool is claimed to be used to provide schools with an additional piece of information about you during times when face-to-face interactions are limited. The recorded responses will be used by schools at their discretion, so the interview is not designed to be used during a specific admissions phase. Specifically, the tool was designed to give medical schools a better understanding of your communication and interpersonal skills.
2. Is Snapshot optional or mandatory?
Altus Suite recommends every US medical school applicant completes the Snapshot interview. However, paramedics, applicants to programs in the UK, and applicants to Canadian post-graduate medical programs are currently required to complete only the CASPer test. To find out for sure if your program of choice requires the Snapshot, we advice you to reach out to your chosen programs personally. Whether you are trying to fulfill PA school requirements or dental school requirements, it is better to ask the admissions office of your program, if this information is not available on their official website or the Altus Suite website. Each school will decide on how to use the recordings during their admissions process.
3. How is the interview structured?
You must access Snapshot through your Altus Suite account. Recording your responses should not take you more than 10 minutes. You will be presented with three prompts and have 30 seconds to reflect on each question and two minutes to respond to each prompt. You are not recorded during the 30 seconds given to you for brainstorming. Once you complete recording each response, you will submit the recording and move on to the next prompt. Before you start the official interview, practice with the sample questions available through the portal. You can practice as much as you need to get used to the format.
4. Is there a deadline to submit my Snapshot interview?
You can complete your Snapshot before or after you register for your CASPer test and no later than 14 days after you complete the CASPer test.
5. Where should I take Snapshot?
You can choose a location and time that works best for you, as long as you have a reliable internet connection. Make sure your computer’s audio and video work. Try to situate yourself in a quiet area with a neutral background. Ensure that your face is centered directly within the view of your video, as well as facing the camera at all times.
6. How should I get ready for this interview?
The best practice is using realistic simulations followed by expert feedback like any other interview. Click here to learn more about BeMo's CASPer Snapshot prep. Be sure to go over the practice questions as many times as you need to get used to the Snapshot format. The recording is a one-time opportunity, so make sure there are no technical issues with your device when you practice. You should also take into account your appearance and background. Although this is not an in-person interview, try to wear medical school interview attire to look professional in your recording. You will want to make a good first impression with your interview.
7. What kind of questions should I expect? How can I practice?
As I mentioned before, Snapshot is meant to provide medical schools with more information about your candidacy, so Snapshot questions will be similar to the questions you practice with for traditional in-person interviews. Make sure to go over the questions I linked to above. Additionally, run through medical school interview questions and answers to build up your confidence. Learn how to answer tricky questions like “What is your greatest limitation?” or “What is your greatest weakness?” Remember, when you start practicing for the interview, try to become comfortable with the format first. As your confidence grows, you may start timing your answers. Don’t forget that you have two minutes to respond, so make sure you use your time wisely.
8. Can I watch my Snapshot responses after I’ve recorded them?
No. Once you complete the official interview and submit your answers, you will not be able to access them. They will be saved automatically. Only the schools you apply to will be able to view them. However, you will be able to view your practice recordings.
9. Can I take breaks during Snapshot?
You can pause between questions for a break if you need it. You will not be able to pause once the prompt becomes available to you.
10. Is Snapshot similar to the AAMC VITA?
Both of these tools were developed to connect medical schools and applicants during these challenging times. However, while AAMC VITA will take students approximately 35 minutes to complete, the Snapshot only takes 10. VITA consists of six 3-minute recordings with 1 minute of reflection time between the questions and the recording – you are not recorded during the reflection time. During Snapshot, you will have 30 seconds to reflect without being recorded and 2 minutes to answer each of the three questions. Additionally, VITA is used for US medical schools only, while Snapshot is offered to all Altus affiliated programs worldwide.
11. Will Snapshot replace in-person or two-way video interviews?
Not necessarily. Some programs that will use Snapshot may replace their interview process with it, while others are just using it as an additional piece of information to help in the initial candidate selection process. Each school will decide whether to conduct in-person or two-way video interviews this application cycle.
12. What if I experience technical issues during my recording? Can I re-take the interview then?
You must reach out to the Altus support team if you experience any technical issues during your interview. If your responses were corrupted by technical issues, your recording will be reviewed, and you might be able to re-take the interview again.
13. What if there were no technical issues, but I am very unhappy with my responses?
You cannot re-take the interview unless there are technical issues with your recording or your responses were not saved correctly. In any other case, you may not re-record your responses.
14. What should I wear for my Snapshot?
Treat your Snapshot as you would any professional, in-person interview. We recommend wearing professional interview attire, such as a button-up shirt or blouse, or a collared jacket.
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