CASPer Snapshot: The 2020 Ultimate Guide

Updated: August 28, 2020


The CASPer Snapshot is a short, one-way video response tool, meant to provide an additional opportunity for schools to get to know you. In this blog, you will learn what the CASPer 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!

Here's What I'll Cover:

What is CASPer Snapshot?

How is CASPer Snapshot Used in Admissions?

The Interview Format

When and Where to Take CASPer Snapshot

CASPer Snapshot Questions

How to Prepare for CASPer Snapshot

Sample Questions and Answers

Final Thoughts

FAQs

What is CASPer Snapshot?

Many medical schools in Canada and the US are putting in-person interviews on hold during this application cycle and are looking for new ways to learn more about their applicants. Although it is unlikely that these tools will replace the traditional face-to-face interviews, for now, they are here to stay. Not unlike the AAMC VITA, CASPer Snapshot is a short video response tool claimed to be designed to give you an additional opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the profession. CASPer Snapshot is claimed to help you demonstrate your personal attributes and communication skills but the jury is out for its real effectiveness.

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How is CASPer Snapshot used in Admissions?

Your CASPer 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 how to use your recorded interview in its admissions process. While some may decide that they want to review your answers as part of the admissions process, others may decide not to review your Snapshot responses at all. The way your responses are used in the selection process is at the discretion of each program. At the moment, many programs participating in CASPer have not publicly shared how the interview will be used in the selection process. You are advised to complete the Snapshot interview before your program’s distribution deadline. If your deadlines have passed, you should still complete the interview in your TakeCasper account as soon as possible, as each program may use this interview in different stages of the selection process.

Although it is unclear how schools will use the interview in the admissions process, you should not regard the Snapshot as optional. Remember, every school that requires your CASPer test may be able to see whether you have completed the Snapshot. Whether the program chooses to use it or not is at their discretion, but if you do not complete the interview, you may hurt your chances in a school that may take the interview into consideration. So, make sure to record your responses as soon as possible!

The Interview Format

Once you sign in to your account, you will see a prompt to complete the interview. The interview consists of three questions with two minutes allotted to read and respond to each question. Before you start recording your answers, you should take the opportunity to practice responding to practice questions that are located above the Take Snapshot button. You will have two practice questions that mimic the formal Snapshot questions, so you can 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.

Once you are ready to record your responses, you will be asked to start recording yourself and the first question will appear on the screen. You will read the first question and respond all while being recorded. Unlike the AAMC VITA, Snapshot does not give you time to reflect on the question without being recorded – you are recorded the entire time while you read and respond to the prompt. This way, Snapshot tries to mimic what the SortSmart interview has been doing for several years to mimic live interviews where your facial reactions and body language are visible to the interviewer the entire time. The interview consists of three questions in total and you will have two minutes to read and respond to each of the three questions – the entire interview should not take you more than 10 minutes. Once you complete recording a question, 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 by 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 for-profit company responsible 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. While you are recording your response, you will not be able to pause for a break.

When and Where to Take CASPer Snapshot

You can complete Snapshot whenever you prefer in a location of your choice before or after you take the CASPer test. If you would like your interview responses to be considered alongside your other application components, it is recommended that you complete Snapshot before the distribution deadlines stated for the schools on your CASPer Test score distribution list. Providing the schools with more information about your candidacy should be in your own interest - completing Snapshot before your CASPer test means that the responses and the test scores will be reviewed with the rest of your application. The interview may be used as an additional piece of information to complement our profile. So, keep in mind that completing the Snapshot on time could greatly benefit you if you practice and prepare for the interview. If you have already completed the CASPer Test and the score distribution deadline has passed for your programs, but you have not taken the Snapshot, your application will not be considered incomplete. Try to complete your Snapshot as soon as possible, so the admissions committees still have access to your interview during the selection process this cycle. As I have mentioned above, each school will have its own way of evaluating the interview during the admissions process, so you should strive to have it in as early as possible to ensure that the admissions committees have it for any of the stages of the candidate selection.

Just like the CASPer test, you can record your Snapshot interview from any location you want as long as you have a reliable internet connection. Make sure the video and audio settings on your computer work. While you are recording your responses, your face must be visible and positioned in the center of the screen. During the Snapshot practice, make sure your voice is clearly heard. Although CASPer does not require you to complete the interview using any particular device, you should use a device that will not accept phone calls while you interview because a phone call will interfere with your recording. As I already mentioned, you should complete this video interview in a location and at a time most convenient for you. When choosing the setting, try to record in a quiet space with good lighting. 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. Remember, you will only record this interview once, so whatever you record and submit will be available to any of the schools that require your CASPer scores. Allow time at the beginning to conduct a technology check, answer sample questions, and get used to the interview environment.

Learn how to ace your online interview in our video:

CASPer Snapshot Questions

Although the Snapshot may seem like another unnecessary hurdle in your long medical school 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. Typically, medical school 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.

How to Prepare for CASPer Snapshot

Although CASPer 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 advisor 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, which I linked to above, 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.

Additional tip: use your other application components to help you navigate Snapshot prompts. If you complete application components like the AMCAS personal statement, or the OMSAS  autobiographical sketch before you record your Snapshot answers, you can always rely on these application components to answer the interview questions. Of course, you are allowed to talk about experiences that were not included in your application components, however, keep in mind that you have already done a lot of work in choosing your top-quality experiences, so you might want to reflect on those in more detail during your Snapshot interview if you’re asked relevant questions. Be mindful that the experiences and activities you listed in your application materials are there for you to reference at any time during the interview; they are your “experience bank”. For example, if you’re faced with questions like “why do you want to be a doctor?” or “tell me about yourself”, recall your personal statement to help you formulate your answer. Or if you’re asked about a challenge you’ve experienced in the workplace, remember the activities or experiences you included in the sketch. These application components should be used as roadmaps - do not memorize them! Having these application components will simply allow you to organize your answers, rather than rummage to remember what you should talk about in the interview. Recall, you only have 2 minutes to come up with a clear and concise answer – using your application as a reference point can help you organize your thoughts and deliver your response coherently.

However, simply relying on application components is not going to be enough to prepare for this interview. There are a lot of things that you could be asked about (e.g. most significant personal challenge, a person you admire, your favorite book, etc.) that would usually not be brought up in your medical school components. When you’re getting ready for your interview and practice answering sample questions, reflect on experiences that address certain common themes, such as past challenges, obstacles, successes, times you failed, when you did something you regretted, a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone, etc. Rather than trying to squeeze all your past experiences into the mold of the Snapshot question, you should feel comfortable coming up with experiences that fit the prompt, no matter what it asks about.

Sample Questions and Answers

The majority of CASPer Snapshot questions will be divided into three categories: quirky, personal-experience based, and “why this profession?” 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.

What is your favorite book?

This is a quirky question. Although this question would not be considered quirky coming from friends and acquaintances, this type of question is used in medical school interviews to reveal something deeply personal about your character. The book you choose and why you choose it will be an indicator of your values, your personality, and your outlook on life. Here’s a look at a sample answer:

My favorite book is probably the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Children’s books like these reveal the challenging journey of becoming a virtuous person. The author was able to capture the development of children and young adults, forced maturity, confrontation with evil, and sometimes, the necessity to challenge your friends when you think they are not doing what is right.

I especially related to Harry Potter because I know what it’s like to grow up before your time comes; I know what it’s like to be forced to take on responsibility and take care of those in need. I grew up without a father, with no siblings. My mother worked several jobs to support us. I got my first job when I turned 14; our neighbor allowed me to help him out at his farm even though I had no agricultural experience. It was an exhausting job, but I knew I had to help my mother, who gave up so much of her time and strength to keep me fed and happy. When I felt stung by the injustice of my situation, I remembered what Harry Potter went through. He too had little family and had to take on challenges that were too big for a kid his age. But he persevered, as did I.

This book and its characters taught me never to give up on what is right and to protect the vulnerable. As a future physician, these lessons will be of utmost importance in guiding me on how to best protect the interests and well-being of my patients.

Why is this answer good? The writer uses a well-known literary character to describe his/her childhood, as well as what kind of lessons he/she learned from the book: dealing with premature adulthood, taking on responsibility, standing up to evil, being honest with your friends, etc. Notice, the answer is not a complaint – the writer does not play victim. Rather, he/she outlines the valuable lessons they learned from their circumstances and how the book helped them put their life in perspective. In this answer, the book is used as a foil to reveal something extremely personal about the interviewee and what kind of physician he/she will be.

What is an obstacle you have faced, and how did you get through it?

This is a personal-experience based question. When answering these types of questions, make sure to bring in a solid personal example relevant to the question. Do not forget to discuss how you overcame the challenge if it is a negatively charged question, like this one, and what you took away from the experience. You can always take your answer to the next level by discussing how you can apply the lesson you learned to your future profession. Here’s a sample answer to this question:

I was an extremely shy and anxious child. I remember feeling faint whenever I was asked a question in front of the entire classroom. As you can imagine, it was difficult for me to make connections with people. Even as a child, deep down, I knew that I should work on my social and communication skills, but I did not know how to go about it.

One day when my family and I were flying to visit some friends in Ohio, I came across an article in the airplane’s magazine about actor Robert De Niro. In his interview, the actor confessed that he was a very shy person by nature but worked hard to overcome his anxieties by joining an acting class when he was a child. This revelation had a great effect on me. When we got home, I asked my mother to take me to the nearest acting school. I was 12 years old at the time. At first, I found acting lessons extremely difficult. I had to force myself to scream when I was told to scream, dance when I was told to dance without music, laugh or cry at will – all these exercises were completed with a great deal of effort on my part. I started to come out of my shell and felt freed from social and inner constraints. I learned that challenges can be overcome if you put enough effort and courage into whatever you do. As a future physician, I want to believe that I will never give up on my patients and look for all possible solutions to help them. I will be just as dedicated to my patients as I was to overcoming communication challenges of my youth.

Why is this answer good? The introduction paints a clear picture of the interviewee’s crippling shyness and we as an audience know how hard he/she must have worked to overcome their anxieties and internal constraints. The interviewee presents us with a solid example of a challenge and goes on to demonstrate his/her dedication, hard work, and fearlessness in overcoming this hurdle. Additionally, the interviewee explains how the lessons they learned from overcoming this challenge will help them in their work as a physician.

What aspect of your future profession are you most excited about?

This is a “why this profession?” type question. Start by giving a couple of examples of influential events that led you to the decision to become a doctor. Discuss 2 or 3 skills that you gained from these experiences and discuss how they can be applied to your future profession. Alternatively, you can focus on up to three areas of the medical profession that appeal to you and what kind of skills you possess that would relate to those areas of the profession. Here’s a sample answer:

Throughout my undergraduate degree, I sought to learn more about medicine as a career. Working as a medical assistant, I came to realize that different aspects of a person's life, from socioeconomic background to familial support can affect his/her access and adherence to treatment and therapy. I found that I enjoyed the challenge of reaching out to patients and learning about them as a person so that I could address these issues. As part of my work involved educating patients on dietary changes for diabetic control, the challenge for me was to decipher the obstacles to patient compliance. The reward was having a patient returning one year later telling me how I have helped bring his HgA1C down from 8.2 to 6.5. This human connection and the ability to affect positive change in the lives of these patients further enticed me toward medicine.

As I explored medicine further, I came to appreciate that medicine is not just about helping and healing, it is intellectually stimulating and exciting. After graduating, I worked as a research coordinator for the Newcastle Digestive Disease Services. I collected and analyzed data to assess the efficacy of the current management regimen for pancreatic cysts. As I sought to answer one question, countless others arose. Are we over-operating on these patients? How often does a benign-appearing cyst progress to cancer? Do the pre-surgical findings correlate with the post-operative pathology? Observing the principal investigator both in the office and the operating room, I found myself fascinated by the thought process necessary to formulate a treatment plan and was absolutely riveted by the intricacy of surgery. I know that medicine, as a multifaceted discipline that is continuously evolving, will continue to captivate my curiosity and fuel my desire for lifelong learning.

Why is this answer good? The interviewee gives us two solid experiences that demonstrate his/her passion for medicine. Notice, the interviewee sticks to only two examples, but this gives him/her the ability to discuss each experience in-depth with fascinating personal and professional details.

Final Thoughts

Although new and intimidating at first glance, CASPer Snapshot 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. If you would like to get help with your CASPer Snapshot preparation, make sure to reach out to us. We are always here to help!

FAQs

1. Why was CASPer Snapshot developed?

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?

All the programs to which you have chosen to distribute your CASPer test score will have access to your Snapshot recordings. Each school will decide on how to use the recordings during their admissions process. Though it is unclear which programs will use the interview this application cycle, you should complete the interview. It is better to submit the recording in case any of your chosen schools want to use it in the selection process, rather than have them question why you did not submit your answers.

3. How is the interview structured?

You must access Snapshot through your TakeCASPer account. Recording your responses should not take you more than 10 minutes. You will be presented with three prompts and have two minutes to read, reflect on, and respond to each prompt, all while being recorded. 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?

Ideally, you should record your interview before the CASPer distribution deadlines stated for the schools you’re applying to on your CASPer test score distribution list. This way, your interview will be available to the schools at any stage of the selection process. Programs may review your interview to help them make a decision about interview invitations or use the interview as an additional piece of information to complement your application.

However, if you have already completed your CASPer test and the score distribution deadlines for the programs of your choice have passed, you are still encouraged to complete the interview. Your application will not be considered incomplete without the Snapshot, but you should record your responses as soon as possible.

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 pratice 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 that have access to your CASPer scores 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 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 are recorded the entire time. Additionally, VITA is used for US medical schools only, while Snapshot is offered to all CASPer 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 CASPer 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.

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To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting