Learning how to schedule medical school interviews requires a good understanding of the process, preparation and a solid strategy. In this blog post, we will teach you how to schedule your medical school interviews, the best strategy for scheduling your interviews and what to do in the event you need to cancel or reschedule. We will also cover how to follow up after your interviews are complete and how to confirm whether you’ll be attending a traditional panel interview, an or even a virtual interview format.
Medical school interviews are the final step in any admissions process. Typically, medical school interview invitations start being sent out in August to September of each year. However, many students receive their interview invites starting in October through December, and others can get their invitations as late as January or February of the following year.
Invitations are typically sent by email, though some medical schools will make phone calls or even send regular mail to their interviewees to schedule interviews. The first and most important thing when scheduling your interviews is to reply to your interview invitations as soon as you receive them and schedule your interviews as soon as possible.
The reason for this is that school admissions boards will begin discussing and making decisions on who to accept and who to reject right away. They’ve already seen and reviewed thousands of applicants, and they may fill all the limited spots early in the interviewing process if they find the applicants that they like best. This is what is known as the process. It is used by most medical schools in the US. So, the best course of action is to manage your time wisely and schedule your interviews before all the spots are taken up.
Since the rolling admissions process used by medical schools can mean that interview scheduling season becomes busy and jam-packed with applicants, it’s key to be flexible and secure your spot early. To make sure your interviews are scheduled according to your strategy and best suit your time and needs, send your responses to interview invitations as soon as you receive them. Take the time to outline your interview scheduling strategy ahead of time, before invitations start being sent out, so you know exactly what to do when scheduling begins and can react quickly to any unforeseen changes to your schedule.
Keeping to your strategy and ensuring your medical school interviews are scheduled when it’s best for you will eliminate some of the stress of this process. It will also make sure you’re not left with dates or times that don’t fit into your personal schedule or your strategy. Remember that interviews are scheduled on a first come first serve basis. You don’t want to be the applicant scrambling for the last remaining interview time and having to rearrange your schedule to make it work.
Haven't received any interview invites yet and are wondering what happened and what to do next? This infographic will help:
As mentioned above, most interview invitations will be sent by email. As soon as you receive an email or phone call from one of your chosen schools, start the process of scheduling the interview right away.
To help you craft the best strategy when scheduling your interviews, we’ve outlined a six-step guide below on how to schedule interviews and when. You can also find some template examples of professional emails to use when responding to interview invitations from medical schools, since most often invitations are sent by email.
Step 1: Keep your schedule open
Your schedule from the time you apply to medical school should be as flexible as possible. While it’s understandable that you should continue living your life, attending school, and completing any other major day-to-day commitments, avoid making plans that can’t be easily moved or cancelled, such as trips overseas, and make sure to let your employers, family and friends know about the interview process and that your schedule will need to remain flexible.
If need be, make sure you’re able to take time off work to attend and prepare for your interviews, and be transparent with the person scheduling your interview on what days and times work for you.
Keeping a flexible schedule is important too in case of unforeseen circumstances. For example, you may decide to cancel or reschedule an interview due to a family emergency or an injury which prevents you from attending an in-person interview, which we’ll cover later in this guide. There may be a case where the medical school granting you an interview must reschedule your interview time or location, and asks if you can choose alternative interview date. Emergencies and changes of plan do happen, so it’s best to be prepared and able to change your plans at a moment’s notice.
Step 2: Decide what time of day your interviews should be held
Be sure to schedule your interviews at the best time for you. Are you a morning person? A night owl? What times of day do you have the most energy, or are you the most productive? Try to schedule interviews at these times so you’re always putting your best self into the interview room. You know your moods and temperament best, so schedule your interviews at the times that work best for you.
Step 3: Send a thank you email immediately when you receive your invite
Many students and professionals struggle with how to craft good, professional email or how to make a professional phone call. A good rule of thumb for both is to keep a professional, friendly and polite tone, be concise and to the point, and thank the person for their time.
If the email is automated and asks you to schedule your interview time using a scheduling system, don’t reply to the email. Instead, start planning your interview schedule and confirm through the scheduling system the time and date you want.
If the interview invitation is by phone, be sure to keep a copy of your schedule close by and be ready to provide the necessary information to schedule your interview at your desired time. At the end of the call, thank the person scheduling your interview for their time and help.
If responding by email, simply indicate which dates and times will work best for you to schedule your interview and thank the person on the other end for their time. With professional emails, the wording doesn’t matter so much as keeping it short, simple and polite!
Below you can see a sample email template from BeMo on how to write a professional email reply accepting an interview invitation:
Dear Mr./Ms. [Name]
Thank you very much for the opportunity to interview at [university]. I am available for an interview at [date and time]. Please let me know if this time is acceptable. I look forward to receiving more information about the interview day.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me at this email or at [phone number] in case of anything.
Step 4: If you receive multiple invites, plan to have your top-choice schools in the middle, second choice in beginning, last-choice in the end
When scheduling your interviews, it’s also a good idea to think about when to schedule each school’s admissions interview, especially if you’re applying to several schools.
In this case, we advise scheduling your first interviews at your second-choice schools, just to get a feel for the interview process and banish any nervousness or anxiety you may be feeling beforehand. This helps take some of the pressure off of you, but at the beginning of the interview process you’ll have more energy when navigating through the lengthy process.
Your middle interviews should be reserved for your top-choice schools—this way, you’ll be more comfortable and familiar with the process and formats of your interviews, but you won’t be burnt out by a long line of interviews beforehand. You should feel more at ease and comfortable having gone through an interview or two, answering questions and presenting your best self. You’ll have had the opportunity at this point to review your performance so far, too, and have a chance to correct any errors in your interview approach before the high-stakes interviews take place. Any answers you left out or need to tweak in these most important interviews can be revised ahead of time, or any part of your interview strategy that needs to be adjusted, you’ll have time to do so.
Your final interviews will be with your lower-choice schools, so that if you’re exhausted by the attendance of so many interviews, you won’t feel as much pressure to put your best foot forward. You’ll also likely be comfortable with your answers at this point, so you can deliver them naturally without too much practice and having already attended the interviews for your top schools, your stress levels will decrease a bit.
You’ll walk out of your final round of interviews knowing that you followed through on your strategy and can take the time to decompress while you wait to receive your acceptance letters.
The interview process can be long and exhausting, so to avoid burnout it’s best to follow this system of scheduling. It’s also important to keep your motivation up and do whatever preparation is needed to keep your energy up.
Have you checked what type of interviews you're preparing for yet? This video covers how interview styles vary and how you can prepare for each type:
Step 5: Make sure to have some time between interviews
Also make sure not to schedule your interviews too close together, to give yourself time in between the prepare for the next scheduled interview. For example, if you like having a day or two ahead of the interview to practice your answers, don’t schedule a subsequent interview the day after. But don’t spread your interviews out over months, either. Rather, depending on how many interviews you have scheduled, leave a breather of a day or two between interviews and cluster them together so you can get them all done efficiently. Most students will be able to finish all their interviews easily in a two to four-week span. Keeping your interviews relatively close together will also help eliminate burnout and reduce stress, since you won’t need to rigorously schedule your life around medical school interviews for an extended period of time.
Remember you may need time to commute to your interview, so plan ahead if you need to make travel plans or secure a ride to and from your interview. It’s always best to give yourself extra time between leaving for your interview and arriving so you can adapt to any events that may make you late. It’s nice to have a bit of time before the scheduled interview time as well to compose yourself and do some breathing exercises if you get nervous.
Step 6: Prepare your interview budget
The last step in our interview scheduling strategy will be to prepare an interview budget. For some students, this won’t be necessary, but scheduling your interviews doesn’t just depend on managing your time efficiently and organizing your schedule. There are some costs associated with scheduling your interviews that need to be considered.
First, consider your travel costs. Whether you live nearby the medical school offering you an interview or miles away, it’s important to consider how you are going to get to your interview. If you’re driving, take into account your gas costs. If you’re using public transportation, factor the cost of a ticket into your interview budget. In the case of needing to hop on a plane or train to reach your destination, research costs and timetables ahead of time so you can book the necessary tickets and plan your route to and from the interview.
Another cost associated with travelling to and from your interview would be to budget for a hotel stay, if you’re attending an interview in another city, state or province. Just like with flights, it’s best to arrange accommodations ahead of time, know the cost of your stay, put together a food budget and find out how to get from your hotel to your interview in a timely manner.
Once you get to your interview, find out if you’ll need to pay for parking (if you’re driving) or if there are any other costs associated with attending your interview at your chosen medical school. Most of the time, these questions will be answered in the interview invitation email, but it doesn’t hurt to check with the school administration staff if there’s any information you need to know beforehand.
After each of your medical school interviews, it’s good and common practice to write a within 24 hours of your interview. Admissions committees appreciate seeing these and receiving one can reflect positively on your application.
Below is a sample template on how to write a concise thank you letter to a medical school admissions committee:
Dear Dr. Sandra Templeton, Director of Admissions at XYZ University,
Thank you for taking the time to interview me on [date]. I enjoyed visiting [university] and speaking with you and the admissions committee. I believe [university] would be an excellent fit for my learning and interests, and further my passion in medical studies.
If the admissions committee requires any further information or documentation to review my candidacy, please contact me at [contact email address, phone number etc,].
Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy. I would be honored to join your institution and further my learning in the medical field.
Some students may also need to write a to their chosen medical school. Letters of intent are documents which state a student’s continued interest in attending a medical school, in the case that their application has been waitlisted.
In the case that a student hasn’t heard back from their chosen medical school after 4 weeks, they may submit a letter of intent to inform the admissions team of their continued interest, and that they will accept an acceptance letter, if one is submitted, to said school. Letters of intent are sent to a student’s top choice school, and only their top choice school, after a period of 4 weeks without news. Students should not send them to multiple schools.
Not sure where to start with your med school letter of intent? Take a look at this infographic:
In general, rescheduling or canceling medical school interviews is not recommended. Many students fear that rescheduling due to a conflict will reflect negatively on their application or hurt their chances of acceptance. And cancelling altogether can mean that a student may lose his or her chance to interview at all, if all the remaining spots are taken.
It’s advised that when students schedule their interviews for medical school, they commit to showing up on the date and time selected. If something very urgent should come up and students are unable to attend the interview at the scheduled time, it’s best to let school staff know as soon as possible.
Send an email, or if possible, speak to the person who scheduled your interview on the phone to explain the situation and to reschedule the interview for a better time. In the case of rescheduling an interview, students should offer a very compelling reason for the change of plans, such as a family emergency, major injury which prevents travel or travel delays such as flights being cancelled due to a snowstorm.
Most schools understand that students may need to make travel plans to attend their interviews and are happy to help reschedule if needed. Remember that rescheduling your interview may be inconvenient to them, so express your apologies and thank them for taking the time to reschedule your interview for you.
In the case that students want to outright cancel their interviews, let the school know well ahead of time. Students may decide to cancel an interview if they no longer feel the program is a good fit, or perhaps they’ve already been accepted into their top choice program. While it is possible to decide not to show up for an interview, this is not advisable. By letting the school know you want to cancel your interview, this allows another student a chance to take your place and gives them a chance to be accepted at that program.
Looking to test yourself with some sample interview questions and answers? This video is for you:
Most Canadian medical school will indicate a weekend or set dates during interview season during which they conduct interviews. This information will be available to applicants either on the school’s website or in the interview invitation email or phone call.
If you’ve taken note of the interview dates ahead of time, just clear your schedule during those dates and reply to any interview invitations with the dates and times that you prefer to schedule your interview. Do so as soon as you receive your invitation to ensure you get the time slot you want!
Determining how to schedule your medical school interviews may seem like a nitpicky and stressful procedure, but through following this comprehensive BeMo guide students can craft their best strategy for interview scheduling. By preparing yourself ahead of time and remembering to always begin scheduling early, you can reduce your stress and improve your chances of success in scheduling medical school interviews and the final steps before acceptance to your chosen medical school.
1. When should I schedule my medical school interviews?
Students should begin scheduling their medical school interviews as soon as they receive an invitation to do so from their chosen schools. Scheduling interviews as early as possible is key!
2. Should I only accept an interview at my top choice school?
You should accept an interview for every invitation you receive. Getting an interview from your top choice school doesn’t guarantee acceptance, and it’s best to have second-choice schools and third-choice options to fall back on and increase your chances of admission.
3. Is it okay to reschedule my interview?
Schools can and do reschedule interviews, but students need to provide a very good reason for the change, such as a family emergency, or it can reflect badly on an applicant.
4. How many interviews should I schedule?
Schedule an interview for every school that offers you an invitation. This will increase your chances of getting accepted and give you a chance to interview at several schools to prepare for your interview at your top choice school.
5. How often should I schedule interviews?
Try not to schedule all your medical school interviews back-to-back. Leave a day or two at least between interviews to give yourself time to prepare for the next one.
6. What happens if I get into my top choice school before interviews are done? Can I cancel?
Students do have the option to cancel their interviews, but it’s best to let the school know via email or phone as soon as possible, to give another student the chance to interview in your place.
7. Does it cost anything to schedule my interviews?
Costs associated with medical school interviews are usually associated with travel costs. Students may need to budget for transportation, accommodation or parking costs when they plan their medical school interviews.
8. Which interviews should I schedule first?
Our strategy for scheduling medical school interviews is to first schedule interviews with your second-choice schools. This way, you can become more familiar with the format and procedure of medical school interviews.