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How to Ace your Video Interview

February 24, 2022
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IntroductionTypes of Video InterviewsOverview: Interfaces Used for Medical School Video InterviewsHow to Ace Your Video Interview: A Step-by-Step GuideCommon Mistakes to AvoidMedical School Video Interview FAQsVideo Interviews: A Key Step on Your Med School Journey

Over the years, video interviews have steadily become standard practice for medical schools. If you’re not familiar with the online interview formats medical schools typically use, you may want to freshen up your knowledge before your interviews.

Generally speaking, video interviews should be a piece of cake if you’ve had previous experience as an interviewee. Though some forms of video interviews can be confusing or stressful, they’ll never match the terror of realizing you’ve spilled coffee on your crisp white dress shirt five minutes before an important meeting. 

Nevertheless, online interviews may make you feel nervous if you’re used to the traditional format. We’re here to tell you about how you can use video tools to your advantage! Let’s go over some top tips on how to ace your medical school video interview with style, confidence, and organization. 

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Types of Video Interviews

Before diving into our tips and tricks, let’s go over the two types of video interviews. Though there’s plenty of different methods and interfaces, your virtual meeting will always be either pre-recorded or live.

Pre-Recorded Interviews

Pre-recording is one of the most commonly used interview methods among medical  schools today. Typically, the candidate will have a set time to submit a video of themselves answering a list of pre-prepared questions. Pre-recorded interviews work wonders for jittery candidates, as you’ll have plenty of opportunities to re-record or edit your video to perfect your answers before submission.

Live Interviews 

Live interviews are conducted at a set time when both parties are available to chat “face to face.” These are a little more challenging in preparation since you won’t have time to edit or redo sections. Medical interview questions may be sent to the candidate before the interview or asked on the spot during the call.

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Overview: Interfaces Used for Medical School Video Interviews

With video interviews rising in popularity, new video communication services are popping up every day. Let’s go over some of the most commonly used interfaces by medical schools for video interviews.

Zoom and Skype

By now, you’re most likely familiar with Skype and Zoom. Both services are free and are commonly used for live interviews because they offer reliable connections. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some medical schools have been conducting live interviews over these two services. Both Skype and Zoom need to be downloaded to your device to be used and require an account. 

AAMC Vita

AAMC Vita is a newer interface created by the AAMC in 2020 to provide students with a secure, socially distant option for online medical school interviews. Interviews conducted on AAMC Vita are one-way, meaning the interviewee pre-records themselves and no human interviewer is present. 

AAMC Vita interviews take 24 minutes to complete and contain six questions. You’ll have one minute to go over each question and three minutes to record your video response. Once your answer is recorded, you cannot erase or re-record your answer; however, you can space out your answers to give yourself more time to practice before your next question. 

If a medical school wants you to complete an AAMC Vita interview as part of your application, an email will be sent to you from HireVue with a link to complete your interview. Some schools may still ask for a two-way interview after receiving your AAMC Vita video to further discuss your interest in their program.

CASPer Snapshot 

CASPer Snapshot is a short (three-question) video response tool created to be used in addition to a CASPer test for medical school. While Snapshot offers time to practice reading and answering before taking your video, you cannot retake your video once you begin your Snapshot.  

Not all medical schools require a CASPer test. Be sure to check your potential school’s admission requirements to see if taking a CASPer test (and Snapshot) will be a necessary part of your application.

Important note: These services are compatible with Chrome, but not all are compatible with Safari, Firefox, or other browsers. Make sure in advance that whichever online interviewing service you are using is compatible with your browser.

How to Ace Your Video Interview: A Step-by-Step Guide

Once you’ve sorted out which type of interview it is you’ll be taking, follow this eight-step guide to acing your video interview from the comfort of your own home. 

Step 1: Set the Scene

Your backdrop and lighting are more critical than you may think. Find a neutral background in your house with little to no color or distraction. A neutral living space or plain wall works great. In terms of lighting, try your best to face a natural light source. 

If possible, avoid yellow or dim lighting and do not face away from the source of light as it can make you look like a dark silhouette. Think of your backdrop as an extension of your attire; clean, simple, and professional is always the way to go.

Pro tip: Set your laptop on a couple of books so that you’re at eye level with your camera; you don't want your interviewer starting at the inside of your nose!

Step 2: Breathe

As it is crucial in any type of interview, try your best to relax. It’s normal to feel stressed before an interview, but keep in mind that confidence and composure are key factors in a recruiter’s decision. Remember that this is just a conversation at the end of the day, and what they’re looking for is someone who can handle stress gracefully. 

Try doing a de-stressing routine and getting plenty of rest beforehand to make sure you present as confident and collected as possible.

Step 3: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

When it comes to acing your video interview, preparation is key! Make sure to do plenty of up-to-date research on your medical school to ensure your answers are relevant and thought out. If you have access to your interview questions before you take your live or pre-recorded video interview, write down and edit all of your answers. If not, the AAMC has a prep question list on their website, which could be helpful for an on-the-spot interview. 

Keep in mind that interviews are mainly about judging your character and composure. The more prepared you are, the less likely it is that you’ll be nervous during your consultation. Confidence is essential, so get confident in your responses before your big day.

Step 4: Practice

This may seem obvious but should never be overlooked. Even if you feel silly, rehearse your answers in front of anyone who’ll listen — your mom, grandpa, brother, sister, or even yourself in the mirror. You should also record yourself and watch your answers to make sure everything looks and sounds the way it should. 

Remember that practice makes perfect and is another way to calm your nerves before your interview. If you’re still feeling unprepared, try checking out some online examples directly from your school. Harvard, for example, has a page dedicated to sample interview questions to help out future interviewees. 

Step 5: Test Your Connection, Know Your Software

Before your video interview, it is crucial to know your software and make sure everything works the way it should. Test your microphone, webcam, and internet connection. You can test your WiFi speed by running a speed test, and if your connection is poor, it may be a good idea to directly connect your laptop to the router, find a more stable connection elsewhere, or use data for the duration of your interview.

Give yourself some time to play around with the program that will be hosting your interview if you’ve never used it before. This will give you a good idea of what to do at the time of your interview so that you won’t be confused at the last minute.

Step 6: Dress to Impress

Many students struggle to decide what to wear to their medical school interview. Dress in something that makes you feel comfortable, professional, and stylish. Just because your interview is online doesn’t mean you should show up in your PJs. Be sure to look the part to give your recruiter a complete picture of your professionalism and personality. 

In your video interview, avoid wearing headphones, as they can make you look less approachable and disinterested. Instead, choose a quiet location and use the built-in microphone on your computer throughout the interview.

Step 7: Turn Off Your Phone

Being at home might make you feel more relaxed and do things you usually wouldn’t do in an in-person interview, like checking your phone. Be sure to treat this as seriously as you would a traditional interview and turn off your phone for the duration of the virtual meeting.

To ensure you stay engaged, close other tabs on your computer (unless you need them for the interview) and set your phone aside. Just as you don’t want to distract the interviewer, you don’t want to distract yourself. This will also help you make good eye contact with the interviewer and avoid slouching.

Step 8: Lights, Camera, Action!

Once you’ve calmed your nerves and feel prepared, you can record with confidence. Whether you’re live, pre-recorded, or somewhere in between, now is the time to put your hard work to the test! 

Be sure to put steps one through four into effect. Remember to breathe and maintain your composure to show the interviewer how you handle pressure. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Mistakes will happen no matter what; medical interview videos rarely go entirely according to plan. Below, we’ll go over some common mistakes to avoid during your medical school video interview.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Service 

This is not the time for winging it! No matter what program you’re using, be sure to familiarize yourself with it at least an hour before your interview begins. In the world of video interviewing, technical difficulties are the equivalent of showing up late — avoid them as much as possible.

To familiarize yourself with your video service, try looking up online tutorials to make sure you know how to operate it. The most important piece of information here is to learn how much time you have to record, whether retakes are an option, and whether your interview will be live or pre-recorded.

Warn Your Roommates/Family Members

Everyone has things going on — be sure to pencil in your interview to the schedule of the entire household. It may not eliminate distractions, but a fair warning can help minimize background noise in your space. 

If you forget to do this in advance, try putting a sign on your door or sending a text to let everyone know your interview is about to start. 

Own Potential Distractions

Distractions are inevitable. If something happens, be sure not to play it off. Interviewers generally prefer you to own the distraction, apologize, and move forward.

According to career coach Ashlee Anderson in the Wall Street Journal, “The more that you do, or turn off your audio or video as a knee jerk reaction, that could actually be more detrimental than the distraction itself.” 

She adds that, “You definitely want to address it and not pretend like it didn’t happen. You want to make sure that you’re able to say ‘Oh, my bad, that happened’ and move forward after that.”

Medical School Video Interview FAQs

Below, we’ll go over some of the most frequently asked questions about video interviews for medical school.

1. What does a medical school video interview consist of?

The answer to this question varies based on the type of software you’ll be using, but generally, video interviews are designed to demonstrate your composure and passion for your program. If you’ve made it to this stage, your interviewer has already seen your resume. Now, they have some questions for you beyond what they’ve already seen on paper.

Generally speaking, medical interview videos consist of questions about you and your experience and seek answers that determine your character. Watching medical school mock interviews can help you prepare for these sorts of questions and give you a better idea of what the interviewer is looking for.

2. How long do medical school video interviews last? 

Video interviews can last anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, so prepare for a more extended period to ensure that you are not stressed if your meeting runs long. 

3. What is an asynchronous video interview?

According to the BBC, “... In asynchronous video interviews, or AVIs, applicants film themselves answering a predetermined set of questions, with no human interviewer present.”

The main advantage of using this method is time-saving for companies and schools, though they can feel somewhat impersonal. When recording an AVI, you’ll typically have multiple do-overs to answer each question, so be sure to let your personality shine through and form the most thorough answers possible.

4. Should I use headphones for a video interview?

Avoid wearing headphones. They can make you appear less approachable. If you have to wear headphones, stick to sleek earbuds rather than large over-ear headphones to reduce the unapproachable look. Make sure to test your earbuds (sound and microphone) before using them for your interview.

5. What is the dress code for a medical school video interview?

Dress cleanly and professionally. Try your best to keep loud colors and patterns out of the screen; this includes the background. The main focus of the medical school interviewer’s eye should be your face and your personality.

6. Is a CASPer Snapshot required for medical school?

As the CASPer test itself is not required by every US medical school, neither is Snapshot. Snapshot accompanies your CASPer test, so be sure to check your schools’ requirements to determine whether you’ll need to complete a CASPer Snapshot.

Video Interviews: A Key Step on Your Med School Journey

Video interviews are a great tool to speed up the interviewing process and help your medical school better understand your character without meeting face to face. The online interview process doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful. Once you get the hang of your software, prepare, and practice, you should feel just as confident as you would in a regular interview. 

Remember that the interviewer wants to grasp your personality and passion for the program. If you have the opportunity to pre-record your answers, you’ll have plenty of time to stitch together your best delivery of each response to present yourself to the best of your ability. 

If your interview is live, prepare as much as you can and present yourself well. Remain confident, and if there’s an interruption, apologize and keep going. You can never go wrong if you try your best. Happy interviewing!

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