I got an email from a reader asking me for tips for the UP College of Medicine interview. I don't know how else to respond, except to say the standard disclaimer that I was only interviewed once. That singular episode pretty much sums up the wealth of my experience.1
The idea behind these interviews is for the admissions panel to evaluate the applicants' interest in taking up Medicine, not only as a degree but as a profession. By observation, only half of those who qualify for interview eventually make it to the College. So, yes, it gets really competitive. An inherent flaw of the process is that the interviews are largely subjective. Different people will have different impressions. But the panel members somehow follow a standard questionnaire. There's room for flexibility because they can ask follow-ups to clarify vague responses. They actually jot down the applicants' words for further assessment.2
So what do the panel members want to see in you, the applicant?
I honestly have no idea—there's no handbook for this—but they probably want to see passion. Medicine is a discipline that takes so much time and energy, so maybe, they want to see that desire in your eyes. I also think they want to evaluate if your personality is compatible with the study and practice of medicine.
What kinds of questions do they ask?
I'd rather not tell you. If you knew the questions beforehand, you would have prepared your answers, and you would sound rehearsed. That might go against you. Besides, the questions are practical and personal; you can answer them without too much cerebral power. Which is why it bothers me that some organizations hold symposia on how to prepare for these interviews—I wonder how these so-called meetings could be of genuine help. Except, of course, to allay anxiety. But believe me: if you want to get into med school, it would be difficult to hide.
May God grant you the right words to speak during the interview sessions. I'm excited to see all of you next academic year.
1. I feel schmaltzy recalling that afternoon when I left my thesis lab work, donned a business attire, hailed a cab, and waited for minutes at Paz Mendoza Hall before I was ushered to a wood-paneled room, with three intimidating Medicine professors looking at me right across the table. I hardly recognize any of them, but I still remember the questions I got asked.↩
2. I probably said a lot of things because they were busy scribbling most of the time, a situation that made me more self-conscious of my subject-verb agreements.↩