Should I attend all the interviews that I was offered?
First of all, congratulations on being offered multiple interviews! Making it to the interview stage is a great sign, and earning an interview offer from multiple schools is an even better sign. In short, while you're not obligated to attend an interview just because you are offered one, it may be more beneficial for some people to attend more interviews than others.
So chew on this. If you have applied to many schools and received many interview offers, you have a pretty likelihood of getting into at least one of these schools. So, you don't necessarily have to attend (and are certainly not obligated to attend) all of the interviews. I would recommend picking a few that you really feel strongly towards and focus your time, energy, and money for those. If you applied to many schools but only received one or two interviews, you are still in a good place because you achieved an interview offer, but you should definitely attend all of the interviews you were invited to.
Other than the time issue for flying out to and missing classes, sleep, and study time, interviews can certainly be a financial difficulty. My flight to Washington alone was $150, it would have been much more with the transportation, lodging, and food. You can imagine how much it can add up if you attend several out of state interviews!
There are two major interview formats: panel and the multiple mini interview (MMI). The MMI format is increasing in popularity in the veterinary world because it is thought be the least biased. While I can't speak much about the panel style interview since I haven't experienced it, I know that the number of people on the panel is depends on the school. The interviewers may be faculty members like Deans or professors, prominent members of the veterinary community such as the president of your state's veterinary medical association, community DVMs, current vet students, and/or community members. You can imagine the kind of depth each individual might add to your evaluation. That said, some schools will only have faculty members on the interview panel.
The above information about the interviewers also applies to the MMI. In my year, about 200 applicants were offered an interview. Interviewees are then ranked based on their interview scores, and the first 150 or so are offered a spot, and a number of others are put on the waiting list. My class ended up being about 140 students. If you get on the waiting list, don't despair! People from the waiting list can certainly make it in-- remember, some people may decline an admission offer from UCD for many reasons such as they got in to their in-state school (read: less expensive tuition) and don't want to go out-of-state for UCD.
MMI's at the different schools also have some characteristics that differ between schools, so it's up to you to read and understand all the information about interviews for your specific schools in the materials they send you as well as the interview information on their website.
Make use of online pre-health forums such as the student-doctor network. 99% of all the questions you have have been asked before. Suggestions for med or dent applicants can be just as useful for pre-vet. Even general interview tips are valuable to go over as you prepare for the vet school interview.
Most schools will send you information about the format, date choices, and events on interview day. UC Davis sent me this information in both my online portal and in video format. Guidelines are generally the same for any interview- arrive early, dress for success, and be yourself. I agree with all those guidelines.
Most of the men wore slacks, a tie, dress shoes, and a coat. Most women wore a skirt with blazer or blouse. Some wore business appropriate dresses. A small portion of us wore slacks with a blazer or blouse. Ladies: NO BARE LEGS. Wear tights (nude tights ok, just no bare skin) if you're not going to wear slacks. For ladies footwear, go for simple heels or flats that don't show your toes and coordinate with the rest of your outfit. Don't wear heels higher than 2 inches, it looks tacky in this setting (I have only met one person in my entire life who can pull off really high heels, and she's a veterinarian who used to do competitive ballroom dancing). Your shoes should be comfortable to walk in because you're going to be walking between stations during the MMI and the last think you should worry about is how to walk. Myself, I wore pleated dark gray women's slacks and a fun, bright, rust/orange/turquoise long sleeve blouse, a coordinated subtle necklace, and nude 1.5 inch heels. I went for the strikingly colored blouse because I wanted to be unforgettable. Most of my female colleagues on interview day wore basic colors like black and white, some with a splash of a dark shade of purple or blue.
Most schools have a number of other events on interview day that you can attend to help you get a feel of the program such as current student Q&A panels, viewing a recorded lecture, a professor meet-n-greet, a campus tour, a social luncheon, etc. Thus, ladies, bring a separate pair of comfortable shoes to change in to after the interview so that you can do the walking tour without getting blisters or damaging the interview shoes.
Make friends with the other interviewees! Swap numbers or facebooks with those you hit it off with! It's fun to find out where people end up, plus you're building your network of future colleagues.
1. Go through all of the information and materials the school made available to you about the interview.
2. Don't make your first interview your very first interview. In other words, set up a practice interview. Mostly, this will help you get comfortable with the format and answering questions on the spot without any notes. The feedback from your colleagues interviewing you will be extremely helpful in becoming aware of habits to reduce, such as nervous hair-twirling or excessive "um"s. I asked my housemates to help me with a mock MMI, and though I did pretty bad at the mock interview, I think it was the #1 reason I walked in and out of my real interview feeling confident, excited, and happy. It doesn't matter if the questions aren't exactly like the questions that you'll get in the real MMI or panel interview. Some of the questions in your real vet school interview may not even seem to have anything to do with vet med, and may not necessarily require a veterinary related answer.
3. Reflect on what you have learned during your pre-vet years. Give some thought as to different soft skills a veterinarian may have to be successful. Think about the veterinarians you admire and the traits they have that make them a successful vet. Think about specific experiences in your life that have inspired or challenged you.
4. Print out your entire VMCAS and re-read your application, especially your personal statement. Think about what your letter-writers and what they may have written about you. Think about why YOU stand out from the crowd. Think about what YOU want to bring to the field of veterinary medicine.
5. While I can't give you specific questions because I signed the confidentiality waiver, anything that's out there on the internet is fair for you to consider and practice with. At the bottom of this post, I have a couple websites linked and a few files with more good interview prep info, some of which include some practice questions.
6. Lastly, a piece of advice from a Class of 2019 UCD vet student:
"There are many sites online where they discuss past questions for specific schools as well as general questions that most schools ask in a traditional interview. I suggest making a list of those and forming a general response to each one so you're not totally surprised when you get it (made me feel more comfortable and confident and going in). In addition, read up on current news! Zika and other zoonoses are hot topics [right now], and can really make you stand out if you have a handle on that one health perspective!"
Overall, if you have earnestly worked on being the best pre-vet you can be, meaning you have not taken your experiences for granted and actually strived to learn as much about the profession as you can, you are in a good place for your interview.
If you're like most people, you'll be jittery and be constantly reminding yourself to take deep breaths. You'll be so nervous that you feel like throwing up or maybe you won't feel like eating or drinking at all. But wake up early, eat breakfast, drink something hot and steamy, take a break, smile at yourself in the mirror, and re-read your application. Remind yourself who you are, why you want to be a veterinarian, and why you want to go to vet school. Say it out loud, and say it proud!
During my MMI, I made sure to greet each interviewer with at least a smile and a "hello, my name is Neda" on the way in and thank them with a smile and a handshake (if possible) on the way out. In the Davis MMI, the interviewer is supposed to be stoic and merely observe, which can be intimidating and uncomfortable, but don't worry about that. You can talk as you would normally talk in a professional interview setting, even though they won't respond or react to you. You can gesture with your hands and smile.
I shed tears during two of my MMI scenarios-- not from stress, not because I couldn't answer the question, but because the questions and my response evoked strong emotions in me. Sorry, confidentiality agreement means I can't tell you the questions. None my friends that I talked to cried during their interviews, tears can be OK, obviously, because I got in, but if you cry just don't let it prevent you from answer the question.
Despite my tears, I felt confident and excited to be at UC Davis throughout the entire MMI. I took a deep breath and put a smile on my face before walking into each scenario room. I felt great after the MMI concluded.
Remember, I have friends who felt like they totally bombed their interview, but they still got in!
Do something fun afterwards- celebrate! Attend as many of the events as you can, although you may be exhausted, because you might need those experiences to help YOU make your final choice when those admission offers start rolling in!
Useful websites and files - Some of these have practice questions!
From North Carolina State:
From Vet School Success dot com:
Good luck, class of 2021!
Articles in this blog are oriented to readers interested in going to veterinary school.