DeLoggio Achievement Program

Selection of and Preparation for College and Professional Programs



Interviewing for What? 

Interviews for college, law school, medical school, graduate school. For internships or paid jobs. There are even interviews for volunteer work.

Most interviews have a single thing in common: they're not about you; they're about your relationship to the job, school, or program.

"Interviews" are a process in transition. Many more interviews are online, and many new formats are being designed to make the process free of bias by different interviewers. This isn't necessarily good or bad, but you should prepare for the different formats possible for the program type.

I'm writing this in 2023, and making sure it's as accurate as possible for this year. But pandemics and technology are causing changes in formats. Don't rely on this without checking with each program and school.

Live or Recorded?

As of 2023, most interviews are live -- in "realtime." Someone is talking to you right now, and you're answering. But some interviews (and I've seen these for medical schools and for jobs) are recorded, to be reviewed by the decision committee later. 

  • This might be simply a matter of convenience; we have too many people to interview during normal business hours, so we let you record at your convenience, and allow ourselves to review at ours.
  • It might also be a mechanism for preventing bias. A school or business could outline its interests and priorities, and pay a consultant to review the interviews for those criteria, submitting a point-by-point summary or a composite score.
  • On rare occasions, an interview can be both; you meet with a person online but live, and have a conversation. That conversation is recorded for review by other committee members later, or to save as part of your file, should questions of objectivity arise later.

In-Person or Online?

Because of COVID and other contagious illnesses, many institutions of all sorts are limiting personal exposure. In 2022, medical schools seem to be split between personal and virtual interview formats. These formats are likely to change on short notice, so do not rely on what chat boards say happened last year or last month. If you are offered an interview, read the instructions carefully.

Law schools rarely interview. For a good idea of why they do or don't, as well as the etiquette of dress, thank-you notes, and an inside look at how much admissions officers share with each other, I'm turning this over to Sarah Zearfoss, Dean of Admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, whose YouTube vlog on admissions has been incredibly helpful, if only to prove that I'm not the only one who cares about using "whom" correctly.

Sarah Zearfoss on Interviews

Everyone else -- colleges, medical, and business schools, frequently interview. Should you accept the offer? Sarah says so; listen to her, even if you're not applying to law school.

The Conversation

Almost all colleges, law schools that interview, and some medical schools use a conversational style of interview:

"Hello; I'm Bob D'Augustine; are you Loretta DeLoggio?"

"Yes; thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me."

"No problem. "Would you like a Coke, or something else to drink?

"A Coke would be great... Do I just start telling you about myself, or do you have questions you want me to answer?"

"Why don't you start telling me something about why you like Penn, and I'll ask questions as they come to me."

Conversations are generally intended to assess three things:

  1. Your ability to hold a more-or-less casual conversation;
  2. Your level of interest in the school
  3. Your likelihood of being happy at the institution (a/k/a "a good fit")

"Conversation" interviews are often referred to as "closed file." The interviewer knows nothing about you, and is trying to get a feel for you as a person.

The Targeted Conversation

The targeted conversation, also referred to as an "open file" interview, usually focuses on weaknesses or unanswered questions in your application. Can you explain that F in microbiology? Why did you drop varsity swimming? What did you do in your "gap" year?

Targeted interviews may be live or recorded, but they're not likely to be a conversation at the local Starbucks. Questions about difficulties require a little more discretion, and a bit of privacy.

There's a particular subset of targeted question that is most often included in job interviews, but I've also heard of them in medical school interviews: the problem-solving question. I've been told that it was common at computer and engineering interviews to have a math problem on a board, and to have the interviewer ask, in an off-hand manner, "So how would you approach the problem I've been working on?" In the employment interview, the actual answer, or at least the approach to the question, is significant; you're being tested for a job-related skill. 

Business schools can use any of the above formats, but a mix of some targeted and some conversational interviews is to be expected.

The Assessment

Unlike the conversation, the assessment is looking for particular characteristics: are you a team player? Can you identify and admit to your weaknesses? What do you think are the three most important qualities you possess?

These assessments are rarely undertaken in live interviews. Some schools (more often colleges and law schools) include them in essays. Business and medical schools include them in interview formats as often as in interviews.  Some medical schools and business schools offer you the opportunity to record yourself discussing something special about your life in two to five minutes.

In a medical interview, these questions are often related to ethics: "You have a group project due Monday, and one of your team members wants to wrap up early so he can take the weekend off. You feel that the project will suffer without that extra time to proofread and put the finishing touches on; how would you approach this?" There are two specific question formats in medical school interviews that include these questions: the MMI, which requires you to give your answer to a live interviewer; The Altius Suite, CASPer, or Acuity Insights (which are old and new names for a single set of tests) ask similar questions, but the answers are recorded. A proctor makes sure you're alone in your room and have no access to assistance, but that person does not evaluate your answers. This proctor functions in much the same way as a standardized test proctor.

Quora Copyrighted Materials

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The Phone Interview

Are on-campus intern interviews shorter than phone interviews?

The Skype (Video) Interview

What are some typical university admission questions asked on Skype interview? How do I answer them well?

Interviewing Basics

Preparing for an Interview

While going for a in-person interview, what should one take with them (e.g. a copy of resume in a folder or backpack with laptop)? Will it not look odd if you go empty handed?

Does the state of your nails matter during an interview? Is there a specific way to style them that make you look more professional (colors/no color, length, etc.)?

What are the most important things I should expect when going to a recruiting fair?

How do I tactfully postpone interview process after engaging companies at a career fair and being invited for a phone interview?

What NOT to Say in an Interview

What is stammering and how to improve it?

What are the biggest challenges faced by applicants who have strong foreign accents and speak English as a second language?

What are the best answers for the question ''what is your goal in life'' during interviews?

How do I answer in an interview when asked "what is your weakness"?

How do you Feel when an Interviewer is yawning while taking your interview?

If a interviewer says very good at the end of the interview what does that means?

What Does a College Interview Mean?

What is the point of college interviews?

Another good answer

How do college interviewers evaluate personality?

How frequently do alumni interviewers recommend an applicant?

As a Harvard alumni interviewer, how often do you rate an applicant "1" on their personal score? What were they like?

What are some common mistakes by students during college admission interviews?

How do I prepare for my college interview (international applicant applied to a US college)?

How do I explain a two year gap in academics during interview?

Is it a good idea to send a thank you email after an admissions interview?

How do I prepare for an MBA interview?

How do I qualify for a law school interview?

How do I prepare for a medical school interview?

The Medical School Interview

Pick any specific medical school to which you are applying, and tell the interviewer about it. What makes this school particularly desirable to you?

The Job Interview

What is the best way to describe yourself in an interview?

Tomorrow is my first interview... How should I prepare? Company Gen pact I'm in my final year of pursuing B. Com (international degree)?

What should I research about the company I wish to join?

In an interview, is it a good idea to say "I will outwork anyone you put me next to" if you can weave it in appropriately?

Another good answer

How can I answer the interview question, "Prove to me that you are honest"?

How do I answer questions like "Where do you see yourself in next 5-10 years, Why should we hire you?"

How will a telephonic interview be, regarding a job vacancy in the field of marketing?

What should be my answer if interviewer ask me what is relation between CAT score and shoe size?

Is it wrong to reject a job interview for a job that I think I am under-qualified for?

What are some red flags in answering ‘tell me about yourself’ question in a job interview?

Tell us something interesting about yourself and also explain why you should be hired at (company name)? Remember, be creative and unique.

How should I answer the question if the interviewer asks me to settle for a lower position of responsibility?

What to Ask the Job Interviewer

What NOT to Ask the Job Interviewer


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