Mac med applicants run a gauntlet
McMaster University has adopted a “speed-dating” approach
to medical school interviews for the upcoming academic year.
According to Kien Trinh, chair of McMaster’s medical
school interview committee, the new selection process involves
applicants going through 12 separate mini-interviews.
Applicants are provided two minutes to read through a scenario
or specific question, and then given an eight-minute interview
during which they are expected to respond to the reading, Trinh
said. A ringing bell signifies the end of each interview, at
which point the applicant must move to the next one in a process
that takes approximately two hours, he added.
“There are a number of different reasons we decided
[on this approach],” Trinh said, noting that McMaster
previously used a more traditional panel interview process.
“In the past only one or two people would interview
each applicant, so they only had one opportunity,” he
said. “If you didn’t get along well with the interviewer,
you blew your chance. With 12 separate interviews, the applicants
are given 12 chances.”
The interviews test communication skills, assess critical
thinking and determine how well applicants are able to work
in a team setting, Trinh added.
Jim Silcox, associate dean of admissions and student affairs
for Western’s faculty of medicine and dentistry, said
the interview process at Western is still quite traditional.
“The process at McMaster is really groundbreaking and
innovative; we’ve been watching it develop over the past
couple of years,” Silcox said.
He noted that while Western’s medical school is always
open to change, they are waiting to hear whether or not the
new selection process at McMaster is successful.
“It should be very interesting for students,” Silcox
said in reference to the speedy interview process. “Some
will find it quite stimulating, but others will probably find
it difficult having limited time — that can be upsetting
to students, because as they move from one station to another,
they might be thinking backwards and wondering what they could
have done differently [in the previous interview].”
First-year medical student Rebecca Stacpoole said the process
being implemented at McMaster sounds like a good idea. “It
forces you to think on your toes; you can’t prepare or
rehearse for it,” she noted.
“Once candidates are accepted into med school, they
have to handle high stress situations and make quick decisions,” said
first-year medical student Dennis Bhui. “I think [the
process] would help prepare students for that.”