Along with other changes to the medical school application process – including virtual interview days instead of in-person visits in many programs – the Association of American Medical Colleges introduced the Video interview tool for admissions, or VITA, in August.
The tool allows medical schools to gather more information about potential students while taking into account social distancing and other effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Selected candidates are invited by participating medical schools to complete this one-way remote interview. For the current application cycle, VITA interviews can take place until April 30. Since an applicant for medical school can only take it once per application cycle, it is crucial to ensure that you are prepared to complete it to the best of your ability.
The VITA structure gives you one minute to reflect and three minutes to record an answer to six text-based interview questions designed to assess the AAMC 15 basic skills for the admission of medical students.
Like many other aspects of the medical school application process, the tool presents unique challenges that applicants must be prepared to overcome in order to give themselves the best chance of being admitted to medical school. Here are three common VITA challenges and tips for solving them.
VITA interview candidates will not receive live feedback
Unlike a traditional interview, you won’t be able to observe and respond to verbal and non-verbal cues from an interviewer as you answer questions. The one-way format can be overwhelming, as you won’t be interacting with a person and there will be no indication if you are providing a satisfactory response.
While the one-sided format cannot be changed, you can ensure that you are giving correct answers by sticking to the topic posed by the question stem, avoiding digressions, and incorporating nuanced and complex thinking into your answers. . For example, if you are asked why you want to become a doctor, a simplistic response like “I want to help others” is not enough to indicate to the interviewer that you have carefully assessed your career options.
Focus on providing complete answers for each prompt. If you feel like you’ve stumbled on a question, breathe and clear your mind of the error before the next question.
Technical difficulties may arise during the interview
The AAMC recognizes that applicants may encounter technical disruptions during the interview and has planned accordingly. In the event that your internet browser quits unexpectedly, AAMC recommends restarting the browser, browsing to the service platform again, and ending the service from there.
If an interview has been modified by a technological disruption, applicants should report the disruption to the AAMC through the Technology Problem Report Form Within 24 hours. Candidates who have suffered legitimate and significant disruption may be allowed to resume the interview, which must be redone in its entirety. Answers completed in the previous attempt will not be available if candidates choose to retake. VITA responses from the original interview will be uploaded if applicants reject an offer from AAMC to resume an interview.
The best way to deal with technological disruption is to avoid it in the first place. Before starting the maintenance, make sure that your internet connection is strong and secure, that your device is charged, and that no update or restart of your device is scheduled. Close all background apps and verify that your camera and microphone are working.
It can be difficult to adapt to time constraints
Although in a traditional interview format you wouldn’t have a full minute to think it over before offering an answer to a question, VITA time constraints can still impose anxiety, making it difficult to put your thoughts together. thoughts before giving an answer. Additionally, you may feel pressure to fill up the three minutes allotted for responses, which leads to disjointed or incomplete responses.
The best way to learn to navigate VITA time limits is to practice answering VITA-type questions.
The VITA questions are grouped into three categories: medical school pathway, past behavior and situational behavior. Using sample questions from each of these categories to create your own VITA interviewing practice can help you develop strategies for succinctly, fully, and thoughtfully answering the questions asked.
For example, you might find that jotting down three or four bullet points during your one-minute thinking helps you stay on track during the three-minute response. Or you may find that telling the story of your trip to medical school several times during practice prepares you to concisely relay your story during the actual interview.
As you practice, record your answers so that you can review them to determine if there are any areas for improvement that you need to address. Keep in mind that you will not be able to review and edit responses on the actual VITA, so use your review for informational purposes and not for correction.