Why are Interviews Given?
Interviews allow the Pre-Health Committee to compose informed, meaningful letters of recommendation that are sent to admission committees of professional schools; such letters are often required by admissions committees. The letters provide information that may not be readily discernible from simple examination of the transcripts of an applicant's academic record.
Who Should be Interviewed?
If you are applying to a professional school that requires or suggests a committee letter and you meet the minimum academic requirements of that school as well as the minimum standards for interview by the UMSL Pre-Health Professions Committee, you should be interviewed.
Minimum Standards for Interviewees?
Before an interview is scheduled, the following is the minimum coursework that must be completed:
Biology (one year) with laboratories*
General (Inorganic) Chemistry (one year) with laboratories
Physics (one year) with laboratories
Organic Chemistry (one year) with laboratories
*Optometry students may replace Biol 1821 for Biol 2482 & 2483
Minimum residency requirement:
As the committee letter is a letter of recommendation from the University, students are required to have spent no fewer than 60 credit hours at the University. Students who have spent fewer than 60 credit hours will be required to obtain an additional letter of recommendation from a member of UMSL’s science faculty or an officer of their respective pre-health society.
Minimum academic qualifications:
All professional schools require a standardized examination. Many professional schools generate a numerical index to determine whether or not a student will be granted an interview. The numerical index is commonly determined by multiplying the cumulative GPA by the average performance on the standardized examination. For example, if a premedical student earns a score of 27 on the MCAT, the average performance would be 27/3 = 9. If the student has a cumulative GPA of 3.4, the numerical index for said student would be 9 X 3.4 = 30.6. Conversely, if a predental student has an academic average of 17, this is by definition their average performance on the DAT. If said student has a cumulative GPA of 3.2, their numerical index will be 17 X 3.2 = 54.4. Finally, if a pre-optometry student has an academic average of 300, this is again their average performance on this standardized examination. If the student has a cumulative GPA of 3.0, their numerical index will be 3.0 X 300 = 900. Students who have numerical indexes below critical thresholds are often not viable candidates and should work on improving their application prior to initiation of a very expensive application cycle. Furthermore, due to the high volume of students requesting a Pre-Health committee evaluation, the committee regretfully needs to give priority access to individuals who have minimum numerical indexes. Students who fall below the minimum numerical index will be reviewed on a case by case basis to determine if a committee interview will be granted. The minimum numerical indexes required for a guaranteed interview are indicated below. Again, falling below the minimum qualifications required for a guaranteed interview does not necessarily indicate that an interview will not be granted, but the student’s qualifications will need to be carefully assessed prior to granting an interview.
Minimum Numerical Index for Guaranteed Interview:
Medical School Applicants:
Total MCAT Score/3 X Cumulative GPA = 24 or higher
Dental School Applicants:
Academic Average DAT X Cumulative GPA = 51 or higher
Optometry School Applicants:
Academic Average OAT X Cumulative GPA = 900 or higher
After the minimum standards are obtained, and the application is submitted the Committee will decide if the student warrants an interview.
When are Interviews Given?
Interviews are given to students about one year prior to proposed matriculation in a professional school degree program. The earliest date to schedule an interview is March. The student should contact the pre-health advisor to schedule an interview. Typically, three possible times are available on different days of the week. An interview usually lasts 30-60 minutes.
What are Interviews Like?
The interviewing committee typically consists 3 of UMSL faculty members from Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Philosophy and health professionals from the community (usually physicians and dentists). The candidate is initially asked to take a few minutes to summarize how he or she has arrived at the decision to apply to professional school. Questions are then asked of the student. Questions vary from the classical types of interview questions such as, "Why do you want to be a physician?" to specific personal questions such as "What happened to you during your junior year that resulted in the dramatic change (increase or decrease) in your GPA?" Students may also be asked for their opinions about various medical or social issues, to describe clinical experiences they have had and what they learned, and other questions that will help the Committee to assess the students' preparedness for professional school. Many students feel most comfortable dressing in semi-formal attire (suits and ties for men and dresses or business attire for women) but others are interviewed wearing slightly less formal attire (dress slacks and sweaters).
How is an Interview Scheduled?
1. Obtain an INTERVIEW PACKET from Joe Southerland, College of Arts and Sciences, 303 Lucas Hall or online. This packet contains all the forms and instructions necessary for scheduling an interview.
2. Fill out the GENERAL INFORMATION FORM.
3. Distribute RECOMMENDATION FORMS to three or four individuals who know you well and can provide the Committee with the most information. These letters should include two from faculty (one in science) and one from a relevant healthcare professional. Premedical student must submit a letter from a M.D. or a D.O.; Predental students must submit a letter from a D.M.D. or a D.D.S.; Pre-optometry students must submit a letter from an O.D. You may submit an evaluation from an employer; however, such references must be in addition to at least two science faculty members and one relevant healthcare provider. If a science faculty member is not at UMSL please provide the name of the institution where the course(s) was taken.
Although members of the Committee may fill out these forms, it is to your advantage to utilize faculty not on the Committee, since Committee members already have ample opportunity to make contributions to a student's evaluation. Check with each of your referees to make sure the recommendation forms have been returned. These forms should be sent directly to the advising office; forms brought in by the student will not be accepted.
4. Recommendation forms may be sent to University faculty or other individuals that are out-of-state; however, sufficient time should be given for their return. Employers, clinical supervisors, or other individuals who have observed you in non-academic environments may provide important insights into the applicant's attributes and such individuals should be provided with recommendation forms whenever feasible. It is acceptable for recommendations to be submitted in letter form and not on the forms provided.
5. Sign the WAIVER FORM.
6. Obtain an up-to-date TRANSCRIPT from the UMSL Registrar's Office. Transfer students will need to request transcripts for non-UMSL academic work from the various institutions that were attended. The UMSL Registrar's Office does not provide transcripts of non-UMSL course work. UMSL and non-UMSL transcripts may be "unofficial" (i.e., those provided directly to the student).
7. On a single sheet of white paper, type your NAME and list your GRADE POINT AVERAGES BY SEMESTER. This list provides a semester-by-semester record of your academic progress. Each semester's GPA should be listed separately (not cumulatively) and should include any failed courses and courses repeated; however, omit courses dropped or audited.
8. Type a single spaced PERSONAL STATEMENT including Goals in Medicine. Those students applying to professional schools and applying through the AMCAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, or OptomCAS procedure should use the statement included with their professional school application. The character limit for AMCAS, AADSAS, and OptomCAS is 5400 including spaces. The character limit for AACOMAS is 4500 including spaces. This applicant statement should examine who you are, what experiences (including academic and non-academic experiences) and values have influenced you and anything else you wish to be certain will be taken into account by the Committee. Here you may wish to explain a bad semester, or an interruption in your academic career. Be brief and be sure your statement is well written. Title this page "PERSONAL STATEMENT" and provide the date, your name, phone number, and social security number.
9. Submit all the documents (a checklist is provided for this purpose) either by email (.pdf preferred), in person to Joseph Southerland in 303 Lucas, or mail to:
Pre-Health Advisor, College of Arts and Sciences
University of Missouri - St. Louis
303 Lucas Hall
1 University Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63121-4400
10. Upon receipt of your complete interview file (standardized test scores and documents listed above in items 2-8), you will be scheduled for the first available interview. In order to facilitate the interview scheduling and notification process, be sure to provide complete contact information (home phone #, cell phone #, email address) on the information sheet. Students are STRONGLY encouraged to have documents listed above in items 2-8 submitted as early as possible in the Spring Semester to ensure the earliest possible interview, which will particularly benefit their applications to schools with a rolling admission policy. No interviews will be conducted after November 20th.
Do's and Don'ts at the Interview
1. Be scrupulously honest. Attempts to deceive will be quickly identified and will surely work against you.
2. Reveal yourself. Do not try to hide or hedge opinions for fear that you will disagree with some (or all) of the Committee members. Disagreement is fine (welcome even); what’s most important is that your opinions be logical and informed.
3. Be prepared to talk about the schools that you hope to attend, the profession you hope to enter, and the experiences that have influenced you.
4. Make your answers to the point. If you are unclear about a question, ask for clarification. Do not embark on long monologues or harangues.
5. In brief, come prepared as if you were interviewing with your first choice school.