Mayo was my absolute, 100%, #1 top choice *before* the interview cycle. I really loved the Mayo ideology and was very ready to write an LOI even before I had gone to visit. In anticipation of this, I actually went out to Rochester, MN a couple days ahead of time. I flew by plane directly into the airport and took a shuttle to my hotel (ride-sharing isn't available there).
Your interview day will begin and end in a teleconference with Gina Vitali-Rasanen, who actually lives in Florida. Between that, Dr. Fischer (Chair of the Admissions Committee) and Dr. Meyer (Dean of the Medical School) will come and chat with you. Dr. Fischer has a powerpoint presentation as well as some videos about Mayo for you to watch. Dr. Meyer will just have a casual conversation with your group. Both were very nice and quite laidback. Lunch is served in the staff cafeteria and it was IMO one of the better lunches on my interview trail. You're basically given free reign to grab as much as you want. Options included chicken with orzo, sushi, and some standard fare like sandwiches. As usual, you will also have a tour. While Mayo was beautiful and grand, it didn't strike me as much as Tisch/Bellevue or Hopkins did.
You will have two interviews scheduled. I forgot how long they are scheduled for. I had one with a student and one with a faculty member. My student interview was pretty standard except for two questions. One was about what I'm most famous for among people who know me and the other one was about things that I've done without expecting anything in return. My faculty interview was very conversational and evolved from a comment I made about his office. We then talked about our respective backgrounds as well as about the morale and divide in the country. We didn't get too political though. Both interviewers asked me about my opinion on the Mayo philosophy as well living in Rochester, MN. One specific question you might try preparing for is "where would you go if you didn't get into Mayo and why?." I thought it was an interesting twist on the "Why this school?" question. All in all, nothing too difficult. Should be fine if you know your application and are familiar with the Mayo philosophy. It also helps to know a little bit about Rochester, MN (hint, think about how you might occupy your time in Rochester but also think about the refugee population that is present there).
* If you can, try to ask one of the students to bring you to St. Mary's. It's the community hospital that Mayo students rotate at. Although it isn't included in your tour, as a Mayo student you will spend a not inconsiderable amount of your time there. If there are no students available you can usually ask someone for help. There is a shuttle service that runs there and back.
* Mayo LOVES post-interview communication. Last year, there were two possible messages you could receive from them after the interview. A snail mail "interest letter" and an email about "deliberations". I received both but did not reciprocate with an LOI as I realized Mayo wasn't for me. If you can see yourself at Mayo DEFINITELY send an LOI at least one of interest if not intent. I think it goes a long way here.
2) Mayo (AZ)
I left Mayo (AZ) thinking it would definitely have been in my Top 5 if I could be certain that I'd match well from there. Alas, going to a new school wasn't a risk I was willing to take.
Arizona is an interesting place. There is so much open space and there is really no escaping the fact that you are in a desert. Like Rochester, MN it's definitely an extreme. I did feel like it was an extreme I could better tolerate though.
The food here is way better than in MN. I remember heading out with another interviewee to this Mexican place (Frank & Lupe's) that was out of this world...too bad they were out of Fried Ice cream :(. In general, there were definitely way more options in AZ. Another noticeable aspect of AZ was how commercial the night scene felt. There's this one area that's just a bunch of bars clustered together but they all have different themes to distinguish themselves from each other and it felt very kitsch...it's really surreal to walk through, feels almost like an amusement park with their themed restaurants. Although I had a decent time there, I'm not sure if this is one of those things that would get old after awhile.
Interview day was very similar to Rochester, MN. Gina wasn't available to teleconference on my day so a local staff member filled in for her. We watched a few of the same videos and I remember someone else coming to speak with us but unfortunately I can't remember who. Lunch is served in the room you start the day in and consists of packed sandwiches. During lunch, you will also get a chance to teleconference with Mayo (MN) students who are there to answer any questions you might have. The one standout from the day was the tour though. If I could architecturally design a medical school, it would be exactly like Mayo (AZ). Not only does the school feel very communal, everything feels like it was constructed especially for you. There is a hangout room furnished with an Xbox One, PS4, and Wii U, the classrooms are just large enough to be cozy while at the same time giving you a sense of personal space, the anatomy labs are beautiful, and the study rooms where the interviews are conducted have these beautiful gigantic windows that face the outside. The best part was that everything was new, just waiting for the first class to break it in. You will also get to tour both the Phoenix and Scottsdale Campuses of Mayo (AZ). You will take a bus to get to the Phoenix location. Both campuses have a truly Mayo feel to them and I got the same vibes that I did when I was in Rochester. All in all, nice hospitals.
You will again have two interviews scheduled at this location. I had two faculty interviews this time. I honestly, cannot remember too much about them. But as expected, I was again asked about the Mayo philosophy and why I would choose Mayo over other schools. As Mayo (AZ) is pretty new, I was also asked about how I felt about being the first class, whether I felt uneasy about it. Just answer honestly and you should be fine. The rest of the questions were standard interview fare. Oh...one of my interviewers did seem slightly apologetic about the fact that Arizona was a pretty red state though. I think it would be helpful to think about the demographics of Arizona...aging population, conservative, etc.
*Eat and Frank and Lupe's...try an enchilada. Also try a Sonoran hotdog somewhere.
*Explore Arizona. I was pleasantly surprised at how much there is to do there and I definitely could see myself living there for an extended period of time.
Summary of Experience:
Einstein is interesting because you only have one interview with the option of having another interview if you feel that your first didn't go as well as you would have liked. There didn't seem to be a lot of structure to my interview and we sort of just chatted about both being immigrants and learning to fit in with a different culture. We then talked a little bit about the surrounding area and the makeup of the surrounding population. We also discussed Italian food...apparently, there's some pretty good Italian nearby. I was fortunate in that I had my interview right near the room everyone was waiting in, by the admissions office, and so I didn't have to travel too far but some of my other interviewees had to take some sort of shuttle to get to their interviews so you might want to be prepared for some traveling and dress accordingly, it was quite cold when I was there. There is this instruction on the interview confirmation website that says "DON'T FORGET TO CONFIRM WITH US!". It's an instruction asking you to call/email them the day before your interview. Don't worry if you forget to do this lol, I actually didn't read the page until the Sunday before my interview and I was freaking out about not doing it but it was never mentioned when I got there and everything went smoothly. You might want to make sure that you do it, but don't stress if you forget to...you won't get turned away. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty standard interview day. You'll have some time to catch a lecture or tour around if you want. The food was surprisingly decent. The dorms are not pretty but very decently priced for the area. The gym is alright.
Summary of Experience:
Interviews occur at the end of the day (thankfully the day starts at 11:00, 10:00 if you do the housing tour, so you shouldn't be too tired). It occurs after the lunch and tour. You and everyone else in the interview group will meet in the same room that you gathered in during arrival. You're stationed there with 4-6 fourth year medical students who are there to answer your questions as well as assess you ("fishbowl"). I honestly would not stress out too much about this, if you have questions you'd like to ask then go ahead but if you don't have any, I wouldn't sweat it. I mostly listened to what others had to say and asked maybe 1-3 questions. Just make sure that you're not looking at your phone, sleeping, being rude, etc. One of these students will also act as your student interviewer. Depending on when your faculty interview is scheduled, one of the fourth years will let you know that they are your interviewer and will pull you aside for the student interview. This may be at the beginning of this "fishbowl" session or towards the end of it. Interviews are scheduled for 30-45 minutes but can go longer.
As for the interview itself. I would suggest that you go over your application and pay special attention to your responses to the JHU secondary questions. If you wrote about research, be able to explain it, if you discussed a specific experience be ready to go over it in detail. Be prepared for your interviewers to be familiar with your application and ask specific questions about your responses.
Summary of Experience:
First, thing I noticed on this trip was that Nashville's airport is surprisingly pleasant. Seemed really clean and not too crowded.
As for the city itself, I actually quite liked it. I spent most of my time around the Vanderbilt campus and that area at least feels like any other college town. I actually didn't eat out much because you're provided a pizza dinner the night before your interview day. There was a pretty good turnout and I'd recommend going for the free pizza as well as the chance to get to talk to/meet some Vandy students. I did however get to try Hattie B's. And you know what, I don't care if any locals think it's a tourist trap. I thought it was FANTASTIC. Hot chicken has got to be one of the best things I got to try during my cycle. The only thing better than the Hot Chicken was arguably the banana pudding. I have no idea why that isn't hyped more, it's delicious.
Ok as for the interview day...you will gather with other interviewees outside in the hall at first where breakfast is provided. You will then gather in a conference room type setting where you will discuss the school with a faculty member . It's set up to be rather "engaging". I can't remember if there was a powerpoint but there is a video and you will do the typical things where you go around the room to introduce yourself and you will have an opportunity to ask questions. After this you will be sent off to your interviews. Like Wash U, Vanderbilt has interviews all over the place and you might have to walk quite a distance to get to your location but the staff were very helpful and accomodating.
There are two interviews. There is a longer, more traditional, conversational, open-file interview. And then there is a shorter closed-file interview where the questions are prepared in advance and most of these will be behavioral questions. While the longer interview is intended to be conversational, I was asked a lot of in depth questions about the activities from my primary and secondary applications. I was asked to elaborate on my activities and get into specifics about the kinds of things that I did/what I learned. My interviewer noted that part of the purpose of the open file interview was to answer questions that the admissions committee had about your application in particular. He seemed to be looking for very specific qualities in my answers: independence, leadership, and the ability to teach. I should note that throughout my interview day Vanderbilt stressed heavily that they were looking for a class of leaders and that with such a small class size, they were not content with anything less.
My closed-file, structured interview actually ended up being less intense for me. I had a lot of fun with these questions and my interviewer actually specialized in a field I did a ton of research in so we actually got side-tracked a bit. To prepare for these questions, I recommend checking SDN's school review of [Vanderbilt](https://schools.studentdoctor.net/school/vandy/survey/26/vanderbilt-university-school-of-medicine/0). I believe some of the questions listed there ended up in my interview.
After the interview, there is a curriculum information session and I have to say, Vanderbilt's curriculum is spectacular. It's similar to Harvard and Duke in that you have pretty much just a year of pre-clinicals, the downside being that you will have no summer break after M1. But honestly that seemed like a fair trade when you consider that Core Clerkships are PASS/FAIL!!! and that you basically have a huge chunk of your upperclassmen years to explore whatever you want. So yes, your first two years or so will be jam packed, but once you get out of that you really get to set the tone for what you want to do. One of the students said that you essentially had all of your M4 year to "become a badass".
After that session is lunch and lunch is incredible. I ate more here than I did anywhere else. Catering is prepared by Jason's Deli and the baked pasta ranks pretty high on my list of interview trail food. After lunch is the tour, which unfortunately I can't remember much of.
Following the tour are a bunch more informations sessions, including a research session. But I think another highlight occurs at the end of the day when you get a chance to meet with Dr. Churchwell from the Office of Diversity. Dr. Churchwell is extremely personable and engaging. He is also a phenomenal artist and will pass around a book of his illustrations for you to look at. He seemed like a great guy and it was a pleasant way to round up what was quite a long day. And I think that's all I've got.
* Hattie B's: try the hot chicken AND the banana pudding. You can order online ahead of time and skip the line.
* Take advantage of the opportunity to speak with Dr. Churchwell.
Summary of Experience:
I came into this interview being really nervous but I actually felt like my interview here was one of the least stressful ones I have had. 5-6 minutes may seem short, but at each station there was almost always some additional time to have a discussion following my initial response. At every station the interviewers were genuinely nice and supportive and I never felt like I was being challenged but rather supported and encouraged to probe deeper into my responses. It was actually quite fun for me as a philosophy major. In terms of preparation, I'd honestly say that you don't need to prepare in the traditional sense as that might only make you more stressed. If you want to, the University of Washington has a nice bioethics page you can google. Otherwise just try to be genuine and kind and the responses should come naturally. You will likely have an initial opinion about the question but try to take some time to think of the pros and cons to both sides and note that in your response. It's important that you consider multiple aspects/perspectives to the issue at hand. If you have a personal opinion feel free to share it, but I wouldn't feel like you need to have a solid conclusion. Some of these questions are tricky and have no answer.
Summary of Experience:
I came to this one expecting a stress interview, based on comments from other applicants I know, but it didn't happen. I'd say its similar to JHU in the sense that you ought to know your application well. The interviewers will be familiar with your application. One of my interviewers here in particular asked about specific courses and experiences that were in my primary. I was also asked a question that I wasn't prepared for. It was, "what is something that is not on your application"...I completely blanked on that one and said something a bit silly. I'd check sdn to see what interview questions have come up in the past to help you prepare. Another thing that caught me off guard about these interviews were that they seemed short (they were 30 minutes each). 30 minutes is about average for medical school interview though, I was just worried because I didn't feel like it was enough time for me. Also I'd suggest getting to this one early since you may have to walk/find your way to your interview location.