A Guide to the AAMC VITA Interview for Medical School Admissions
September 9, 2020
A Guide to the AAMC VITA Interview for Medical School Admissions
After a long, confusing, and challenging year of working hard on your medical school applications, you’ve finally submitted your secondary applications. Now the question is, how will schools arrange for interviews in the time of COVID-19? MD programs make big cuts in candidates between secondaries and interviews, so if you make it to the coveted third stage, congratulations!
The AAMC has asked all member institutions to conduct interviews virtually. The organization has also introduced a standardized online tool to help member schools get to know applicants better: the AAMC Virtual Interview Tool for Admissions or the AAMC VITA interview.
Since this tool is extremely new, you probably have a lot of questions. In this blog, we’ve covered all bases of the AAMC VITA interview including how it works, what sample questions look like, the format of the interview, how you should prepare, which schools use it, and finally, the sectional breakdown of the interview.
What is the AAMC VITA Interview?
The AAMC Virtual Interview Tool for Admissions (VITA) is a one-time interview that takes place remotely. You’ll be presented with six questions in the form of text prompts, and will be required to record an audio/video response. There is no human interviewer asking you the questions. You’ll have one minute to read and reflect on each written question and up to three minutes to record a response. You may complete all six questions in one sitting, or you may complete any number of questions you choose, as long as all responses are completed by the required medical school’s deadline. The break between questions may be as long as you choose.
AAMC VITA Interview Eligibility
Medical school applicants this cycle who have been selected to interview by a participating medical school are eligible to take the AAMC VITA interview. The invitations will be sent from the HireVue system, which is the website used to conduct the interview. The VITA interview is free of charge.
The scheduling process for the AAMC VITA interview is initiated by medical schools. If you’re selected for an interview, you’ll receive a series of emails:
- Participating medical schools will select applicants they want to invite to complete the AAMC VITA interview on a rolling basis starting July 2020.
- HireVue will send AAMC VITA invitation emails every Thursday from August 2020 through April 30, 2021.
- HireVue will send reminder emails between August 2020 and April 2021 until you complete the AAMC VITA interview.
The AAMC VITA interview consists of six questions in the following categories:
- Personal experience questions, which ask you to describe your journey and/or the experiences that led you to pursue a career in medicine.
- Example: Why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine?
- Past behavior questions, which ask you to describe previous experiences that demonstrate your level of knowledge and skills related to the various competencies.
- Example: Describe a time when you experienced a conflict with a classmate or a coworker. What did you do? What was the outcome?
- Situational questions, which ask you to demonstrate your level of knowledge and skills related to the various competencies by describing what you would do in different hypothetical situations.
- Example: Imagine you are working in a group project and one of your teammates is not doing their share of the work. What would you do?
Just like you would for an in-person interview, make sure that you practice answering different questions before sitting down for the actual interview process. Remind yourself what you wrote in your personal statement and secondary essays, and add more information to strengthen the information the medical school already has about you. You can take a look at 95 of the most common interview questions that applicants have faced in previous years to help you prepare for your VITA interview.
How to Prepare for the AAMC VITA Interview
The AAMC has made a practice interview available for free if you want to see what the process will be like beforehand. .
This practice interview will allow you to:
- Respond to six practice interview questions written by the AAMC VITA question developers.
- Complete the practice interview with the same time limits and countdown timer as the actual AAMC VITA interview.
- Become familiar with the video interviewing environment.
- Use unlimited practice attempts to repeat a practice interview, focusing on certain questions or refining how you respond to questions.
Other ways to maximize your preparation for the AAMC VITA interview:
- Practice with your peers and advisers: Conduct mock interviews to practice developing responses using specific behavioral examples from your life and experiences. Make sure that you detail the situation or task you’re describing, the actions you took, and the consequences of your actions.
- Practice with technology: Practice responding with the computer you’ll be using and without an interviewer, to experience what the actual process consists of.
- Find a distraction-free environment: Identify a private, quiet, and well-lit space in your home or office where you can complete the interview by yourself. Choose a spot where you are free of potential distractions and you can speak freely.
- Read the entire question before you begin responding: Make sure you respond to all parts of the question.
- Understand what the questions look for: Keep in mind that questions are designed to measure your skills unrelated to medical experience. They do not evaluate your medical knowledge. You do not need to have prior medical experience to answer the questions; your life experiences should serve as inspiration for your answers.
- Provide detailed responses: Be as specific as possible. One strong example is better than several weak or tangential examples.
Which Schools Use the AAMC VITA Interview?
The list of medical schools that use the AAMC VITA interview has been ever-expanding. The AAMC updates its website on participating programs on a rolling basis, so keep an eye out for new additions.
The current participating MD programs include:
- Baylor College of Medicine
- California Northstate University College of Medicine
- Carle Illinois College of Medicine
- Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
- Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science
- Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
- Duke University School of Medicine
- East Tennessee State University James H. Quillen College of Medicine
- Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine
- Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
- Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
- Morehouse School of Medicine
- New York University Long Island School of Medicine
- Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
- Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Medicine
- Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
- Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
- Saint Louis University School of Medicine
- San Juan Bautista School of Medicine
- Stanford University School of Medicine
- State University of New York Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine
- UCLA/Drew Medical Education Program
- University of Alabama School of Medicine
- University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix
- University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine
- University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine
- University of Central Florida College of Medicine
- University of Florida College of Medicine
- University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine
- University of Illinois College of Medicine
- University of Louisville School of Medicine
- University of Maryland School of Medicine
- University of Massachusetts Medical School
- University of Michigan Medical School
- University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth Campus
- University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
- University of New Mexico School of Medicine
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
- University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
- University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio (MD-PhD program only)
- University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (MD-PhD program only)
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
- Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
- Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
- Wayne State University School of Medicine
- Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine
- Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
Even if a program on your list isn’t included, chances are they’re also conducting virtual interviews. You must understand what an online interview process entails as well as the dos and don’ts of a successful interview.
Section Breakdown and Interview Logistics
You’re probably wondering how long each question within the AAMC VITA interview takes. The table below shows the allotted time for each component of the interview:
|Introductory Video (optional)||3 minutes|
|Practice Attempt(s) (optional)||Unlimited|
|Question 1||1 minute to read | 3 minutes to respond|
|Question 2||1 minute to read | 3 minutes to respond|
|Question 3||1 minute to read | 3 minutes to respond|
|Question 4||1 minute to read | 3 minutes to respond|
|Question 5||1 minute to read | 3 minutes to respond|
|Question 6||1 minute to read | 3 minutes to respond|
|Post-Interview Survey (optional)||10 minutes|
|Total Content Time||24 minutes|
|Total Seated Time||Appx. 35-40 minutes|
Once you’ve found a space free of distractions, access the interview platform using the link in your personalized email invitation from HireVue. Once you’re logged in to the platform, the system will automatically conduct a technology check to see whether everything is running smoothly on your end. You can test your audio and video,respond to sample questions, and watch your responses to ensure you are satisfied with your camera position and audio quality.
When you are ready to begin the official AAMC VITA interview, select “Start Now” on your screen. Once you receive the first question, you will have up to one minute to read and think about your response and up to three minutes to record your actual response. After you’ve answered each question, press “Finished/Done Answering.” The interview platform sends an automated email stating “Interview Complete” shortly after your videos are uploaded to the system. If you do not receive this confirmation email within 24 hours of completion, you should contact the AAMC.
Hopefully, many of your questions about the AAMC VITA interview have now been answered. It has undoubtedly been a year of uncertainties, but you’re almost at the finish line. Do your best to practice with the system as much as you can before sitting down and elaborating on your background and experiences during the actual interview. Good luck!