This one is for everyone interviewing for med & other health professional schools in these upcoming months, May Allah SWT grant you the best!
Congratulations! You’ve received a thick letter or a pleasant phone call informing you that you have been selected for an interview at your dream school. You have now entered daydream mode and imagine attending classes there, saving a patient’s life while looking gorgeous in scrubs (see my scrubs post on how to achieve that) and fast forwarding to graduation while all decked out in green medical regalia. Hold on! Yes, inshaAllah you will get there, but first you must ace that interview. Based on my experiences, here are some do’s and dont’s.
One of the best gifts that Allah SWT has bestowed upon us and what the Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) taught us is Salatal Istikhara. It’s a simple 2 rakahs with a short duaa at the end that is basically asking Allah SWT to choose the best for you. I’ve included it at the end of the post. I honestly try to pray this before attempting anything, it won’t take you 5 minutes but the relaxation you’ll feel will be worth it! So pray this before leaving for the interview, so Allah SWT will point you in the right direction.
Next, pick out an outfit that is professional yet comfortable. Remember, some interviews include a tour of the buildings and a walk around the campus, so try to wear something that you won’t make you feel irritable after several hours. I found wearing a long chiffon skirt paired with a blazer, matching hijab and low heels to be the best combo. Although most people will say to stick to dark colors, I wore a black skirt, black hijab and a pink blazer to my dream school interview and nailed it alhamdulillah 🙂 So go with whatever you feel works with you as long as it isn’t something over the top.
The general agenda of most interviews is meeting with the director of student affairs, touring the school with a guide and fellow other interviewees, having a group interview with the deen of admissions, lunch with students at the school, and finally, the most important part, the one-on-one interview with a faculty member on the team of admissions. DO NOT BE LATE!!! They aren’t going to be sitting around waiting for you, if you are late then they will proceed without you, and you are seriously destroying your chances of getting accepted. Also, try to ask at last two intelligent questions during the tour and group interview. Show them your interest in the school, ask about what extracurricular activities are offered, if there is a mentoring program, and where do students like to have group study sessions. Being silent may give them the wrong impression that you are unsociable, or displeased with the school. Try to be nice with the other interviewees, as a Muslim you know whatever is your naseeb is going to come to you no matter what. Don’t view them as people fighting for that last spot in the entering class, but as your future colleague. During my interview, there was another girl besides myself. We made small talk, exchanged phone numbers, and a few months later were greeting each other during orientation day, so you never know.
The lunch with the students is your chance to hear the real deal. By this point, you’ve heard how this school is affiliated with the best hospital in the country, has a clinic that sees over a thousand patients a day, houses a cozy library with all the best technological services on the market, and everything else that makes this school seem like a dream. In reality, you know there has to be some downsides, so take advantage of this opportunity. How manageable is the workload, how these students are able to juggle family life and social activities, exam structure, level of approachability of professors, and safety of the campus at night are several questions that you should feel free to ask. If you are planning to commute, ask where you can park, or where the closest train/bus station is.
The final step and last leg of the race is the personal interview. This may be your make it or break it moment, the main thing is to stay calm. Depending on the personality type of your interviewer, you may be drilled on the extracurricular activities you mentioned in your application, or expected to explain why you received a C+ in your first semester of physics. Some interviewers, like the one I had, was completely chill and informed me that he had no desire to discuss something with me that he could read on a piece of paper. Instead, we discussed the future of health care and a movie that he thought was hilarious (and one that I had not watched, but I politely asked for a summary and assured that I would watch it in the future..still have not watched it..). At the end, he asked me if I had any questions for him about the school, and that was it. (see more details in my future post inshaAllah, The Handshake).
All you have to do now is wait, and make duaa that Allah SWT will choose the best for you. Even if you feel like that was the most amazing experience that you ever had and have resumed daydreaming about saving lives in the school clinic, don’t give up on the other schools. Learn from your mistakes and try not repeat them at your next interview. On the other hand, if you felt like the interview did not go so well, don’t despair and automatically assume that this is the answer to the Istikhara and that Allah SWT does not want you to attend this school. Perhaps that could be the situation, or it may be just your perception of the interview and not of the interviewers. Just be yourself, and remember, this wont be the first interview that you will have to go through. Every new patient you will see will be like an interview on its own, so enjoy this learning experience as your first foray into the health professional world. May Allah SWT grant you what is best for you inshaAllah!
Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi ‘aajil amri wa aajilihi (or: fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri) faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri (or: fi ‘aajili amri wa aajilihi) fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi
Translation: O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me both in this world and in the Hereafter (or: in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs), then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs (or: for me both in this world and the next), then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.”