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Archive for February 8th, 2009

How Should I Prepare for an Interview at a Medical Illustration Program?

Posted by Janet on February 8, 2009

Hi Janet,
I have finished the applications and portfolios and have an interview coming up with a couple of medical illustration programs. I want to ask you what your experience was like during the interviews if you are willing to share. What should I prepare for? Are they rigorous interviews or am I making it out to be something that is not?

Any advice for me?


Hi Amanda,
First of all, congratulations on getting the interviews!

Generally, you definitely want to dress and act professionally for the interviews. Some interviews are pretty rigorous, but don’t be nervous. Just think of it as an opportunity to meet other people in this profession.

You should expect an all day interview, or at least a couple hours, so wear comfortable shoes. Also dress weather-appropriate, because you might be walking between buildings out in the cold (or heat, depending on location and time of the year). Some places have a group interview followed by an individual interview, or vice versa. During the group interview, you will meet many faculty members, get a tour of the department, and meet some students. The individual interview is a chance for you and a few selected faculty members to get to know each other better, for you or them to ask any questions, and for you to show your original pieces (some programs require this).

Regardless of whether the program requires you to bring original artwork, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a few. If the picture in your portfolio doesn’t do a piece justice, I would definitely bring that and let the committee see the original. You can also bring good pieces that don’t fit into any category when you’re putting together your portfolio. Works that you did after the application process is good too because it allows them to see how you’ve improved over time. Keep in mind that whatever you do, don’t bring mediocre pieces and never apologize for your work. There’s always more work we want to do on our pieces, but you should be proud of what you present.

When you have a chance to speak to the students, it’s a good idea to ask about any frustrations they’ve encountered within the program. Specifically, you should ask them what they like and dislike about the program, classes, or the faculty members. People tend to keep things positive when they answer these questions, but you can sometimes tell by their reaction if you ask about a specific class and their eyes light up or they pause and say something like “well…I don’t know about that…” All places have their strengths and weaknesses, but it’s better to know the pros and cons before you make a decision about which place you’d like to go to.

Your one-on-one meeting with the committee members is a good opportunity for you to discuss/negotiate any financial issues–see what scholarships are available, ask about any chances for tuition waivers. However, remember that not all of them are absolute promises. University scholarships and assistantship positions do have the potential to get canceled, especially in this economy. Although all programs teach medical illustration, they can be very different in their curriculum and teaching style. You should take some time before and after the interview to think about which program is more suitable for your personal goals. Don’t be afraid to address any concerns you have with the committee. Remember, they are trying to impress you as much as you are trying to impress them.

Good luck!


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