Mock interviews forge real connections

Mock interviews

Credit: Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

For aspiring doctors, the med school interview is a crucial—and often daunting—step.

Johns Hopkins Alumni Association stepped up to help, recruiting alumni to assist Pre-Professional Programs and Advising with its annual mock med school interviews. This past year, 173 alumni paired with 216 applicants—a mix of seniors and recent graduates—to help them hone their interviewing skills.

"We saw a wonderful opportunity to build partnerships across campus and enlist alumni support for this important program," says Ellen Snydman, director of the Office of Pre-Professional Programs and Advising on the Homewood campus. Pairs are matched based on location and coordinate the meeting on their own. For many years, the one-on-one mock interviews were conducted in person by faculty and staff on campus, but owing to COVID-19, most of last year's interviews were conducted virtually, a practice that will continue.

Alumni are supplied with interview questions and applicants with interviewing tips, including how to prepare, what to wear, and what to avoid—for instance, swiveling in a swivel chair. Afterward, alumni provide feedback on how applicants could have better answered questions or presented themselves. In all, the process takes one hour.

Stanford University medical student Neil Rens, Engr '16, participated in the program as an applicant in 2015 and as an alum in 2020. "It's rewarding to give back by coming back, full circle," he says. Rens' matched applicant, California native Annie Elander, A&S '17, appreciates the Hopkins connection close to home. "The mock interview is a valuable experience, and you never know when someone might end up being a colleague at the same hospital someday."

In 2021, the pair reconnected over email. Elander shared the news that she was headed to medical school at Wake Forest University—and asked Rens for advice on the best stethoscope to take with her.

Kayla Cullum, assistant director of the Office of Pre-Professional Programs and Advising, hopes to build a robust roster of alumni interviewers. "Keeping alumni coming back year after year—that's success to me," she says. Interested alumni may contact Cullum at