Medical schools use the interview to identify candidates with maturity, empathy and superior interpersonal skills.

They already know your credentials. Now they want to know what kind of person you are and how you relate to others. Don't put on an act; don't be something you're not. Here are four tips that will help you ace the interview.

Be Prepared

Unless you read tea leaves, there's no way to predict the questions you'll be asked. Don't wash your hands of it and forego preparation. Come to the table prepared to discuss your academic background, your extracurricular and leisure activities, your employment (and research) experience, your views on medical problems or ethical issues and your description of why you want to become a physician. Practice crafting substantial responses and concrete examples.

Take Your Time

Interviewers don't expect you to have a ready answer for every question, but they do expect you to be able to think on your feet and give a considered response.

If a question catches you off guard, don't be afraid to take a moment and formulate an answer before you open your mouth. If it seems ambiguous, ask for clarification. If you don't know, admit it and ask the interviewer to share the answer.

By taking the time to make sure that your response is well-conceived and well–spoken, you will come across as thoughtful and articulate–two characteristics essential in a good doctor.

Ask Great Questions

The best interview is a dialogue, with considerable give and take. As best you can, think of it as a conversation and not a Q&A.

You should already know a lot about the school. Don't ask a question that you could find the answer to on their website or in their brochures. Don't bring up controversy. If the interviewer asks you a charged subject, state your views plainly and move on.

First Impressions Matter

The tone of an interview is usually set in the first few seconds. Don't forget that you're there because you are being strongly considered. Be on time and look the part. Dress conservatively. Shine your shoes. Carry your documents in a portfolio. Make eye contact and use a firm handshake. Smile and be positive.

In a group setting, where the committee talks with more than one candidate at a time, you will be observed not only when you answer a question, but also when your fellow applicants are speaking. Keep alert, and show interest. After all, you never know what you may learn that you can use in your next interview.