September 16, 2020

How to Upgrade Your Virtual Interview Appearance for Less than the Price of a Secondary

By: Savvy Pre-Med Staff

Applying to medical school is expensive, so spending money to upgrade your virtual interview appearance might seem like an unnecessary cost.

But let’s put it in perspective.

The average medical school applicant applies to 16 programs (although we typically recommend more than that). On the AMCAS, you have to pay $170 for the first school and $40 for each additional school ($170 + $40 x 15 = $770 total).

Then there are the secondary application fees, which range anywhere from $75 to $150, averaging at $112.5 ($112.5 x 16 = $1,800!).

Oh yeah, and you have to spend $320 on your MCAT registration fee.

So, we feel that shelling out some money to upgrade your virtual interview appearance will be paltry in comparison.

What if we told you that you could significantly improve your aesthetics for less than a single secondary fee?

How to Upgrade Your Virtual Interview Appearance for Less than the Price of a Secondary

We know that equipment is not cheap, and you don’t NEED extra devices to perform well in your virtual interviews.

For example, on the VITA, the ​AAMC​ says that all you need is “any internet-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. Both a video and microphone must be available.”

But if you have the means and are looking to u​pgrade your equipment anyway​, it could certainly help you perform at your best.

Look at it this way - one silver lining of COVID-19 is that you’ll save money on interview travel expenses. And for now, the VITA is free. So if anything, some of these saved funds can go towards some technology upgrades. 

Upgrade Your Virtual Interview Appearance - The Webcam

We recommend an external webcam for three reasons:

  1. Most webcams pre-built into laptops are low quality
  2. External webcams also have better microphones than the one in your laptop
  3. You can more easily adjust the camera angle to provide better eye contact

We’ve tested the Logitech webcams extensively, and they’re excellent. Given that a good portion of your schooling will involve looking good on Zoom, we think these make for a good investment above and beyond just the VITA and virtual interviews. 

Pricier Option ($96.99):

Logitech HD Pro Webcam 1080p

Less Pricey Option ($43.40):

Logitech HD Webcam 720p

Are these really worth it? Check out these before-and-after screenshots:

See the difference? That’s why we’re strongly recommending some upgrades.

Upgrade Your Virtual Interview Appearance - The Lighting

You may not be able to control the time of day or the natural lighting during your virtual interview.

If you don’t upgrade your lighting, you will likely be back-lit or dimly lit, and neither of those are ideal.

With this in mind, we recommend a dedicated “make-up” light for better facial lighting and potentially some external lights as well.

You’ll want to place these lights behind your laptop or desktop. Make sure to play around with the settings to get the right brilliance and intensity you need. 

Pricier Option ($36.99):

Emart 60 LED Continuous Portable Photography Lighting Kit


Less Pricey Option ($17.99):

Neewer LED Ring Light 6-inch


With this option, you’ll need some kind of stand or tripod. The Neewer company who makes this light sells a bunch of options.

Looks pretty cool, right?

Even if you opt for our two pricier options, you’ll only spend $133.98, which is less than the most expensive secondary fees for a single medical school!  

Have any questions about virtual medical school interviews and how to improve your appearance?

Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally!

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