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Medical Professions School Interviews

med school interviewBeing asked to interview is a key step in your acceptance to medical school... the medical school in question is telling you that they are interested in you and that you look good enough on paper to go there. See this opportunity as your chance to shine. You looked good enough on paper to get this far.

  Page Index:
●  Types of Interviews
●  How to Prepare for the Interview
●  Medical School Interview-4 Tips
●  Grooming and Dress
●  Top 10 Questions
●  Interview Questions for Medical School
●  Interview Videos
●  After the Interview
●  Interview Feedback

Different Types of Interviews   -Back to top

Includes an example of a med school that uses that type.

Panel: Eastern Virginia Medical School
This is where more than one interviewer interviews you at the same time. It can feel like the Spanish Inquisition, but try not to get over intimidated. Make eye contact with the person who has asked you the question, but also try to look and engage the other interviewers as you make your points. Usually panel interviews are made up of people from different disciplines such as basic science/ research, clinical medicine, or surgery. There is often a medical student as part of the panel. So be prepared for a real range of questions...

Blind: George Washington SOM
This is an interview where the interviewer has not seen any part of your file. He or she does not know your grades or scores and has not read your essays. Be prepared for the worst of all possible interview questions: "So, tell me about yourself." Expect to regurgitate a lot of what you have already written in your various application essays. Your previous prep to answer so why do you want to be a doctor questions will really help here.

Partial Blind: Loyola Stritch SOM
This is where an interviewer only sees part of your applications, such as your essays and secondary application, but not your grades or scores. This saves you from defending your C in second semester Organic Chemistry class, but requires that you look again at what you wrote. I was given a great ethical question at a partial blind interview.

MCV (up to the interviewer whether they look at your file or not)(MCV has only one interview/interviewer)
In this type of interview it is up to the interviewer whether or not he or she will look at your file ahead of time. Be prepared, therefore, for "blind" type questions as well as questions addressing what you wrote in your essays.

Stress Interviews:
I haven't experienced this personally. But my advice would be to keep your cool and composure and take your time answering your questions. If they ask personal questions (which you know they aren't allowed to), there are different ways to approach the situation. You can choose to answer the question they ask, or turn it around and give an answer which asks why the interviewer thinks this is relevant, or one which tries to diffuse the situation.

How to Prepare for the Interview    -Back to top

√  Be enthusiastic about the school. Know why you want to go there and be able to provide 4 or 5 reasons when you're asked.
√  When asked why you applied, don't say that you applied because you thought you had a good chance of being accepted.
√  Always emphasize that you are seriously considering the program even if it isn't one of your top choices. If it isn't one of your top choices, don't say so.
√  Consider your responses to questions beforehand, but don't practice too much because you don't want to look like you've rehearsed too much.
√  Have questions to ask. Ask about unclear aspects of their curriculum, research opportunities, and so on, but your questions should show that you are familiar with the school.
√  Read the catalog beforehand and use it to create questions. Good questions demonstrate your enthusiasm and intelligence.
√  Bring up your strong points, but don't be overly self-confident. Try to strike a balance between self confidence and humility.
√  Be prepared for an interviewer to bring up your weak points or ask you for your input on your weak points.
√  Listen carefully to the interviewer and often you will get clues or hints as to what they are interested in.
√  Understand that some interviewers may not have read your application or may not recall it. Be prepared to fill them in on your qualifications and experience.
√  It's ok not to know the answer to a question. Just say so.
√  If you did research, be prepared to talk about it. You should know the overall goal, methodology, what you found, and why it's important. Be able to discuss your part and contribution to the research.
√  Dress appropriately. Be neat and comfortable.
√  Try to relax and enjoy yourself.

Medical School Interview: 4 Tips  -Back to top

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.

Interview Grooming and Dress   -Back to top

●  Smile! Radiate confidence. Fear is fine, but keep it in your heart and not on your face or in your handshake.
●  A good handshake. Practice and ask for opinions if you are unsure what this means.
●  A watch. Check the time zone!!!
●  A comb/brush and toothbrush for last minute touch-ups.
●  Minimal jewelry, conservative style. Prepare answers to likely questions associated with an engagement ring or wedding band.
●  Minimal make-up. Look polished and professional.
●  Neat, non-fussy hair, kept out of your face.
●  You may want a nice folder or portfolio to keep papers and pen organized.

●  NO white or ivory hosiery! Go for skin tone or off-black. Sheer navy is about as wild as you could go here.
●  NO white or ivory shoes! Given that your suit is probably blue, gray, or black, match your shoes to your suit.
●  NO perfume!
●  Neat nails, preferably short, with no polish or clear/neutral color only.
●  Extra hosiery. Snags and runs do happen.
●  Consider pants as opposed to a skirt. This is a comfort issue as opposed to a fashion issue. You may be getting in/out of several vehicles if you are given a tour.
●  Comfortable shoes. Walk, walk, walk!
●  If you carry a purse, keep it small/simple and coordinated with your outfit.

●  NO cologne!
●  A good tie (silk, non-novelty, appropriate length for build)
●  Comfortable shoes, probably black given the preferred suit colors.
●  Socks that match the shoes.

Top 10 Questions     -Back to top

10. what do you do if you suspect a colleague (another doc) is abusing drugs?

9. rank intellectual, compassion and integrity in the order of importance to you.

8. why physician? why not nursing?

7. What part of your CV are you most proud of?

6. What made you go into Medicine?

5. Tell me about yourself. (Don't give a complete life history. Summarize the key points in a chronological manner and sprinkle with few details in your more recent history.)

4. Why did you volunteer where you did? (see Sample Interview Question Video: Volunteering)

3. Who are your heroes/role models and why? (see Sample Interview Question Video: Role models)

2. Why did you apply to this medical school? (see Sample Interview Question Video: Why this medical school)

and the #1 question is...

1. Why do you want to be a doctor? (Give several key points in summary form). Replace very general responses like "I want to help people" with more specific intentions

Interview Questions for Medical School   -Back to top

Actual Questions Used by Medical School:

  1. What do you hope to gain during your medical education?
  2. Describe a typical day from your elementary school days.
  3. What questions do you have for me about our school?
  4. What is your weakness that concerns you most?
  5. Name some strategies to address the problem of smoking among teens; talk about some that haven't been tried before.
  6. What would your best friend say about you in convincing me I should admit you to our medical school?
  7. If you could be any character in history, who would it be, and why?
  8. How did you decide to apply to our medical school?
  9. Why did you choose our specific program?
  10. How are you a match for our medical school?
  11. What do you do in your spare time?
  12. What other medical schools are you applying to?
  13. How do you view abortion?
  14. Would you perform abortions as a doctor? Under what conditions?
  15. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
  16. How would you describe the relationship between science and medicine?
  17. Think back on your undergraduate experience at SU; what would you change about it?
  18. If you were in charge of SU what would you change that would impact the undergraduate experience?
  19. Name something you are most proud of…
  20. Which family member has influenced your life so far and why?
  21. What do you think about the health care system and which way should it go?
  22. What do you think is wrong with the current health care system in the US?
  23. Name a meaningful experience you've had and how it shaped you to pursue work as a physician.
  24. Is there a good deal of drug use at your school? Possible follow up: Have you taken drugs?
  25. Which languages do you speak? Why?
  26. Which of your college courses interested you the most?
  27. If you couldn't ever be trained to be a physician, what would you be?
  28. In your present living situation, how do you settle disputes with your roommates?
  29. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  30. What interests you outside of medicine and getting into medical school?
  31. Did anyone you know influence your choice of career?
  32. Do you have family members who are doctors? What do they think of the field? How has their lives changed over the past few years with the changes in medicine? Do you want to follow in their footsteps? (be careful with this one. This question may be a disguised way to ask you "what specialty you are interested in?" In answering this type of questions, you should keep in mind that many medical schools are having a push towards primary care. This does not mean that you should be dishonest and lie about what you want to do. Always say the truth. If you are uncertain about what you will want to do, say the truth: I am not certain which field of medicine I will be best suited for; I hope to find the answer during my clinical rotations!)
  33. Which field of medicine are you interested in? Again, keep in mind that many schools have been pressured into graduating more students interested in primary care specialties!
  34. What kind of experiences do you have in the medical field? This is an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the strong points in your application. Keep in mind that some interviewers do not have time to read all of your submitted information (but some will read everything in detail and will ask you questions to double check some of your statements!)
  35. Where do you plan to practice? If you are a foreign student, stating that you want to return to your country will unquestionably count against you. The state/federal government (depending on the school you are applying to) is partly funding your medical education. Certain programs will prefer to train physicians who will work in the undeserved areas of the country.
  36. What are your goals in medicine? Answer this one in a similar fashion to why you want to be a doctor.
  37. Where do you see yourself in 15 years? (what specialty will you be in/ where do you plan to practice) are all the same questions!
  38. Do you plan to continue your hobbies through medical school?
  39. If you had one day to do anything, what would you do?
  40. What was the last book you read? What did you think about it? Would you recommend that I read it? The last movie you saw? What did you think of it?
  41. What was the last medical book that you read/studied? If you have not studied one, don't lie. But usually, everyone has looked at medical books when someone in the family has been sick. One good book that I had used in undergrad was the Merck manual which discusses most common illnesses.
  42. Which classes did you enjoy most? Why? --talk with great enthusiasm when you are talking about things you like in general. Make sure that your enthusiasm is at its highest when you talk about medicine!
  43. How would your friends describe your personality? --AKA, what are your strengths?
  44. If you were stranded in an island, what three books would you want to have with you and why? --think of practical books or possibly spiritual ones. You want to maximize your chance of survival in the island. For example, would you want to know which plants were poisonous?
  45. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What would you change about yourself?
  46. Is there something about you that would make it difficult to get along with you? What type of people do you get along with well? --good physicians have to be able to work with all types of personalities throughout their training. As residents, you need to depend on other residents to get many tasks accomplished. As surgeons, you depend on your scrub nurse and assistants. In general, you like to convey that you get along with most people well. To show that you are hardworking (hopefully one of your pre-planned strong points), you may discuss that working with people that do not give their best effort may be difficult. You should, however, add that you have been successful in working with these types of people (by putting forth more effort on your side)! This is what I honestly felt when I was asked this question; think of something similar for yourself.
  47. Describe the most exciting (scary, unusual, etc.) event of your life?
  48. What do you think will be the most difficult aspect of medical school? --don't come up with multiple answers which would convince the interviewer that you would have a tough time in medical school. State the obvious like the need for increased studying; you may want to add that you can handle this sudden increase in your workload based on some previous quarter or semester in which you took 5000 units, etc!
  49. Why did you do so poorly in bio 191? --this is a good opportunity to defend or explain bad grades, etc. Use it to your advantage; think about what you will discuss very carefully. You may even want to bring up this subject when you are asked "do you have any more questions?".
  50. Imagine that you find a lamp that gives you three wishes? What would they be?
  51. What qualities would you look for in a doctor? --think of all your strength and stress the importance of possessing them as a doctor! You need to remind the interviewer that you possess all these strengths.
  52. What qualities would you look for in your patients?
    If you could be any animal/body organ/cell, what would you be and why?
  53. Who do you admire the most in your life? If you could chose one figure in history to have dinner with, who would it be? --family members (like your dad) would be an easy way to go. Describing his good qualities and comparing them to your own qualities is yet another opportunity to sell yourself. Use these opportunities as the interviewer may not ask you about your strengths and weaknesses.
  54. Have you always put forth your best effort in every situation? --you need to balance being modest with guaranteeing that you will do your best at all times in medical school.
  55. Tell me about something that you know a lot about? --this could be a hobby or anything you feel like you are an expert in. You can discuss making a web page for children with cerebral palsy. Don't forget that you want to be concise. Talk for a few minutes and pause to see the interviewer's reaction (this holds true for all the answers!)

Medical School Interview Videos   -Back to top

Example 1: Admissions/Volunteering

Example 2: Role models
Example 3: Why this medical school?
Example 4: Medical School Interview: questions tips answers and preparation

After the Interview    -Back to top

Don't forget to send a thank-you letter after each interview. You can write several individual letters or one that addresses the entire committee. It's a good idea to take a few brief notes right after you leave, such as the interviewer's names and some of the topics they covered.

Be patient. It can take anywhere from one week to several months before you get a final decision from the school. Different schools have different policies and approaches (find out about this school's process on interview day or before); often the committees fall behind schedule and it takes a bit longer than the four or six weeks they promised.

Interviews alone can't get you into medical school, but they can definitely strengthen a borderline application or completely eliminate you from contention. You can no longer change your grades or scores... those are in. But you can stand out for who you are. Show them what a warm, charming, intelligent, thoughtful and professional person you are. They'll want you... how could they do otherwise?

If the school is still not sure whether they want to admit you, they’ll place you on a "hold" list. This means that they want to see what the rest of the applicant pool looks like before accepting you.

If you’re on the hold list, you can send in supplementary material to bolster your application. If you have recent academic or extracurricular achievements that didn’t appear on your application, write a short (less than one page) description and send it to the school. Use restraint and discretion—don’t flood them with additional recommendations or extraneous information.

Interview Feedback   -Back to top

Large Database of Medical Schools feedback from Student Doctor Network (SDN)

  • Click here for interview feedback from many schools in Allopathic Medical Schools & Osteopathic Medical Schools

Need help or have questions about this page? Please visit our Ask a Question or Report a Problem page.
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