18 Most Common Questions for Medical School Interviews and how to answer them•
So you’ve landed that all-important interview for medical school? You’re now one step closer to becoming a doctor, congratulations! The interview is a big part of the admission process, though. It’s time to go all in with preparations for the big day to make sure you show the interviewers that you not only know your stuff, but that you have what it takes to become a great medical practitioner. The good news is, we’ve found the most common questions that you can expect to be asked and have some example answers for you. So get practicing and good luck!
Keep in mind
Just a quick reminder – no two medical school interviews are the same. You could have a panel interview with a number of different people, a blind interview in which the interviewer knows nothing about you at all, an open interview in which the interviewer can ask you anything they want, a stress interview in which you’ll be put under a lot of pressure, or a behavioral interview in which you will be asked extensively about your past behavior in specific scenarios.
Regardless of the type of interview, your interviewers could be professional staff members in the medical school admissions office, practicing physicians, faculty members of the school, or current medical students. We can, of course, help you to prep for the most likely questions, but you’ll probably get a number of more spontaneous, technical or challenging questions in the face-to-face interview. So make sure to prepare yourself not only for the most common questions but also for the different types of interviews and more unexpected questions. Thinking on your feet and adapting to different scenarios will undoubtedly impress your interviewers, since working in healthcare will require you to do this day in and day out.
Here are the most common questions and expected answers for Medical School interviews.
Tell me about yourself…
Whilst this question might seem deceptively easy, it’s worth taking some time to really prepare for this answer. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Tell the interviewers how much experience you already have, how long you’ve wanted to be an MD and what your motivations are with regards to becoming an MD and helping people. You can also use this question to highlight specific things that you would like the interviewer to question you more about. So if you recently volunteered at a hospital in your local area or abroad and want to use this to show how committed you are and how much you’ve prepared yourself for this career then talk about it.
What is your greatest strength/weakness?
The answer to this question should show the interviewers that you’re self-reflective. This is your opportunity to highlight the strengths that you think will help you the most as a doctor, so if you’re compassionate and a great team player, make sure to tell them this and illustrate specific moments when you’ve used these skills to help others. Equally, if you’re aware that you get stressed out quickly, then explain that whilst you know this isn’t helpful, that you’re working on it and give them some examples as to how.
What travels have you taken and what exposure to other cultures have you had?
This question is aimed at finding out a number of things. Firstly, if you’ve pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and secondly if you’ve had experience working/spending time with people from different cultures and walks of life. Focus on emphasizing all experiences you’ve had with different cultural groups, be it within your own community or abroad. Talk about what you learned and also how they related to you as a person.
Do you have any family members or role models who are physicians?
This question will be used to see if your motivation to become a medical doctor stems from other family members or not. So if you have family working in healthcare, make sure to tell the interviewers if they’ve inspired you and how.
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Questions about your motivation
Tell me about your decision to pursue medicine. When did you decide to become an MD, and why?
If you already had the question about family members in healthcare, then you might want to think about talking about a different motivation in answer to this question. Here you want to talk about real experiences that you’ve had working with people and your motivation for helping sick people get better. Perhaps you have experienced a loved one’s illness and appreciated the care that they received in hospital? If there’s a story that is personal to you that helps you explain why becoming a doctor is so important to you, then tell that story.
Why did you decide to choose medicine and not some other field where you can help others, such as nursing, physical therapy, pharmacology, psychology, education, or social work?
What is it about becoming a doctor that is so important to you? Is it the academic side of the training? The surgical aspect? Your grades will be obvious from the transcripts that the interviewers will have seen, so use this question as a chance to focus more on how you see yourself playing an integral and vital role for your patients and community as a doctor, as opposed to as a different kind of healthcare professional.
What will you do if you are not accepted to medical school this year? Have you an alternative career plan?
This question probes your motivation to see if you’re really committed to attending medical school. Top answers will likely include an explanation of how you will recommit to applying, perhaps by taking extra classes or taking a placement somewhere until you can apply again. Whatever you do, don’t tell them that you’ll just go and get another random job!
How do you envision using your medical education?
These days, many degrees and other certificates are not used for corresponding jobs for various reasons. Therefore, any medical school will want to have some kind of guarantee that the seat they give you is not wasted. Explain what your aspirations for the future are and where you would like your medical degree to take you and emphasize that you want to stay in the healthcare industry.
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Thinking of examples from your recent past, how would you assess your empathy and compassion?
Take some time to think about moments when you have displayed compassion and empathy for others. Perhaps you assisted a homeless person by buying them some food, or you used your first aid skills to help a stranger who had fainted? Whether it was part of your job or not, try to explain how it made you feel and why your first response was to help them. Then be self-reflective by explaining when and why you feel compassion and empathy and whether these things are natural impulses for you. If you always go out of your way to help others, regardless of their background, this is your chance to show that.
What skills have you learned to help manage your time and relieve stress?
It goes without saying, but working as an MD is a stressful job. There will be days when mistakes are made, patients are lost and resources are low. Here you need to demonstrate how you effectively manage your time and deal with stress in your every day life. If you’re always on time, then explain how your daily routine helps you to do that. Think about how you manage multiple tasks at the same time and whether you have some kind of system. With regards to stress management, if you regularly go to yoga, meditate or do exercise then explain how this helps you to relax. You should also talk about how you manage your emotions. Do you reach out to others? Do you have a strong support network? Or do you write down how you feel? Your interviewers will want to know that you can cope and that you have strategies for dealing with stress.
Explain a time when you contributed to a group effort.
Working in a hospital requires great teamwork. Here you need to explain a time when you worked with others to fulfil a specific goal. It could be the group project that you worked on, or the volunteer work that you did at the local old people’s home. Just make sure to emphasize how you worked in the team, and if you overcame any difficulties with regards to communication or different personality types.
What qualities do you look for in a physician? Can you provide an example of a physician who embodies any of these ideals? How do they do this?
Do you know a great physician? What makes them so great, in your opinion? If you have a childhood doctor who make you giggle while she gave you your shots, then talk about the friendly bedside manner and the difference it makes, especially for young children. If you have a family doctor whom you felt you could always confide in, talk about the importance of making patients feel secure and how you could emulate these characteristics.
What kind of experiences have you had working with sick people? Have these experiences taught you anything that you didn’t know beforehand?
If a loved one was sick, then talk about the experience and what it taught you about the healthcare industry or your motivations to become a doctor. If you volunteered at a place for vulnerable children or adults then talk about how these experiences helped you to better understand their needs and how to anticipate them.
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Medicine Related Questions
What excites you about medicine?
Is it the innovation currently happening in the field? Is it the fact that you get to help people and their families every day? Whatever it is that motivates you and excites you about medicine, make sure to show how passionate and excited you are about the prospect of having a career in this field.
What are the current trends in our nation’s healthcare system?
This is a great way for the interviewers to assess how much you’ve been keeping up with the latest trends within the industry. We recommend getting hold of some magazines or journals and researching the latest trends/innovations in the medical industry. Gain extra points by discussing some of the benefits and/or limitations of these too.
What do you consider an important/the most important social problem facing the United States today and why?
This question is aimed at getting you to look at the role of doctors in society and what social problems you might have to deal with. If you’re shocked at the current numbers of homeless people in your state, then bring this up, if you’re concerned about the infant mortality rate in the black community, speak up. This is your chance to show that you’re aware of the current state of affairs and what you think can be done.
Medical School related Questions
What kind of medical schools are you applying to, and why?
This is your chance to tell the interviewers what you’re looking for in a medical school. You should show that you’ve done your homework and that you know what each school offers you that’s different to the others. If you can make a case as to why this one stands out to you, then you’ll impress your interviewers. Make sure to explain how the school you’re interviewing at compares to the others and what excites you the most about the curriculum/approach to medicine.
What special qualities do you feel you possess that set you apart from other medical school candidates? What makes you unique or different as a medical school candidate?
And finally, this is your chance to shine. It’s time to tell your interviewers why they should offer you a spot. Tell them why you chose this school and which assets you bring to this specific curriculum. Explain what kind of experience you have that sets you apart from others, be it personal or professional and restate your ambition, where you see yourself in ten years, and how this school will help you to get there.
There you go, 18 of the most common questions that are asked in Medical School interviews and how to answer them. We wish you the best of luck!