Sample Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

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Prepare Questions!

“Sample Questions to Ask Your Interviewer” is excerpted from the special report, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success. To download the entire free special report, click here

Since your goal should be to come up with questions that are specific to your situation, I can’t give you a list of must-ask questions without knowing who YOU are. But here are a few sample questions that you can review and tweak so that the questions are more appropriate for YOU:

If you are interviewing with med school alum or a second-year student, then you should ask questions about their experiences, for example:

• Who are/were some of your favorite professors? Favorite classes?

• What is/was a typical day like for you?

• Are there clubs or activities that you would recommend for someone interested in XYZ? What clubs are/were you involved in? How important do you think it is to be involved in extracurricular activities?

• If you could change anything about your experience at this program, what would it be?

You get the idea. You want to come up with questions that personalize you and that show you have an interest in your interviewer’s experience (if relevant).

Be specific, show that you’ve done your research, and most importantly, relax!

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Med School Interviews
• Multiple Mini Interview: Method or Madness?
• Common Myths about Medical School Interviews

Introducing the MMI (Multiple Mini Interview)

Want tips for acing your Multiple Mini Interviews?

Ready to create something out of spaghetti?

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) method was created in Canada. McMaster University published a research study in 2004 that examined using this new interview method to more accurately assess candidates for admission into medical school.  In their study, they found that the traditional interview format was not a reliable admissions tool because too often the interviewer was influencing the quality of the interview.  It’s expensive for students to fly to interviews—only to be interviewed by one or two people—who may or may not provide them with a fair interview or review for any number of factors.  By providing ten different stations, the McMaster MMI allowed students to interact with a wide range of evaluators.  The scores and feedback provided by a larger number of people served as a more accurate way to review the performance of applicants.  In the U.S., UCLA and UC Davis were the first medical schools to begin using this new interview format.  More and more schools are adopting this method.

The basic structure of the MMI in the U.S. includes:

An average of six to ten different stations.

A time limit at each station, as well as a time limit to prepare.

An evaluator to observe at each station.

Stations that may be held in an open area or small rooms.

The stations themselves are broken down into four main types of activities:

1. Traditional Interview Questions

Most schools will have a station or two with questions about why you want to go into medicine or what you have done to prepare yourself for a career in medicine. You can always expect to encounter these types of questions in any kind of interview.

2. Debate Questions

For this type of station, you will be given a topic and instructions on whether you will be arguing for or against the topic assigned. Often you will be given some time to prepare and a time limit to present your argument.  At the end, you will need to provide feedback on the other student’s response.

3. Team Activities

The types of team activities offered varies widely from campus to campus. Some schools have you draw a picture from verbal instructions only, other schools will have you work with another applicant to take turns building something with blocks and giving instructions. Or you will have to work as a team to create something together using blocks, nails or even spaghetti and marshmallows.

4. Actors and Fake Scenarios

The actors who participate in the stations will often present you with a fake situation in which you have to respond to their distress, anger, grief or other strong emotions. The evaluator wants to see how many strategies you have in relating to others and resolving conflicts of any nature.  These stations give you a chance to demonstrate how you think on your feet.

While it is difficult to know how to prepare for this type of interview, understanding why it is used and its basic structure will help you begin to strategize. This format will ensure that you are given a fair evaluation.  It’s designed to help them identify the strengths that you will bring to your medical training.

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Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

Related Resources:

• Multiple Mini Interview: Method or Madness?
Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews
The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success

Typical Medical School Interview Questions

Want more advice for acing your med school interviews?

Come to your interview prepared to show that you are a good fit for the program.

“Typical Interview Questions” is excerpted from the special report, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success. To download the entire free special report, click here

Enter interview day ready to share what you feel you can contribute to the entering class and why you are confident you are a good match for this particular program. You will have already spent loads of time looking inward at yourself and outward at your target program – so these points should be no-brainers by now.

The structure of the interview usually goes as follows: First there are initial questions to get to know you and help you relax; then the interviewer will move onto some standard questions; and then there will be some personal questions about your experiences and then some thought-provoking questions. You’ll find examples in each of these categories below.

Initial Questions to Help You Relax

A good interviewer will work hard to help you relax initially so that you have a conversation, rather than a cut and dry Q&A session. Typical questions in this category include:

• Tell me about your parents? Your siblings?

• How was your trip here? Is this your first trip to our city? What do you think of the weather?

• What are your favorite sports teams?

• What are your hobbies?

Standard Questions about Your Education and Your Interest in Med School

Then the interviewer will move on to some basic question about your interest in med school:

• Why do you want to go to medical school?

• Explain your transcript discrepancies from your undergraduate record.

• Share your most meaningful extracurricular activity.

• Describe a time when you were in a caring role.

• Describe your clinical exposure. Was there significant patient contact?

• What was your most rewarding volunteer position?

• Describe your research exposure? What it bench or clinical?

• Describe the activities you had during your gap year?

• Why did you enroll in a post-baccalaureate program?

Personal Questions

Then the mood may change as the interviewer turns towards some more personal questions in an effort to better get to know you. These may include:

• Have you ever experienced adversity? How did you respond?

• What qualities do you possess that make you confident you can be a physician?

• What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?

• What are you most proud of?

• Who has had the greatest impact on your life, helping you get to where you are today?

Thought-Provoking Questions

They’ll then want to pick your brain a bit with questions such as these:

• Interviewers often challenge applicants with an ethical question which may be related to any number of controversial areas such as: What are your views on [choose any of these controversial issues – abortion/right to life/assisted suicide/Medicare/DNR]?

• Where do you envision yourself ten years from now professionally?

• How do you envision the field of health care in ten years?

• Do you think the U.S. is moving to managed care? Is this best? Will physicians lose all autonomy?

In a nutshell, you can expect questions to help you relax and questions that may challenge you. You can also anticipate questions about you, about healthcare, and about matters that will allow you to show fit with this particular medical school.

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

How to Ace Your Medical School Interview
Multiple Mini Interview – Method or Madness?
Free Medical School Admissions Guides

Medical School Interviews: Preparing for the Big Day

Click here to download the complete report!“Preparing for the Big Day” is excerpted from the special report, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success. To download the entire free special report, click here

When should you start prepping for your interview? As soon as you get that invite! So let’s jump right in…

Below you’ll find 9 tips to help you become perfectly prepared for your interview:

1. Stay informed.

It’s important that you know what’s going on in the world of medicine. Stay abreast of issues by reading medical blogs and journals, and take the time to speak to doctors or researchers whom you may encounter during work or volunteer hours. Reading or speaking about current medical issues will help you develop your own opinions.

Your interviewer will be impressed with your up-to-date knowledge, as well as the fact that you’ve sat and thought about your personal views on the issues.

2. Read interview feedback.

Having some idea of what to expect on the big day will enable you to think in advance about how to answer common questions. The Student Doctor Network offers med school applicants excellent interview feedback that will help you prepare for your interviews and build confidence.

3. Study the school’s website.

In order to express your unique fit with your target program, you’ll need to know as much as possible about the program’s mission, teaching methods, student body and faculty, research initiatives, and resident/fellowship placements. The website is the best place to start to find this information, but you should also reach out to current students and alumni to obtain “insider” information on the details of the program.

Individualized preparation for each and every school you interview at is very important. Spend time reviewing the curriculum, the school’s mission, the facilities, the hospitals you will be completing your clinical rotations at, available community opportunities – everything that defines the institution.

Also look at what the school is known for – does it have an international or public health focus, a strong mission of treating the underserved and/or the underinsured, an emphasis on primary care, or a strong research component to education? Try to figure out why you are a good match for this particular school so you can honestly state why you want to go there.

4. Review your application, especially your AMCAS and secondary essays.

Your interviewer will likely ask you some basic questions on information you provided in your application and essays. It’s been months since you completed your application and you don’t want to draw a blank on the easy stuff, so read up on the basics so you’re familiar with all your experiences, including important dates, awards, relevant coursework, etc.

If you performed research, especially if it was a few years ago, make sure you know the science of the project, what your part in the project was, and where the project is today.

5. Consider how you’ve changed.

Think about what has changed since your AMCAS and secondary application submission so that you know what other information you want to make sure you share with your interviewer. Include anything that may have changed in your application, such as your plans for the current year, a recent publication etc., so you can update your interviewer if necessary.

6. Anticipate typical questions and prepare answers.

There are many standard questions that are asked by all medical schools. You should prepare your answers in advance so that under the stressful interview circumstances you are still able to maintain your focus and speak confidently. (I’ll share a list of sample questions in an upcoming post in this series.)

7. Prepare questions to ask.

An interview is a two-way street. Your interviewer will ask you questions and listen to your answers, and then will turn the asking over to you. When your interviewer says, “Do you have any questions?” you don’t want to shut the interview down by saying, “Nope, I’m set.” Instead, keep the conversation going by taking the reins of the interview into your hands and asking some questions of your own – but don’t just ask a question simply for the sake of asking one. Ask one that is relevant to your background, one that shows your serious interest in the school and your knowledge of the institution.

Two important tips:

1) Don’t ask a question that can be answered easily by looking online; and 2) make sure your questions are specific to your unique situation.

You’ll find a list of sample questions on page 9 of this special report.

8. Reflect on death.

End-of-life issues may make you uncomfortable, but it’s important that you’re able to respond to a question on the subject seriously and with dignity. Questions like, “How will you handle losing a patient?” or “How do you feel about euthanasia or a patient’s right to die?” should not be approached lightly. Your interviewer will want to see that you’ve thought about these tough ethical and emotional questions and that you know where you stand.

9. Finalize travel plans.

Make your travel plans in advance so there is minimal stress around the actual interview. Do not go stand-by on a flight at the last minute.

Additionally, you should make sure you arrive well in advance of your scheduled interview time. Most schools offer a day-long interview schedule; therefore it is recommended that you arrive the evening before so you can get settled and relax. Thoughtful planning safeguards against delays that could directly or indirectly affect your performance on interview day.

Click here to download your complete copy of  The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

How to Ace Your Medical School Interview (free webinar)
• Common Myths about Medical School Interviews
• How to Show that YOU Want to be a Doctor

Your One Stop Shop for Medical School Interview Tips

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