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 Accepted.com 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!

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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 Accepted.com 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!

Accepted.com: 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

Download your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview SuccessMed school applicants – this one’s for you!

We’ve taken the best of the best of our med school interview blog posts, updated them, and wrapped them up all together in a concise special report. You can now read all the tips you need in one spot…and for free!

Check out our newest special report, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success, for expert advice on what you can do before, during, and after your med school interviews to secure your spot in next year’s entering med school class!

Click here to download your guide!

Download The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success now!

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Medical School Applicant: Make an Impact at Your Interview!

You just got invited to interview at your top choice med school…now what??

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Medical School Interview Webinar

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Reserve your spot for Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews now!

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Common Myths about Medical School Interviews

Learn How to Prep for and Ace Your Medical School Interview! [Free Webinar!]Congratulations if you have received an invitation to interview! You have won the attention of an adcom in submitting essays that have persuaded them to interview you.  In reaching this step in the application process, you will have a new set of challenges to prepare for in order to receive an acceptance.  To help you prepare, I will dispel some of the most common myths.

Myth #1: The Permanent Record

All of us have made mistakes at some point in our lives. In an application process, no concept is more intimidating than the possible threat of an unforgiving “permanent record” that will reveal all of our biggest mistakes. Luckily, there is no such thing as a “permanent record.”  When you attend an interview, you should be prepared to discuss anything you’ve included in primary and secondary applications.  Any information provided in those essays is fair game for discussion.

While a “permanent record” does not exist, there is a criminal record—this includes any misdemeanors or felonies. These have to be disclosed in the primary application and can prevent your application from serious consideration depending on the number and nature of offenses.

Myth #2: The Interviewer is Omnipotent

You may be worried that the interviewer will know everything about you and your application. This is not the case. Often the interviewer will not have time to read your application in detail before meeting you. It’s best to approach each interview as if it is “blind,” meaning that they do not know anything about you. You should introduce yourself and discuss your activities clearly and with careful explanation so that they can easily understand the nature of your experiences and the timeline of events.  If you leave out information or skip details because you assume that they already know this about you, you may be hurting yourself.  Start at the beginning and don’t assume anything.

Myth #3: Clothes Make the Man (or Woman)

While this medieval adage holds true in most circumstances, it’s best to avoid overdressing or under-dressing for your interview. There has been a lot of research on the psychology of clothing.  What you wear matters but be careful not to overdo it.  Wearing Gucci sunglasses or carrying a Brahman bag will not win you any extra points!  In fact, if you make these accessories the focus of your interview, it will provide insight on what you consider important. While you may talk about how much you enjoyed volunteering that summer in Guatemala, your designer style make contradict your statements. Dress simply and professionally. You should be the focus of the interview.

Myth #4: You Are Powerless

Most people believe that the interviewer is the person in charge in an interview. However, you decide what you share about yourself and what the interviewer takes away from the experience. You are actually the most powerful person in the room.  Ultimately, the way you present yourself and the information you choose to focus on will determine whether you are offered an acceptance or not.

In dispelling the common myths about interviews, I hope that you are able to see how much power you actually have in the medical school interview process. Your preparation will be critical to your success.  It’s necessary for you to practice taking on this level of responsibility in representing yourself.  While it is tempting to give your power away by believing that the interviewer has all the answers and control, you now know this isn’t the case.  Hopefully this information will empower you to focus all of your energy on your preparation. Start by scheduling a mock interview!

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success!

Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted.com 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:

• The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success
• The 5 Most Important Tips for Your Medical School Interview
Medical School Admissions 101