20 Medical School Interview Questions You Should Prepare For
- Sep 14, 2022
- MCAT Blog, Med School Admissions
You’ve finally made it to your first round of interviews with medical schools. You persevered through the MCAT and those challenging pre-med courses and came up with a few effective strategies to ace your exams. Similar to your coursework so far, it’s essential to be strategic when approaching your medical school interviews. It’s common for a medical student to not realize that the interview process is actually just as important as your stats, extracurriculars, and personal statement. Interviews give the medical schools the chance to see you beyond how you look on paper. These interviews are the final big hoop for your admission into medical school, and you don’t want to risk your chances to wow your interviewers by being unprepared.
Start by preparing answers to these 20 questions. Preparation is essential here. Having prepared and intentional responses to the more common interview questions will be a lifesaver during interview day. You’re less likely to be caught off guard during the interview process and more likely to be able to confidently showcase your experiences and strengths as an applicant.
There are some general things to consider: keep your answers brief and concise. Many people have the tendency to ramble in interviews. Keeping answers concise and straightforward keeps the interviewers engaged. Short but well-thought-out answers also come off as confidence, a good thing to project in an interview.
After your preparation, reach out to a friend or family member to do a mock interview and help you practice delivering your responses. Mock interviews are your very best friend when it comes to preparing for the med school interview, and you can even record yourself during these mock sessions to see how you can improve. If you want to practice your interviews with experienced admissions consultants, you should check out Blueprint’s Mock Medical School Interview Sessions.
Tell me about yourself.
Although this probably seems like the most basic interview question, you want to spend a reasonable amount of time brainstorming and preparing the answer to this question. This is perhaps one of the most important questions you’ll be asked within the med school interview, as your response will serve as the basis for your interviewer to form first impressions. Although it’s tempting to start rambling about all of your significant life experiences, try to keep your answers somewhere between 40-60 seconds, and include both your personal and professional experiences, interests, and a summary of what’s important to you.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Try to think of 3-5 words (yes, a couple extra won’t hurt) that capture your unique qualities and strengths. Connect these to your past experiences and think of specific examples that demonstrate those qualities. You want to “show” not “tell,” but at the same time, you don’t want to drone on about every single detail of what you did last Thursday at the clinic. Again, to reiterate this crucial point: listeners disengage during rambling or lengthy responses, and we want to AVOID that. The key here is to be personable but brief at the same time.
How would your friends describe you?
Similar to the last question, try to think of ways to present moments of your past experiences with your friends. You can also directly ask your close friends how they’d describe you for some inspiration. Again, make sure to be personable, and don’t be afraid to throw in some mild and appropriate humor along the way. This question can be tricky as you may sound arrogant if presented the wrong way, so be mindful of your tone.
Why should we take you out of all the other applicants?
This can undoubtedly be a difficult question, but you can approach it by thinking about how you can contribute to the class and the overall med school community. What makes you unique? The interviewer is interested in knowing how you stand out from other students wanting to attend the school and how you’ll add to the community. Be careful not to bring others down or directly compare yourself to others—instead, focus on talking about your own unique strengths and how they can uplift a future community of students.
Hobbies and Interests
Tell me about your hobbies.
This one should be pretty simple. Focus on one or two hobbies or passions outside of school, and prepare for follow-up questions, such as how you’d continue those hobbies during medical school and beyond.
What’s a book you’ve read recently?
Although this isn’t asked that frequently, you want to make sure that you have at least one meaningful book you can talk about to avoid being caught off guard. Don’t worry too much about what books you “should” have read. Whether it was a dense medical ethics book or the autobiography of your role model, the most critical part is being able to talk about your overall reflection of the book and how it ultimately impacted you.
Extracurricular Activities and Research
How will X activity help you become a better physician?
With all the activities you chose to list in your AMCAS, think of how they have shaped you to become a better physician. There are many aspects of being a great physician: empathizing with patients, having a growth mindset, being a great teammate and a leader, prioritizing self-care, and many others. For example, suppose you’ve been a board member of a large student organization. In that case, you can talk about how you’ve built leadership and communication skills that will help you become a better physician. Be sure to “show,” not “tell” when describing your pre-med experiences.
Tell me about X activity. Do you think you’ll continue doing it in the future?
This one is relatively simple. If you’ve had a particular interest in an activity, think of ways you can continue pursuing it during medical school. This is an excellent opportunity to earn bonus points by mentioning specific programs you’re interested in within the school or in the adjacent area of the medical school. If you’ve taken a year off and want to speak about what you did during your gap year before medical school, this is a great opportunity to do so.
Tell me about your research experience and interests.
You’ll likely get asked about this topic a LOT. Spend more time brainstorming this one, as it’s pretty tricky to present your research to your interviewer, who probably isn’t an expert in your field of study, in less than 2 minutes. Think of this as an “elevator pitch”—you want it to be brief and interesting to your audience and only mention facts that are crucial to their understanding of the topic. Here, a good rule of thumb is to start with the background information and why it’s important research. Next, move on to how you specifically contributed to the research.
Future Career Goals
Are there any medical specialties you’re particularly interested in going into? Why?
If you have a particular specialty or specialty group you’re interested in going into, talk about what about that field inspires you. For example, if you’re interested in surgery, you might want to talk about your shadowing experience and how it’s fascinating to use your hands to heal patients directly. If not, it’s totally okay to say that you’re open to different specialties—they don’t expect you to be entirely sure about a specialty at this point. One thing NOT to do is mention the lifestyle and salary of the specialty. This is frowned upon in the interview setting.
While you may be particularly interested in a specialty during the interview, it’s important to not present yourself as narrow-minded. It’s common for a medical student to end up changing their clinical interests during medical school, and your interviewers want to make sure that you can appreciate all different types of specialties and embrace everything with an open mind.
What are you looking forward to the most in medical school?
Think of what about medical school excites you the most. Is it being able to take care of patients in the ward? Or hands-on learning procedures such as ultrasound and suture techniques? Whatever the reason is, the key here is to demonstrate your enthusiasm for medical school and medicine in general.
What do you hope to accomplish as a doctor?
Here, you’ll want to link your past experience as a pre-med with your future goals as a doctor. If you’ve had a lot of work experience in reducing health inequities, for example, talk about what you want to do as a doctor to promote better accessibility for health care.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
This is very similar to the last question. Again, talk about your relevant work experience as a context and share what kind of doctor you’d like to be well into your medical career.
What are the most important social determinants of health, and how does it affect patients?
Social determinants of health are an essential concept that you should be aware of. They include factors such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and culture of a patient that can affect their care and treatment plan. Do some research on the topic and give your personal reflection on the current major social determinants and how it impacts patients.
What is your understanding of team-based care and interprofessionalism in the hospital?
Teamwork and interprofessionalism is another important concept in healthcare. Make sure that you understand approaching patient care with a team-based perspective and the existing collaborations in the healthcare system. It is helpful to think of experiences where you’ve worked collaboratively in a medical setting.
How do you think COVID-19 has highlighted health disparities?
Be aware of the effect of COVID-19 and how it has a disproportionate impact on many underserved populations.
Why do you want to go to our school?
Before the interview, research the school’s values and specific programs that fit your interests. Schools often want to know how you would be a great fit with their particular program and curriculum. Have specific reasons, and make sure you’re prepared to answer this question.
If you weren’t going to be a doctor, what would you be?
This question can demonstrate what you look for in a career and what aspect of doctoring you love. For example, if you love talking to people and helping others by educating them, you might want to mention how you’d be a teacher. On the other hand, if you love doing research and are interested in a particular medical field, you might want to talk about how you’d become a research scientist. No matter what the answer is, make sure you have a reason you’re choosing medicine over those choices.
Why did you choose your undergraduate major?
This is pretty straightforward. Talk about why you’re interested in pursuing a particular field of study. Then, if applicable, you can talk about how your study relates to your interest in medicine.
Do you have any questions for me?
Last but not least, go into your interview with at least a few questions prepared. Asking thoughtful questions always goes a long way, and it will leave a good impression. Also, ask questions that show your genuine interest in attending their school, such as “what does your day in the life look like?” or “why did you choose this medical school?”
Need more guidance?
If you’re looking for a more personalized approach to these strategies, check out Blueprint Medical School Admissions Consulting. Blueprint Prep offers a variety of packages that fit your needs, from brainstorming primary applications to working on comprehensive interview prep.
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