Common Medical School Interview Questions
Applying to medical school is a big milestone, but there’s still one hurdle you have to get through before you get your acceptance letter and start shopping for stethoscopes for medical students. The medical school interview is designed to be nerve-wracking and stressful, so it is extremely important to prepare for it. Below, we offer our top tips for acing the medical interview and then round up more than 70 common medical school interview questions.
Medical School Interview Tips
Acing your medical school interview requires practice and prep work. Here are our seven top tips to help you knock your medical school interview out of the park:
If you give one of these thoughtful gifts, your pragmatic graduate will keep thanking you well into the tough years of residency.
Do some mock interview prep.
You don’t want to go into the interview cold. Practicing with a coach or a friend will help you get comfortable with the interview format and help you craft your answers to the most common interview questions. However, you also don’t want to practice so much that your answers begin to sound rehearsed and not genuine. If you start to feel stiff and robotic, or like you could answer the questions in your sleep, then it’s probably time to take a break and rest instead.
You don’t need to wear medical garments for the interview (though you will need some affordable scrubs after you ace your interview and get accepted into medical school!). Instead, choose professional business clothes that you would wear to any other job interview: think blazers, button up shirts, slacks, skirts, dress shoes, etc. Keep the jewelry, perfume, makeup and hairstyles to a minimum to avoid distracting from your presence. Wear comfortable shoes, as you may be taking a tour of the campus before or after the interview. It’s also a good idea to bring a water bottle in case you get thirsty and a padfolio in case you need to take notes.
Research the school ahead of time.
You should have already done this when you wrote your medical school applications, but it’s also a good idea to refresh your memory before interviewing at each particular school. Not only will they ask you why you want to attend medical school in general, they will also ask why you want to attend this specific medical school in particular. You want to have an answer ready, whether it’s a particular concentration, a certain faculty department or connections to a major hospital in the area. Whatever your reasons, make sure they’re clear in your mind before heading into each interview.
Take your time.
Many candidates feel pressured to jump into answering a question the second an interviewer stops speaking, but this isn’t always the best approach. Not only might you start in on a subpar answer, speaking too quickly can make you appear thoughtless, like you didn’t actually hear the question. Don’t be afraid to slow down and take a minute to think before answering a question. This will show that you’re paying close attention and that you give the proverbial look before you leap, both of which are great qualities for a future doctor to have.
Be ready for potential ethical questions.
While less common in medical school interviews than they used to be, some interviewers will still ask you various ethical dilemma questions. For instance, they might ask you what you would do if you have to choose between two patients to receive one organ transplant. We’ve included some more examples below in the subsection marked “Medical Diversity and Ethics Questions.” These questions can vary, but they are mostly designed to see how you react under pressure and how you handle sensitive topics. In general, your answer to these questions should all follow the common theme of doing whatever is best for the patient and always putting the patient first. If you follow that guideline, you should be able to answer whatever ethical questions they pose to you.
Ask your own questions.
Your interviewer should leave some time at the end for you to ask your own questions, so make sure that you come prepared with at least a few questions. They shouldn’t be very basic or something that could be answered by looking at the medical school website, but rather something specific that shows you’ve really done your research. You might also think of some questions during your interview. You can jot them down on your padfolio so you don’t lose track of them. Asking questions is also really important to determine if the medical school is a good fit for you personally, which will come into play if you have multiple offers you’re deciding among.
Send a thank you letter.
After your interview is over, you should thank your interviewers for their time. Mention a few specific details from your conversation to help jog their memory. You can send one thank you to the entire committee or contact each person individually. A handwritten letter or card is a nice touch, but it can also take a while to arrive in the mail. If you know they’re trying to make a decision quickly, or you know the letter will take a long time to arrive, then a prompt thank you email right after the interview might be a better approach.
Common Medical School Interview Questions
Without further ado, here are some of the most common medical school interview questions, broken down into five different categories: general personal questions, education and work experience, medical career, medical ethics and diversity and medical school specifics. Refer back to this comprehensive list as you prepare for your interview, and you’ll be ready for basically any question they throw at you.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths? How about your weaknesses?
- What do you do in your spare time? What hobbies do you have?
- How do you cope with stress?
- How do you define success for yourself personally?
- What’s your favorite book and why?
- Who is the most influential person in your life?
- If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose and why?
- What’s your communication style?
- How do you make important decisions?
- Tell me about a time you didn’t get along with a supervisor (or a coworker).
- Tell me about your clinical experience.
- Tell me about your volunteer work.
- Tell me about a leadership role you’ve held.
- Have you done any medical research before, or have interest in performing medical research? If you have previously done medical research, what have you studied?
- Tell me about a time that you failed at a project.
- Tell me about a time you successfully collaborated on a project with other people.
- What was your favorite class in college, and why?
- Tell me about a time you had to work together on a team to accomplish a shared goal.
- Describe a time where you demonstrated initiative.
- Do you have experience working with diverse populations?
- Tell me about a time you worked with a diverse group of people. What did you learn?
- How would your supervisor describe you?
- How would one of your professors describe you?
- How would your classmates or teammates describe you?
- Tell me about a time that a teammate let you down. How did you handle the situation?
- Tell me about a time that you let a teammate down. What did you do to rectify the situation?
- Have you ever had a negative job experience before? If so, what did you learn from it?
- Tell me about a time you had to make a significant compromise.
- What’s the most stressful situation you have ever experienced? How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time that you made a mistake. How did you fix it?
- Why do you want to be a doctor? Why do you want to work in healthcare?
- What past experiences have motivated you to pursue medicine?
- If you couldn’t pursue medicine, what other career would you pursue?
- In your opinion, what is the most urgent issue the medical field is facing right now and why?
- What do you think the next big medical advance will be?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- Do you have any specific goals you want to pursue in the medical field?
- Why study medicine instead of pursuing a career in another field?
- How do you hope to impact the medical field?
- How do you help people who don’t want to be helped, or who resist evidence or treatment?
- If we become a single payer healthcare system, would you still want to be a doctor?
- What qualities do you look for in a doctor?
- What steps have you taken to learn more about working in the medical field?
- Why do you think medicine is a rewarding career?
- What are your suggestions for minimizing healthcare costs?
- Why become a doctor instead of a nurse or another role in healthcare?
- How do you see yourself balancing research and clinical work in your future career (or do you see yourself leaning one way or another)?
- If you had to pick either research or clinical work, which one would you choose and why? What do you think you would miss out on by choosing one over the other?
- Are you aware of the current major controversies in the medical field? Please discuss some of them.
- What do you think are the biggest social problems the world is facing today?
- What do you think about [euthanasia, stem cell research or any other controversial medical issue]?
- What would you do if you caught a classmate cheating on an exam?
- Would you ever practice in the inner city or in a rural area? Why or why not?
- How would you handle a terminally ill patient? What feelings and dilemmas might you encounter during the course of treatment?
- You have a healthy older patient and a younger drug addict who both need organ transplants. Who do you give the transplant to and why?
- Pretend that you are in an emergency situation with limited medical resources and you must decide who receives treatment in what order. Who do you direct to receive treatment first, and what reasoning do you follow?
- How would you feel about treating a patient who has tested positive for HIV?
- Have you personally encountered a moral dilemma before? If so, how did you handle it?
- Can you think of any situations where healthcare is a right? What about a privilege? How about a scenario where it’s unclear?
- What do you think are the social responsibilities of a physician?
- If you’re a minority candidate, how will the experience influence your work as a physician?
- If you’re a woman, how has your gender impacted your decision to pursue work as a physician? How will your experiences as a woman in the medical system influence how you treat patients?
- If you’re not a minority candidate, how will you prepare to treat diverse patient populations?
- If you are or have been economically disadvantaged, how has that experience shaped you?
- Why do you want to go to medical school? What do you hope to gain from medical school?
- Why should we choose you over other applicants?
- What do you have to offer our school?
- Have you applied to other schools?
- Why are you a good fit for our medical school in particular? What made you want to apply here?
- What will you do if you don’t get accepted into medical school?
- How will you decide if you get accepted to all the schools you applied to?
- Is there anything else that you want the admissions committee to know about you?
General Personal Questions
Education and Work Experience Questions
Medical Career Questions
Medical Diversity and Ethics Questions
Medical School Specific Questions
Once you get past the interview, you’ve done the hard work—now all you can do is wait for decision letters. And if you’ve already been accepted to medical school, congrats! Might we suggest celebrating by shopping allheart’s selection of lab coats for women and men? After all, you’ll need one for your white coat ceremony!
Some medical school graduates are hardcore “Type A” personalities — that’s what got them this far already. These gifts will support their focus while also helping them get the most out of their downtime. Show your graduate that you support their ambition and want to help them care for themselves all in one thoughtful gift.