The medical school interview is one of the most important steps of the application process. It’s essential that you understand what to expect, what to wear and how to prepare for the unexpected question that may (and probably will) come during at least one of your interviews.
There are several different kinds of interviews including in-person one-on-one interviews, video interviews and multiple mini interviews (MMIs). Remember, while you’re being quizzed, it’s also a good opportunity for you to ask questions, tour the campus and learn more about the program.
How to prepare for your interviews
First of all, read. Read, study and read. Learn all about the school you’re interviewing at, as well as read up on current events, medical events in the news or publications from your institution.
It’s also a good idea to practice answering questions with a friend, mentor, professor or doctor. Try to simulate the real thing and aim to do at least 2-3 mock interviews. Be sure you are comfortable talking about yourself– your accomplishments and experiences. For some, this is the hardest part of the interview.
Don’t memorize answers and if you would like to, it’s perfectly fine to bring notes with you so you remember what to ask and can write down information for you to review later to help you differentiate one school from another.
Before you begin, remember the interviewer has already seen your MCAT score, GPA, coursework and extracurriculars, so don’t repeat this information. They are asking you questions to understand who the person is behind those accomplishments.
Some basic example questions include…
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
- What’s your favorite hobby?
- How has your family experience shaped who you are?
- Why are you a good fit for this program?
- Why are you applying to medical school?
- Why do you want to attend this medical school?
- What makes you stand out? Why should we pick you?
- What are your strengths, weaknesses and flaws?
- Describe a recent challenge and how you overcame it?
- Describe a research project you participated in?
- What specialty are you interested in?
- What inspires you?
- What’s the last book you read?
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- What did you do with your gap year?
What to do if you’re asked an inappropriate question
Some interviewers may ask hard or inappropriate questions to see how well you function under stress and to see how you respond to pressure. However, this doesn’t give them the right to ask inappropriate questions.
Examples of inappropriate questions include:
- What’s your race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation?
- What’s your opinion on abortion?
- Are you planning to have children during medical school?
- Do you have any disabilities?
- Have you been arrested or done drugs?
- Do you have any special accommodations?
An easy response to any of these is:
- Can you clarify your question? I want to make sure I’m providing information that is most relevant to my candidacy.
- I am uncomfortable discussing my past/medical history/family plans.
Before you leave the interview
Before you leave the interview, the interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions for them. Never answer no to this because it will look like you’re either unprepared or uninterested.
Have a list of well-thought-out questions about the school and think about things you could even personally ask them like:
- What do you like about working at the school?
- Why did you decide to teach for that particular program?
It’s also always a good idea to email or write a thank you note to your interviewer. A handwritten note is a personal touch that can make a good impression and also set you apart from other applicants.
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