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10 Medical School Interview Questions All Future MDs Should Expect to Answer

9 min read / Medical School

 

Interviews can be intimidating—especially when it feels like your future career as a doctor is on the line. But as a medical school applicant, you’ll need to start getting used to answering some challenging questions. After all, a strong medical school interview performance could be the determining factor in whether you earn an acceptance letter.  

But don’t let the high stakes stress you out too much. There are quite a few things you can do to prepare for your medical school interviews. While no two interviews will be the same, most will feature variations on some core questions. Join us as we explore some of the topics you can expect to address in your quest to get into medical school. 

10 common medical school interview questions 

 “Remember that the interview is for two reasons: to check your fit for the university and to show that you are already on your way to becoming a doctor,” explains Dr. Shane Jackson, who has more than a decade of experience advising both US and UK medical school applicants.  

Dr. Jackson suggests that some of the best and simplest medical school interview advice you’ll receive is to spend plenty of time preparing. Reviewing these common medical school interview questions allow you to organize your thoughts before you’re face to face with your interviewers.  

Female medical applicant participating in a medical school interview.

1. How would you describe yourself? 

Many of your medical school interviews are likely to open with a statement similar to this one. While it may seem like the simplest question on the surface, some actually find it to be the hardest one to address 

The key here is to be strategic. This isn’t the time to recite your entire resume—after all, they’ve already reviewed it. Instead, consider using this time to talk about some of the memorable experiences that led you to pursue a career in medicine or possibly discuss your personal and professional goals. Consider this your personal “elevator pitch” – how would you describe yourself to a total stranger in 30 seconds? 

2. Why do you want to be a doctor? 

This question, while common, often trips up students. Many pre-meds say something about wanting to help people. But the Medical School Headquarters points out that countless other career paths allow professionals to offer a helping hand. If you want to stand out among the other applicants, you’ll need to dig a little deeper for your answer to this one.  

Dr. Jackson notes that many interviewees will also cite the loss of a family member as their driving force to dedicate their careers to medicine. While perfectly noble, he explains that these sources of inspiration don’t necessarily demonstrate that an applicant understands what the core qualities of a doctor are—things like having a keen interest in the sciences, an insatiable craving to solve problems, and a sharp, analytical mind. 

If you do draw inspiration from pivotal life events, be sure to clearly articulate how those experiences shaped your career choice. This may include other occupations you considered and how they were ruled out. Even if you’re new to considering a career in medicine, being able to articulate your journey and finding passion for your future in medicine is a story worth telling. 

This is the same rationale you should use when writing your personal statement. 

3. What was your favorite college class?  

Working in the field of medicine means you’re constantly learning something new, whether through up-and-coming research initiatives or continuing education requirements. With this in mind, medical schools are looking for candidates who wholly embrace learning.  

When answering a question like this one, you have an opportunity to discuss the different ways learning is important to you by outlining the courses that impacted you most as a student. It’s also not a bad idea to highlight courses that taught you skills you’ll be able to utilize in your future medical practice. 

Similarly, it’s ok to discuss fields of study that aren’t directly related to medicine or the sciences. This question is a chance for you to highlight your learning skills, especially since medical school is full of new learning opportunities. 

Female student doing lab work in a chemistry class.

4. How do you handle stressful situations? 

It’s no secret that medical school and residency can be intense experiences at times—but so can life as a doctor. When admissions committees are looking for promising future physicians, they want to select students who can handle the inherent pressures of working in medicine.  

In response to a question like this, you can provide the methods you use to keep your cool in stressful situations. But it will be even more effective if you can provide examples during which you’ve put those skills to use. This strategy will bring your application to life and give you an opportunity to emphasize the learning experiences of your extra-curricular activities. 

 5. How would you manage a scenario that requires ethical considerations? 

Doctors are faced with ethical dilemmas somewhat regularly. Medical school interviews will often include questions about particularly tough topics—they could be related to end-of-life care, addiction, domestic abuse, or a number of other matters. Preparing for a medical school interview includes having some knowledge of contemporary ethical issues in medicine. 

“Pre-meds need to be aware that this is not a test of your moral standpoint,” Dr. Jackson notes. Interviewers are looking for candidates who would approach these scenarios in a balanced, level-headed, and emotionally intelligent manner. Think about the presented scenarios from a holistic viewpoint, and above all else, be authentic. 

6. What are your greatest weaknesses? 

We’ve all heard the go-to answers to this question: “I’m a perfectionist” or “I care too much.” Resist the urge to rattle off responses like this, as your interviewers are likely to see right through them. It’s better to try highlighting areas you’re already working to improve, which will show that you are self-aware and willing to grow.  

This question is where you can highlight parts of your application that feel a little weaker than others. Interviewers often appreciate candidates who can recognize their own shortcomings, so it can actually be helpful to address these things head-on.  

7. How would you propose addressing a current health issue? 

As with ethics-based inquiries, questions about current events will be relatively specific. For example, Dr. Jackson notes that back when he did his medical school interviews, he was asked to share his thoughts on HIV prevention and treatment.  

“This answer required knowledge not just of the condition and the treatment regimen, which I gave, but also of the sociopolitical background surrounding the subject,” he adds. Dr. Jackson had to demonstrate to his interviewers that he understood how shifting public opinion and better treatment options had positively changed the outlook for individuals with HIV.  

Today, you’re likely to encounter questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wouldn’t hurt to tap into discussions that are currently taking place within the medical community about virus treatment and statistics, the future outlook, and other related elements. 

 Female physician speaking with patient in exam room

8. What do you know about the state of the US healthcare system?  

Beyond singular current events, don’t be surprised if you encounter questions about the country’s healthcare system at large. Any changes to the system can have sizable implications for patients and providers alike. It’s hugely important to stay up to date on the healthcare industry as a physician, so you should expect to do the same as a student.  

Interviewers won’t expect you to be an expert, but it’s a good idea to at least have a working knowledge of the current state of things, as well as what medical professionals are forecasting for the future. For applicants from countries outside of the US, this is a chance to compare and contrast the differences in healthcare systems. 

9. Why are you interested in our medical school? 

Every institution has its own values, and they want to make sure their students are in line with them. Always do your research ahead of time. Look at the program’s website or social media channels and highlight some value propositions that stick out to you. Make note of the things you’re particularly excited about. This may include exclusive clinical experiences, clubs, and organizations or alumni success stories. Just be careful not to overemphasize your excitement.  

“When commenting on a particular medical school, there should be balance to the answer,” Dr. Jackson says. He explains that simply showering a program with praise isn’t the most effective strategy. Be specific about the things that drew you to the school and be genuine in your enthusiasm. 

10. Do you have any questions for us? 

We’ve all been asked this in a job interview, and it’s not uncommon to respond with a simple, “Not really.” But when it comes time for your medical school interviews, always come prepared with questions and even follow-up questions to your original inquiries. 

“An engaged student who opens up a flowing dialogue rather than responding to a list of questions will stick out in the interview panel’s minds,” Dr. Jackson offers. 

Also consider that asking questions during your interviews is an opportunity for you to learn valuable information. You can find out more about the curriculum, the program’s faculty, how they handle student feedback, or about any future developments they may have in the works.  

Tackle your medical school interviews with confidence 

Even the best students get butterflies as their medical school interviews approach. But the most effective way to ensure your success is to practice—and knowing some of these common medical school interview questions will help.  

The relief you’ll feel once you nail your interviews will then be followed by the excitement of actually choosing the medical school you’ll attend. Learn more about this process by reviewing our articleHow to Choose a Medical School: 8 Things to Evaluate Before Accepting.”  

 

This article was originally published in 2019. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2022. 

DATE

March 28, 2022

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