Interviewing for medical school is a crucial step closer to get admitted to your target school. By this time, you should have processed every requirement and have aced the MCAT with an impressive score that could compete with the thousand others with the same aspiration as yours.
Even though you received an invitation interviewing for medical school, being complacent is the last thing that you should do. In this post, I will give you general information on how to prepare, frequently asked questions on medical school interviews, and the tips on how to answer them right.
How Important Is The Medical School Interview?
A medical school interview is very important. It serves as a huge filter of denied and accepted applicants to med school.
Technically, all interviewees are considered as qualified applicants by that particular medical school. However, before you get invited for an interview, the admissions committee considers first a lot of factors such as your GPA, MCAT scores, letters of recommendation, personal statements, extracurricular activities, and many more. Only a few applicants are accepted for the interview process. So if you have an outstanding application, there’s a high chance to be part of the lucky few.
All interviewees have equal chances to get in. It’s your one-time shot to show off how good you are in person and not just on paper. If you don’t do good on the interview, your chances to get in may also slack off.
Are Med School Interviews Hard?
It depends. If you already have an experience before and you’re the type who’s articulate or someone who could easily voice out your thoughts, it might not be too hard for you.
Otherwise, you might need more practice on answering several medical school interview questions to help you develop your communication skills.
Interviewing for medical school is a matter of how you sell yourself well to the admissions committee. You need to convince them why you would be an asset to the school, why they should accept you, and why you are the best fit for the slot.
Just relax and be yourself, optimistic, and confident.
How Do I Prepare For A Medical School Interview?
Some students, though they had the highest GPAs and MCAT scores, still fail to get into their target medical schools. Why? Perhaps they didn’t prepare or perform well enough for their interviewing for medical school.
The admissions committee knows your credentials already. These people are faculty members or representatives from student affairs or admissions. Upper-level med students may also be invited to take part.
Medical school interview formats vary as well. Some are conducted by one-on-one or panel scheme. You may be interviewed alone or in a group with other candidates.
Answer Frequently Asked Medical School Interview Questions
No one can predict what questions the interviewers will throw at you. However, interviewing for medical school has been conducted for such a long time and there are classic questions that they would never miss to ask every student.
Here are the classic questions you might encounter:
- Why do you want to become a doctor?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Medical school is stressful in nature. The admissions committee uses the interview to know how you respond to stress. It would be good to show to them that you can handle stress and pressure well by answering all questions confidently even if it involves a sensitive or controversial health-related topic.
Make sure to have a presence of mind. Think well. Don’t rush your answers and maintain a good comparison. Don’t answer based only on emotions. As much as possible, refer to facts, be coherent, and concise.
The best interviews should be less rigid and spontaneous like a dialogue. Approach the interviewer as if you’re in a conversation. Try to ask interesting yet relevant questions. Asking questions gives the impression that you are interested in and possesses the burning passion to become a doctor. You may check out my article on the 25 questions you could ask medical interviewers.
First Impressions Matter
The saying “First Impression Lasts” holds true for a medical school interview. Judgment starts with the way you look and your body language. Dress neatly and appropriately. Be punctual and welcoming.
After the Interview
A thank-you letter is a little way to express your gratitude to the interviewers. It can be per individual especially if you know the names of the interviewers beforehand or one letter for the entire panel.
What Questions Are Asked In A Medical School Interview?
Here are questions frequently asked during interviews. I categorized them accordingly.
- Why do you want to be a doctor?
Let them know that this is your purpose or the profession that you would like to do for the rest of your life. This is your own decision and not because of someone else. In interviewing for medical school, mention that you wanted to serve people by giving a fair contribution to helping them to prevent and cure diseases and maintain their health. You may also tell a personal story that inspired you to be a doctor.
Here’s an article where I go deep into answering this very important question.
- What makes a good doctor?
State specific qualities that you think that a doctor should possess such as being compassionate, a critical thinker, empathic, flexible, adept at working under pressure, and has good communication and interpersonal skills.
- Which quality do you think is the most important in a doctor?
Just think of the qualities above and justify why it’s the most important. It could be being compassionate and empathetic since not all doctors could reach this level of connection with their patients. Every doctor is intelligent or smart, but not all can connect themselves to their patients in a meaningful way. You could also tell that being a critical thinker is the supreme quality a doctor should have to diagnose and treat patients appropriately.
- What qualities do you have that mean that you will be a good doctor?
Ponder on what traits you have to be considered as a good doctor. Are you compassionate? Do you exercise critical thinking? Cite personal examples.
- What do you feel are the good and bad points about being a doctor?
Give facts. Tell them the benefits and challenges of being a doctor. Benefits may include high job satisfaction, constant personal and career growth, and high salary grade. Challenges include working in a stressful environment, on-call duties, and extensive long years of training.
- How would you balance your outside interests with studying a degree?
State at least one hobby or leisure activity outside that serves as an outlet for your stress.
- How do you cope with stress?
Cite healthy ways on how you cope up with stress. Mention some strategies or techniques that used to work for you in the past.
- What are your best and worst qualities?
Don’t say that you don’t have any bad qualities. The interviewers won’t believe you and it gives the impression that you’re overconfident for yourself. Be humble.
Tell them the best qualities that make you fit in being a doctor. For the worst ones, choose a trait that’s easy to work on. You could mention that you have problems keeping your stuff organized. Always accompany the worst quality with a solution.
- What responsibilities do you have?
They ask this to assess any roles and responsibilities you also play aside from being a medical student. Are you a sports captain, a community leader, an entrepreneur, etc.? Explain how you could balance your roles and how helpful these roles are to you.
- What do you think will be your greatest challenge in completing medical school or learning how to be a doctor?
Think of the possible challenges you might encounter that may hinder the completion of your medical schooling. Usually, financial constraints are the biggest challenge for medical students. You may add upon how you intend to work on these challenges.
- Do you read any medical publications?
Though everyone does not regularly read medical publications, it’s good to be prepared at some point. Before going to a medical interview, make sure that you have read at least one journal article. Confidently tell them the content and your insights about it.
- Tell me about any medical advances and issues you have heard about recently.
When you read journal articles, try to also check the latest news and updates related to medicine. Share your insights on this issue. Your opinion might differ from the panel’s opinion. Be firm in your stance. Make sure that it’s rooted in the common good.
- What is the difference between primary care and secondary care?
Primary care mainly involves the provision of basic services that focus on health promotion and disease prevention. Secondary care is more advanced. It involves complex procedures that usually caters to severe cases.
- What excites you about medicine in general?
Just be honest about what you look forward to the concepts and skills to learn about medicine.
- If you had to choose between clinical and academic medicine as a profession, which would you pick?
There’s no right or answer here. Both medical paths are equally significant. Justify your pick.
Medical School-Related Questions
- What kind of medical schools are you applying to, and why?
It can be public or private and in-state or out-state. You can also mention a financial assistance or student support program. Tell what’s common among the medical schools you applied for.
- What makes this school particularly desirable to you?
Just tell them a unique program about the medical school you desired. During your interviewing for medical school, you can mention its high board rates, low-cost tuition and fees, promising curriculum, and notable programs for the students.
- What general and specific skills would you hope an ideal medical school experience would give you? How might your ideal school achieve that result?
Certainly, every medical school aims to produce well-rounded doctors. You could use the school’s curriculum as a basis.
- How do you see the US healthcare system in 20 years?
Try to be positive. Refer to medical advances. Otherwise, state your reasons why you think it won’t be good and suggest possible alternatives or solutions.
- If you had $1 billion to spend on one element of healthcare, what would it be and why?
Focus on aspects that need to be improved. For example, free medicines for cancer patients, research advancement for the search for a cancer cure, etc.
- What single healthcare intervention could change the health of the US population the most?
Refer to a particular disease that’s common among the US population. Perhaps, non-communicable chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Back your explanation with statistics. Give suggestions and your reason for how this could improve the health of the public.
- What do you feel are the social responsibilities of a physician?
Being a doctor is accompanied by social responsibilities that you need to embrace. By this time, you should have accepted how significant your role would be in the society. Express honestly how you feel about serving others.
- What do you consider is the most important social problem facing the United States today and why?
Try to be updated on current events. Choose at least one social issue you would like to discuss.
- Would you prescribe the oral contraceptive pill to a 14-year-old girl who is having sex with her boyfriend?
Ethics-related questions are quite tricky. All answers are subjective but must be rooted in doing the most righteous. Whatever your answer is, you must opt to choose the action that would lead to goodness and prevent harm.
- What do you think about abortion/euthanasia etc?
This depends on the situation. What’s more important – the right to live or the right for a decent death? Always think of the welfare of the patient above all else.
- How would you feel about treating a patient who has tested positive for HIV?
Emphasize respect for these patients. Value confidentiality and mention that HIV does not define the person. Treat people living with HIV without discrimination.
Hardest Medical School Interview Questions
This is a classic medical school interview question. Sounds simple, right? But the answer to this question will serve as your foundation why you decided to enter med school and why would you keep on moving forward despite the odds that might come along the way.
Ponder on this. Why medicine? By asking yourself, you’ll get to realize the real reason for it.
This is a simple question and one that you most definitely should know the answer to. Besides, why did you apply for medicine in the first place after all?
You may start thinking of the opportunities and benefits you could gain once you become a doctor.
Why not other health professions?
This is a tricky question during interviewing for medical school. Most applicants will voice out how passionate they are on serving or helping people. If this is the case, then why didn’t they choose other professions instead?
Be careful about saying some derogatory remarks towards other health professions. Take note that each profession is equally important.
In your interviewing for medical school, just try to compare the roles of doctors and other health professionals. This delineates one from the other.
What are your weaknesses?
As I mentioned earlier, interviewing for medical school challenges you to sell yourself and show off why you’re the best fit for the slot.
It’s so easy to mumble all your strengths and brag about how good and well-rounded you are as a person, but to admit a weakness is tricky and risky.
You’re afraid that they might judge you and push yourself down the drain of losing the chance to get accepted.
The key to answering this question in your interviewing for medical school is by being honest or by using your weakness as a strength. Regardless of your weakness, focus more on ways to resolve or improve it.
Doctors should have a sense of self-awareness of their limitations so they won’t put their patients at risk. Interviewers ask these questions to know how you are into self-improvement.
Medical School Interviewing Body Language
Remember that first impressions last from the way you look, your posture, up to the way you speak, and answer every question. As the interview goes, you would tend to lose your cool and readjust your position at times. Answering smart is just as equally important as being mindful of your body.
Here are the basic elements of a good body language:
Maintain frequent yet intermittent eye contact.
Relax and sit up straight. Be mindful not to slouch. Drop your shoulders naturally.
Direct your shoulders towards the interviewer. This suggests openness.
Avoid leaning aggressively. You may lean at times appropriately but return to your natural sitting position.
Hands and Feet
Find a comfortable pose. Steady your feet flat on the ground and put your hands in a neutral state while you’re not speaking. Don’t overdo your gestures when you speak.
FAQs About Interviewing For Medical School
What Do You Wear To A Medical Interview?
Check first if there are any dress code protocols by the medical school that you need to comply with. If there’s none, then you should wear comfortable smart-casual clothes.
What Should You Not Wear To A Job Interview?
- Avoid wearing bright flashy colors
- Short hemline and plunging hemline blouse
- T-shirt (even while on blazers)
- Strong perfume (interviewers might have allergies to strong scents)
- Headphones or wireless earbuds
- Too much makeup
- Ties with novelty designs
- Excessive pieces of jewelry/accessories
Should I Bring Anything To A Medical School Interview?
Directions to Med School Interview Site
This would be helpful to avoid getting lost and find your testing site quickly. You would also be familiar with the parking lots or several transportation options within the school premises.
Interview Folder and Pen
You need this to put your abstracts, resume, a notepad for writing notes, pens, and business cards organized in one place.
An Updated Resume/CV
Just in case your interviewer wants a copy of your resume for a quick reference of your credentials. This will also serve as a guide on what you want to discuss during the interview.
Abstracts, Articles, Pictures, Books You Published
You may provide copies of these as a reference to your accomplishments for your interviewers.
What Should You Not Bring To An Interview?
Keep your phone on silent mode and put it in your bag. Using your phone constantly gives the impression of being distracted and uninterested. It’s also a form of courtesy for the interviewer.
A Family Member
Some applicants still go to interviews with their mother or other relatives. It doesn’t show an impression of a sense of independence.
When Should I Expect My Medical School Interview Invites?
Invites vary per school. But most medical schools send out invitations for interviewing for medical school two weeks before the interview date.
How Many Interviews Do Medical School Applicants Get?
An average applicant receives 0 to 2 invitations. Whereas, matriculants get an average of 3.
How Long Do Med School Interviews Last?
Most interviews are done on a one-on-one basis for about 30 to 60 minutes.
Interviewing for medical school is one of the medical school requirements you should never fail to prepare for. Constantly practice answering the questions I provided.
Hopefully, you already have an idea of what interviewing for medical schools would be like and have taken into account successful ways on how to conquer any challenging questions they might throw at you. By that moment, you would be confident and smart in telling the right words to say.
Enjoyed this blog post? You may want to check out our other blog posts, as well!
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