15 July, 2020
By Mike Simpson
How to prepare for a medical school interview… It’s a thought that plagues students near and far. After all, nailing your medical school interview question is a must, particularly if you want to get into a highly competitive program.
Plus, the admissions board is essentially deciding the fate of your entire medical career. The school you attend can open doors for you, which makes getting in the best one possible ridiculously important.
Now, as tempting as it may be, don’t panic. Sure, the medical school acceptance rate is 6.7 percent, which may seem bleak. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the select few who make it. You’re here, so it’s clear that you’re looking for a leg up, and we are ready to help you stand out from the crowd for all of the right reasons.
So, take a deep breath and come with us on a journey… a journey to learn how to tackle those medical school interview questions with ease.
How to Answer Medical School Interview Questions
Alright, while we know that you’re here for some med school interview questions and example answers, let’s take a step back for a second. There’s more to doing well than reviewing sample answers.
If you want to know the secret of how to prepare for a medical school interview question, it’s this: proper preparation. Just like with a job interview questions, doing a little research, reflecting on your history, and a bit of practice goes a long way.
So, let’s talk about research first. Your goal should be to learn about what the admissions board prioritizes. That way, you can focus your answers in those directions.
A good place to start is the school’s website. If you can learn more about the mission and core values, you’ll have some solid clues to work with.
In most cases, the admissions board isn’t interested in just your past academic performance. They also want to know that you have what it takes to shine as a medical professional, that you have the right personality to offer exceptional patient care, pay attention to critical details, and thrive in a high-stress environment.
This means highlighting the right skills and traits. For example, can you showcase your exceptional organizational, time management, and communication skills?
Can you give the admissions boards glimpses into the best parts of your personality, like your ability to be compassionate and empathetic while also prioritizing accountability and accuracy?
Ideally, you want to reflect on those notions and identify examples from your past experience that demonstrate that you’re exceptional in those areas. That way, you can show the admissions department that you have what it takes to excel when you answer medical questions.
But that’s not all you need to do. There’s something else that medical school and job interviews have in common, and you need to be ready for them.
Can you guess what we’re talking about? That’s right; it’s behavioral interview questions. Medical schools use these to figure out which applicants have the potential to be exceptional, so you need to be ready to rise to the occasion.
Behavioral medical school interview questions let the admissions board find out more about how you think, act, and, well, behave, typically in a professional context. You may have to discuss how you’d respond in a particular scenario, or how you’ve reacted in the past to a specific kind of incident.
Luckily, that isn’t as hard as you think. By taking the STAR Method and combining it with the Tailoring Method, you can stand out from the pack. Your answers will be relevant, compelling, and thorough. Pretty amazing, right?
But if you want to make that strategy work for you, remember, practice is the key. Just like studying for your MCATs, you want to spend some time really honing your responses. That way, when the pressure’s on, you’ll shine.
Top 3 Medical School Interview Questions
Now that you know a bit about how to approach medical school interview questions, it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for… some examples. Now, it’s important to note that every admissions panel gets to pick its own approach. That means you may not be asked the same things by every board.
But, there are certain common medical school interview questions that you’ll probably encounter. Here are the top three, along with example answers.
1. What made you decide to become a doctor?
Essentially every admissions board on the planet is going to ask you this one, so make sure you’re ready for it. Technically, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. The board just wants a glimpse into what motivates you.
Often, the road to becoming a doctor is rough. If your reason for being on the journey won’t sustain you, the odds that you’ll abandon the path go up. Admissions boards want to focus on students who will stay the course, hence why they dig into your motivations.
Ideally, you want your answer to point at your intrinsic motivations for becoming a doctor. So, avoid talking about prestige, paychecks, or family legacy. Instead, dig deep and get personal.
“Initially, I was focused on biochemistry. My goal was to enter the pharmaceuticals field, allowing me to develop medications or treatments that would improve the lives of people in the throes of an illness or dealing with chronic conditions. However, as I pursued my education, I discovered that I preferred a more personal connection.
Communicating with individuals, understanding their unique perspectives, and searching for ways to ensure they could live their best life became equally important. By becoming a doctor, I could make a difference on a personal level. Plus, my biochemistry background uniquely positions me to understand the pharmaceutical industry in a different way, ensuring I can guide patients more effectively while working with them to achieve their goals.”
2. What skills did you pick up during your pre-med education that will help you thrive in the medical field?
With this question, the admissions board is trying to determine if you have the right kinds of traits to thrive in a challenging environment. They want to look beyond your pure academic prowess, getting a glimpse at other capabilities.
“During my pre-med education, I truly honed my organizational, time management, and planning skills. While I had developed those capabilities prior to heading to college, the challenges associated with a pre-med workload meant I had to refine them. I created an organizational strategy, combining assignment lists and study schedules, that allowed me to track important activities. As a result, I never missed a due date and was able to spread out my studying and adjust it when specific courses had tests on the horizon, making it more manageable and highly adaptable.”
3. How do you hope to make a difference as a medical professional?
Here’s another incredibly tricky medical school interview question. Like many, this one doesn’t have an official right or wrong answer. However, your response has to be meaningful, as well as realistic.
Saying you want to cure cancer isn’t a smart move, even if that is one of your goals. Instead, consider going with something more focused and down-to-earth.
“As a medical professional, I hope to make a difference by making healthcare more accessible to underserved communities. I intend to find opportunities to volunteer in community health clinics, particularly in areas where poverty makes even basic care unaffordable. Ideally, if the area I’m in doesn’t have a free clinic, I’d like to open one, ensuring everyone has a place to turn when they are in medical need.”
27 More Medical School Interview Questions
Here are 27 more common medical school interview questions you may encounter along the way:
- Why did you choose that undergraduate major? How will it help you excel in the medical field?
- Once you graduate, how do you envision your medical career starting?
- What trends in the medical field interest you most, and why?
- How do you imagine healthcare will change in the next five years?
- What qualities do you feel are critical for doctors? Why?
- Are any of your family members working in the medical field?
- Do you have any role models in the medical field?
- What do you think will be most challenging as you work toward becoming a doctor?
- Do you think that health insurance in this country needs to change? Why or why not?
- What do you think is the biggest health challenge facing our country today? What role will you play in solving it?
- How do you view medically assisted suicide?
- Do you think that you are unique among medical school candidates? Why or why not?
- How has your background and gender impacted your decision to pursue medicine, if at all?
- Why did you choose medicine when so many other fields allow you to help others, such as becoming a nurse, pharmacist, researcher, or social worker?
- If you weren’t working to become an MD, what would you be doing instead?
- What about being a doctor do you find appealing and unappealing? Why?
- If you didn’t get into this medical school, what would happen?
- Do you feel that working with cadavers is a critical part of the medical school experience? Why or why not?
- If you were admitted here, are than any extracurricular activities or groups that you would join?
- If you knew you were falling behind in your coursework, what steps would you take to get back on track?
- Can you describe the medical, ethical, and societal issues surrounding abortion?
- If a patient refused a life-saving treatment, how would you proceed?
- If you saw a colleague taking medical supplies and putting them in their personal bag, what would you do?
- Is it ever appropriate to breach patient confidentiality? Under what circumstances?
- If a patient mentioned having suicidal thoughts, what would you do?
- If you noticed that a colleague made a mistake with a patient’s medication, what steps would you take?
- Do you think that teamwork is important in medicine? Why or why not?
5 Good Questions to Ask at the End of a Medical School Interview
At the end of your medical school interview, you’ll usually get a chance to ask some questions yourself. Having a few ready is a must, as it demonstrates your interest and lets you find out if the program is right for you. If you don’t know what to ask, here are some options.
- In this program, how are students evaluated?
- Does the school offer research opportunities?
- Does the school have a mentorship program?
- How do students from this school generally perform on their licensing and board certification examinations?
- Are career counseling services available?
Putting It All Together
While medical school interview questions are intimidating, you should also be excited. You’re seizing an opportunity to take your education (and career) in the direction of your dreams.
Use the information above to prepare for your med school interview. After all, you’re passionate about the field and have the potential to thrive. Embrace that thought. That way, you can show the admissions board that you’re the outstanding candidate you know yourself to be.
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