Getting an interview at one of the medical schools to which you’ve applied is a big deal. This means that you’ve impressed the admissions committee enough for them to consider you. They’ve read your essays and want to get to know you better. Medical school interview questions are a key part of getting into medical school.
So, how do you prepare for your interview day? How do you anticipate the medical school interview questions? We understand the nerves that might be involved. After all, this is your shot at getting into medical school so you can pursue your dream career. International Medical Aid has coached thousands of students through this very process.
In this article, we’re going to break down the traditional medical school interview questions. We’ll go over the most common questions and review our medical school admissions consulting. IMA is here to help you be as prepared as possible. Let’s dive in!
Most Common Medical School Interview Questions
The traditional medical school interview is usually two parts. It involves first sitting down with a member of the admissions committee. The interview typically lasts for around 30 minutes. Then, you’ll have another interview that also lasts for 30 minutes. This second interview could be with another member of the admissions committee. But it could also be with a faculty member or current medical student.
Both interviews are designed to help the school get to know you as an MD/DO candidate. Here are some of the most common med school interview questions, broken down into categories.
Questions Regarding Your Education
Medical school interview questions almost always involve a question about your educational background. The questions in this section are about your undergraduate studies. What you study in your undergrad years will have a direct impact on your time in medical school. A student who studied microbiology and earned their BS in Science will have a different experience from a student like Violin MD. The Canadian YouTuber was a violinist before applying to medical school. Now, she’s specializing in rheumatology.
There’s no “right” subject to major in during your undergraduate years. Don’t feel like what you studied will disqualify you. That is not the case. You can use what you studied to bring a unique perspective and skillset to medicine.
- Explain why you chose your undergraduate major.
- What courses did you take while earning your bachelor’s that helped you prepare for a career in medicine?
- Outside of education, how have your work experiences, volunteer opportunities and extracurricular experiences prepared you for the future expectations that await you as a doctor?
- What kind of doctor do you want to be? How will your education prepare you for this?
Questions Regarding Your Character and Personality
Being a doctor involves interacting with patients all day, every day. Doctors vary in personality. Different personality types work for different patients. That’s why some patients love one doctor but can’t stand another! Again, this isn’t a deal breaker category. That is, unless you’re lifeless with a completely flat personality. You’ll definitely want to let your personality shine through! Here are the most common med school interview questions for this category.
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- Where have you traveled? What other cultures have you been exposed to?
- Share with us how your experiences have increased your ability to empathize and have compassion on others.
- What skills do you use on a daily basis that help you with time management and stress relief?
- What do you look for when searching for a doctor? When you’ve found that doctor, have you observed them? How do you think they embodied those ideals?
- Have you worked with people who are sick? What did you learn from those people?
- Do you have any family members or close friends who are doctors?
- Have your family and friends influenced your decision to become a doctor?
Questions Regarding Medicine
Of course, you can anticipate questions about medicine. Those are among the most common med school interview questions. After all, you’re applying for medical school! You’ll be asked the classic “Why do you want to be a doctor?” question. But you’ll also be asked questions like the three we’ve listed here. Think of answers to these questions so that you’re prepared on your interview day.
- Why do you love medicine?
- What do you consider to be the most important public health issues of our day? Please explain why.
- What do you consider to be the most negative or restrictive parts of medicine? How will you work within those boundaries to provide quality healthcare?
Questions Regarding Ethics
Medical ethics are controversial and talking about them can be scary. But it’s super important to be aware of the ethics surrounding medicine. That awareness will help you properly handle different ethical situations when they arise in your medical practice. These are the most common med school interview questions for this category.
- Medical ethics are a controversial topic. If you’re aware of any current controversies, discuss them with us.
- Discuss any moral dilemmas which you’ve encountered.
- Discuss how you might feel around a terminally ill patient, as opposed to patients who are sick but who will recover.
- How would you feel about treating a patient with HIV?
- How do you handle situations where there is no “right answer”?
Questions Regarding Diversity
You might have been born in America to a family with generations rooted here. Or, you could be an immigrant. Maybe you’ve only been here for a few years. Perhaps your parents moved here when you were little. What if you dealt with deportation or another scary situation?
These are real world issues that everyone faces. There’s no one “right” type of person to be a doctor. But your background will influence your patient care. And that’s why questions about diversity are asked in many interviews.
- This question is for minority candidates. How does your background qualify you in unique ways?
- If not a minority candidate, how will you care for multiethnic and multicultural patients?
- For women, how has your gender influenced your decision to become a doctor?
- If you’ve struggled financially, how has this adversity affected you?
Questions Regarding Medical School
These are the most common questions that you’ll probably anticipate. But we still wanted to include them here so that you’re prepared for them. These questions require you to talk positively about yourself, which can feel uncomfortable, even unnerving, for some people. It’s important to be confident in yourself. Think about all your positive attributes and what makes you a strong medical candidate. This is the time when you’ll want to really sell yourself!
- What sets you apart as a medical school candidate? Describe your unique qualities or differences from other candidates.
- Are you applying to MD or DO schools, and why?
- Everyone has an ideal of how they’d like their medical school experience to go. Describe your ideal and how our school will contribute to that.
Questions Regarding Motivation
Wanting to pursue a career in medicine is a lofty goal. Unlike an undergraduate or master’s degree, it takes years to become a doctor. You have applications to fill out, admissions committees to impress, and application fees to pay just to hope to get in. Then, you have four years of medical training, residency and fellowship. You finally get to be a doctor after all of that.
Because it takes so long, it’s a lofty career goal. Many people give up along the route or decide to go in another direction. Medical schools would prefer to admit students who will stay in medicine. So, they ask these med school interview questions.
- When did you decide that you wanted to become a doctor?
- There are many medical careers to pursue. Why do you want to be a doctor instead of a nurse, a physical therapist, or another type of health care provider?
- What experiences have proven to you that you truly want to be a doctor?
- What is your plan if you are not accepted into medical school?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share with the admissions committee?
It’s not likely that you’ll be asked 30 questions in a single interview. These questions are just samples of the types of questions you can expect. We recommend reviewing these questions and preparing answers to some of them. This will help prepare you for your interview day.
Closed File vs. Open File Interview
There are two kinds of traditional interviews: closed file vs open file. A closed file interview means that your interviewer doesn’t have access to your application. They are interviewing you without knowing anything about you beforehand. An open interview file is the opposite. The interviewer has access to your file, so they can ask you specific questions about your experiences. You’ll know what type of interview you’ll have. The email that invites you to interview will provide that information. Neither is better than the other. They’re simply different ways to interview.
We believe in you! Here at IMA, we want to see you succeed. That’s why we wrote this article. Knowing the most common med school interview questions gives you an advantage. Remember that IMA offers medical school admissions consulting to help you prepare. You don’t have to handle all the stress and nerves on your own! Mock interview prep is part of our medical school admissions consulting here at IMA. We’ll ask you some of the questions listed here and help you craft answers that will stand out.
Good luck applying to medical school and congratulations on your interview! You’ll do great! While you’re on our blog, check out our series of definitive guides to getting into medical school. The more schools you apply to, the better chance you’ll have of getting in. Not sure where to get started? Reach out to us today.
- Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Baylor College of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Pennsylvania)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences (in California)
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School