Interview questions are typically designed to identify strengths and weaknesses for all of the following criteria. The often probe the following five areas through an assortment of question types:
- Clinical experience. Ideal candidates usually have experience working in an emergency room, in a doctor’s office or in another hands-on position with patients. Be prepared to discuss your experience, including volunteer work, and how it shaped your understanding of medicine. If you have specific or unique experiences that have made an impression on you, share these with the interviewer.
- Knowledge of the field. Be prepared to discuss different specialty areas in medicine and their responsibilities. Interviewers will also expect you to discuss current issues in medicine, including managed care, malpractice concerns, ethical issues and challenges in the field.
- Personality. Doctors must have the ability to communicate clearly, handle life-and-death issues, manage stress, and successfully interact with people from all walks of life. Be prepared to demonstrate that you are a happy, healthy, well-adjusted person with a strong commitment to helping other people. An ability to communicate – a comfort in speaking, clear diction, eye contact, and a confident but not overbearing posture will be advantageous.
- Motivation. For too many years, applicants flooded medical schools because of financial incentives after graduation. Others were pushed into the field by others around them. Neither motivation is adequate during difficult times if your heart is not truly committed to the field. Medical schools carefully screen out applicants who are unable to clearly articulate why they want to be a doctor and what contribution they hope to make to the field. Be prepared to discuss your specific interest in medicine and to demonstrate a path of increasing responsibility in a health care environment.
- Balance. They also seek applicants who are well-rounded and well-adjusted. There’s nothing more disheartening than an applicant who looks great on paper who can only talk about their grades. There’s much more to life and medicine than memorizing facts and regurgitating them. Successful applicants are animated, full of life, with enthusiasm for their family, friends and the world around them. This is reflected through knowledge of current events, and sustained interest in hobbies, interests, and relationships.
- Be enthusiastic about the school. Know why you want to go there and be able to provide several reasons when asked.
- Have questions to ask. Ask about unclear aspects of their curriculum and research opportunities. Your questions should show that you are familiar with the school. Read the catalog beforehand and use it to create questions. Good questions demonstrate your enthusiasm and intelligence. Know about the school, the program you are applying for, and its location/city.
- Humbly yet confidently showcase your strengths. Be prepared for an interviewer to bring up your weak points or ask you for your input on your weak points.
- Understand that some interviewers may not have read your application or may not recall it. Be prepared to fill them in on your qualifications and experience.
- If you have conducted or been involved with research, be prepared to talk about it. You should know the overall goal, methodology, what you found, and why it’s important. Be able to discuss your part and contribution to the research.
- Dress appropriately. Be neat and comfortable.
- Practice interviewing by answering questions in front of a mirror, friend or family member. Work on delivery and answers – watch for overuse of hands, and words such as “like”, “um”, “and”
- Brush up on current issues in your area of interest (e.g. check websites, newspapers, journals).
- Interview Feedback is a resource for reviewing comments and feedback from students who have interviewed at numerous programs and their thoughts and tips.
- Send personal, handwritten thank you notes to each person who interviewed you.
Example Questions for Practice
How do you describe yourself? / Tell me about yourself?
What do you view as your strengths? Your weaknesses?
Why do you want to be a ______? How do you see yourself contributing to this field?
What steps have you taken to acquaint yourself with what a _________ does?
Which aspects of your life’s experiences make you a good candidate for this profession? How do you see yourself in 10 to 20 years?
In what kind of setting would you like to practice or work? (If you are uncertain about what you will want to do, say the truth: e.g. “I am not certain which field of medicine I will be best suited for; I hope to find the answer during my clinical rotations!”)
Do you have alternative plans should you not receive an acceptance?
What factors have influenced your decision to become a __________?
What are the traits of a good _____________?
How would you describe your undergraduate experience? How have you benefited from these years?
What do you do during summers?
Tell me about your non-academic interests – hobbies, sports, leisure time or community activities?
Tell me something about your experience with people. What was your level of involvement? Leadership?
Describe your “research project”, “mission trip”, etc.
What are the advantages of being a professional in this field?
How do you handle ethical dilemmas?
What are the most pressing problems facing health care/education/business/research in this country?
How do you deal with stress?
Why is there a discrepancy between “your GPA and your admission test scores”?
Do you have any questions about this school, its programs, or anything in particular?
Be prepared to talk about anything in your personal statement, application, career plans, academic, extracurricular, and research experiences.